The autowala was as serious as dead when he said, ‘we don’t know the source, no one knows.’ That was his reply when I asked him about the source of Dal Lake. He made it some kind of a mystery or an abysmal thing where myth begins.
A visit to Taelbal Village was enough to set things right.
Taelbal Village is around 17 km from Srinagar and a little further from Shalimar Bagh. It is a small village not known for anything; except as the source of a spring that fed the Dal Lake.
The purpose of my visit was modest. It was not to trace the source of Dal Lake but just to visit an easily accessible village around Srinagar. A bus dropped me near a sawmill and I wandered into the village. It was not far from Srinagar but seemed as if I had come a long way. Villagers couldn’t stop staring at me; they have not seen tourists wandering around their village. There was nothing particular to see except to get the feel of being at a countryside.
A rivulet ran through the village and there were farms on both sides. The water was emerald blue and seemed unreal. I found some boys hopping around the rivulet, casting their makeshift net in the water. I watched them from across the rivulet just observing their small antics and them having so much fun. But it was just more than that. I was really surprised when they drew out a big fish from their net. Out of curiosity I crossed the rivulet and followed them around, trying to figure out how boys of 11-12 years could catch a fish so big. They used a very basic net and they threw their net randomly in water. It seemed as if the fishes volunteered themselves to be caught. There were surprisingly so many fishes in the river. Some species of fish loves to venture upstream to the cleaner water and I believe they were drawn to the glacier water. By the time I left the boys have caught 6 fishes, some of them as big as my palm. Where in today’s world do you see so many fishes in such a small rivulet that ran through a village? To me it was a wonder to observe.
Later I met a nice village guy who took me around the village and fields where some laborers were planting rice. The weather was turbulent; one of the most windy days on my trip. He intended to take me further to the source of Taelbal spring, where the water came gushing out from the mountain but raindrops started pattering on the leaves and we started for the main road where I was to catch my bus back to the city.
The village was so close to the city and yet seemed so far. People have a different outlook about life and many other things. City’s cultures are too diluted to stay true and pure. A simple trip such as this can be a freshener and an eye opener.