Heaven on Earth, Jannat (Paradise), Switzerland of India — call it by any name, Kashmir is all of it and more.
The Valley is breathtaking in every way and every season. The blooms of tulips, saffron, lotus and rose are a feast for the eyes in spring and the vast green meadows in summer welcome travellers with open arms. Autumn, unquestionably the most beautiful season in Kashmir, transforms the state in varied hues of brown as chinar leaves begin their fall to the ground.
I went in December, the start of a long winter, and by that time, most of the Valley apart from Srinagar was covered in a blanket of fluffy white powder. Kashmir was a vision in white — a beautiful, enchanting vision.
Boat ride in the morning haze
My introduction to Kashmir was a shikara ride on the iconic Dal Lake — cold, misty and serene. Our boatmen took us around the lake for almost an hour-long ride. Yes, the lake is huge! The fog during early morning made the ride absolutely magical.
The amazingly calm lake is home to several families who live right on the lake and have even managed cultivation. The pastoral walkways serve as the only mode of transport for the residents apart from boats.
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If you’re lucky, you will witness a beautiful spectacle in the higher parts of the Kashmir Valley, especially Gulmarg, enveloped in snow. The almost knee-deep fluff turns the otherwise green meadows into a vast playground for winter adventure activities and building a snowman.
It is a winter wonderland
Everywhere you look, the Kashmir Valley is nothing short of a fairyland, with milky pine and fir trees dotting the mountain slopes in ethereal beauty. What better way to celebrate Christmas?
It has the best views
Kashmir has the most stunning views all year round, but the frozen snow will melt your heart. It is the perfect weather to curl up with the book and sip on a never-ending supply of hot kahwa.
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Just point your camera in any direction, you’ll get the most perfect click. There is no scope to take a bad photo with snow-capped Pir Panjal and Himalayan ranges encompassing the Valley.
A show of autumn
The best part about visiting in December is the remnants of autumn colours that vary from burnt orange to a dull brown. You get the best of both seasons before the harshness of winter sets in.