Date of Journey : 17 May 2008>> Gulmarg - Jammu & Kashmir
My very first and strong memories of Kashmir were from the lines of my Telugu prose chapter called Kashmira Darsanam of class Vll. Neither do I remember the author nor his/her agenda in the chapter but all that remained in the years to follow was his/her description of our own paradise on earth. The lure of the pristine and lofty snow covered mountains was always there only to be fueled by its appearance in the popular media, for instance movies like Kashmir ki Kali or Roja. While the former showed the beauty of the valley in a lighter tone, the latter showed the crisis of militancy that was ripping the state apart. I was still in school and I used to wonder if matters would ever turn for good and if I’d ever get a chance to go to Kashmir. Let’s fast forward 15 years, it is 2008 and right now I am sitting in a nondescript cubicle trying to earn my living – dreams of Kashmir all forgotten.
I have to tell you until the summer of 2008 I was not the person (read travel freak) that you now know. You should also understand that I had just bought my camera and so forgive my gross injustice to the place in the photos. All I wanted was to have a good job, good income, good food, good movies and the likes of such - nothing of consequence. So you can imagine the shock when my dad calls me up one fine evening and tells me we are going to Kashmir. It took me weeks before I actually believed him. But turns out the old man was not kidding. Weeks later I was flying to Srinagar with my family. Needless to say what followed in the days to come had shaped me to what I am today- for better or for worse! ;)
Jammu & Kashmir is the northern most state of the Indian Sub-Continent and it falls in the vicinity of the Karakoram and north-western Himalayan ranges. This state shares border and conflicts with Pakistan and China on either side. The state is divided into three divisions – Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and each one of these areas is completely different from one another in every aspect starting from landscape to culture.
, by Neelima Vallangi