A Rollercoaster in Paradise: Srinagar’s Beauty and a Close Call

Hey there! It’s Jerry Garrett, and I’m excited to share my Srinagar adventure with you. We left home around 3 p.m. and reached the airport 45 minutes later. After check-in and security, we couldn’t resist grabbing coolers at the cafe. My siblings and I loved them.

We boarded the flight, and I spent my time listening to music and snacking. In what felt like a blink of an eye, we arrived in Srinagar after a one-hour plane ride. I expected a snow-covered landscape, but it was just cold wind for now. We headed to our hotel, Naqash Residency, checked in, had dinner at 8 p.m., and slept.

Day 2

On day two, our adventure began. We visited the glacier in Sonomag. After breakfast, we left early for the 12-hour journey. At first, I saw bits of snow here and there, but soon it turned into vast snowy landscapes.

At a parking lot, our driver informed us we needed mules to reach the glacier. So we geared up with boots and equipment from local guides and started our mule journey. Nervous yet excited, I found the muddy and slippery terrain challenging at first, but it became easier as we went on.

When we reached a snowy spot, we dismounted our mules, and I finally got to play in the snow! Making snowballs, throwing snow at my siblings, and creating our own snowfall were unforgettable moments.

Then someone offered us sleds for sledding.
For the first time, I agreed to try something new. Sadly, it wasn’t as exhilarating as I’d hoped – we didn’t go very fast, and the mountain wasn’t steep enough. Hunger gnawed at us after a while, so we headed back to the parking lot to find lunch.

As we searched, we stumbled upon an enchanting river. Its waters flowed freely despite the snowy landscape, providing a perfect backdrop for breathtaking photos.

Soon after, we found a nearby restaurant. While I can’t remember its name or the dishes we ate, I do recall how delicious everything tasted. We even tried kahwa, a local drink – not my favorite, but still enjoyable.

Later that evening, we returned to our hotel and played Uno with my siblings and aunt before calling it a night.

Day 3

On day three, our adventure took us to Gulmarg’s gondola. Eagerly, we ate breakfast and set out by car for the journey ahead. Halfway there, we stopped at our hotel – the Appletree Resort – to check in but found it was too early. So, we left our luggage and continued on.

Our driver insisted on dropping us off near the gondola station, but we chose to walk instead. Before long, we hired a guide for 800 rupees after some haggling and made our way to the gondolas.

But first – tea! Then came the daunting 30-minute wait in line before boarding. Finally inside the gondola, I captured videos that resembled drone shots as we soared through the air. But here’s a photo:

I saw trekkers in the distance, their silhouettes framed by breathtaking views. We reached the first phase of the gondola station, opting not to continue to phase two. Our tickets were only valid for the first leg, after all.

We scanned our surroundings for activities to try. Snowmobiling was closed due to scarce snowfall. Skiing and sledging were our remaining options. My cousin, siblings, and other family members chose skiing, so we trudged up the mountain slope for fifteen minutes. Guides arrived, strapped on our boots, and handed us skis. They showed us how to gain speed, balance ourselves, and avoid falling.

I embarked on my first ski run, exhilarated by the experience but disheartened by the ski guide’s indifference. Exhausted from skiing, we stopped for a snack of Maggi noodles and tea before heading back to the gondola station. We snapped photos of the station before returning to the parking lot, our stomachs rumbling with hunger.

Our guide Jawid was a treasure – attentive and caring throughout our journey. If you ever meet him there, consider yourself lucky. With hunger gnawing at us, we settled for a humble dhaba with mediocre food. To our dismay, we discovered that our driver had abandoned us. The agency quickly arranged a new driver and car for us.

We headed to Hotel Apple Tree where my father sorted out the confusion about our driver. That evening, we played Uno with my aunt and siblings before enjoying dinner and drifting off to sleep.

Day 4

On day four, we rose early…
Our adventure led us to the valley, where locals suggested a horse as the best bet. The ride was spine-chilling, with narrow, steep paths that seemed one misstep away from plummeting to our doom. But we held on tight and made it in one piece. We visited a spot called Mini Switzerland, which, truth be told, fell short of expectations. It served as a decent break spot for snacks before heading back.

The descent proved even more hair-raising than the ascent, but we survived and returned to our homestay, Golden Residency. After dinner, sleep eluded us as my siblings and I spent the night retching. Our parents guessed it was due to exhaustion or lack of rest; whatever the cause, they tended to us with loving care.

As dawn broke, we prepared for our final destination – Dal Lake. We boarded a shikara to reach our houseboat, surrounded by breathtaking views and persistent vendors.

Stepping into the houseboat felt like stepping onto ice despite the mats on the floor. My father theorized it was due to its proximity to water.

We debated returning to our previous lodgings but opted for the houseboat experience. Wrapped in blankets with electric warmth, we enjoyed food brought by my cousin – even some Maggi noodles – and gradually adjusted to the cold.
Dinner came, warm and inviting. A nearby heater cast its glow, wrapping us in cozy comfort. We feasted, savoring each bite. Sleep embraced us, electric blankets cradling our dreams.

Day 5

Dawn broke, and with it, the call of our next adventure. We rose, eager for the journey ahead, bound for the airport. The lake was very foggy that day.

We set off around 2 o’clock, heading for the airport. As the security team checked our tickets, we said our final goodbyes and proceeded to the check-in. Once everything was in order, we decided to scout out the lounge. Unfortunately, our cards didn’t grant us access, so we bought some snacks for the plane instead.

Our midnight flight took off without a hitch, and I munched on chips to pass the time. However, halfway through our journey, trouble struck. Foggy weather forced our plane to divert to Delhi. This detour meant a longer trip than anticipated, but we had no choice.

After touching down in Delhi, we collected our luggage and hired a driver. It cost a pretty penny, but it was worth it. We hit the road again and stopped for a late-night meal around 1 a.m. Finally, we arrived home at 4 a.m., exhausted and ready for sleep.

And that’s it – until next week.

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