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.
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.