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Paradise on Earth: Kashmir

Author: Phillip T.
Date of Trip: April 2006

Kashmir was always in my mind and I always longed to go. The situation would just never allow it. I had learned that people started flocking to Srinagar and I decided to go. I decided against it once I learned of the violence.Then one fine morning I woke up and felt strongly like going to Kashmir. I booked the flight.

The trip to Delhi was a nightmare. From the Delhi airport, I was taken to a so-called travel information center. I booked a hotel in Delhi and had to pay US $200 for one night/5 hours.

I was later booked for a houseboat in Kashmir. Landing at Srinagar, I was greeted by the houseboat owner and then taken to the houseboat.The decor was just amazing! The amazing wood work made the houseboat look really royal.

I was pleased to stay the night but gradually started feeling like I was in a prison. I could feel that the houseboat owner thought that I was his “property” — hawkers would start coming very early in the morning and even into my bedroom, and the houseboat owner always would try to sell me one thing or the other. He would take me to specific shops for handicrafts and treks(the shops belonged to his friends and cousins). I learned that this could be very expensive. For instance, I bought saffron and later discovered it was just dyed grass with a few specks of actual saffron on it. I was fed up and managed to get out of the clutches of the houseboat owner.

I walked around by myself. I was lucky to walk on the lane running parallel with Boulevard Road and found the Blooming Dale, a bed and breakfast. I loved the location and the greenery in the midst of a busy town! I decided to give it a try, at least for a day or two. I’ll admit,I was already apprehensive having experienced the worst at the houseboat. Leaving the houseboat was a messy thing, however I managed and checked in just fine at the Blooming Dale.

I spent the night and started feeling good. I woke up the next morning and talked to my host and just while talking, I was sure that I had not made a mistake this time. Going forward, I enjoyed every bit of Kashmir and even extended my stay. I loved the Kashmir cuisine! The food they served at the Blooming Dale was served with fond hospitality. I strongly recommend this place to others visiting paradise on Earth, Kashmir.

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