Kashmir & Pahalgam Tuesday 25 – Thursday 27 August 2009
As mentioned Adam of Adam's Auto Aides who had been so kind to us had recommended that prior to leaving for Ladakh we should do a trip out for 95 km to the hill station of Pahalgam.
We were very glad that we did as this area was absolutely beautiful. This town is at the meeting point of the East and West Lidder Rivers and is very scenic with the river as a centre piece in town and the snow capped mountains on the horizon. The water here comes straight down from the glaciers which is what gives it its very blue colour. This area is a big "outdoor activities" centre with walking, rafting and riding activities in the summer though it shuts down a lot in the winter.
As we hit town we were immediately stopped by a man who runs a guest house the Himalaya House and he kindly offered us a place to camp and a hot shower! Would that it was always so easy! The accommodation on offer here looks great and we'd recommend it as a beautiful spot for a holiday. Have a look at their site www.himalayafunandtours.com The army keeps a very low profile in this neck of the woods and the troubles feel miles away.
It was a bit frustrating coming here for such a short time as we'd really like to have stayed longer, but as ever have to keep moving! The altitude here is 2130 metres so not as cold at nights as Gulmarg though it was a bit chilly but sunny in the days. Good sleeping weather!
The next day as we drove back we passed many nomadic people. These people walk from A to B constantly with their sheep goats and ponies. They were all happy to have pictures taken, from the reaction to the pictures we don't think they'd seen many pictures of themselves and they were thrilled. They were moving down to lower ground to trade before the winter sets in and they can't move around so much. Tough life!
The car held up well on the journey but the bad news is the slight oil leak was still in evidence. We went back to Adam's workshop and confirmed what we had thought anyway we need a new oil seal. Unfortunately you can't get them for this car from India (we'd already tried) so we have a mechanic in Delhi getting them in from Dubai and we'll have to arrange collection somehow or other at a later date!! It's never easy!!!
Anyway thanks again to Adam and his family for their help and hospitality we hope to see them again. Hitting Srinagar we were too tired to drive on so we had a final night in the house boat and slept really well!
Finally on Thursday 27 August we left Kashmir. On the way we took the plunge and finally made our purchase of a real Kashmiri carpet! The showroom we bought from Jamal Carpet Industries does a lot to help poor families in this trade and we found them to be the most reasonably priced as well. Call Jamal on 099 06802680 or have a look at their site www.jamalmir.com to see some of their range of handicraft products. The carpet was folded and sewn into a neat little bag - perfect for packing!
You can all come and see it once we have floor space again! It'll be a nice memory of Kashmir - our favourite destination to date. Now we take the road towards Ladakh.