Back from Paradise - The most gorgeous weekend ever !

#1 Aug 18th, 2011, 00:10
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  • Travelexcites is offline
#1
A big thanks to all your help and suggestions and here’s a brief account of our trip. We were there from August 12-16th…

Day I – A bumpy plane ride from Delhi brings us to a gorgeous drizzly Srinagar. The disappointment at having missed the pir panjal mountains due to the nasty rain clouds fast vanishes when the pilot announces the outside temperature is a beautiful 16C a far cry away from the muggy heat in Delhi. While the airport crawling with cops and the army takes some getting used (particularly since I had to wait for about 45 minutes for my fiancé who unfortunately had to take a different flight), being ramzaan it was extremely interesting to see the prayer halls and namaaz at the airport. Having already booked a room at a houseboat on Nagin Lake we decided to take the Tourist Dept. bus until the tourist centre (Rs 45) and then an auto from there until Nagin Club Shikara Stand (Rs. 150) where we had Ijaz our friendly shikara man waiting to take us to our houseboat. Booked at the Khilona Houseboat (http://www.cashmerehouseboats.com/) through a friend who assured us that it would be great but could not locate any reviews anywhere, the ride to the boat was one of intrigue and guessing and double guessing about which boat would be ours. Needless to say we were absolutely thrilled to see ours. It was absolutely stunning particularly set against the extremely quiet aweinspiring beauty of the lake and the mountains on the horizon. We had a cozy comfortable room with a huge double bed and a clean and tidy bathroom (with a bath tub!!). Ram Singh the caretaker at the boat is a darling and always around. He also make a good fishing buddy for a quiet night at the houseboat. Our friend had got us the deal for Rs 1500 per night including breakfast. An evening on the Dal lake (which both of us didn’t like as much and thought it was a bit overcrowded with thousands of houseboats and tourists) topped off by fantastic Kashmiri Wazwaan at Ahdoos restaurant that we would very highly recommend (meal for two for about Rs. 600)

Day II - While I would recommend Nagin Lake over Dal anyday for the quiet and peace, I guess a deciding factor for many would be the distance. The lake is a bit far away from the centre of tourist activity and if like us you decide not to rent a taxi for the entire day you tend to get stuck haggling with autowallahs who charge nothing less than Rs. 150 no matter where you go! Learning fast we struck a deal with Bashiran Bhai who agreed to stay with us for the entire day for a sum of Rs. 700 (a taxi could cost you anywhere between 2000 – 2500) and to be our personalized guide around Srinagar. And what a fantastic guide he was. For those of you who want to skip the touristy things to do in the city there are three things I would highly recommend that you definitely should not miss – Khanqah –e–Mu’alla a stunning 14th century mosque; Pari Mahal for the views and Jamia masjid or even just a ride around old Delhi. If you want to pick any one garden – we liked Shalimar but Nishad was beautiful too. I would also recommend spending a quiet afternoon with a book (I was reading a Hindi classic now translated into English called ‘A street in Srinagar’ quite befitting won’t you say) and just watching the day go buy. Every now and then of course you will be distracted by a shikara passing by selling anything from flowers to shawls to earings to sheek kebabs! We chose not to have our meals at the houseboats (on clever Ram Singh’s advice) and instead brought back packed food which he was happy to heat and serve hot! Bashiran Bhai recommended a dhaba where we swear we got the best Rista ever ! (meal for two for Rs. 300)

Day III – Once again deciding to rough it out a bit we decided not to take a taxi and instead take a shared cab to Pahalgam. So the route one takes is a shared sumo (Rs. 60 per head journey of an hour and half) to Anantnag and then another one from there (Rs. 50 per head for a journey of an hour) to Pahalgam. Unlike other shared taxis I’ve used before, here they don’t feel the need to pack the car like a can of sardines which leaves enough place for a comfortable journey. The only problem being you have to wait for the car to fill up which can be a bit annoying. Another down point being the mob of hoteliers that hound you the moment you get off the car at Pahalgam town!I've been to tonnes of touristy places before but must tell you this kind of hounding was really unnerving.. Thankfully spotted Gulzar from Himalaya House (HH) with whom although we didn't have a booking I had spoken to earlier and got a quote who agreed to take us to the guest house and also to drop us back if we didn't like it! Ofcourse there was no question of not liking it being bribed by the most STUNNING view from our room window ever ! It was almost like looking at a beautiful wallpaper and we got this room from Rs.1500. We also checked out Brown Palace where the rooms were a lot cheaper (for about Rs. 800) also very very cozy but unfortunately lacking the view. The people at Brown Palace though are far far more friendly and a real pleasure to just chat with. Haji saab is truly an encyclopedia on the mountains! We were so convinced that we decided to take their advice for the next day (see below). Once again like Srinagar getting around in Pahalgam can be quite expensive with taxis and ponies being your only mode of transport. A trip to Betab valley unfortunately hampered by extremely heavy rainfall for us cost us Rs. 450,Aru valley would have been another Rs. 500 which unfortunately we could not do cause of the heavy rains. So we chose to sit in our rooms sipping on Kahwa and enjoying the fantastic views.

