Oh! Srinagar

With apartment culture a taboo, the city is happy with its horizontal growth.

This is a city where if you are bored you cannot walk into a theatre to watch a Hollywood or a Bollywood movie or, for that matter, any wood blockbuster.

Simply because there are no cinema halls! Likewise, if you want to cheer up your spirits no bar beckons you. Why? Elementary, my dear Watson, there are no bars here either.

The police neither have to catch black marketers in cinema tickets nor carry alcometers during night patrolling.       

Welcome to Srinagar, the capital city in the Kashmir valley, also touted as the Venice of the East.

Armed with woolens, sweaters, cold cream and glycerin soap to brace up to its much acclaimed cool environs, we headed to Srinagar. But once we landed there we found ourselves thrown into the frying pan from the fire, if not the other way round.  Srinagar too was hot and humid, like Bangalore. We lugged along the woolens that were now a dead weight. Imagine sleeping in the hotel room with fans on!

Srinagar is different indeed. If the cities elsewhere long to grow vertical with high risers and malls, no building in Srinagar towers above the trees that line the city’s roads. With apartment culture a strict taboo, the city seems to be happy with its horizontal growth.

As you move around, you will see a monotonous display of sloping roofs, a climatic necessity to let the snow slip during the harsh winter. Sringarites love for windows seems to be phenomenal. Bigger the house, greater the number of windows, all wide and tall. They want sunlight, air and good thoughts stream in from all sides, perhaps.

Geographically Srinagar is located on the banks of Jhelum, a tributary of  the mighty Sindhu, but the  iconic watermark of the city is the sprawling Dal Lake. This large urban lake is integral to Kashmir tourism because the hundreds of houseboats, moored along the edges of the lake, provide a unique experience of living on water with all the conveniences of a luxury hotel. 

The artistically carved wooden houseboat, a house by itself if not a home, is the USP of Srinagar. A visit here is incomplete if you don’t spend a night in the houseboat bedroom. But while checking out you will find a deep hole in the pocket, the price of that unique experience. 

Night birds in Bangalore, who bemoan that their city’s nightlife ends rather early at 11.30, will be shocked to find only night there with no life. Heard of a chap who wanted a pair of shoes till he saw someone with no legs? Auto drivers in Srinagar are honest, claimed my chauffeur. I got no chance to check the veracity of his claim. But for a Bangalorean I found the claim too tall, like our skyscrapers. Either you can be an auto driver or honest. No?

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