ABHISHEK HAJELA

Essential Kashmir

Essential Kashmir
March 04 - 15, 2019
 

Rimmed by layers of alpine peaks, the 140km-long Vale of Kashmir opens up as a giant, flat upland bowl of lakes and orchards. Tin-roofed villages guard terraced paddy fields delineated by apple groves and pin-straight poplars. Proudly independent-minded Kashmiris mostly follow a Sufi-based Islamic faith, worshipping in distinctive box-shaped mosques with central spires. The region is also known for its Amarnathji Yatra, an annual pilgrimage through the mountains of south Kashmir Himalayas to the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Amarnathji.

We will spend 10 days in the Vale of Kashmir based on houseboats on Nigeen Lake. From there, we will make daily trips into the countryside to witness the spring change in the landscape. We will visit local schools and communities, mosques and gardens, commune with fishermen, and spend time at the famed floating market on scenic Dal Lake.

 

Photo Leader: 
Jeremy Woodhouse and Abhishek Hajela

 

Price: On Request
 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Fri, 4 March – New Delhi
Upon arrival you will be driven to our hotel which is just a few miles from Indira Gandhi International Airport. We will have a Welcome Dinner and trip orientation meeting.

O/N Holiday Inn, Aero City


Day 2: Sat, 5 Mar – New Delhi/Srinagar
Morning flight to Srinagar the capital of Kashmir. We will check in to the Royal Houseboats and have lunch. Afternoon photo shoot in the market surrounding the Hazratbal Mosque will then be on the agenda. Local bakers and butchers and a panoramic view of the the lake are easily photographed.

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (D)
Our Houseboats are situated on one of the most beautiful parts of Dal Lake with scenic views of the Zabarwan/Mahadev Mountain range (lower Himalayan range), and they are surrounded by Lotus Flowers, Water Lilies and Floating Gardens.

 

Day 3: Sun, 6 Mar – Srinagar
The group will have an early morning photo shoot in the floating vegetable market. We will ply the waters of Dal Lake by shikara and return to the hotel for a late brunch. In the afternoon we will take the short drive to the side of Srinagar that is bordered by the river. We will photograph the shikara builders at work, the women washing shawls and dying fabrics as well as the winding streets of this old city. We will photograph Old Srinagar at sunset from one of the bridges crossing the Jhelum River

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)


Day 4: Mon, 7 Mar – Srinagar
Sunrise from Takht-I-Sulaiman hill with sweeping views over Dal Lake and the Houseboat "city". After breakfast we will take a motor launch ride on the River Jhelum and photograph the unique colonial architecture of Srinagar. We will have lunch in a local Kashmiri restaurant. In the afternoon we all take the short drive to Idd Gah. This village is well know for their weaving and we will also photograph the farmers who grow vegetables and harvest lotus roots. The village is on the periphery of scenic Anchaar Lake. For those that want to buy crafts we will go to the largest craft emporium in Srinagar.

Sunset photoshoot from the Taj Vivanta hotel which overlooks Dal Lake. Evening photo critique on the houseboat.

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)

 

Day 5: Tue, 8 Mar – Srinagar
In the area of Baba Nagri we will photograph the famous shrine and the worshippers. We will continue to the 1000 year old shiva temple in Narang. Moving on, we will immerse ourselves in the Kangan bazaar. Lunch will be picnic style on the banks of Sindh River. We also stop at Manasbal Lake and photograph the local population. A stop will be made in the village of Wangath where we will photograph the mixed classes of Islamic school children in their 300 year old wooden school building

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)

 

Day 6: Wed, 9 Mar – The Valley of the Shepherds/Pahalgam
Leaving in the morning we will take the local train to Banihal which is at an elevation of 5,500 feet. This scenic train ride will take us through mountain passes through what is called called the Switzerland of India. From there we will photograph the typical Kashmir city of Anantang where our cars will meet us for the drive to Pahalgam.

