White washed, painted with numerous shades of cold blue and white, beauty of bareness and dead grooves that would bloom again in spring and still a land alive in every sense. Some days back it snowed in Seattle and I was transported back to a beautiful state of India. If you thought Spring or Autumns are the only time to visit the cold Himalayan beauty of India again, think again for now I would give you five reasons to make you believe why you have to visit Kashmir during winters at least once in your life!
1. The white wonderland
Kashmir is better than Switzerland during winters. To experience snow that has fallen months ago and to experience snowfall – the feel is really different. Imagine making snowman in fresh snow, fall and create deep snow angels in soft, yet to settle, fluffy snow, to gaze outside your window and see the snow pile on vast fields, pined trees and your window sills while sitting with a hot cup of Kehwa and hot burning Kangri – the only time to get all this is during winters! Even the other areas that do not have snow, have a backdrop of white washed Himalayas and a shade of winter that is stunning in every sense.
2. No crowd, No fuss
Since due to common belief, winters is termed off season for Kashmir Tourism and hence all the places you venture to would have very less crowd aka welcome to a non-touristy Kashmir. This means you get heavy discounts on almost everything there and at the same time get to interact with locals as much as you want because people are not in any hurry to attend to hordes of tourists that they usually do during the other times of the year.
3. Enjoy food the Kashmiri way
Local food around Srinagar get a lot more Kashmiri during winters than in any other season. It is not like you can’t get local delicacies during the other seasons but during winters the street food gets more local flavoured and lets go of the Punjabi, Lucknowi touch and well imagine hot kebabs on chilled winter nights. You get the fun right?
4. Ski and Sledge
Let’s go the eskimo way. Okay, no, but just the touristy way. Sure in other seasons you get the orchards of apricots, you may see arrays of Tulips and Saffron, you may also see sprawling fields of paddy and grass but winter is the only time you would see endless rows of snow laden slopes that are fit for skiing and sledge rides. Why travel all the way to Switzerland, Alaska and Austria when you can get it all in your own country!
5. Kehwa and Kangri
I love to do local stuff!!! I know you guys must have figured that out already but still I love doing local stuff and one of the best moments I had in Kashmir during my trip was – roaming around near Sindh Nallah in Sonmarg with a kangri in hands and sipping Kehwa all the while. You can get Kehwa in Kashmir all-round the year but it is primarily a winter drink. Long story short, I was doing what the local villagers of Sonmarg were doing at the Sonmarg bus stop and I totally got the point of it.
Winter is when Kashmir gets the most real and the warmest in terms of hospitality! I loved Kashmir in winters and feel lucky to have experienced the place in that season! What about you guys?
Also for those of you who are anxious about the conditions in Kashmir right now – life has kind of come back to normalcy but locals need a lot of support and positivity to forget the last five months. From personal experience, I can tell you people over there are really nice and kind and a few friends who traveled there recently have confirmed that it is pretty safe to travel to Kashmir now.