“En route Gulmarg you will pass through fields of apple trees. The sight is spectacular and I am sure you will love it. Don’t miss it Sir!” Adil, my cab driver and guide for Kashmir, spoke with overwhelming enthusiasm.
The Kashmiri winter was nearing its end in February 2014 but it was still capable of striking my bones yet the thoughts of the spectacular apple garden decorating the Kashmir valley made me warm. Initially I was sceptical to visit Gulmarg as TripAdvisors have posted mixed reviews about the visit at this time of the year as Gulmarg will be messy due to slushy snow. But Adil’s words were promising. Along with Gulmarg, he was also pitching for Sonmarg and Tanmarg but due to budget constraints I struck off the latter two much to his dismay. Yet he continued rhymic gaga about Gulmarg-Tanmarg-Sonmarg all along the journey from airport until we reached the banks of Dal lake from where I got onto a shikara to reach the cosy Kashmiri houseboat. The rest of day was spent effectively by visiting the four Mughal gardens in Srinagar. “Mughals made Mughal gardens and God made Kashmir’s Apple Gardens” Adil declared while we rode back to Dal Lake’s shikara point.
The next day we started early towards Gulmarg and Adil resumed the narration about apples and snow. The excitement increased as he announced that we are nearing the apple fields. I took out my camera while Adil stopped the car besides a group of leafless trees plastered with snow.
“Where are the apples?” I asked, puzzled and hoping against hope.
“Apples have been plucked away. You have to come during summer to see them” Adil replied keeping a straight face.
I scrutinized his face for sarcasm but found none.
“How can you be so sure that these are apple trees” I asked, even though it doesn’t matter whether it’s apple or oranges.
“Well sir you can find that by checking the leaves” Adil’s reply was prompt.
I once again looked at the leafless tress.
“Well, there are no leaves to identify”
“Oh sir! For that you will have to come during summer. Then there will be both apples and leaves on these trees. Trust me, Kashmiri apples are the tastiest apples in the world. If this was summer you could have plucked one right now.”
Now that the vivid scenes of splendid apple trees vanished before my eyes I seriously began to doubt the scenes at Gulmarg. What if Gulmarg is messed up with slush right now? It would have been such an irony if Adil tells me that I should come in “summer” to see “snow” just like the case in apples. But I was relieved to see fresh snow which has fallen early in the morning along the valleys. There was no point in getting angry with Adil for apple fiasco as sometimes one gets too much fascinated with his place and tends to forget the fact that some of the scenes depend on the seasons.
Kashmir displays different character for each season. In autumn the poplars that line up along the roads of the valley turn yellow. It turns white and grey with plenty of snow during winters. The spring bring back the colours to the valley and in summer everything is bright and vivid with abundance of sunshine. It’s been 4 years since my visit and I am longing for a summer to visit Kashmir again to see apple trees with apples in proper
I wouldn’t dare to call this post a travelogue, instead I guess “travel bloopers” is the right word. Have you experienced these kind of bloopers during your travel? Do share it as a comment.