A Day’s Trip to Gulmarg 

The mesmerising beauty and pleasant climate of our valley is unparalleled. It is famous the world over for it’s scenic beauty, habitable climate during summer months when rest of the world faces annoying conditions amid scorching and unbearable heat. Not only this, valley is bestowed with tremendous potential for tourism in view of a large range of world famous health resorts. Gulmarg ( meadow of flowers), Pahalgam ( village of shepherds), Sonamarg ( meadow of gold), Yousmarg, Dodapathri, Mughal gardens of Srinagar and Anantnag districts, Manasbal, Bangas valley, Lolab valley etc are the few of the popular explored tourist spots of valley. Baring these already explored dozens of health resorts, there are many more unexplored tourist attractions which have not been placed yet on the tourism map of valley. These need to be given due attention and lot of efforts are needed for their development and maintenance.
Poets, writers and litteratuers from every corner of the globe have played their role in highlighting the pleasant beauty of this part of the planet. Books have been authored, poems and odes have been composed to describe the multidimensional aspects of the resplendent picture of the beautiful valley. Mughal emperor Jahangir, legendary Persian poet Amir khusro and Sir Walter Lawrence of British period also were deeply impressed by the beauty of valley. Snow clad mountains of Sonamarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam are attracting the tourists from all over the  world during winter period for winter sports. Gondola ride at Gulmarg upto Afarvat and Khilanmarg during summer months gives a newer experience to national and foreign tourists. It is because of this tremendous beauty, that people in lakhs from all parts of the globe throng the valley during summer season. They even plan their trips months before to book hotels and vehicles. Besides these tourist attractions, our valley is also the last resting place of hundreds of God fearing saints who have come from distant lands, settled here for preaching the noble teachings and have chosen their final resting place here.
Besides these splendiferious features, valley is also the home to holy Amarnath cave. For taking the obligatory glimpse and paying abeisance at this sacred cave, pilgrims from all corners of India visit during summer months of July/ August. It is a symbol of Kashmir’s rich ethos and syncretic culture. It provides us the chance to serve the incoming guests and prove our hospitality. For centuries we have been helping our Hindu brothers many ways in performing their religious duty.
Educational Institutions of the valley do organise picnics and educational tours to these health resorts during summers for their students in order to acquaint them about the beauty and natural picturesque of these health resorts. They beat the summer scorching heat, enjoy some relaxing moments and bring some peaceful hiatus in their annoying busy schedules. Our school also organised a day’s outing to Gulmarg a couple of days before. Earlier due to bad weather it had to be postponed many times. And on sunny pleasant day of Tuesday, finally it was done with enthusiasm among both students and teachers. We left in two mini-buses at 6:45am sharp from Anderwan main stop. Via Sumbal in Bandipora district, we reached the Narbal crossing the main gateway to Gulmarg in less than an hour. From Narbal to Tengmarg the well maintained and decorated road by conifers in the middle gives the travellers a strange feeling of travelling to some place of heaven. Popular and commonly heard names of some villages were observed through the eyes both by the teachers and students. At Chandiloara I felt somewhat exited the moment i saw the name of Fazil Kashmiri the distinguished Naat poet often called as the Jami of Kashmir on the sign board of a govt higher secondary school. It was almost 9:45 am when we reached the main Tengmarg town where we stayed for some time to taste the famous pink salt tea in a hotel. Thereafter we moved straightaway towards the Gulmarg and reached there at 10:45 am. Students enjoyed in the famous children park of Gulmarg and also took their meals in the same park where they met with the students of some other schools of the Ganderbal District who too had planned their trip on the same day and to the same place. At Gulmarg the meadow of flowers they explored many newer things about which they weren’t acquainted previously. Variety of wild and endemic flowers, vast open land fields and magnificent hotel and other departmental hut buildings broadened their mental horizons. Due to huge rush of national and foreign tourists in the Gandola side, instead of visiting the site or taking a ride, we straightaway moved towards Ziyarat Shareef of Baba Payamudin Reshi ra popularly known as Baba Reshi. The natural beauty, serene silence, lush green dense forests and mind refreshing pure quality air of the area compels each soul to stay there as longer as he could. Baba Payamudin Reshi ra is the most revered saint and disciple of Baba Zainudin Reshi Aishmuqam. The traditional mud chulla built by the the saint hundreds of years ago is still intact at the Ziyarat Shareef. Devotees come in hundreds daily to pay the abeisance. The modernized accommodation facilities for the devotees and fresh water and air sources makes the place a mini-heaven on the earth. Once you make a visit, your mind and heart won’t allow you to leave the place. After spending almost two hours at the Ziyarat Shareef and praying the Asr prayer in the Jamia Masjid in congregation, we moved back to our homes. At Tengmarg we again stopped for the tea in the same hotel. From Tengmarg to Anderwan our students enjoyed in the buses. They sang the songs of their choice. Hindi, Gojri, Pahari and even Kashmiri songs were also sung by the students in their soulful and melodious voices. Some of the students even danced to the tunes of the modern Hindi and Punjabi songs. Some good hidden talents among the students were discovered during the return journey whose melodious voices and dancing skills impressed every one. At 9:30 pm we reached back to our homes. Parents of the students had already gathered at the main stop waiting eagerly for their wards who were thrilled to see them back home safely. They thanked the drivers, conductors and the school staff for making the trip a successful and safe one.
Writer is a columnist and hails from Qazigund. 

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