Shahenshah Palace Hotel
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Today is the breaking of the "Fellowship of the Ring Around the Himalayas." Four of our group fly from Amritsar to Delhi, and seven of us continue with a flight to Sri****r in Kashmir. I get a window seat on the flight, eager to capture images of this beautiful land, but we are advised as we are descending that the taking of photos is strictly prohibited. There are lots of clouds and rough weather as we are descending, but the skies clear and it is warm and humid ...
... a bit of reading I was convinced - everything about Kashmir sounded like much more of an adventure! Ironically I had told my dad just a couple of days before that I wouldn't be going to Kashmir (and hence couldn't buy him a safire...) as the foreign office said that tourists shouldn't go. On reading though, there hadn't been any troubles for a while and it seemed safe enough... And so further north we went!
We first took the most uncomfortable bus I have ever been on - ...
... The feeling was sad as we all said our goodbyes and everyone was dreading the thought of work the following day.
To end off what had been such an amazing week, we met for dinner to celebrate Babloos birthday and try out some Kashmiri cuisine that evening. Dinner turned into drinks on our houseboat decks sharing mostly stories of love and deciphering the differences between the western ideals and courting in India. Needless to say, things are handled differently, and ...
... get some looks, and not because of the lack of tourists; many of them don't like westerners (and Israelis I was blatantly told). Western Kashmir really just opened up to tourism again several years ago when the insurgency died down. The Old Town was a center of the separatist and fundamentalist movement for several years. But you don't need to worry at night at the moment, as there was a curfew due to some recent clashes between protestors and the police in the region, so ...
... effort involved in making one carpet (6 months to 2 years), and of-course all reflected in the prices of these carpets, which become a long term investment in itself.
We were also introduced to Kahwah Tea, a traditional green tea, consumed in the Kashmir valley, made by boiling green tea leaves, and with saffron, cinnamon, and cardamom etc., added to give us a refreshing jolt.
After a hearty dinner at the hotel, we dozed off in the arms of the Kashmir ...