For my 30th birthday this year I decided to meet up with my “twin” sister and nephew in Kashmir. My sister and I share a birthday (same date different years plus we’re Gemini), my nephew’s birthday is 3 days after ours.
I know people in India so I asked them for suggestions and one of my lovely former clients suggested I go to Kashmir. I remember telling a few people (of different nationalities), that I was planning to go to Kashmir and they warned me that I would probably die there because of the political climate. However, people say a lot of bad things about Johannesburg too so I wanted to experience Kashmir for myself and come to my own conclusion. Here are three reasons I think you should also visit Kashmir.
Kashmir is affordable
Before deciding to go to Kashmir, my sister contacted me about traveling to Germany. I laughed and told her that she would be devastatingly broke if she traveled to a country using Euros when she earned in South African Rands. Our flights to Srinagar cost more than our entire stay, including accommodation and meals. My sister had never left South Africa before and I wanted her to enjoy herself without being worried about not having enough money to enjoy herself.
We had a decent place to stay every night, we had a driver for our entire stay, we had dinner and breakfast included and other extras like a gondola ride.
Kashmir is beautiful
I can honestly say that Kashmir is one of thee most breathtaking places I have ever seen. So much raw beauty that has not been tainted by industrialisation and urbanisation. It’s common for cars to have to wait for a cow or a horse that’s just taking its own sweet time to cross the road.
I remember waking up at 4:30 AM one morning in Sonamarg to see the sun rising between two snowy mountain peaks. After watching the sunrise I did some yoga and relaxed in shavasana. The atmosphere is relaxed, it’s clean and the people are friendly.
Your visit is good for their economy
The limited urbanisation and industrialisation in Kashmir preserve the natural beauty however, this affects the economy. Many people own shops as a source of income. This can be bittersweet for the traveler because you can find great deals if you know how to negotiate or you are with a local that can negotiate for you. If you cannot negotiate you will be ripped-off. The shops work with drivers to get the customers and they give the drivers a commission. It’s also very common for people to request a tip when providing a service sometimes even harassing you.
My sister and I had arguments with a few vendors during our stay, but we did have a great experience at a store called Village Art Gallery in Srinagar. My sister bought some clothes and I bought a yoga rug. They were really hospitable; offered us tea and no pressure to buy. They invited us for tea again before we left to celebrate our birthday (aww so sweet), and they were super nice to my four-year-old nephew.
Now you can consider Kashmir for your next trip or maybe your first trip, either way, it will be worth it.