Mondlan is the nearest village to Pahalgam situated at a distance of around 8 km, right on the bank of river Lidder. It is an idyllic village, midway between Pahalgam and Aru and a homeland of a close knit Muslim community. There is also a small mosque situated in the middle of Mondlan. This is where I stopped though it was not on my travel plan but it turned out to be the most rewarding experience of my Kashmir trip.
As soon as I landed at Pahalgam, I met a man by the name Javaed Malik, a small time travel agent. I ended up staying at his home at Mondlan, a small village not yet affected by the big tourism businesses in any way.
I slept and dined at his place, with his family and got the true essence of arriving at Kashmir. Staying with Javaed's family at Pahalgam was an eye opener as I steep in true Kashmiri culture and traditions; something that a hotel at a downtown could never have educated me with. It was like a workshop on many things about Kashmir.
Their houses are made of mud, wood and stone and have tin roofs. There were around 50 or 60 houses and they did little farming by the river bank. The constant roaring sound of the river was like an integral part of the place.
I slept on the floor, the way most Kashmiri do and ate at their kitchen sitting on the carpet. There is something very relaxing and soothing about the way they sit on the floor.
A window at the kitchen looked out to a wall nut tree; below I could see the river and the mountains looming behind. Even on a rainy day I could just watch the mountains and pine trees gathering fog from my room.