Everyone says that India is an assault on the senses, and when everyone says something it’s usually because it’s true. Delhi does not disappoint. Even the air in the cabin of our 747 became heavy and aromatic as we taxied towards the terminal. The arrival area is chaotic, but this is not unusual for any foreign airport in which one arrives with a huge ski bag. The taxi-wallahs are somewhat subdued for 3am and only charge us double the normal rate to our hotel, which we pay happily for our first chance to sleep horizontally in over 24 hours.
Heavy snowfall has dictated our immediate departure for Kashmir, but we have one day in Delhi to get our Indian bearings and see how much adventure we’re in for. We’re prepared for curry, crowds and chaos and the tourist district of Pahar Ganj fulfills all of our expectations. However, we’re only in the mood for browsing and even manage to find some moments of serenity in a Christian cemetery with walls that can almost drown out the aggressive commerce surrounding us.
Bright and early the next morning and it’s breakfast and back to the airport. I’m not sure what Delhi was like before their Commonweath games, but the airports and metro are clean and efficient, and after what seems like dozens of security checkpoints we arrive in Srinagar – the summer capitol of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K). The landscape is barren and dirty, but huge mountain ridges are poking through the clouds all around. Finally, the Himalaya.
After realizing that the taxi to Gulmarg is twice as expensive and far more complicated than we thought, we begin the final leg of a four day journey. We randomly met up with friends of friends and share both taxis, (you have to switch to jeep taxis in Tangmarg due to the heavy snowfall,) and arrived in Gulmarg with no place to stay. Fortunately, the first Kashmiri people we meet are super friendly and find room for us near the gondola at the Green Heights Hotel. We have no running water, intermittent power, and as much amazing food and powder as one can consume in a day. The locals call this place heaven on earth and I’m starting to think they might be right.
Catching up on some light reading
red and white
interesting taxi ride with new friends… not sure about the upturned roof in the background?
Eyes on the road