A two hour drive from Srinagar ( 47 kms ) will take
you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and
towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow clad mountains. This is
Yusmarg- close enough to Srinagar for a picnic, idyllic enough to make you
want to stay for a few days. Here are walks of every sort - a leisurely
amble along flower-strewn meadows or away to where a mighty river froths
and crashes its way over rocks, its mild white foam earning it the name of
Further away, a captivating lake, Nilnag, is
cradled by hills. Nearby are several peaks- Tatta Kutti and Sang Safed to
name a couple of them. About 13 kms from Yusmarg, a short detour away from
the Srinagar road, is Charari- Sharief, the Shrine of Kashmirís patron
saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din or Nund Reshi, now rebuilt after the devastating
fire of 1994 which engulfed the entire building.
Sunset Peak and Mahadiv Mountain are the
major points of interest here. Yusmarg Valley has the best spring
flowers in the state.
Gradually, the panoply of the 'real Kashmir', miles away from
well-traversed areas, will unfold before you, and you will reach
Watlab. Here, high on a hilltop is the shrine of a Muslim mystic,
Baba Shukurddin. From here, the Wular Lake stretches away as far as
the eye can see, edged by picturesque villages around terraced
breeze-rippled fields of paddy, in a riotous burst of colour. At
Watlab there is a Forest Rest House amidst sprawling apple orchards.
You can rest here to enjoy the sheer grandeur of the spectacular
countryside at leisure.
Once the pleasure retreat of Empress Nur Jehan, Achabal (1,677 m)
has a fine garden in the Mughal style, with its own special charm
and character. It was in Kashmir that the Mughal Garden was brought
to perfection, and Achabal is one such masterpiece.
Situated at the foot of a hill with a row of majestic chinars
framing it, the Mughal garden is a visual delight with their stepped
terraces, formal elegance, ornamental shrubs, sparkling fountains
and falling water. Achabal is 58 kms from Srinagar, via Anantnag.
Past the Mughal Gardens of Achabal, with their tinkling fountains,
through the breathtaking splendour of the springs at Kokarnag, lies
Tucked away in a densely forested gorge at an altitude of 2438 m,
Daksum would be completely silent but for the Bringhi river which
gushes through it.
Daksum is a walker's paradise. Up the hills which are swathed in
coniferous trees, past gurgling brooks, the simple, haunting notes
of a flute will waft down to you from where an unseen shepherd tends
his flock. For in the hills surrounding Daksum, suddenly you will
find yourself in grassy meadows where sheep are taken to pasture.
Daksum is a reviving experience -the bracing mountain air, the
solitude, the densely clad hills, and beyond them, snow covered
mountains, all contribute to Daksum's mystique, making it the