A very famous Persian quote of Emperor Jahangir in appreciation of Kashmir goes something like: "Agar Firdaus ba roy-i zamin ast, hamin ast-u hamin ast-u hamin ast,” which translates into, “If there is Paradise on earth, it is this, it is this, it is this."

If you are looking forward to a perfect and heavenly holiday retreat, it has to be in Kashmir! Kashmir is indeed a ‘Firdaus’- the heaven and experiencing this Firdaus is relatively convenient and easy as it is connected with flights to all major metropolitan cities of India. Kashmir is from where my career as a Tour Manager began. It was a difficult time being the post Kargil era and tourism starting to regain its roots. The local people of Kashmir, especially the younger generation were hostile to new visitors and the military or CRPF always used to be on guard. But over the period of time the influx of tourists was welcomed with a renewed enthusiasm.

The reasons for Kashmir being one of the best holiday destinations are many! Unlike rest of India, Kashmir has four seasons. It starts with autumn when green leaves turn yellow or red. The trees in Srinagar look so pretty that it gives a feeling of being in Paris or Canada. In winter one can experience a chilling but equally romantic cover of dense fog; can stroll hand in hand with your loved one along the Dal Lake or can simply enjoy a cup of coffee on your Houseboat Deck in the calm and soothing Nagin Lake. In winters one can experience some amazing snow fun on the mountain tops.

Spring is the time which brings in a new life in the form of new fresh leaves. Around this time it’s a delight to drive along the banks of the Indus or Sindhu river; visiting Apricot gardens or having a steaming hot cup of Kahwah near Mughal Gardens.

In summer we can witness the varying shades of green in the rice fields, meadows, trees and Srinagar with its lakes and waterways is indeed a heaven and a great respite from the scorching heat prevailing across India. Kashmir being one of the most romantic places on earth, many ‘RK Films’ movies made by the legendary Mr. Raj Kapoor were shot exclusively here.

Kashmir is sure to change your life as it did to me! I literally grew and evolved from a boy to a man at this destination. It has taught me to be tolerant and I also learned that if I want to experience ‘Firdaus’ in its true sense, then there is no substitute to hard work. Kashmiri people are warm and tourist friendly. They love their food, especially the ‘Wazwan’. They are great hosts and once you break the ice, they can be your best friends!

Amit Kunte
(Team Veena World)