Kashmir – The People Of The Valley

If there is one thing travel has taught me, it is that the world is far more complex and layered than we perceive it. That beneath all the superficial differences, people are just people across cultures and geographical boundaries. That their hopes, dreams, travails, even in the most vilified of places, are similar. I have always believed this in my heart, but travel has unequivocally underscored the universality of human life.

We were as humbled by the warmth and kindness we encountered in Kashmir as by the unparalleled beauty of its landscape. I conclude my Kashmir dairies (for now) with this gallery of people from the troubled valley. Just regular people like you and me.

Young Kashmiri girl.
A young girl in her mother’s shop in a village near Doodhpathri. She’s studying commerce in Srinagar and hopes to land a good job in the city when she graduates….inshallah.
One of many lovely moments from our sundeck on Sukoon.
Friends at the floating vegetable market.
Friends, at the floating vegetable market on Dal lake, Srinagar
Shalimar Garden
Deep in contemplation in Shalimar Garden, Srinagar
Two lovely little ladies beside the river in Doodhpathri
Congregation at the Shah-e-Hamadan shrine, Srinagar
Mother and child, on our walk through a village enroute to Doodhpathri. (I think it was Mujpathri)
Gujjar nomad woman, Dodhpatri
A gorgeous Gujjar nomad woman in her hut in Doodhpathri.
Village school near Dodhpatri
At a village school near Dodhpatri. The littlest one in the printed headscarf just decided to accompany her older sister to class that morning!
Gujjar Nomad, Dodhpatri, KAshmir
Gujjar Nomads return to their mountain homes after a winter sojourn in the plains – Doodhpathri
A sly little one looking for an excuse to skip lunch!
Old Town, Srinagar
Awaiting his turn to buy fish – Old Town, Srinagar
Honoured to be included in a group portrait with students of an Army Goodwill School on a trekking trip to Doodhpathri.
Catching up with news we were happy to shut out for the entire duration of our stay – Old Town, Srinagar.
Twins perhaps, but of unalike temperament! – Old Town, Srinagar.
Shepherd, Dodhpatri
My sweet shepherd model – On the road to Dodohpatrhi.

As you might have guessed by now, Doodhpathri was the highlight of our trip. It is relatively untouched by commercial tourism despite being just 42 km from Srinagar. Restaurants were practically non existent apart from the odd tea stall, so go prepared with food and water if you plan to stay all day. The J&K Tourism Board is trying to promote the area and we noticed a few brand new guesthouses on the perimeter that we wanted to check out for a future visit, but they were all shut. We learned later that the forest department lets out some lodges nearby.

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

88 thoughts on “Kashmir – The People Of The Valley

  1. Stunningly beautiful impressions from you travels, Madhu. Oh, how I’d love to follow in your footsteps when I watch your photos! You haven’t turned up in my reader for ages so I looked out for you. Apparently I have – unbeknown to me – unfollowed you. Sorry! Now I’ll read my way through to the beginning of the trip and hopefuly find out, Kashmir is a safe place these days …

    1. Thank you very much Dina. I have been very remiss with my blog reading as well. Just about returning to a regular schedule, or trying to at least. Hope all is well with you. Always a pleasure to see you here 🙂

  2. So lovely! Don’t we need them and they need us so dearly? Every time I go there, I just get filled with sorrow the way life has turned for such beautiful and friendly people.

  3. Traveling does help us see things in a different way. They’re never black and white, right or wrong, as everything is rather nuanced. That photo of you and Ravi with the schoolboys is cute. Really love this collection of photos, Madhu. Taking photos of people is not my forte, but I’m trying.

    1. Sadly too many people prefer to believe in the black and white, at least in the state’s version of it. Perhaps it is more convenient. Thank you for your lovely comment Bama.

  4. Being from this State it’s great to see someone promoting it. ❤😊👍
    If there is Heaven on Earth it is here it is here!! #CrownOfIndia
    Amazing clicks ma’am…👌👌👏👍

  5. You’ve introduced us to a beautiful group of people; we should have no borders – we should all be equal and able to freely share ‘cultural exchanges.’ I loved the image of the two friends in the floating market… and the one of the lady with the white cup in her very strong hands….

    1. The shot of the lovely nomad woman is my favourite too Lisa, although it is not quite sharp. Amen to your wish for a borderless world. I hope, against hope, that it’ll happen in our lifetime. But we’ll all need to get over our deeply ingrained prejudices first. That’s a hard hurdle to cross.

      1. It is an extremely-challenging hurdle for many, ingrained in tradition and probably family ‘shame’ or perhaps ‘pride.’ It takes a strong soul to stand up to family and community tradition.. I know this from growing up in the Southern USA….

        Climate is another strong concern of mine… I fear where this summer’s high temperatures reach and linger — coupled with dwindling water and options for relief – – – seven with stats going off the charts, some may never realize how we’ve abused the planet..

