Monday, September 26, 2011


KASHMIR !!!  It has been my dream  since childhood days to see the paradise on earth. It could not materialize due to various reasons. Finally I made it in 1st week of September!! For a change , I had plan the trip in advance and tour organizer, The Kashmir paradise tour" had given me a very good deal, a very nice Super deluxe House boat, a mid range Hotel in Srinagar and the my choice hotel in Pahalgaon. 
You get to read a lot on Kashmir , so I wont go into details. I shall post few photographs and some travel tips. Our destinations were Srinagar, Sona Marg, Gul Marg , Pahalgaon and around.
Kashmir is very peaceful now and the tourism sector is back to normal. This year there was record number of tourists. 
We took a flight from Delhi. Srinagar is just  1 hr 20 minutes away.  At the airport our guide cum driver was ready with the vehicle and received us with a warm smile. Mr. Rafiq would be with us for next 7 days. He is a very cordial and knowledge person.. 
We drove from the airport to the house boat, water front. Our 1st night stay was in a Super Deluxe house boat on the Dal lake. The transfer from road head to house boat is always by boat, called Sikara. All the house boats are concentrated at one corner of the Dal lake. The lake is quite massive and you can have a look at Google map.
THE HOUSE BOAT We stayed in a House boat named 'New California'. It is part of the largest house boat complex "California House boats" and all boats are connected by a wooden walk way over water, one of its kind on the whole lake. Boats may have 2 to 4 and some times six rooms, with attached bath , dressing area and very well appointed. 
The House Boat New California where we stayed

The California House boat complex with connecting walkway

The California House boat complex at night

As you enter, you have a nice place to sit 

Lazy people also sit here and watch the lake and passing Sikara
 The living area with beautiful Kashmiri woodwork. The passage leads to the dinning area and then to rooms
Woodwork in House boat 
Sitting in front and watching 
Tourists passing by on a Sikara
Fast food joint
Vendors on boat trying to sell. Akbar fort at a distance
 It seems so unreal but real

Taking a Sikara (boat) ride is the main attraction on Dal lake. After lunch we set out on the trip. The boat man was waiting with a big smile. No sooner did the boat leave the jetty than we were flanked from both sides by small merchant boats. While  on one side, SOMEONE was examining artificial Kashmiri jewelries one by one with great excitement , at the other side I was examining papier mache cats, owls, boats, jewelry boxes etc with reasonable disgust as the boat was obstructing my views. But it was a good experience and the merchants were humble and nice.
Here are some views of dal lake from Sikara 
Sikara hiring point ( there are many)
 Nehru Park on Dal lake. We took a break here . 
There is a restaurant too, at Nehru park 

Tarif karuN kya uski...jisne tumhe banaya ( I mean Kashmir and not someone) 

As you take Sikara  ride along the house boats , you really enjoy watching the names, the surroundings and the reflections on placid water . Note the names of the boats

The Char Chinnar on Dal lake

After a great pakoda snack at a floating fast food joint , I suddenly found that the boat man was restless and started persuading us to go to the narrow water ways to see lotus farming, floating vegetable fields, and incidentally some shops. The main reason was, he wanted us to buy some thing from the floating markets so that he could get a cut. It is usual in all tourist places. We did buy few nice dress material and the boat man was happy.
Here are few photos of waterway, lotus field, market etc
I was amazed to see 3 small kids alone in a boat rowing and ladies rowing and gossiping in another one.
 Through the waterways along the boating fields
 Some floating shops

 A lotus, camera shy
 Lotus fields...from here the  Lotus stems are supplied and used in famous Kashmiri dishes
 Birds on the Dal
The red color is due to reflection of a painted glass panel of a near by house 

We were back to the house boat in the evening, had a great but simple diner , with chicken , Dal, vege curry  and rice.
End of part-1 and day 1.  


sangeeta said...

I am confused on whether i like your recipes more or your travelogues more .
I like both more than anything else actually...the cooking is real food cooked the real way and the travelogues are surreal :)

San said...

Sikara ride sounds very interesting and happy that your dream came into reality. Kashmir is always like an ameer's paradise. Thanks for taking us all there virtually. Well written travelogue with beautiful jaw- dropping pictures.

Pari said...