Drive to the Valley of the Shepherds, in the shadow of the Himalayas, with a stop at Mattan Sahib, a Sikh temple built in a Hindu temple complex. While it is a simple temple, Mattan Sahib is where the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur, agreed to sacrifice himself to prevent the forced conversion of the Kashmiri Pandits to Islam.

On to Pahalgam, a so-called hill station, where Indians and Kashmiris alike would escape the heat of summer. Dinner will be a traditional tarami (thali) meal featuring the flavors that are sweet, salty, bitter, sour and spicy all together on one plate. You will be joined by the owners of the Pahalgam Hotel, who faced incredible hardships during the Kashmiri insurgency, but paid their entire staff right through a shutdown.

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)

 

Day 7: Thu, 10 Mar – Shepherds Walk/Pahalgam
Spend the day on the shepherds walk, following the hundreds year old tracks. Tribes of nomadic shepherds still move their herds of horses, goats, sheep and cattle between the Himalayan mountains of Jammu and the meadows of Kashmir in the summertime. We will visit a local village to see the way the nomads live, their culture and their battles to survive.

After lunch we visit local women who are the first of a generation to earn money from their own handicrafts. Have tea in a local home, and visit a primitive cheese factory that produces Gouda with milk from local dairy farms.

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)


Day 8: Fri, 11 Mar – Srinagar
We will return to the old, historic part of Srinagar with its unique architectural style in the late afternoon and have a photo shoot at the oldest family run carpet weaving factory. The Ali Shah Brothers weavers are known as the best. Dinner at a local restaurant.

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)

 

Day 9: Sat, 12 Mar – Srinagar
This day of the photo tour will be spent entirely in Srinagar. The morning will be spent in the Sultan-Ularfeen or Mehboobul-Alam Mosque. Photography is permitted here and many sufi singers may be walking the perimeter of the mosque. We will also photograph the interior of the Jama Masjid mosque. The pillars of Jama Masjid mosque are of architectural significance. Lunch will be in a local restaurant. In the afternoon we will wander independently the streets of Lal Chowk shooting street scenes and spice merchants. Evening photo critique and image sharing.

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)

 

Day 10: Sun, 13 Mar – Srinagar
In the morning we will photograph in the Mughal garden Nishat Bagh on Lakeside Drive. The Nishat Bagh, true to its name, is the most "joyful" of all Mughal gardens. Of all of the gardens in Srinagar, Nishat Bagh is arguably the most appealing, with terracing that's steeper than that of better known Shalimar Bagh, and fragrant, blooming magnolias that frame a lovely lake panorama.

Toward the evening we will drive to Taelbal which is 17 km from Srinagar and we will photograph the villagers as they lead their day by day lives. A creek goes through the town and there are ranches on both sides. The water is emerald blue and appears to be stunning. Local people participate in net angling and we will photo the anglers at work. Finally, we will stroll through the town, where we will see the villagers planting rice and working the rich fields.

O/N Royal Houseboats, Dal Lake (B,L,D)


Day 11: Mon, 14 Mar – Srinagar/New Delhi
We will fly back to New Delhi today. The rest of the day will be free until dinner when we will meet for a farewell dinner. Those taking late night flights or early morning departure will be escorted to the airport.

O/N Holiday Inn, Aero City, New Delhi (B,L,D)


Day 12: Tue, 15 Mar – Departure
Transportation to the airport.

 

 

Tour Fee Includes

  • Domestic airfare

  • Ground transportation as described in the itinerary

  • Group transfers on arrival and departure

  • Gratuities

  • All accommodations based on twin occupancy

  • 3 Meals per day

  • All excursions, entrance fees, and visits as described in the itinerary

  • A bottled water per person per day

 

The tour fee excludes

  • International airfare

  • passport and visa fees

  • medical and trip insurance & evacuation costs

  • airport taxes; excess baggage charges

  • photography and video fees

  • food and beverages not included in the group meals

  • tips to drivers or guides

  • items of a personal nature, including alcoholic beverages, laundry, and telephone calls

  • other items not specifically mentioned as included.

 

 

All Images © Abhishek Hajela
Powered by PhotoDeck