I’ve a few friends from Kashmir who had fled their beloved city Srinagar for better work opportunities or, for more serious life-threatening reasons. Though their prospect of returning home seemed bleak and unreal, they’ve not given up hope. Most of them find hard to settle in any other city. They boast about Srinagar and their days spent wandering around Dal Lake. I got to understand their sentiments and their attachment when I visited this beautiful city.
I called some of my Kashmiri friends in Delhi and they were happy for me; I was living their dreams as well. I was to experience the city for the first time and I learned that some of the best things I eventually found about Srinagar were also the most they were missing. There are some things about Srinagar that cannot be substituted by any other place.
Though Srinagar is very much a city, the picturesque location somehow protects it from the stress and the weights of city life. The scenic beauty seems capable of healing any of the city’s diseases. For a city dweller like me, Srinagar is a dream destination. Here are some things I would love to do if I were to live in Srinagar.
1. Fish at Dal Lake after twice a week:
If you walk around Dal Lake and start a conversation with the locals, few of them will have a tale to tell about their fishing experience at Dal Lake. On the first day at the lake itself I was enamored by few boys fishing with hooks. Dal Lake has more fish than I could have dreamed of. It was a sweet surprise. You would find a fisherman waiting for the bait at Boulevard Lane or quietly on their boats. Though some of them do it for a living, most of them do it for sheer pleasure. I ran into a guy who comes out to fish every evening at Dal Gate and I would chat with him everyday. I loved sitting by the lake and just watched fishermen cast their net into the water only to retrace it the next morning.
2. Go for a walk at Boulevard Lane every evening:
Boulevard Lane has the sophistication of Venice but retains the authenticity of Kashmiri culture. It is the most happening place in Srinagar and always brimming with life and energy. After sundown, tourists come out to just take a walk or take in the fresh air. You would find the regular chanawalla vendor or the Pashmina salesman roaming the street looking for customers. Anyone who has visited Srinagar even once must dream of walking the Boulevard Lane every evening. The lane is gorgeous at sunset with the reflection of the golden sun on the lake.
3. Stare at Chinar trees and be amazed each time:
The mighty Chinar trees need a lot of a space to flourish. They are not easily planted anywhere. Chinar trees are mostly grown only in public owned land and rarely in private land. Every Chinar tree is a priceless state property. It is the pride and an endemic tree of the state. It is among the biggest trees I’ve seen in my life and the sight of them takes you back in time. Each tree seems to have a distinct personality and also gives a unique look to the city of Srinagar. The city will not be the same without its Chinar trees. The mood of the city swings with the colors of Chinar leaves from green in spring to golden brown in autumn.