Day 3 started at 6:00 am at Beautiful Lalit Palace. I stepped out of my room bare feet to walk on the wet grass. The wet grass was as cold as ice and so I could not walk bare feet for a long time.
Lalit Palace has a beautiful flower garden and the shades of flowers are just mind blowing. My favourite shades were combination of yellow and brown…the shades of brown were spread on yellow as if brown ink is sprinkled on them 🙂 The bouquet of yellow daffodils in the garden was enticing.
As I was walking in the garden, the dew drops on the beautiful tulips got me to a standstill. It was chilling out there but I chose my mobile camera over hand gloves!
After my stroll, I took a tour of the Palace with Mr. Bilal Ahmed Bhat who clicked a picture of me under a century old Chinar tree which was once the site of a meeting between Mahatma Gandhi and Maharaja Hari Singh (then ruler of Kashmir). He also shared that prior approval of Government is required to cut any Chinar tree.
It was our breakfast time now but not an ordinary one. Having breakfast at Botanical garden was a brilliant idea of Marryam Ma’am. The layout of Botanical garden in Srinagar is in shape of a human body. A small tent was set up in the middle of the garden where I enjoyed eating Harissa and local bread with a breathtaking view of the mountains and the almond trees.
After breakfast, we were presented with Mr. Krishna Prasad Dar’s collection of over a hundred Kashmiri recipes which was published a decade ago. The new revised edition of this book “Kashmiri Cooking” is beautifully illustrated by his son, cartoonist Mr. Sudhir Dar who was also a part of this Trail.
The Tulips garden, largest in Asia is walking distance from the botanical garden. We were early for the Tulips festival and thus not all belts had bloomed. It was difficult to leave the Tulips garden and I so wanted to be there for the Tulips festival (attaching a picture). Well, at times it is good to miss few things so that there is an incentive for next time 🙂
Now we were heading to Fayaz Waza’s (Waza means Chef) home to see how a Muslim Wazwan (multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine) is prepared. This Wazwan was being prepared for our Dinner. The preparation of Wazwan is really time consuming and is usually prepared for weddings, food festivals and reunions.
Having Dastarkhan style (sitting on mattress) lunch at Fayaz Waza’s home was the best experience of this trip. The authentic taste of Haak saag, Dhobi Dal and Aloo Bukhara Kukur (Chicken and dried plums) with Kashmiri rice is still there on my palette. Fayaz Waza and his family members were so warm and kind. I hope to reciprocate their kind gesture someday 🙂
Post lunch, I spent some time having Kahwa and chatting with Fayaz Waza’s family. His house had an interesting showcase in the wall which had small Kangdi as a show piece.
I spent the evening shopping and chatting with my new friends 🙂 When I was out for shopping, I also learnt few Kashmiri sentences and interesting Kashmiri culture from my Driver.
The Dinner was planned in the graceful and luxurious Durbar Hall which is designed in a palace style with high ceilings and elegant carpeting. There were Kashmiri folk dances and musical performances before dinner. The voice of that young Kashmiri boy was weaving magic in the air 🙂
The Royal dinner was served in Durbar Hall. We had Mutton Seekh Kabab, Gushtaba, Tabak Maaz, Rogan Josh, Waza Chicken, Tamatar Paneer, Nadru Moinj and loads of calories for dinner.
Day 4 I went to Shankaracharya temple before heading to Gulmarg….to be continued……
Cheers – Lubna