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Adorable Chick

Kashmir Diary - April 13 : Day 4

In ancient times the Hill station village of Sonmarg was of commercial importance as it was the main link to China with whom Silk trade of the country flourished. It lies at a distance of about 3 hours from Srinagar and is easily accessible by road. It is also called the SONAMARG or the "Meadow of gold" as it is carpeted with yellow during the summer season against the backdrop of the snowy mountains and is completely covered with snow - considered "white gold" in winters. It is the basecamp for Ladakh and therefore is also of military importance.

River Sindh flows through the Sonmarg valley. As a traveller what you can look for here is some awesome trekking, lake visits, white water rafting in Baltal, a few beautiful valleys, Glaciers and there is also access to the Zoji-la- pass. This pass lies on the highway connecting Srinagar to LeH. So if you ever plan to visit Kashmir, keep a couple of days for Sonmarg alone. Ours was just a day trip and it turned out awesome. We were sad that we could not cover too much due to shortage of time.

The day began early. I was feeling fit as a fiddle. Nasir's dad encouraged me to be a part of the day trip to Sonmarg. He was confident my body would be filled with fresh oxygen and I would naturally heal. Younis (read Srinagar) helped us get there in just about 3 hours. The journey to Sonmarg is not about a destination. It is about the richness of the entire journey in getting there. The sights of golden mustard fields greeted us. There came our first stop. Tons of yellow flowers, swaying in the cool breeze carpeted the entire stretch of land for at least 3-4 kilometres. We got off to "a-la-Shahrukh Khan- pose" amidst the yellow fields , celebrating the DILWALE DULHANIYA style.

Tidy Desk

Continuing on our journey, we crossed a path next to which river Sindh gently made a flow. The entire scene had changed by now. The yellow and green slowly turned into browns and whites. The first sights of snow, was our very first. We were ecstatic ! Younis could easily say it was our first time of experiencing snow by our behaviour.

He decided to let us get a feel of it. We had our first stop in an unnamed area. The place was just off the highway. It was a total NO MAN's land. We were free to even run across the road (of course with caution as it was a highway). We got to the water. The stop was all worth it. We were in no hurry to reach Sonmarg. We enjoyed the present to the fullest.

Standing on a snowy piece of land, next to a milky green water flow, surrounded by high and low mountains with pine trees jutting out of the white, was a heavenly sight. We through little balls of snow at each other, felt the chill waters. We had no courage to dip our feet in. The place was perfect for families to have personal moments of joy and laughter. We could spot a small lawn and kids play area kind of set up a little away from us. We were happy staying away from crowds in our own space. We played around to our hearts content till our gloves got wet and our hands froze. It was time to leave the place. We were mid way and the rest of the journey took around one and half hours. We were now engulfed by a combination of white, dark green and browns peeking out here and there.

The Sonmarg valley welcomed us with a huge land carpeted with white snow, waiting to be explored as a playground for all. We suddenly spotted crowds. There were buses and other private vehicles parked all around a flat piece of land. A restaurant selling tea, coffee and snacks was flooded with people who not only were hungry but also wanted to keep themselves warm.