It was almost afternoon when we reached Pahalgam. It had started to drizzle. I craved tea and before I could say anything, the hotel manager declared, “The tea is coming, ma’am” as if he read my expressions. But no surprises there! I am quite expressive. Anyone with a pair of eyes and a mind can read my face. He did too.
After the tea and sandwiches, we changed into something warmer and more comfortable. There was a horse stable nearby. We spoke with the supervisor there and hired two horses for 4 hours. The local sightseeing could only be done if you ride a horse. Nothing else works. You can’t tread those treacherous paths with your human feet. And thus we began with Pahalgam sightseeing, with Badal and Mastana, our two horses.
A horse, a rainy evening & a happy me:
We spent some 3-4 hours riding through the forests, climbing up and down the slippery slopes, wading through the mud and crossing the rivers. In those 4 hours, I didn’t think of the trivial troubles of my office even once. All of that just evaporated in mist, far behind.
Pahalgam is so remarkable that it absorbs the whole of you in itself. And you keep moving from one place to another in awe. I don’t remember the names of the points that we visited that day but I do remember trying to talk to my horse and the guy who was steering our horses. He would get 100 bucks for every trip. On a good day, he could manage three of such trips. I took a liking to him and decided to tip him a certain amount at the end, which I did.
Out of habit, I started asking him random questions about food, clothes, winters and family. He patiently answered each of those questions and managed to remain distant. Each time I would decide to probe him more, a waterfall, a mountain, a flower, or beautiful, green patches caught my attention and I got distracted.
And then it began to rain. I covered myself in a raincoat, but got drenched a little. And just like that, something clicked inside me and I felt an overwhelming wave of insane joy…like you feel when you see your crush in school assembly. I burst into smiles…the kind that appears when you look at your crush and he is looking at you too. The eye lock! The secretive messages of the hand movements. I felt all of that on that day. And when our guy asked us to take a stop in a Khajjiar like place – a green pasture, I just broke into an impromptu dance.
We came back to the hotel by dusk, had tea and slept early. The next day was reserved for a taxi trip to the famous place of Pahalgam, which gives Bollywood feels!
Aru Valley, Betab Valley and Chandanwari
The next day, I woke up early, donned a jacket and left by a taxi to experience the other side of Pahalgam… which I had often seen in movies and TV series. Snow-capped mountains, flowing rivers, shepherds taking their flock of sheep for grazing, school kids roaming around in groups & roadside stalls selling cherries, apples and other juicy fruits.
It was freezing cold in the morning, and I stubbed my toe on a stone. It bled but I noticed it only after a minute. That cold! Tall trees, mountains, and every shade of Green were seductive enough for me to lose all my troubles and pains. I didn’t care about anything at that time. There’s music in the silence…and whether you try to hear it or not, you would sure tap your feet or hum your favourite songs. The weather adjusts to your mood and your whole self becomes extraordinary for you have spent a day in Pahalgam, Kashmir.