En Route from Srinagar to Pahalgam, Kashmir || Driving by the saffron fields, cricket bat factories, and spectacular snow-covered mountains

To say that we were excited to go to Pahalgam during our visit to Kashmir, would be an understatement. The excursion, from what we had heard, promised to be the first glimpse of real paradise. While there will be another post about Pahalgam and its realities, this post is about the journey from Srinagar to Pahalgam, because the journey is at least as important as the destination.

To say that we were excited to go to Pahalgam during our visit to Kashmir, would be an understatement. The excursion, from what we had heard, promised to be the first glimpse of real paradise. While there will be another post about Pahalgam and its realities, this post is about the journey from Srinagar to Pahalgam, because the journey is at least as important as the destination. 

The distance between Srinagar and Pahalgam is about 90 km and it takes around 2.5 hours to cover on good days. In the tourist season, chances are that you will also spend some time stuck in traffic jams within Srinagar, especially if you choose to start during office hours.

The distance between Srinagar and Pahalgam is about 90 km and it takes around 2.5 hours to cover on good days. In the tourist season, chances are that you will also spend some time stuck in traffic jams within Srinagar, especially if you choose to start during office hours.
 
And there is a lot to see on the way as well. Make sure you do your research well. Kashmir trip was actually the one where we had put in the least amount of research, and as a result we missed out on many things. If we had done our research well, probably the journey would have been much more beautiful than the destination for us.

And there is a lot to see on the way as well. Make sure you do your research well. Kashmir trip was actually the one where we had put in the least amount of research, and as a result we missed out on many things. If we had done our research well, probably the journey would have been much more beautiful than the destination for us.

The first "sight" your taxi driver will point out to you would be the saffron fields. Apparently there is an area near Srinagar that is known for the good quality of saffron that is grown there. There is something about he soil that makes the quality unmatchable apparently. You pass right through these fields and there wouldn't be much to stop and look at.

The first "sight" your taxi driver will point out to you would be the saffron fields. Apparently there is an area near Srinagar that is known for the good quality of saffron that is grown there. There is something about he soil that makes the quality unmatchable apparently. You pass right through these fields and there wouldn't be much to stop and look at. 

Next, you will come across shops and factories that display walls of cricket bats stacked on top of each other. These bats are made of Kashmiri Willow and are popular among semi-professionals and cricket clubs. Now even pre-teens have begun to use these bats. Professionals tend to use bats made of English Willow though.

Next, you will come across shops and factories that display walls of cricket bats stacked on top of each other. These bats are made of Kashmiri Willow and are popular among semi-professionals and cricket clubs. Now even pre-teens have begun to use these bats. Professionals tend to use bats made of English Willow though. 

There is one particular stretch on this road that has these cricket shops on both sides. It seems that they also supply the bats to retailers all over India and the World. With the increasing popularity of cricket and the increase in opportunities for young cricketers, it is a growing industry.

There is one particular stretch on this road that has these cricket shops on both sides. It seems that they also supply the bats to retailers all over India and the World. With the increasing popularity of cricket and the increase in opportunities for young cricketers, it is a growing industry. 

We thought of stopping the car at one of these factories and looking at these bats, but did not do it. We would probably have stopped if my nephew, who is a budding cricketer, was there with us in this trip. We thought we would not know what to look for. The length, weight, grip - all these technicalities are beyond us.

We thought of stopping the car at one of these factories and looking at these bats, but did not do it. We would probably have stopped if my nephew, who is a budding cricketer, was there with us in this trip. We thought we would not know what to look for. The length, weight, grip - all these technicalities are beyond us. 

So we moved on. The next stop was to be for breakfast amid apple orchards. It sounded quite ethereal, but like most realities are compared to our imaginations, ended up being quite run-of-the-mills. It was a small cafeteria like setup amid some apple orchards. But since you were inside a building, you didn't really experience anything different.

So we moved on. The next stop was to be for breakfast amid apple orchards. It sounded quite ethereal, but like most realities are compared to our imaginations, ended up being quite run-of-the-mills. It was a small cafeteria like setup amid some apple orchards. But since you were inside a building, you didn't really experience anything different. 

We ordered parathas at this place and tea. The food was acceptable and the service was good. We had the food and took a short stroll in the closest apple orchard. And then soon were on our way to Pahalgam.

We ordered parathas at this place and tea. The food was acceptable and the service was good. We had the food and took a short stroll in the closest apple orchard. And then soon were on our way to Pahalgam.  

On the drive back to Srinagar, we stopped at the banks of the river Liddar, which is a tributary of the river Jhelum. The river is also the spot for white-water rafting in Kashmir. We sat on the rocks in the river and sipped on some chai. It was a great break from the tiring day.

On the drive back to Srinagar, we stopped at the banks of the river Liddar, which is a tributary of the river Jhelum. The river is also the spot for white-water rafting in Kashmir. We sat on the rocks in the river and sipped on some chai. It was a great break from the tiring day. 

It took us around 10 hours for the entire trip. Pahalgam was the least exciting aspect of the day. The travel was fine. We will talk about our less-than-satisfying experience in Pahalgam, soon.

It took us around 10 hours for the entire trip. Pahalgam was the least exciting aspect of the day. The travel was fine. We will talk about our less-than-satisfying experience in Pahalgam, soon. 

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