August 27, 2012
After a good night sleep, I was up at and ready by around 8:00 AM. Sanjay made some kinda cheese for breakfast (which tasted pretty good), and then dropped me off in the city. I planned to see the city on this day, starting of with the Shankaracharya Temple, which is top of a hill. Sanjay suggested that I trek up the hill instead of taking an auto. So I started off on what I thought would be a 15-20 minutes climb, but soon realized that it was a huge scramble. It took all my effort, and close to one and half hour to reach the summit. The sun was up mid way through which made the trek tougher. After a security check, there were about 300 more steps to reach the temple. I was as good as dead after my first visit for the day. The temple was small and nice, and I had a great view of city from the top.
The climb down was a cake walk after the tough clamber. I came down, and immediately got into a local bus towards Nishat Gardens (Mughal garden). The garden was beautiful and to an extent, well maintained. I found a nice spot and spent some time here to regain all the lost energy. I also happened to buy a tourism book on Kashmir, and planned the rest of my day.
I got out past noon and took a bus to reach a Muslim shrine, Hazrat Bal. This shrine is in the older part of the city, next to NIT Srinagar and University of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the place wasn’t as great as I expected, and was mostly under renovation. So I roamed about the streets, and decided to head towards Hari Parbat Fort.But not until I went there did I realize that the fort is not pen to general public. So I continued walking the streets and reached Jamia Masjid. I wanted to walk more, but the sun was scorching, so I took the bus and headed back into the main city.
Tip: Don’t plan your day based on the Tourist guide!! Two of the three places I went to were closed or under renovation. Ask people for suggestions and tips before you reach any place.
It was almost 4:00 PM and I still didn’t have lunch, so decided to head to Vishnu Dhaba. On the way, I twisted my ankle really bad :(. Struggling, I somehow reached the Dhaba, and had Kashmiri Pulao, which tasted decent (I expected something better). Once done, I started walking next to the Dal gate towards Chashmashahi with the sprained ankle. It was almost dark by now, and by the time I reached the hut, it was 7:00 PM. Sanjay had guests at home, and after a while, we headed off to dinner together.
We went to this authentic Kashmiri restaurant (I don’t remember the name of the place) near Lal Chowk. Sanjay and his friends had some good non-veg food, while I had Tomato Paneer and Sunflower Stem in Yogurt gravy. The Tomato Paneer was spicy and yum, while the Sunflower Stem curry tasted very different. The stem was very good, crunchy, but the gravy was too sour. I also had a Kashmiri Naan, which wasn’t so great. We ended our meal with ice-cream on our way back. Once home, I was dead tired, and went straight to bed.