Traveller Speaks: Kashmir, India
Two friends, one a mother cum working woman the other mother cum struggling entrepreneur and both wives; bored to the core with their hectic, mundane and exhaustive life schedule, decide to take a break. A BREAK without any baggage (sans husband’s and kids) and visit KASHMIR. One completely against a travel company planning the vacation of a lifetime and the other too busy to plan out anything finally reach a compromised mutual decision of reaching out to “Black Swan Journeys”.
I was very hesitant as a vacation planned by an agency somehow gives me the feel of the usual run of the mill schedule of garden visits and boat rides etc.
We were surely in for a surprise. Black Swan Journeys not only caught the pulse but even threw in some surprises that were truly cherished and created memories of a lifetime.
Because of time constraint we only had 2 and not more than 3 destinations. So we zeroed on Sonmarg and Gulmarg and I would say a lifetime is not enough to imbibe the beauty.
Our stay in Sonmarg was nothing short of a mystical fairytale or a location straight out of a movie.
A secluded tucked away resort “The Villa Himalaya” with just a couple of rooms meaning no JANTA around us, by the banks of the gushing Sindh river and towering mountains with snow clad caps peeping. It was just mystical. The food was sinfully delicious, the staff extremely courteous, humble and helpful.
The thought of the place manages to give me goose bumps in this sweltering heat of Mumbai.
Black Swan Journeys nailed the first base but I was still apprehensive. There was sight seeing scheduled for the next day with a tiffin lunch on the way.
Our transport was seamless; escorts were very friendly and helpful.
I'll not harp about the scenic beauty as I am sure I wont be doing justice to the place. Our lunch was something that no riches of the world could afford.
Lunch In The Wilderness
Blindfolded we stopped in the middle of nowhere somewhere in the valley and the location was just perfect. The food was very well planned and we were surprised to see a set of portable chair and a table, unfold for us.
A very well planned and brilliantly executed affair I must say.
The next day a small hike was planned for us keeping in mind how fussy and adventurous we both are. Black Swan again nailed it in understanding our expectations and delivering the same.
The Dumail Trail
All these experiences were carefully designed and planned away from the humdrum the way we wanted it.
The last base was The Khyber, at Gulmarg . It was like a classy desert after a lovely meal. It was beautiful, classy, rich and exuded lavishness from every nook and corner.
A perfect way to end our vacation by getting spoilt for the choice of food, spa treatments and scenic beauty.
On our way back we had a night’s halt in Srinagar at Sukoon (the houseboat). Though the best in the lot I wouldn’t have missed anything if not it. It was a bit claustrophobic and smelly due to the lake but run brilliantly by the management.
Our escort was also a great guy who ferried us through the valley narrating tales, details, and politics of Kashmir and gave us valued insights on the life of a localite.
We came back smiling, rejuvenated and all geared up for our round 2 of rendezvous with Kashmir some time soon.
In a nutshell a brilliantly understood, planned, coordinated and executed affair and the credit does go to team Black Swan Journeys!
-Written by Varuna Kandpal
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