Kashmir is often regarded as ‘Paradise on Earth’. With a history dating back more than 2000 years and tourism as a chief component of its economy, Kashmir is India’s most popular destinations for both international and domestic tourists. With snow-capped mountains, deep green valleys, lakes, blooming gardens and hospitality people it is easy to know why. Still, there are some hidden places here which nobody has ever told us about.
Sang-e-Safed Valley is also known as White Rocks. It is located at a distance of about 10 kilometres from the Yusmarg Valley in the Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir. This is an oval-shaped meadow bisected at the centre by a small tributary of the Doodh Ganga. This site is mostly visited as a picnic spot and for the beauty of its sprawling meadows, but this landing, surrounded by a dense pine tree forest, is also the base for treks up the Mount Tatta Kutti. There are many meadows like Liddermar and Haigin, which make good halting stops to spend the night.
At the start of the 15th century, Syed Balkhi came to Kashmir from Balk in Afghanistan. He said in Kashmir to follow and preach Islam. Syed Balkhi’s relatives are buried on the premises and it is believed that on his request to the Sheikh, the piece of the graveyard on which they are buried in Balk was miraculously transported to its current spot. The name Pakharpora comes from the word Pokher meaning ‘piece of land’. To this day, one can observe some peculiar old trees planted on that particular piece of graveyard land, trees which cannot be seen or found anywhere else in Kashmir.
It is about 47 kilometres and a two-hour-long drive from Srinagar. The journey is close enough to undertake as a day trip. Those who just can’t get themselves to leave can make a holiday of it by staying on a few nights. There might not be many activities to partake in, but even a leisure stroll here can be an experience to remember. Amble along the flower-strewn meadows or sit and picnic by the side of the tumultuous crashing waves of the Doodh Ganga, which gets in name from the frothy waves crashing over the rocky terrain. Nilnag Lake lies cradled within the hills, and shines like a blue gem amidst its green surrounding, hence the name. A 13 kilometres long trek upward from the lake will take us to a vantage point where we can partake in some beautiful views.
It is located on the way to Yusmarg and lies about 40 kilometres ahead of Srinagar. This place is one of the most ancient shrines in the Kashmir valley. The shrine stands tall even after 600 years of having been erected. It was built as a homage to one of Sufism’s holy saints, Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani. It is also popularly referred to as Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-Dn Wali. Having been through tumultuous times in the past, during the Indo-Pak skirmishes and more recently due to militant attacks, the shrine had fallen into great disrepair. But was resurrected to its former glory by the diligent effort of the local government. The shrine is a symbol of communal peace amongst the local. It is regarded as one of the holiest places for the Muslim community.