  6. Such gorgeous enticing photographs Madhu. I could really feel your connection to the place and the people. And yes – ‘travel has unequivocally underscored the universality of human life’. I couldn’t agree more.

    1. Thank you very much Alison. Your superb people posts essentially communicate the same message of shared humanity.

  7. Madhu, this was a beautiful photomontage – photographs and memories!
    I agree with your observation that people are people everywhere and people are good, kind and humane, by and large.

    1. Thank you Ashu. Interacting with people is always a highlight of travel for me, and you are right, people, everywhere, are mostly good.

  8. Very true, Madhu,
    Once we get past our ignorance, fear and preconceived ideas – we realize people everywhere are just like us. Lovely photographs.

  9. Something is very soothing about these pictures.. ☺️ the one where the small girl accompanied her sister reminded me of my childhood days.. I used to do the same when I went to my village.. with my cousin I will sit there in her primary school where we all used to sit at the floor in a one long room school… Life was easy.. 😇

    1. It was so much simpler and carefree wasn’t it? Glad you could relate to this gallery Swarnali. Have a great weekend!

  10. I agree, people are people and any encounter I have with people is always the highlight of a journey. These photos tell so many stories of lives so different from mine, a joy to see Madhu, thank you. Where are you going next?

    1. Always the highlight for me too Gilly. Have just been to Belgium and back! That’s a whole new story coming up. Am having trouble with WP in the meanwhile, being constantly signed out for some reason.

  11. Yes people around the world share the same needs and aspirations. It’s too bad cultural environment gets in the way of sharing those together so often.

    1. Indeed Ian. It is sadly hard to explain that to non travellers sometimes. Especially where religion is involved.

  12. The clothing and the backdrops may change, but the smiles, love, friendship, and sadness of human relationships are the same across time and culture. Wonderful shots of the Kashmir people, Madhu!

  13. Beautifully written opening paragraph. Your words frame these people within humanity, just like they deserve. Beautiful photographs to go with, you brought individuals to life but were able to maintain a sense of harmony and spirit that doesn’t exist where I’m from.

    1. That sense of harmony you speak of is eroding in way too many places around the world. My visit was prompted by the hate and this post conceived to highlight the universality beneath the divide. Glad it resonated with you. Thank you very much for reading Elayne.

  14. Madhu, this is a captivating portrait of daily life in Kashmir – my favorite shot of all was the Gujjar woman in her hut. It has such a dreamy quality, from the faraway look in her eyes and the vibrant magenta of her clothes, to the steam rising from the pot and the glow of the flames in the earthen hearth. I also found myself nodding at your wise words. Travel is so often a much-needed counterpoint to the bad news and cultural/religious stereotyping we are sadly bombarded with on a daily basis.

    1. Thank you James. I decided to counter the rhetoric the only way I know. Doubtful about its efficacy in the current atmosphere though.

  15. People and land deserving respect and love for the beauty and grander held within the hearts of both.
    A wonderful post for its great photos and story

  16. I appreciate your opening statement about the common humanity that we all share. Martin Luther King, Jr. described it as “an inescapable network of mutuality”
    Your photos are riveting. My favorites are the last two. The men and the cart are so approachable. And the man in the pasture is so serene..

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, especially that beautiful Martin Luther King Jr. quote. Apologies for the belated response.

  17. Wonderful post as always Madhu. We had also visited Kashmir but didnt go to that place at all. Its good that you spoke about this place. We also need to remember that this place is filled with so many wonderful places. Wish we had the firmness and administrative strength to promote this place like the Europeans do

    1. Indeed Anindya. Cannot imagine why tourism isn’t given importance by consecutive governments. Probably not enough moolah to make 😦

  18. Beautiful photographs, Madhu. Hope, you are well.

    I am reminded me of my last trip in 2013 Jan and getting stranded there for a week!

    1. Much belated thanks Göçebe 🙂 Lovely to see you here. Hope all’s well with you too. And hope it wasn’t too unpleasant a stranding in Kashmir.

      1. Hello Madhu, how have you bee? I read in one of your posts that you grew up in the tea gardens. Doors? Darjeeling? Or Munnar? Let me know, share a little bit if your privacy and time permits.

        Thank you,
        Looking forward to your next post, as always. 👍

  19. Excellent photographs Madhu. Love all of them!
    “A gorgeous Gujjar nomad woman in her hut in Doodhpathri.” is my Fav 🙂

  20. The photos are great. I hope there will be peace in this beautiful valley so that these people can live a normal life.

  21. What a beautiful post Madhu. I agree wholeheartedly that people are more sthe same than different. We may have different beliefs and culture but we all crave love, stability and what is best for ourselves loved ones. I would love to make it to kashmir someday. I have always dreamed of going there.

  22. Happy smiling faces are always a joy to see, Madhu. You bring out the best in people. 🙂 🙂 Sorry I’m a little late here. I must have just missed this post on my last visit.

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