Day IV. - So like I mentioned above we decided to take Ashrab's (from Brown Palace) advice and not do the standard pony/ taxi ride to see the place and instead do it on our feet! We were given a darling of a guide young manzoor (for Rs. 700) who led us through a 20 km trek/ walk through this route - Lari Pora - Bhaisaran - Kashmir Valley - Waterfall - Mamleshwar Temple - back to Lari Pora. It was absolutely GREAT and sooper good for the system and ofcourse what could be more beautiful than walking through pine forests,meadows and by the river! We'd also recommend another trek we were unable to do due to the shortage of time to Tuliyan lake (which we were told would cost about Rs. 2000 per person since it includes a night stay in tents)

A speacial mention should be made for Ghulamji's (at HH) wonderful cooking that makes the most amazing comfort food for meals and fantastic omelets for breakfast and wonderful kahwa at anytime of the day

Day V - Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and so did our lovely weekend. We finally could escape it no more and had to take a taxi back to the airport from Pahalgam (Rs. 1800 for the airport drop) Our flight was at 1pm and we left Pahalgam around 8 am. You need to get to the airport at least 2 hours before your flight and we made it comfortably despite a massive traffic jam we were caught in just outside of Srinagar thanks to the CMs cavalcade that had held up all the traffic! The airport at Srinagar for departures is absolutely crazy .. with at least 3 x-ray checks and several friskings... a stark reminder that your holiday's over

Well ... looks like my account was not that brief after all... But hope this helps those of you still planning your holidays...I'm definitely going back to do all that i've missed and wish you all great holidays ! Thanks once again and cheers !
#2 Aug 18th, 2011, 02:11
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  • teetiana is offline
#2

@ Travelexcites

heyy.. am sure you had a great trip..
it was really good reading your experiences
regards,
T.
_______________
Always Happy
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#3 Aug 18th, 2011, 02:36
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#3
heyy ... can you give me the numbers of Himalaya House and Brown Palace in Pahalgam..??
I am really looking forward to staying here.. when i get to Pahalgam.. the next month.
#4 Aug 18th, 2011, 07:16
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  • sunnykashmir is offline
#4
I guess 1500 for off season is expensive you could have checked Mantoo Cottages just next to Himalaya house with same views and better services and got a better deal between 700-1000, here is the number of the owner Mr. Manzoor Mantoo.09419009032.

Regards

Sunny
#5 Aug 18th, 2011, 07:25
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  • DaisyL is offline
#5
Thank you for sharing your experiences with us, Travelexcites!

I really enjoyed reading about your trip!
#6 Aug 18th, 2011, 14:42
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#6
Dear travelexcites
do we rally need guide for 20km trek at pahalgam
#7 Aug 18th, 2011, 15:04
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  • naveenamohanrao is offline
#7

Nice write up

[QUOTE=Travelexcites;1245202]A big thanks to all your help and suggestions and here’s a brief account of our trip. We were there from August 12-16th…

Every time i read description of different places...I feel, there are so many wonderful places here in India & wonder if it will be possible to to visit them all in one lifetime. Thanks for writing in detail about your experience.

Any photos?

Regards
Naveena
#8 Aug 18th, 2011, 15:14
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  • brishti is offline
#8
thank you, travelexcites for the lovely writeup !!
you seemed to have had a wondrous time.
staying on a houseboat on any lake is quite something else, aint it ?




no rogan josh ?? gustaba ?? yummy kashmiri food
:brishti




ps
just noticed, there're a whole lotta IMers back from the valley - and all having had a funtastic time
hope somebody ate rogan josh and/or gustaba
#9 Aug 18th, 2011, 23:23
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  • Travelexcites is offline
#9
Quote:
Originally Posted by ash16783 View Post Dear travelexcites
do we rally need guide for 20km trek at pahalgam
Well ... it seemed like we were the only ones doing the walk as everyone else seemed to be on pony backs and there were long periods of time where we didn't see any ponies ... which makes me think that Manzoor probably took us on different routes... So i guess you can do it without a guide but you'd have to follow the pony route in that case... Also it is an absolute pleasure to listen to your guide's stories and get almost an inside peek into their lives in the area.. which we thought was worth every penny we had paid for this!
#10 Aug 18th, 2011, 23:24
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#10
Quote:
Originally Posted by brishti View Post thank you, travelexcites for the lovely writeup !!
you seemed to have had a wondrous time.
staying on a houseboat on any lake is quite something else, aint it ?

no rogan josh ?? gustaba ?? yummy kashmiri food
:brishti
ps
just noticed, there're a whole lotta IMers back from the valley - and all having had a funtastic time
hope somebody ate rogan josh and/or gustaba

Yup had all of that and loved it all ... but must say Rista was my favorite !
#11 Aug 18th, 2011, 23:28
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  • Travelexcites is offline
#11
Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnykashmir View Post I guess 1500 for off season is expensive you could have checked Mantoo Cottages just next to Himalaya house with same views and better services and got a better deal between 700-1000, here is the number of the owner Mr. Manzoor Mantoo.09419009032.

Regards

Sunny
Well we did realize we were paying more when we walked over to Brown Palace where a similar room was available for Rs. 800... But the view from our room at HH was absolutely wonderful. Also like I mentioned the hounding at Pahalgam when you get off the taxi is absolutely crazy and we kind of just took our first best option to escape! But yeah I guess you could try the other hotels in Lari Pora ... There are quite a few all one after another.. Hotel Mansion also looked really nice and is right next to the golf club
#12 Aug 19th, 2011, 00:58
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#12

Unhappy @ Travelexcites

Quote:
Originally Posted by Travelexcites View Post Well we did realize we were paying more when we walked over to Brown Palace where a similar room was available for Rs. 800... But the view from our room at HH was absolutely wonderful. Also like I mentioned the hounding at Pahalgam when you get off the taxi is absolutely crazy and we kind of just took our first best option to escape! But yeah I guess you could try the other hotels in Lari Pora ... There are quite a few all one after another.. Hotel Mansion also looked really nice and is right next to the golf club

heyy.. you didn't reply to my post..
do you have the phone numbers of the places you stayed at.
#13 Oct 24th, 2011, 17:28
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  • Fathima Al Muhairi is offline
#13
Thanks...
It was a great read....

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