Kashmir, where time stand still....
January 1, 1970
by Endah Schatzi
I’m Living my dream
I live in Jakarta, Indonesia. A beautiful country in South East Asia which consisted of many small islands. Indonesia is a tropical country which only has 2 seasons in a year which is dry season and rainy season only. Dry season started from April – Oktober and rainy season from November – March. But nowadays, because of climate global issue, the dry season is longer than usual and makes the rainy season come late. That afternoon I spend my time by watching TV. A local tv have a reality show which the shooting location taken in Kashmir,India. And I saw them in a snowy mountain, riding a gondola, having fun in the snow and freezing. That was the first time my idea to visit Kashmir suddenly pop up in my head. I really want to see the snow since long time ago, and before I watched that tv show I just know that I only can see and experience the snow in the Europe. An adventourous mind was slightly started in my mind, “I must go to Kashmir, this is my chance to living my dream about the snow” I can touch it, I can make a snow man, I can learn skiing, I can riding a gondola, and for sure I want to experience a minus temperature and a winter season. As a solo traveler, I always enjoy every single things I must do to prepare this trip. I start to look for a promo ticket to India, and lucky me! I found a cheap flight from Jakarta to Hyderabad transit in Kuala Lumpur for around 4250 Rupees or about USD 63.
How to ?
Many kind of transport to reach Srinagar: Jammu & Kashmir, you can take the train to Jammu and continue by bus around 10 hours to Srinagar or rent a car from Jammu to explore Srinagar,Kashmir. That option I recomend during summer, but if you come in winter the best tranport I suggest you is take a flight to Srinagar from any state in India. Some local airlines like Spice Jet, IndiGo, or Air India have reguler schedule to Srinagar,Kashmir.
I enter India via Hyderabad and my next things is how to reach Srinagar by land for saving my cost. I was thinking to take a train because Indian train route is one of the longest in the world and some of the route has a scenic nature view along the journey. To book a train ticket in India is so complicated, you must have a local Indian number because they will ask your number for their reference,but you can also buy the ticket on the spot because they provide a special que for the tourist in the station so you won’t wait too long unless that time is a high season with tourist, maybe you will get out of the ticket too. I asked my Indian friend named Ankit to help me with the booking. I was checking that time the train from Hyderabad to New Delhi will take around 22 hours though the price is very cheap but he not recommend me to take a train during winter time because their schedule will be delay unpredictable.
I don’t want to waisting my time too much on the road because I only have 10 days in total to explore Kashmir so I decided to take a flight from Hyderabad to New Delhi because the price is just a little bit different if I compare with the train ticket, plus I can arrived in the same day to Delhi. You can take the bus or train to Jammu or direct flight to Srinagar from Delhi.
Welcome to Kashmir…where time stand still
Best spot in Kashmir during winter is Sonmarg,Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. Forget about the gardens because they will close in the winter and the flowers also not in a good colour to take the pics. For ski lovers,gulmarg is the best, or just enjoying a trekking to see the beautiful black and white in the winter at Sonmarg.
The snow which covered the pine trees and the ground looks like an icing sugar in your mom’s christmas cake.
If u dont have a boots dont worry there’s a stall where u can rent a plastic boots and u can choose ur size. Playing sledge in Sonmarg is more fun. You can also learn basic skiing for only 100 rupees for 1 hour in Sonmarg. Forget about Gulmarg if u cant do skiing because that place is perfect for skiing,but if you just want to know and experience a gondola and skiing you can try here,the place more pricey than Sonmarg.
Pahalgam the shepperd valey, this place looks like a mini Switzerland during winter, you will enjoy it here and feel relaxed. The scenic Kashmir valley and the snowy mountain you can see from here. Dont forget to buy some Saffron if you visit Pahalgam, the most expensive ingredient because the flower only bloom once a year thats make it special. Some dried fruit also cheap to buy for your snack,raisins and plums are my favourite, also the special Kashmiri Kahwa which you only can find in Kashmir.
What to prepare?
Your winter coat for sure! Make sure your cloths and coat warm enough because the temperature could be drop until minus 10 to 15 on the top. In Srinagar during winter the temperature was around 5 to 7′ C And dont forget to prepare some cash because no atm in sonmarg,gulmarg and pahalgam. Maybe you can borrow a Kangri from your host to keep you warm on the road because its an authentic kashmiri portable heater which you can bring anywhere and just refill the charcoal which u can get from a shop while u stop by for chai break.
Kashmir is always special for me because it was my first time experience touching the snow,will definately come back again someday.