By Priyanka Borana
Just got back from a long holiday, well holiday + work. Spent 15 days in Srinagar and Leh, attending a workshop on architecture, heritage conservation and local arts/crafts. I had a great time meeting different people and learning something new. Felt like a student again:) And I can't explain how free and lively it felt there. Having absolutely no connectivity was a cherry on top. For the first time I realized how peaceful it could’ve been without mobile phones.
Overall Srinagar was the more intensive part of the workshop. We spent a day exploring the old city with the Intach representative, understanding the local architecture and some of the restored shrines and mosques. We couldn't enter the pray area in some of the shrines because entry was restricted for women, but we saw pictures. End of the day we were told that we were roaming around in the same area where a bomb blast occurred during the day, was a bit scary to know that.
Another day we went to see the Mughal gardens, and sneaked in to Nishat garden from the back door, was fun! We were accompanied by two very interesting architects who are researching these gardens in Kashmir. It was good to have them because they had a lot of information about it. It was a beautifully done place and I could imagine how much prettier it would have been back in the day. At first I was disappointed to see visitors swimming in the garden fountains, but later realized that it was originally designed for swimming as well.
By the way, did I mention that we were staying on houseboats in the Dal?! We had to take shikaras to commute from there... the evening rides were so peaceful. We also got a chance to go to the villages in the Dal interiors to see internal house structures.. apparently not everyone can go there. Had the best Kawa there!
The last day we went to Gulmarg and boy it what a long line of tourists to the cable car. We waited for about 4 hours. It was too crowded to the first phase, so we decided to trek. We managed to reach the glaciers, but then our coordinator slipped on ice and injured his leg. It was pretty bad, his knee cap dislocated and relocated itself and he couldn't walk at all. Later E and I had our mini adventure hunting for a walking stick for him.
On the way to Leh, we stayed a night in Lamayuru monastery. We reached at night, it was really cold, but hey the sky looked gorgeous.. filled with soooo many stars, I could gaze endlessly. This was my first time at a Monastery and I loved it. E and I trekked up to the meditation point with the prayer flags in the morning. Its quite difficult walking up there, one runs out of breath after just 5-10 mins of walking. And it was so windy up there, thought I was gonna fly off. One thing I noticed, these kid lamas are all so energetic! They are running around from place to place all the time. Its damn sweet.
We also took a halt at Kargil Memorial and Gumri, where it was snowing for a really really short time. I had left my camera on the bus seat and it got drenched. I got very worried, but then it worked fine. A lot of people in the group fell sick by the time we reached Leh.
The Leh chronicles will have to wait.
For now I have work on an assignment. We are to submit 5 postcard designs which can be sold as souvenirs. I think I have some interesting ideas, need to detail them out a bit. Hopefully it will turn out as good as I imagine it in my head.