Finally, it was 20th of March! Well.. I was not really alone at Aru valley. It was sparsely crowded by tourists mostly honeymoon trip, hippies and locals as it was an off season.
To not encounter roadblocks alike the earlier trip from Srinagar to Pahalgham, we started early. Fortunately the roadtrip was easy and quick. In 80minutes approx, I had reached Gulmarg. Once you start getting closer to Gulmarg, you can start seeing snow everywhere. Summer had just started and you can view the fragile valleys formed by the melting snow, greenery here and there. I requested Suhail to stop the car at every slope, I could see. For nothing but climb on top and roll down. Literally! I ain’t kidding here. The happy-go and composed person that he is, he did stop and captured my monkey-acts on phone cam.
The day continued and there are around 15+ hairpin bends. When you almost reach, you see big tent selling rubber boots and jackets to combat the chillness. And all this for Rs. 700 which I later realized was a waste of mint. Throughout the trip, there are guides who continue pitching about the places they can take you to and the activities you can do. At Gulmarg, you can do skiing, hiking, camping, horse riding and play golf too. Since it was early summer, I could not experience many.
However, I saw Kashmir when she was white. Next time, I go I shall make sure, she’s green.
The day being my birthday, I hiked up to the Shiva temple chanting Hanuman Chalisa. Even if it was any other day, I would have done this. And should I now say this again ? One cup of hot Kahwa! and I climbed down, I started enquiring about the activities. I had taken a Gondola trip in Darjeeling. And honestly, I wasn’t tempted for this. But I wanted to sledge on the slope. That was the deal and costed Rs. 500 after bargaining.
That was a beautiful ride wherein, if you wish you can walk and sledge or only sledge. The landscape is a Golf court during summers which was snow covered up to 3 feet. I hiked, walked and mostly sledged to that old church on top. That was a “selfie” point to many tourists. The fun was in sledging downwards in full speed. Worse case, even if you fall, you will skid on the soft bed of snow. The ride was over. Now I was hungry and thirsty. One thing, I must tell, remember the jacket I was asked to buy to combat the chill weather ? It was not needed. It wasn’t very chill. My jacket, to me, was more than enough. Need I say ? I had another 2 cups of Kahwa. I realized Kahwa did not taste the same at all places. It tastes different at each place. The best Kahwa was my first Kahwa, that I had in the houseboat at Srinagar.
I’ll be sharing the consolidated expenses of my trip in the next post.