Srinagar

We finally arrived in Srinagar by the sunset, the summer capital of Kashmir. The most popular place to stay in this touristic city is in one of the thousands house boats in the Dal lake, the beautiful lake in the middle of the new town. Heidi and Stefan were looking for such a place to stay, and after many tries got finally one good deal: 2000 Rs for the night with breakfast and dinner for two.

I preferred to stay with a Sanjay, a very friendly CS host originally from Darjeeling but in duty in Srinagar.

A small history reminder: 1947, Indian Empire becomes independent from the British Empire, but get divided into the Hindi India and the Muslim Pakistan (+ the eastern part which became Bangladesh). Kashmir, despite of being mostly Muslim, chose to belongs to India instead of Pakistan. The Partition created conflicts and war between India and Pakistan for 60 years, Pakistan disputing the whole Kashmir to be part of its country.

In the last years, Kashmir became safer than ever, and is now ready for mass tourism. Srinagar is a very beautiful city, built around the Jehlum River and the splendid Dal Lake by 1500m altitude. I spent the first day enjoying the magnificent wooden mosques in the old town. After the breathtaking mosques seen in Iran, especially in Esfahan, I got again amazed by mosque architecture! The Kashmiri style is unique, the interior is fully wood made, and still have stunning painting!

In the evening, Sanjay and his friend Iqbal bring me to a Sufi live performance, with the Indian singer UstaadMaa Zila Khan. After that, we could enjoy much of the Kashmiri food, having a succulent wazwan trami, a mix of 5 meat preparations with rice.

The other jewelry of Srinagar is its gardens, made by the Mughals in the 17th century, with a mix of Mongol and Persian influences. I dedicated my second day to them (visited 4!), and by these aspects beautiful mosques and gardens, Srinagar reminds me Shiraz in Iran! I finished my day visiting the Hindu temple on the top of the Shankara Charya hill, giving stuning views over the city. It is however a pity that photography was forbidden in this temple: the military guys were sharply controlling the bags before getting up the 250 steps up to the temple. I suspect the control to be related by the army bases you can easily indentify from the top.

Second evening and diner with Sanjay and Iqbal: pasta at home, a mix of Italian, French and Indian cultures! I was leading the cook, mixing tomatoes, capsicum, mushrooms, garlic, onions and chicken with Indian spices! A lot of fun to cook together and a delicious meal at the end!

My third and last day in Srinagar was quite special. I planned to visit some museums and shops, but because of a general strike, everything was closed, so I could not do much! Reason of this strike: this US anti Muslim movie! Not only the local economy but also the communications were made not possible: Internet and even the mobile networks were shut down: a radical solution to avoid people to organize some riots!

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