(We met them on our way to Pahalgam, Kashmir. I think this scenario serves as a hump/ speedbreaker for the drivers.)
Interesting enough that we got mixed reactions when we went to Kashmir last month. I think that more than the timing and amongst the many whys, it is a straight to the point amazement of wanting to visit (and coming back safe and sound) a place with a reputation of unrest and intimidation in general.
Only a few people knew that we would be visiting Kashmir (i.e. the northernmost part of India). Mainly not to let those especially dear to us to incur unnecessary worries for the kind of risk appetite that we have. Kashmir has fascinated me since 2008 when I first heard about it from an expat-colleague who visited the “paradise on earth”. No photos from the colleague’s stories. But it struck me that his & wife’s visit has been ‘privileged’ and only made possible because they were accompanied by a relative who works for the military. Fast forward. The political unrest has subsided and Kashmir is now safe for tourists. Even few years back. And we thought that the long weekend in light of the Eid Al Adha celebration was the perfect time to visit Kashmir. We trusted that we tested the waters (for whatever minimal means) long enough.
(One of the culture-initiating displays in Indira Gandhi Airport, New Delhi. It is a replica of act of worshipping the sun.)
There is no direct flight from UAE to Kashmir (i.e. via Srinagar or Jammu airport). We took the 3.5 hours flight from Abu Dhabi to New Delhi and 1.5 hours flight from New Delhi to Srinagar. For most of the people, especially tourists, New Delhi rings like “go and see Taj Majal!”. However, we got a solid direction of exploring Kashmir alone for the first India experience (although some Kashmiris would argue that Kashmir is not part of India; that requires another blog entry). Although Taj Majal is magnificent, however, I always think that I can defer the visit. There is this ‘next time anyway’ notion due to its accessibility from Abu Dhabi by air. However, Kashmir visit is a once in a blue moon element to me.