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Stok Kangri The expedition– Day 1: Touchdown at srinagar

Stok Kangri present in Hemis national park in ladakh is one the highest peaks in the stok range. Towering at 6,153m or 20, 182 feet stok kangri is one of the highest trekkable peaks in the region and this was chosen for this years trek.

When indiahikes announced the trek I immediately registered for it. Saloni, Suhas and Nutty with whom I had done roopkund last year also registered for the trek. We had planned to do this trek last year itself when we were discussing our options for the next trek in the himalayas after finishing roopkund.

With the bookings done, we got a mail from indiahikes regarding the travel plans and a chain mail started with various people pitching in with their travel plans. After a long mail thread, and few calls, me, suhas, anshul, bharani and pradeep who were are from bangalore decided to meet up in srinagar.

Tickets were booked by suhas for me, himself and anshul and I booked the accomodation at YHAI srinagar for the 5 of us and we met up at the airport on 8th morning. Pradeep and Bharani had already reached srinagar and had checked into the hotel. We reached srinagar by noon and reached the hotel in an hour or so. After checking in and freshening up we decided to head out for a tour of srinagar.

First to visit was the famous DAL lake which was just a couple of kms from the hotel. The lake is one of the major tourist attractions and the best way to see the lake is to take the shikara a small boat which is used by the locals to ferry people across the lake. There are houseboats lined across the lake which one can rent for a night or for longer stays depending on the duration. The rent for the houseboats starts from 3000 and goes upwards depending on the boat size and other factors such as rooms etc

Dal Lake and Shikara

We took a shikara for an hour and half after negotiating the price with the person. We could see various shaped houseboats and named after various places. The shikaras are the main source of transportation on the dal lake and during winter when the lake freezes people walk over it and even play cricket and even ride cycles on it.

Houseboats on the lake

As we went ahead the lake widened and we soon reached a small garden admist the lake where we took a short break and couple of snaps before getting back to the boat.

Wider view of Dal Lake

As our ride continued towards the inner parts of the lake we were shown the floating market which happens every morning. People who are living on the lake each day get their wares to sell and others can buy the same. People living on the house boats can also participate. As we rowed we could see different kinds of shops selling kashmir shawls, dry fruits etc.

Floating Markets

We could see quite a lot of grass present on the surface and upon asking we were told the grass is cultivated here and is harvested and sold in town. We even happened to see a huge grass cutting machine which went about doing its job. Upon asking how much it would cost to build the houseboat, we were told it costs anywhere between few lakhs to a crore and it takes more than a year to build a houseboat. Soon our ride was finished and we came back to dry land after paying the shikara owner.

As Srinagar is popular tourist spot local transport can get pretty pricey for tourists as the cab and autorickshaw drivers can charge exhorbitant prices and one needs to bargain with them to get the prices in our favour.

Srinagar has quite a few gardens and we visited the famous ones such as a mughal and nishant gardens. We stuck a deal with a autodriver to cover shankracharya temple, Shalimar and nishant gardens, hazartabal shrine, nagin lake and old city before dropping us back to the hotel.

Our first point of interest was the shankaracharya temple situated atop the hill. We had to pass a check post where we were asked if we had any cigarrates, or plastics etc in our bags. One needs to go empty handed to the temple as we need to keep our cameras, bags etc in the vechile before leaving to the temple. After a mandatory frisking at the entrance we climbed up the steps and reached the shirne. We could see people going up and coming down while chanting prayers. We reached the top pretty soon and went to the temple.

Spending some time at the temple we headed back to the auto and proceeded towards mughal gardens while stopping a brief while to take a few shots of Srinagar from the top

View of Srinagar

The next place in our list was the Shalimar garden which is one of the popular gardens in srinagar. This along with nishat and Chashm-e-shahi make up the mughal gardens which is a must visit for any one visiting srinagar.

Purchasing tickets we entered the shalimar garden. The garden has variety of flowers and with the backdrop of hills it looks very pretty,

Shalimar Garden

The long fountains with continous flowing water give the garden a smoothing feeling. However the weather wasnt ideal for us to enjoy the garden as the sun was beating down on us and we soon exited the complex after taking a few photos.

We then proceeded towards nishat bagh which is located a short distance from the shalimar gardens. The nishat bagh is constructed differently when compared to shalimar garden.

There is a huge fountain complex and small waterfalls dotting the garden. The garden is again set in the mountain backdrop. As usual the sun was still high up and the temperature was soaring thus preventing us from enjoying the garden, A couple of shots and we headed out

Nishat Bagh

Hazartbal mosque which is one of the popular mosques in srinagar was the next destination to be visited. It was already evening by the time we visited the mosque.

Hazratbal Shrine

A short tour of the outer portion of the mosque and we went out of the complex and to the auto.

Nagin lake was the second lake to be visited. This lake is smaller compared to dal lake. We found many houseboats here too and as it was evening it was less crowded compared to dal lake. As the light was fading we couldnt do much and we headed to the last destination, the old city where we did some shopping before heading back to the hotel

Sunset @ nagin lake

We met bharani and pradeep at the hotel and discussed the places to see on the way to leh and possible accmodation options in lamayuru and headed back to our room, as we had a long drive to leh the next day and we had to leave early by 6 the next day

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About Subbu
Name: Subbu Interests : Trekking,travelling Hobbies: Photography

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