Jammu and Kashmir is an area in the Himalayan mountains that India, Pakistan and even a little China are still fighting for. This year, there was another exacerbation of the conflict, and now, during the pandemic, it is even more inaccessible than usual. Usually tourists in India prefer more accessible and safer regions, but I am always attracted by the mountains, even if they are a little more dangerous.
I managed to visit Kashmir a couple of times, climb the mountains with a backpack, live with the locals for several weeks and hitchhike around “Little Tibet”. In this cold season at home, it’s nice to remember those wonderful places and moments.
The journey begins with a train ride from the Indian capital Delhi north to the city of Jammu. Previously, the railway led directly to the capital of the region, Srinagar, but it was closed and a new road is now being built, more resistant to the harsh local conditions.
I hitchhiked from Jammu. It’s easier for guys with this, and the road becomes more eventful and meeting with different people. People share stories and it’s much more interesting than a boring bus ride.
Hitchhiking also has its drawbacks, for example, you are unlikely to convince the driver to turn off the road away from his route, or to make another unscheduled stop to click a cool photo. That is why I have a lot of crooked and blurry pictures of my path, and not because my hands are out of my ass, although this, too, of course!
The nature of the Himalayas is beautiful with its blue and green colors. Here the mountains are covered with dense coniferous-deciduous forest, where you can meet a gang of monkeys, and stormy and cold rivers flow from the peaks.
There are different paths. In the most picturesque places, most likely, someone has already trodden a whole highway. But there is a nonzero probability that after the bend the highway will end in a cliff or turn into a barely noticeable path. The places are mobile, seismically active, and the paths change along with the mountains. It is better to find out about the roads in advance from the locals, but do not expect that they are all good with maps and understand what you want to know from them.
The four strange figures are a group of Indian military men, with them I wandered for several kilometers. Here you can also meet the Pakistani military, and on the roads cars with the military ride in whole convoys, dozens of pieces. They do not pay much attention to white-faced people, although they can ask about the purpose of their stay and remind them that the places are not the safest for tourists.
С погодой в горах всегда творится всякая херня, поэтому нужно и готовым быть ко всему и не только морально. Дождь, снег, ураган, землетрясение, оползни. Всё возможно и непредсказуемо, даже в наш век “высоких технологий”
Грузы до деревень и военных частей прут на ослах и пони. Жизнь этих животных печальна, как в песне Найка Борзова. Прут в горы самые разные полезные вещи людей почти с рождения и до тех пор пока могут поднимать эти грузы. А потом, а потом.. будет суп, да не с котом… Тут даже офисный планктон может подумать, что они живут в целом неплохо!
A few words about the city of Srinagar. As already mentioned, this is the capital of the region, located at an altitude of 1730 meters (for comparison, the highest point of the Ural Mountains is 1895m). It differs from the main part of India strikingly. Firstly, the majority of the population is Muslim, secondly, it is much cleaner, and thirdly, the air is much fresh.
The ancient city has retained its historical architecture. Here, as in St. Petersburg, you can just walk and look at the buildings, although for how long? Most likely, in a few years, everything will change dramatically, and modern civilization will reach its full power and the courts.
Such amazing corners will soon be lost in the mass of modern buildings, this is inevitable. I am glad that I managed to visit here before the general globalization.
Everyday breakfast. Tea brewed in milk with sugar or salt, tortillas, cookies and inappropriate chocolate because the children stole homemade sweets!
Dinner. Most often it was like this: Loose rice with curry sauce, fried potatoes and stewed vegetables, sometimes chicken or lamb.
In the evening, usually rice cakes, tea. For those who are especially hungry, you can repeat part of the lunch. Kitchenettes are small and unfurnished. Women, there is a feeling that the kitchens never leave. In poorer families, they also build houses and roads, so being in the kitchen here is considered the most worthy occupation.
Young girls are very pretty, but only up to 25 years old. Then the harsh local family life makes them squat, stout women. This is a rule, there are almost no exceptions.
Kids. Cheerful energetic like all over the world. They love sweets, but you won’t surprise them at all, because there are a lot of them here and they are inexpensive, and besides, you can’t do without them at every holiday. On the street, such as in the rest of Asia, there are few of them. The city is huge, there are many schools, various clubs, and many houses have their own playground for kindergarten, celebrations and games.
Weddings! Weddings! Weddings! As a white-skinned tourist, they will want to get you, as a guest. It is an honor, and what kind of entertainment is there for the rest of the guests, and for the newlyweds a memory!
The ceremony is special here. Each wedding is for several days, the richer the more, the more participants. First, they call a whole group of cooks, buy tons of meat, various meats, basins of pepper, barrels of sweets, throw everything into the yard and start cooking.
They cook for several days, every day special dishes, I will not name a single one, because I am a professional jerk and a guest, not a journalist. I can write platitudes, below in the photo is cheese! What kind of cheese? Yes, yes, I don’t know, quite tasty)
Pay attention to the garlic basket. Vampires would not have taken root here. In India, garlic is put into food in some crazy portions.
* vegans just logged out
In the evening, preparations do not end, but are only diluted with songs, dances, dances. It’s still hot during the day and everyone tells stories, sit on picnics and smoke all kinds
And imagine the neighbors who were not invited to the holiday, and they endure the aromas for a week. it is necessary not to be on friendly terms with neighbors. This can also happen, especially with vegetarians from the “mainland”.
This concludes the first part about Kashmir. Photos no longer fit, and everyone is already tired. So thank you all for reading, write comments, subscribe to new posts. All kindness, love and travel!