In 2011, November, I visited Sri Nagar in Kashmir, India. It is most beautiful place and peaceful. Even though its a crowed place but you won’t feel you are in the middle of the crowd. You still can feel and enjoy the loneliness in the mid of the crowd. Thats amazing feeling you can have in Sri Nagar, which I don’t feel that you can experience the same in any other crowded place.
Its maybe because of the army placement in each and every corner of this city as it is hotspot of terrorist activities. Even when you enter into the city or when you leave the city you have to pass by almost 6 security check points until you reach the airport. It is not a normal security check which you can find in any airport. It is far worst :). You cannot carry extra battery in you hand carry even your camera battery and so on. I almost forgot every single trouble i faced due to this security check but what i can sure is, it is worst checking i ever faced. If you are short temper person and don’t know how to enjoy you life or traveling, you may hate Sri Nagar’s visit due to this check point hassles.
I always like mountain view especially the mountains with snow. I planned to go to Himachal Pradesh however my friend Ankush Zannot, suggest me Sri Nagar. So i decided to go to Kashmir. As usual i search for the interesting places and hotels in TripAdvisor site.
Unfortunately none of the budget hotels provide me the option to make the booking using my credit card. So i call the hotels and make my booking over the phone. Oops sorry, they won’t speak English. I faced problems in booking the hotels over the phone and asked Ankush to book for me.
I landed in Delhi and took a flight to Sri Nagar. If not mistaken only 2 flights are available everyday to Sri Nagar through my usual flying companion Spice Jet. One in the morning and one in the evening. All the way to Sri Nagar, you can enjoy the wonderful mountain views. As India usually recognised as Mystic Land, the mountain views definitely will change you mind state and will give you kind of meditating feeling.
Once i landed in Sri Nagar, after the immigration check point, i was approached by a guy for boat house accommodation. I told him that i already booked a hotel but somehow he convinced me saying that i can stay in hotel anywhere in the world but boat house is very unique one in Sri Nagar as it is a lake city and I can enjoy a wonderful scene and experience by staying in the boat house. The charges also cheaper than hotel i booked and its comes together with breakfast and dinner. So I agreed.
But he brought me to a very dirty river side boat house which has no wonderful scenes at all. All the promises in Indian most of the times turns in such same situation. But i didn’t refused it somehow and agreed to stay there. I think it will be a unforgettable experience and memory. But later I found they don’t have hitter even the air condition has no hitter. They have a traditional heater system which we need to burn the fire to make sure its giving you the heat the whole day.
I stayed in the boat house owned by a orthodox muslim family. Majority in the Sri Nagar are muslims. They told me that there was muslim leader came to Kashmir once a upon a time with huge disciples and converted many Hindus to Islam and all of his disciples are got married with the local people. And thats how the entire city turned into a Islam.
I visited many places in Sri Nagar. The most beautiful and interesting places are
The Hazratbal Shrine is a Muslim Shrine (Mosque). It contains a relic, the Moi-e-Muqqadas, believed by many Muslims of Kashmir to be a hair of the Prophet Muhammad.
There is a rumour that the relic (hair of the Prophet Muhammad) was reported disppeared on 26 December 1963. There were mass protests all over the state on the disappearance of the Mo-e-Muqaddas (the Hair of the Prophet) with hundreds of thousands out in streets. The relic was recovered on 4 January 1964.
The only place which I planned to visit but im not manage to visit is the tomb of Jesus Christ (as per the Discovery channel). My Muslim travel guide refused to bring me to that place. He told me that it is not Jesus tomb and it is actually a tomb of Muslim Sufi. However when I forced him to bring me there, he told that there was a big clash between Muslims and Christian happening there after the Discovery Channel documentary. So he told me that the government not allowing anyone to visit that place right now. So I had no choice.
In Sri Nagar, you can easily find almost all the guys with big tummy. Its look strange on the first day because their tummy look different. But the next day i found that they carrying a hot pot with burning fire and holding it inside their clothes to make them warm in the winter.
The first day was a wonderful day for me. The trouble started in second day where i found none of my card either ATM or Credit cards are not useable in Sri Nagar. I thought maybe my money was wipe out for some reason. I tried to call my friends in India and Malaysia but found that my mobile line too are not accessible in Sri Nagar. I tried to call my friend using boat house people’s phone and my GOOD friend Ankush told me that he actually forgot to update me that the mobile lines only accessible if we register a phone line in Sri Nagar. Even all the Indian lines which we registered outside Kashmir won’t work there. The restriction is because of the heavy terrorist activities in Kashmir. In East and North East of Kashmir is under the control of China and the other part is under the control of Pakistan, so the government restricted all outside mobile line in Kashmir. So I called my Malaysian friend to bank in some money (as i said i called using boat house people’s phone) into my account but still my card got rejected and again my friend told me that maybe they restricted the bank and credit card usage too to control the funding from outside for terrorist activities. 😦
Im now hopeless as I have to pay the balance to the boat house. Further they are very much orthodox Muslims and they praise Islam and keep blaming on USA and Indian Government. Almost every night while we having dinner together they talk about the injustice against Muslim by Indian Government and USA. Oh ya, i forgot to tell you about the food. It was a wonderful Kashmir home made style cooking and i really enjoyed it.
Anyway, now I have no money to pay them and cannot make outside calls to get help. And further I thought all the Muslims are terrorist 🙂 (Sorry for that. Im innocent but the international media taught me so). Some how in the evening I found a solution and told them the problems and gave my Nokia Lumia phone which i used for my India trip. I bought it for somewhere around Rs 38,000 but i forgot about it and told them that the phone is Rs 3,800 rupees. They told that it is not enough and then i gave my watch which I though I bought for USD 200. The worst thing is I went with my wife and she looks very uncomfortable and terrified.
One of the boat house partner refused to take that and asked me to pay once I returned to my homeland. I was really surprise. I thought they are terrorist and won’t help Hindus but I really shocked to see that they treating everyone as human being.
However his brother not accept his suggestion and took my phone and watch and he returned the next day, gave back my watch and told me that it is more than USD 200 and he also told me that the phone I gave is actually Rs 38,000 but the second hand shop took it for Rs 11,000 only. He took their balance charges for boat house and trip about Rs 9000, and gave me back Rs 3,000 for my safe return.
I felt like im sitting around friends and nothing to be worry or scared and most important thing is I realised that not all the muslims are terrorist or extremist. They are good human too. They even told me that to check my ATM card once I reach Chandigarh (my return flight from Sri Nagar is to Chandigarh) and if it still not accessible means they can arrange some money for me through their contact in Chandigarh and ask me to pay back once I landed in my country. It was a great experience for me.
Once I landed in Chandigarh, the first thing I did is, try to withdraw money from my ATM and relieved when I saw the money out from ATM :). I realised that the problem is not with my card but actually the restriction in Sri Nagar by the Government.
The family of the boat house is still in touch with me. Trip to Kashmir is not a usual trip for me. It was gave me new understanding and perception about human being.
This is one of the boat house person contact https://www.facebook.com/search/str/Yousuf%20Shagoo%20Kooks/keywords_top