Hi da. Thanks for the virtual tour through the dal lake, I relived the moments again. I had loved my 7days stay there and pahalgam was surely breathtaking. I'm so happy that u finally managed to visit the heaven on earth.



Arti said...

Ushnish ji,
This is truly the first time I am seeing Srinagar! It does look heavenly. The pics are a treat and I have seen them twice but still want to watch again... And SOMEONE is beautiful, you can sing a song in her praise!!!
Waiting for your further posts eagerly.
Have a nice day:)

Priya said...

Kashmir, i always wanted to visit this magical place, seriously ur clicks are pulling me to visit soon..thanks for this eye pleasing virtual tour..

Kuntala said...

iis, amar ki shokh houseboat-e thakar. chhobi dekhe ichher agune notun kore ghee poRlo. khub bhalo laglo post-ta poRe ar chhobi dekhe.

Amrita said...

Kashmir is beautiful and its a pity that the law and order situation there has prevented us from visiting it more frequently. This has also played havoc to the economy there. Its really good that it is now peaceful enough for tourists to make a bee line to the Dal Lake.. and Dal Lake is forever associated in our memory with Shammi Kapoor singing, dancing and then finally falling into the lake to the tune of "taarif karoon kyaa uskee, jisne tumhe banaaya" :) :)

Prathima Shivraj said...

Hello Ushnish Ghosh Ji,

How are you? It's my dream too from childhood to visit that heavenly place, now your clicks are urging me to make my dream true, you are so lucky.


vineetha said...

It has been a long time since I have visited ur space..Hope u r doing well..
Would looooove to go there one day..Pics look sooo beautiful.

Biny Anoop said...

wow thx to ur clicks...i cud see the most beautiful place on earth....always wanted to come there but parents never allowed.....wud certainly do it sometime.....thx for thr tour

? said...

I think I prefer the travelogues and the food posts when am really hungry! :-D!
Why California? They almost look like American Townhomes, next to each other? Do these California houseboats float or are they permanently moored?

And of course, you have the perfect song for the perfect setting! :-D!

Jay said...

wow...wat a lovely cliks..thanks for sharing Ji..:)
Tasty Appetite

Ushnish Ghosh said...

Dear Q
I feel good that you like the post! Yes the house boats in Kashmir is permanently anchored ( unlike Kerala).
Most of the house boats are not connected and isolated. The California group boats are only connected. These are for housing very large group travelers. Many people dont like to be in crowd ..but I like it ..But due to off season there were hardly any people in California boat complex.
Have a nice day

Prathima Shivraj said...

Ushnish Ji,
Thank you for comment at my space, sure we will plan it soon.

Coming to my recipe as you asked about flour, we can use either besan or rice flour, it goes heavenly with besan flour, have it a try and I am sure definitely you will enjoy the recipe.


PJ said...

I have always dreamt of going to Kashmir.You have taken me on a wonder tour of the place. The clicks are superb and you have increased my eagerness to visit this heaven on earth. Thanks for sharing your beautiful experiences :)

Shobha said...

Indeed, Kashmir is a beautiful place...a heaven on earth..I am glad that tourists have started visiting again..
My hubby dear did his engineering there..we did visit the place soon after we got married.

Madhu said...

Oh my!! Pictures look so nice! Kashmir is sure heaven on earth.

Preeti Kashyap said...

Dal lake did u say? Kashmir was my first home, then of course we shifted to delhi!

Awesome travelogue! waiting for your part-2! Loved the carlifornia house boat, shd stay there next time I visit.

Sutapa said...

Dada after a long time and we all missed you!
Subho Bijoyar preeti, suvechha o bhalobasha for you and your beautiful loving family and friends!
What an excellent post and you take some great shots,that California was truly royal. I loved all the pics but being a foodie that fast food joint attract me!
If you collect some rare recipes with kamal kakri (lotus stem)then do share with us!
Waiting for part 2!:)

varsha said...

I just love going down the road you travelled through your blog !You make Kashmir come alive!

Jaya said...

Ushnish Da,
Shobho Bijoya to you and Boudi..though late..and lovely pictures of Kashmir..just feel like a dream..beautiful..ami ekto break e achi, kinto bijoya wish korte chole elaam..regards