FOR someone like me who always had a dream to visit the ‘paradise on earth’-Kashmir, coming face to face with the restrained might that the mystic valley possesses was an event of some magnitude.
For me, Kashmir has always been a closed book that has infinite enchanting chapters, yet to be explored. The desire to visit Kashmir led to an incredible adventure. The dream finally came true in the year 2012. People say that only dead can go to heaven and I do not know if heavens or hells exist, but if they do, then I got to travel to heaven, and that too being alive.
My journey began at the Kurukshetra Junction station. I was accompanied by my family; still, I had a good book packed to keep me company. I was an optimistic traveller but it was a mistake to forget that I was in India, riding in an Indian Railways train and that too with my family. The continuous chit chat between my family members was constantly getting on my nerves.
The first day of the trip was spent in the hustle and bustle of Jammu city and then began an unforgettable journey to Kashmir. While crossing the iconic Jawahar Tunnel, it appeared as if my soul was driving into heaven from earth. A soothing blow of wind greeted us and we felt the warmth of Kashmiriyat at the very first instance. The other side of Pir panjal range is a different world in itself.
After entering Srinagar, the cold, turquoise waters of Jhelum greeted my eyes. The site was refreshing enough to rejuvenate any dead soul numbed by monotony. The highlight of the journey came when I was standing at the very centre of the Lal Chowk, the place that has a symbolic significance in the history of Kashmir. Lal Chowk has witnessed many chapters of history unfolding in front of it. The bazaar was lit up with the lights of night. The scenic view of mighty Jhelum from the hotel room forces you to introspect. The uneasy silence makes you stand between peace and conflict.
Kashmir- Whenever this word falls on my ears, an ear to ear grin spreads across my face and I get lost in my reveries. I have a bucket full of alluring memories with this place. ‘Beauty lies in the eyes of beholder’ is a very stereotypical statement but when you feel the gushes of Lidder river’s brimming waters, the very stereotypical statement becomes a fact. Talking of Gulmarg, the serenity of its flushing meadows and the sublime sunshine on its snow-clad peaks is a ‘deadly combination for nature lovers.
The place has a totally different aura altogether. My journey from a busy city of Srinagar to the land of mesmerizing valley Pahalgam was awe-striking. Kashmir’s every place never ceases to astonish you. From the train journey I shared with my family to taking a gondola ride, it was a treat to our eyes. The saffron fields of Kashmir whisper in your ears, “The solace lies within,” The apple orchards tell you that sweetness can be tasted even in the times of sorrow, the crackling sounds of Kashmiri walnuts and almonds echo in the valley, the cherries are as red as valley’s moon, which is fully drenched in blood.
It has been eight years since I had been there, but today also it is still unblemished in my mind. Time has taken a full swing, now; I am covering Kashmir as a journalist, the place I once admired only for its natural beauty. Now, in this pandemic, as a journalist, I am trying to understand Kashmir through a different lens. Now after so many years, I have got a chance to explore the diversity of Kashmir. Only time will tell if I will be successful in understanding the tender hearts of valley or not, but one thing is for sure: Kashmir and its people will never fail to spellbind me with endless beauty of their Kashmiriyat.
Well, I can write pages and pages applauding about The ‘Paradise on Earth’, yet this is what the place is known by and it’s different colors justify it. I will end it here; Kashmir has sheltered its culture and natural beauty.
- The author is a Journalist
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