There I stood, on the brink of the road
A river, a mountain and a river still more
Sounds like a puzzle, by almighty’s grace
The splendour of nature, the inscrutable maze.
Yes, indeed I could not fathom the depth of splendour that confronted us as we came out of our hotel Volga in Pahalgam. The word ‘aweinspiring’ would be like describing Himalayas as ‘nice’. But before I recount my trip to Pahalgam, I need to tell you all about my way to Pahalgam.
Way to Pahalgam:
As we left Srinagar with all the good intention of reaching Pahalgaum by 11am, we were diverted. We have many well wishers in Kashmir and some of the guys started sending us the names of exotic location enrouté to Pahalgaum, our travel bug started tickling our minds and we decided to be lured by the call of adventure.
Now the first stop on our route was Anantnag. We took a ‘Kahwa break’ at a road side chai stop in Anantnag. The day was hot and dusty. At 31° Celsius and scorching heat, we were unaware that by lunch time we will be in -2° Celsius in chilling cold. Well that is Kashmir for you.
We decided to add 2 more destinations to our route: Dakshun and Simthan Top. Our capable Chauffeur simply told us that it will be better if we went straight to Sinthan Top first as it was 73 km from Anantnag and 48 km from Kokernag and on our way back from Sinthan Top we could visit Duksum and then Kokernag and Achabal and then proceed to Pahalgaum.
According to our impromptu plans ,we started for Sinthan Top. As we were travelling on the beautiful winding roads uphill, it started drizzling but the visibility remained good. We were soon surrounded by mesmerizing topography and everything around us was spellbinding.
The moist mountains and the tall trees were just embraced in smoky clouds. Soon we were taking hairpin bends and I could spot some slides with flattened sides. The sure shot indicator of landslides. I asked Umer to turn back, completely ignoring J’s grumbles and reservations about turning back and going to Kokernaag. Umer promised to follow my instruction to the T with a soft proclamation that he would only take us 1 km more and then if he sees any danger signals he would definitely turn back. J was actually on the brink of breaking her friendship with me, so I decided to abide by Umer’s request and climb up a bit further up the mountain roads.
After 20 mins uphill climb and a constantly dipping temperature, a beautiful table top came into our view. The temperature was -2 degree Celsius and we were about to be frozen. The chilling wind which was refrigerating our limbs and grumbling stomach reminded us that it was already pm and we were ravenously hungry. We came out of our car and rushed inside the tents which were the only sign of habitation at Sinthan top. The tents were occupied by the engineers and other workforce who were constructing a road to the table top. Food was already being prepared as in boiled eggs on a kangri and Maggie Noodles. So we opted for the available variety only and requested them humbly that we would like to be included in their lunch too. They were hospitable and co-operated with full enthusiasm and a peck of inquisitiveness. It was the most delicious lunch we had ever tasted.
The top had a beatific view of the the entire valley down below, and the top was smoky and clouded.
We spent about an hour there. All the pics are taken in completely frozen condition hence limited upload. The feeling of carrying something wonderful back with us,remained and we continued our journey to Daksum….