Deranged society and mean people loom around me. Before insanity overpowers, I had to find my sane space up in the mountains. I had to retreat to the valley, the valley that is mine. The serenity that solely belongs to me.
Like any other Kashmiri, the feeling of being here has intrigued me so much so that merely words can not explain. Within two days of being here, the overwhelming feeling of exploring the Paradise took me to Pahalgam (The Valley of Shepherds)
Pahalgam is a hill station in the Anantnag district of Kashmir. where Mountain trails run northeast to Amarnath Cave Temple, a Hindu shrine and site of the annual Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage. Pahalgam hosts the ‘Overa Aru’ Wildlife Sanctuary which is home to numerous animal species. To the Northeast, the Lidder River runs through the scenic betaab valley as the chilly river flows out of Kolhoi glacier. To the Southeast, Tulian Lake is flanked by mountain peaks and often frozen which indeed makes the scenic beauty thousandfold more mesmerizing.
The area holds a rich cover of vegetation dominated by conifer forest which account for over 95% of the landscape. There are many species of rare, endangered and protected species that inhabit this area. Among them, the predominant species are hangul, musk deer, serow, brown bear, Leopard, rhesus macaque, grey langur, Himalayan mouse hare, etc. Wild bears still roam much of the area, and local villagers are on constant alert to their presence. With the abundance of fresh trout in the rivers and local farm animals, they have plenty to eat. Monkeys also populate the area. The area houses a good population of pheasants and upland birds apart from other species, both resident and migratory. The common birds are snow cock, kashmiri roller, griffon vulture, koklas,jungle crow, blue rock pigeon, monal,European hoopoe etc.
Pony rides, fishing/angling, golf, trekking (to Lidderwat, Sonmarg and kolhoi glacier), camping, sledging, and skiing are the varied options available for the adventure lovers. For the nature buffs, there are trek trails, walks and a mini zoo which in fact are the main attractions for the travelers. For the shoppers, there are many wool products,traditional wears, Handmade Artifacts and the famous Kashmir silks to choose from.
On conclusion, verily, I can refer to only one suitable quotation to describe my experience. The enchanting and illuminating words of Mughal Emperor Jehangir :
“Gar firdaus bar-rue zaminast, hamiasto, haminasto, haminast.”
“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here”
By : SHABAZ AHMED DAR