Pahalgam (NH1 Circuit)
Pahalgam, a small town in Kashmir, has some of the most scenic places in India. It is not long ago when travelling abroad was a privilege not available to many. It was then, when everyone I knew came to Kashmir on their Honeymoon, including my parents. Baisaran, popularly known as ‘Mini-Switzerland’ is one of the most talked about attraction of Pahalgam.
Reaching Pahalgam from Ramban, a 4 hour drive, was quite scenic but bumpy. The roads were being constructed and the rocks being blown away by dynamites for atleast half our journey. To add to it, it rained pretty heavily and we drove quite slowly. We drove through the Jawahar Tunnel, one of the oldest tunnels connecting Jammu and Kashmir since 1956. As soon we exited the tunnel, was an amazing view point called the Titanic View point. Oh, how beautiful the mountains and valleys are. The words and pictures don’t do justice to them at all.
Our first view of the River Liddar, a tributary of Jhelum, and we forgot all the bumpy roads. We just setup our tripod, parked our car next to the river and clicked. I have been a fan of the noise of water gushing since the early days, and Liddar was like music to my ears.
After resting for the night, it was time for a short pony ride to Baisaran, the mini-Switzerland in India. It was a 2 hour ride up with a couple of short breaks in between. It is not that easy to sit on a horse straight for 2 hours. Our a*ses hurt for the next 2 days after that, but the ride was worth it. Our guide showed us multiple places of interest and told us long stories about the past, present and future of everything around. He might not have studied in school for too long but was more learned about current affairs and politics and life, more than many of us who spend years learning in school.
On our way back, he took us to his abode, made us meet his wife, his kid and his complete family. He also gave us some fresh walnuts to munch on for the rest of our journey. This was the first time I actually saw walnuts on trees – quite a view it was.
There are so many other view points in Pahalgam, but when you are driving through the hills yourself, you don’t need to visit these viewpoints. The whole journey is full of such scenic points that visiting these points seems like a waste of time.
1. Don’t forget to pluck the walnuts off the trees yourself while you are there. They just much better fresh than as dry fruit.
2. The locals are very welcoming to the tourists. They are more frustrated with the turmoil and unrest than any of us can imagine and would do anything to make Kashmir a peaceful place to live in.
3. Negotiate hard when dealing with the guides/taxi drivers etc. The better you negotiate, the more you save!
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