Jammu and Kashmir India

My Kashmir Trip

The sheer magnitude of the avalanche which I was looking at validated my earlier fears. Four days earlier I had been skiing where this behemoth had cut its swath of destruction. It’s proportions were epic. It appeared to me that the northern 1/3 of the Pir Panjal range had slid.

I had arrived in Gulmarg 12 days earlier. I had been ensnared into booking a ski trip to Kashmir by the tag line “Where decent snowfall means it is measured in meters”. The Gulmarg gondola also boasts being the world’s highest gondola and the world’s longest continuous vertical rise. All seemed like good reasons to do something unique.

The Kashmir region of India has only recently seen a return of tourist traffic. Violence has ebbed significantly since a cease-fire in 2003. My impression is that it has come a long way since, in 1999, Bill Clinton called Kashmir the most dangerous place on earth. The resentment of the Kashmiri people towards the occupying Indian army became apparent to me when my guide, Shabeer, corrected an Aussie snowboarder as he issued the customary Kashmiri greeting to some army troops. Shabeer told him “No, no it’s namaste…namaste(a Hindi greeting)”. There are many competing agendas in the region but currently peace prevails and many of the people I spoke to seem to concur that every tourist rupee spent is a vote for peace.

The airport in Srinagar reminded me of landing at King Fahd airport in Saudi Arabia at the start of Desert Shield. It was definitely a military airfield, commercial air traffic is the lowest priority. Security checks departing from Delhi were exhaustive. I found it peculiar that the more security I face, the less secure I feel. In New Zealand, for example, one hasn’t got to take off their shoes to clear security. The outward appearance is almost lackadaisical compared to that in the U.S. But flying in New Zealand I feel unthreatened. From Delhi to Srinagar, however, the checks, searches, re-checks, frisking and hand-searching left me ill at ease.

On the ground in Kashmir, the first thing I noticed were guns and troops. Guns are everywhere. I was overjoyed when a young Kashmiri man greeted me by name and helped me through the bureaucracy of departing the airport and got me to the vehicle that would whisk me the 60Km to Gulmarg. As the vehicle departed the airport a light rain was falling. Further up the road, in Tangmarg, the rain surrendered to the lower temperature and higher altitude and became snow.

27 August 2010 at 21:25 - Comments

Rafting In Pahalgam

Sight seeing, pony-rides or do-nothing vacationing aside, what really can Pahalgam offer to visiting tourists? Come to think of it, Pahalgam has its own gold mine in the form of meandering river lidder, and miles and miles of it both from Aru and Chandanwari which offer a great, world class opportunity for river rafting. Thus far, it seems like the officials have failed to realize what they are sitting on. It has been left onto small time entrepreneurs to harness this opportunity. And like the story of rest of India, they are able to pull through, inspite of all the odds. But only till a point. Objections are now being raised from many quarters.
I am optimistic that its only a matter of time when the Pahalgam Development Authority, or Tourism Department or the Fisheries Department will put their act together and lay out a holistic plan which will benefit both the locals and the tourists, and put Pahalgam on the world map of premier river rafting destinations.

At its core, whitewater rafting is simply the act of taking a raft down through turbulent areas of a river. These turbulent areas are known as rapids. Rapids are classified by six categories. Category 1 is a smooth river with no rapids. The categories climb from their too Category 6, which is either impassible or should only be attempted by experts. Most river rafting trips occur on Category 3 and 4 rapids, where the turbulence gives you an exciting ride, but with limited risk. Pahalgam from Chandanwari to Nunwan offers all 6 categories of rapids.

27 August 2010 at 21:21 - Comments

Rafting at Sonmarg

Sonmarg is the best place to have the adventure sports like white water rafting in its gushing Sindh river where you can also spent some time angling for the trout fish. The trekking tour from Sonmarg to Pahalgam is most famous trek route among the veteran trekkers. Further, you can trek to the mountain lakes of Vishansar and Kishansar and return back to Sonmarg. It is also the best place where you can go for alpine skiing and sledging. In the near future there is a stock of surprises for you, so come and find out the hidden treasure of this place.

27 August 2010 at 21:16 - Comments

Kashmir today !

Welcome to Kashmir.org.in,  We will keep you updated with this website !

13 August 2010 at 06:56 - Comments