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Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
June 21, 2006
Our trip to Kashmir started with a short flight from New Delhi to Srinagar on Sahara Airlines. After being greeted upon arrival by our driver, we took a short drive, and arrived at the shikara station on Dal Lake (shikara is a small boat). The hotel we were staying was a boathouse on in the middle of the Lake. Everything in the boat house is made out of pine wood from the mountains. The furniture, the doors, the window, and the whole boat, are all beautifully carved. Woodcarving is one of the famous industries in Kashmir.
We took a shikara trip around the lake. It was a really beautiful ride. It was so peaceful once we got further away from the road, not even a ripple in the lake. The lake was mirroring the mountains and skies. There was a floating garden of lotus and water lily which was very nice. We passed through villages; visited a couple of famous traditional Kashmir industries like paper mache and chestnut woodcarving.
When we got back, we sat on the roof waiting for the sunset, while drinking hot Kashmiri tea. Kashmiri tea is made from the usual tea leaves, cardamom, cinnamon stick, and a bit of saffron. It tastes better without sugar. We saw some shikaras filled with goods like textiles, and other crafts passing by our boat house. Some asked politely if we wanted to buy anything, some even stopped and asked to schedule house calls. Did you know they also made house calls? Wow, this is what they call marketing. So once again, time for Punjabi suit, sarees, textiles, and pashminas look and see and may be buy session. The guy went on and on and on…and we end up buying a few Punjabi suits, sarees, and pashminas out of sympathy. Come on…the guys covered the whole living room with his textiles. And we felt bad about it. We had to buy some although we know the price might be twice of what is supposed to be.
Gulmarg is a very famous mountain area in Kashmir. I can really remember how far it is from Srinagar, but the ride was a really enjoyable one. We saw different scenes, and passed by small towns on the way. Gulmarg is a ski resort in winter. During the summer time it is very popular for the highest cable car in the world. The cable cars actually run to the top of the mountain close to the Pakistani border. It is the peacefulness that makes people comes here rather than the beauty of the place. We got to the top. My head was thumping when I was trying to climb up to the top due to lack of oxygen. Almost 99% of the tourist here are from India.
From journal India's Golden Triangle & Kashmir
by Eleven Shadows
West Los Angeles, California
August 30, 2000
From journal "Heaven on Earth"