The Mughal emperors called Kashmir paradise on Earth. Come float away on Dal Lake with us.
THE PLACID WATERS OF DAL LAKE shimmer in the morning sun, its colorful shikara rowboats bobbing lazily by the shore. Behind it lies a spectacular horizon of snow-capped Himalayan peaks. These sights all add up to a mind-bogglingly beautiful sum. On the northernmost edge of India, Kashmir is the kind of place that is typically described with superlatives. Past visitors often gush about how they fell in love with this picturesque land and its friendly people. Most of them wish to return; many say they don’t ever want to leave.
Their reaction to this place isn’t new. Through the centuries, Kashmir has inspired pilgrimages, poetry, paintings, and of course conflict. The emperor Jahangir, back in the 1600s, called this land a paradise on Earth. So enamored were he and the rest of India’s Mughal rulers that they peppered the valley with elaborate pleasure gardens. The English felt likewise when they came in droves during India’s colonial period, their most visible legacy being the countless Victorian-style houseboats on Dal Lake.
Kashmir’s beauty was its burden in the years after Indian independence, when it became a bone of contention between neighboring countries. Greater Kashmir is currently divided between these two nations plus China, with India controlling the area’s southern half. The area has begun experiencing an uptick in local tourist numbers and it isn’t hard to imagine a peaceful and progressive Kashmir getting the positive attention it deserves.
From our perspective, that can’t happen soon enough – and when it does, the world will once again discover its charms.
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