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Kzstan › India. Jammu and Kashmir. Srinagar, Gulmarg. 05.05.09 – 08.05.09

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9.05.2009
Прошу прощения за то, что все таки продолжаю писать на англииском, но таковы мои сегодняшние условия. транслитом много не напишешь. скоро добавлю переводы к последним постам. и фото.

Flight to Srinagar came surprisingly in time (by the way the cost of Mumbai-Srinagar flight was 6000 INR), but I didn't believe my ears when they said that outside temperature was 10C and it was raining. I was just laughing splashing my feet through the cold puddles... Filled out all the forms for foreigners who come to J&K, I took my luggage, put on sweeter and met a guy from guest house, where my friends found a place.

So they put me into jeep and took to houseboat – only in Kashmir in Srinagar they still function. Enterprising British people used to live there in summer months cuz they were not allowed to buy land in India. Now houseboats seems to be nearing the end of theirs' life soon and are used for tourists...

So our houseboat called Shirin with an owner called Usuf. I think if to choose from all the houseboats it was a better choice. But still with a lots of nuances... If I ever come to Srinagar again I better stay in a hotel or guesthouse. But for experience it's good to stay a couple days in houseboat.

A room with breakfast and dinner costs 800 INR. It's fine comparing other prices which my friend faced coming the day before me. But comparing average Indian prices, it's pretty much money.

Food was fine, not spicy. Complimentary tea in any time. But for breakfasts there something always wasn't good enough...

Rooms... old colonial style... I could say grandmothers' style... wood, carpets... very cold... cold comes from water and even 2 blankets and hot-water bottle hadn't saved much at night time. So even there was a hot water and bath I didn't risk to take shower or bath during 2,5 days... but girls actually did..

Service was in time, but sometimes it was too much talks and it was pretty annoying... And every night and morning some salespeople came to sell us something starting with jewelries and woolens and finishing with saffron and wooden stuff. That was really annoying and disturbing sometimes, especially if I don't want to buy. But to be honest I was lucky to buy natural pashmina scarf for 1100 INR each...

Prices for excursions and transport from Usuf were pretty fair... day city tour with garden or mosques cost us 1000 INR... way to Gulmarg and back plus Khirbawani Temple and Manasbal lake cost us 2500 INR. So splitting these money for 4 people was fine.

So 1st and 2nd days we spent visiting city mosques, temples and gardens.

Because of political instability in region, there were a whole bunch of soldiers on the roads and all the strategic objects around. Actually during May 6-7 there were elections in the state government. So no one could leave the city and army patrols were everywhere, but army people mostly were very friendly to tourists... it reminded me Sri lanka a little bit...

Mosques there in Srinagar look very different from what I saw before. They are kinda mixed style of Japanese or Chinese Buddhist pagodas and Arabic architecture.

So we visited 6 of mosques and Muslim burial-vaults: Hazratbal Srine, Jama Masjid, Khanga of Shah-i-Khamadan, Pathar Masjid, Pir Dastgir Sahib, Ziarati Hazrati Youza Asouph (Roza Bal). First one contains Mohammad hair and the last one considered as a Jesus Christ's burial-vaults. Legend told that he didn't die on the cross, but came to the Kashmir and lived and preached there till him dead in 100 years old. Also we came up to Hari Parbat Hill where one could observe a beautiful view of the city and surroundings.

Next day we went straight to another hill – Shankaracharya. There is a pretty small beautiful temple of Lord Shiva situated. After that we came to famous Shrinagar gardens, which were built by moguls. Nowadays they are just a cute little part of the past greatness: Pari Mahal, Cheshmashahi Bagh, Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh. I like most the first and the second.

3rd day we came to Mata Khirbawani Temple, Manasbal Lake and Gulmarg.

Mata Khirbawani Temple is a nice small temple with a lots of soldiers around. First time in my life I took part in poodja... some new experience... after that we came to a beautiful Manasbal lake... shanty place.. We spent there about 30 minutes and left for Gulmarg.

Gulmarg is a famous Indian winter resort... many people come there even in this time, when season is finished... there are gondolas coming up to the top of the peak... mountains are just amazing and atmosphere is very refreshing...

After coming back we decided to spend some time in a boat called 'shikara'. Shikaras work as a water taxi to take you to houseboat and around Dal Lake. Usually it's included in houseboat price – operation with a shore by one shikara. But if you want to see around then price up to 30 minutes will be 100 INR, more than 30 minutes – 200 INR. Be ready to salespeople attacks on your shikara while you relaxing and enjoying beautiful views around.

So that it how was my time in the north India started. Next day girls decided to go by taxi to Ladakh and Leh. But I decide that it's enough cold for me foe now and I'll go there a bit later. So I took a TATA Safari jeep taxi to Jammu. It cost me 500 INR and took about 8-9 hours to reach Jammu from Srinagar with other 8 man in this car.
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