Kashmir! “Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast”
“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.” This is the famous quote said by Jehangir the Mughal emperor during his visit to Kashmir in the 17th century. And with reason. I am witness to it.
In the month of February when the harsh winter temperatures begin to rise and the bearable cold sets in, I got married.
With a brand new husband in hand, the high hopes of a beautiful future, the unknown-ness (if that is a word) of what to expect, the excitement of a new traveling partner, a hurriedly put together suitcase and borrowed boots I set off for my honeymoon to Kashmir.
Honeymoon is supposed to be one of the most memorable time for a new couple. For all the comical reasons my honeymoon is one trip I will never forget.
After getting married in Bangalore, we had to take a connecting flight to Kashmir via Delhi. We packed a suitcase and checked it in at the airport. The landing in Srinagar Airport was a breathtaking view. With a mountainous terrain and snow-covered peaks of the Pir Panjal Range in sight, the pilot did a strategic landing with the runaway located on a hilltop and deep cliffs on either side. That was the first time I laid eyes on the beauty that is Kashmir! The beautiful landscape of the land we call heaven on earth; this state captivated me from the get-go.
After landing and getting though hardcore military governed security counters we reached the baggage carousel. We waited and waited for our ONE baggage to come through while watching all the other passengers leave with their bags one by one. No families, just corporate travelers. We realized that there was a mix up and our baggage was missing. We found a bag that looked exactly like ours but was missing the fresh markings I had made on it the previous night. My husband started second guessing my surety of the bag not being ours. Newly married, travelled with 2 connecting flights with a not so familiar person, no known faces around, tired and hungry, and no network on our registered sim cards the last thing you want to know is that your bag has gone missing.
The authorities at the airport helped us figure out that our bag got exchanged with a fellow passenger. They called him up and made him comeback to the airport. We got our bag back and apologies.
Jammu and Kashmir trivia: your prepaid sim cards don’t work even if you have traveled from within India. You are supposed to get new sim cards once you land there. The sim card takes 5 working days to get activated for security verification. We opted not to get one because we would be flying out on the fourth day. It did not make sense to get one.
We managed to get hold of our driver (whom we had booked and arranged few days ago) and we were on our way to Srinagar city.
The cold wind outside the airport struck me like nothing I had experienced before. It was a tranquil cold that kept getting intense by the minute. When I got into the car, with the heater on, all that tranquility came flowing down. Windows rolled up, jackets out and I was ready to soak in Kashmir.