3. Kashmir – The paradise on earth, towards the city of lakes and Shikara: Mesmerizing trip to the H

We are so worn-out for the day that all of us had a really sound sleep at the JKTDC Tourist Bungalow. As usual I have managed to wake-up a bit early(not so early through) to capture the scenic beauty around the Bungalow using a tripod, which we have missed during the night check-in.

By about 09:00am we were ready to move forward to our next destination Srinagar, the city of lakes and Shikara.

The navigation through J&K was so tranquilizing and we could feel that overwhelming excitement in each-others eyes.

Whats next ? ...looking for something to eat but on our way could find only a road side eatery shop serving breakfast. By that time the crave to have something started and thought of taking some quick grab.

The owner of the Dhaba, Madan insisted to have some cooked Basmati Rice with some kind of Rajma and Desi yak ghee poured over it as our morning meal. He was confident enough to say not to pay the bill if we are not satisfied.

The food was so delicious, made us vibrant and understood why Madan was so confident about making us try the meal.

We had to continue our journey as soon as we finished our break-fast, the planning was in such a way that by the end of 15th day we should be able to swing back to Delhi.

The roads we passed were either ruined by erosion or rock sliding and were tough to drive even-though the panoramic view around us kept us moving.

“Titanic View Point” dedicated to Major Bhupender Singh was our next pit-stop where we had our afternoon tea. We could also find a few people selling handwoven shawls.

By about 04:30 - 05:00 we were about to reach our destination for the day, Srinagar. On the way we stopped in to buy some dry fruits for us and Saffron for Izmu as his wedding date was getting nearer and someone advised him that it was good for maintaining his complexion (even-though he strongly insisted that it was bought as a gift for his fiance). While doing our purchase a couple of armed soldiers surrounded us and confirmed that we are genuinely tourists.

We were able to reach our planned destination by later that evening, the House boat @Nigeen Lake (extension of Dal lake), had to quick shower and was ready for the tea and for Shikara Ride, parked aside our houseboat. The houseboat was super luxurious just felt as-if inside a floating palace.

That evening Shaan suggested of having a ride towards Dal lake and beyond and we agreed, enjoyed the impressive night vision of the lake. By the time it was around mid-night and we were in a state of insatiable appetite and was looking for any open restaurants.

We came across a restaurant cum handicraft two-storied building opposite to Dal lake, even-though the Shop Board was illuminated the entrance gate was closed. Desperately looking at the board for sometime and considering about having some dry fruits and nuts for the dinner, we were about to leave the place.

The quintet heard a soft voice from behind inquiring whether we are looking for something to eat(in Hindi) and the reply was in a chorus a very big "YES" cheerfully following the man to the second floor of the building.

While his cook was preparing food for us we have got a chance to experience and sense the words of a the local guy who had to discontinue his education despite of his urge for knowledge due to curfew and other regulatory acts which is very common in those places.

The guy also described about being in his building along with tourists(one portion of it was reserved for tourists) for about 6 months due to 144 and curfew laws enforced a bit ago relying exclusively on the food reserve.

By that time his cook interrupted our conversation with some 'Lamb Seekh Kebab' and we continued our chat while having the same (it was the first time for us having the dish and a part of our mind went behind the lovely meal).

We have thanked him for his food and insights shared but got surprised when we came to know that he was just a 21yr old guy with lot of life experiences.

Then we sat around the small pond outside the building and noticed the huge boundary around to get protected from firing and attacks.

The guy invited us to attend his cousin's wedding reception the very next day also mentioned that we could taste Kashmiri Wazwan, a multi-course dinner served during weddings. But we had to politely decline his invitation due to our time constrain took some rest and had to leave the place back to our little palace.

Following the Wazwan Trail, What Is It All About ?

They are mostly preparations of meat(Mutton and Chicken) ranging between fifteen and thirty dishes cooked over simmering fires of wood in special nickel-plated copper vessels. They are often taken along with Kashmiri Pulao or some Kashmiri breads.

In between the guy had also mentioned about nine shouldn't miss Wazwan dishes we should try if we get a chance to visit Ahdoos Hotel or Mughal Darbar at Srinagar.

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