couple Debina Bonnerjee and Gurmeet Chaudhary had gone for a trip to
witness the biting cold of Kashmir in December last year.
Debina Bonerjee writes about their trip to Kashmir and Amritsar
"In Srinagar, we decided to stay in a houseboat. It was freezing cold
and was an experience of a lifetime. Wherever we had to go, we had to
take the shikara and cross the Dal lake. It was a fulfilling experience
to sit on a shikara and cross Dal every time.
The first day we went to the 'Shankaracharya temple,' built by the
Pandavas. It was around 280 steps climb, adorned by the chinar trees
... The ones we had seen in the film Mohabbatein. Those beautiful
leaves in that film...... remember!
Time to get back to our freezing houseboat. By this time, we had
started to curse our idea of staying in the houseboat. Unfortunately,
it was my (debina) idea later jointly agreed upon by all.
Next day we left H.B around 10.30 to go to Gulmarg.
Gulmarg was snowing. It was all snow and just snow. We got into our
gumboots and headed for our snow adventure. We tried some skiing also
and found out that we were good at it. We rolled, jumped, walked, ran
on the snow and ate some of it as well. It was pure fun. We were there
until our feet started burning of frostbites. Got back to our car at
five and headed towards Srinagar to our freezer.
Next day we decided to go to Pahelgaon. On the way came "Badami baug
cantonment." Gurmeet got emotional seeing the cantonment as he had been
staying in Srinagar in the same cantonment for three yrs of his
childhood. After asking about a hundred army men, we landed upon
colonel Gupta who had two daughters our age.... Who in turn got
emotional seeing us and granted us permission, not only for the two of
us but all our friends and our vehicle as well.
Army canteen in Srinagar was a sight, a city within a city. It had
around two schools, theatre halls, number of shopping markets, temples
and so on and so forth. We girls started shopping frantically as the
rates were extremely low for the same Kashmiri stuff that we were
getting outside. Guru was moist eyes, reviving his childhood memories.
He was running around showing us his school and his house. The
schoolteacher recognised him as her ex student and as Gurmeet, the
actor, welcomed us with open arms and the principal announced to put
guru's name in the alumni list of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Srinagar. We were
delayed beyond the point we could not even afford.
We hurriedly left for pahelgaon around 1 o clock and reached by 3.30.
By 4.30, we were ready for our sight seeing after having lunch. We took
horses and thought the local sight seeing includes a joy ride. However,
the horses started climbing the cliffs vertically. I would be joking if
I say I was not scared. It was a 90-degree climb. We climbed 900 km up
the mountains and reached a plateau. It was beautiful, my eyes were
treated with the sight of green meadows right in between mountains. Day
light was gone and night had started, I mean it became dark. As it is,
we were late to climb up and we got so lost in the scenic beauty that
we did not realise that there was nobody but our horses, two men, and
us and the horse wallas. We started to hurry down. Those horse wallas
said if they took the straight roads it would take us 1 hour and the
vertical climb down would take us fifteen minutes. Both the roads were
empty and dark. In the flat straight spiral roads also, I felt I could
be jumped upon by tigers from behind. It was better to take the risk of
a downhill climb from the jungle and reach faster. Only we know how we
climbed down. We had, for the first time in our lives, switched on the
night vision of our eyes to see.... If we could see something at least.
Body tilted backwards and legs on front.... Balancing ourselves, we
came down with great difficulty. Hugged and loved our horses as they
had done a tremendous job and we still do not know whether horses can
see at night. Back to our houseboat, in addition, the discussion of our
adventure with horses and hills. A lovely trip altogether, could not
have been better. We headed for Amritsar... However, that has yet to
Later on the couple went to Amritsar
"We reached Amritsar late in the evening, just checked in to a hotel to
cool our nerves. The next morning, started with our visit to the GOLDEN
TEMPLE. It was as if a picture had come alive as it was beautiful and
serene. The kind of response that we got from people out there was
outstanding. We were taken straight inside the golden temple in front
of the guru granth sahib. We listened to prayers and headed for the
langar. It was so fulfilling a feeling by itself. We next moved to
JALIANWALABAUG, the place where the British killed around 2000 people
at one go. We felt our blood boiling, the patriot Gurmeet is, he was
stuck at the "well" where many people who jumped inside to escape,
died. We felt a terrible emptiness, the marks of the bullets were like
scratching marks in our hearts.
We had only one day in Amritsar so we headed next to WAGHA BOARDER. The
boarder between INDIA & PAKISTAN. The marching of the Indian and
Pakistani army was a sight to see, we were jumping with joy. The
shaking of hands by both side of the army was terrific. It was so
strange that the land and everything looked same. But beyond that gate
was what, we call...... PAKISTAN.
The patriotic song was an added dose to our already patriotic mind.
People started dancing to it. In addition, we left before we were
mobbed. In the night, we visited the golden temple again. It was
different to see it in the day and then in the night. The golden temple
shines in the middle of water in the night; it was a sense of peace
that we felt. Next morning we had to head back straight to Bombay."