Staying with Friends in Kashmir - A Slice of Paradise
Updated: Nov 27, 2022
Kashmir has been a land of beauty, food, culture and craftsmanship since ages and therefore it is not surprising that it has always been a tourist hotspot. However, the real urge to visit Kashmir was to reconnect with friends from over two decades. In those two decades we had made significant journeys in our lives. So, it was really fascinating to see each other’s new worlds full of stories, a little army of munchkins and lots of greys and wrinkles! On top of meeting your friends and getting to Kashmir, you have to have your stars aligned if the home for your stay in nestled in woods and apple orchards!
Our Kashmir connection - A long standing friendship that goes beyond few decades
It's a bliss - Playing outside in the lap of nature instead of playing inside a virtual world
As we reached we were greeted warmly and before we knew our little one had joined forces with the others and had ran off to explore the garden – well garden is an understatement, it is a few acres of nature and its gifts, trees with bountiful hazel nuts, almonds, walnuts and pears and a commendable variety of vegetables and greens!
The kitchen garden supplies fresh organic vegetables through out the summer months
After the initial phase of meetings and greetings we settled down for some nun cha (Kashmiri salty tea) and czochworu. Day to day life is quite routed in traditions and nature in Kashmir.
Living spaces in most Kashmiri homes - Simple yet cozy and comfy
Homes have large living spaces with the entire floor covered in rugs and cushions against the wall. This is good way to socialize and also helps when the weather outside is cold and not much work is possible. There is a hamam to heat water and heat up the house. Roofs are slanted to ensure snow slides off.
It was our privilege to be able to share the meals with our friends and their family
Eating is mostly done in the kitchen and there is usually a raised floor to segregate the cooking and dining area. The dining area is set up the same way, rugs and cushions and a big piece of cloth called ‘dastarkhan’ is placed over which dinner ware and food pots are placed. Someone would come around with a traditional pot with water for you to wash your hands after you have settled down comfortably to eat.
Bedrooms are non-fussy too, large rugs covering the entire floor area, and mattresses that can be rolled off and set aside. These days people have beds and sofas, but the traditional way still remains most popular. People usually start their day with nun cha and Kashmiri bread called Girda or Tchot, with optional ‘Lipton’ tea (regular tea with milk and sugar). Girda is usually bought fresh in the morning from the local bread maker.
Gift of nature - sampling delicious Kashmiri apples directly from the trees in orchard
With nature at the doorstep, we went exploring the area, which had also encountered a leopard visit recently! We wandered through the apple orchards, tasting over 15 varieties of apples from over 3000 trees. This was our first ‘apple tasting’ tour, and needless to say you can’t really eat the full apple if you intend to taste the full offering on the menu! A couple of bit before you toss it onto the ground! Did took a lot of convincing from our friends for us to agree to throw it and not carry a kilo of half eaten fruits back! Also had taste of some varieties of pears and nuts on our way back.
Delicious and flavourful Kashmiri cuisine
Meals at home are absolutely delicious! Kashmiris eat rice as their main source of carbs. The first serving is usually of greens or ‘haak’ as they are called locally. Red kidney beans or rajma daal is also another comfort food, meat and chicken is also widely consumed. Who hasn’t had some version of ‘Rogan Josh’ at a restaurant. Sitting down to eat with the full family was a beautiful experience, the hosts will usually do their best to ensure you are stuffed and bulging at the seams! To get a deeper dive on Kashmiri food head to our blog here.
We were humbled and privileged by the hospitality we received throughout our stay
We were humbled by the hospitality we received, no one will let you leave without a cup of tea, a bowl of nuts and fruits, and plates loaded with butter biscuits. The elderlies are very particular that guests are well looked after and even better fed! They will sit and hand things to you so you eat and eat well. You can actually feel the warmth and genuine hospitality and the simplicity with which they open their hearts and homes to welcome you!