Here They Come

  • Kanika Gupta
  • Publish Date: May 7 2018 1:25AM
  • |
  • Updated Date: May 7 2018 1:25AM
Here They Come

These women travellers laugh off the suggestion that Kashmir is a dangerous place for visitors.

 

In Kashmir, every season is a vast colour palette. The spotless white winter landscape is as alluring as the flaming shade of auburn leaves take on in autumn. Spring is a riot of colours with an abundance of flowers blooming in full glory, making way for the Himalayan summer that’s sun-kissed at day and pleasant at night. Watching sunset by the Dal lake with the piercingly crisp air carrying the reverberations of Azaan is a memory to cherish for a lifetime. 

No wonder many people want to explore and experience this mystic land. But they are often discouraged by reports about the dangers of travelling to a conflict zone. Not Divia Thani and a few women like her. They travel far and wide within the valley and love every second of it. 

“I have never felt unsafe in Kashmir and my travels have never been affected by the conflict,” says Divia Thani. The editor of Condenast Traveller India, Divia travels not only for the love of it but also to open up different places to her magazine’s readers. Kashmir’s scenery, culture, food, and history make it a very special place, Divia says. She hopes more tourists visit this summer. 

As a solo traveller myself, I can attest to the fact that tourists are safe in Kashmir. Fellow solo traveller, Abony Roy, 22, from Bangladesh, agrees. Abony is a student who has been traveling in Kashmir for some time. Asked if she would advise people to visit the valley, she replied with an enthusiastic yes. And why not: Abony has had the “experience of a lifetime travelling in Kashmir”.

Most people come to Kashmir to see the beauty of its lands, but what they take back are the memories of its people. Known for their hospitality, Kashmiris often go out of their way to ensure visitors have an unforgettable experience. Much has been said about the warmth of Kashmir’s people but you wouldn’t understand the full extent of it unless you have experienced it first hand, as Ashfina Charania points out. 

Ashfina, a food blogger from Mumbai who goes by ‘The Wicked Soul’, came to the valley for three days but, “overwhelmed by the kindness of the people”, ended up staying more than a week. One man, she recalls, went to great trouble just to fulfil her desire to taste the winter comfort food harissa – in summer. “We met at a tea shop and over random conversations I asked him about the foods that were unique to Kashmir. I saw his eyes twinkle as he mentioned harissa. I knew then that I had to taste it. He told me harissa is available only in winters and that left me disappointed. I jokingly said I was a season too late to try this delicacy. So he took it upon himself to make harissa happen, just for me. He not only got it prepared from a waza he knew but even had it delivered to my guesthouse for breakfast. I have never seen someone go to such lengths for a stranger they met in a café.” 

Charania also talks fondly about trekking through Yousmarg and being called by villagers to stop for a cup of salted tea or kahwa. 

Bhavita Modi, 30, a lawyer from New Delhi, is so fed up of the media’s “pessimistic view” about Kashmir and much else, she has stopped following news. It is better to meet people and hear their perspectives rather than just believe what is told about them, she says. 

Kashmir can do with more visitors like these women.