23 November 2008
The next day we left for Pahalgam but getting out of Srinagar was an event in itself since we got stopped by the military at every turn and had to show our passports. We spent the day there and took a pony ride into the village and the surrounding hills. On the way back to Srinagar we passed fields of purple flowers, the source of saffron, the most expensive spice in the world. Jammu and Kashmir is home to majority of the saffron cultivation in India and is one of 3 places in the world where it is predominantly grown. A rather ironic situation since most of this region is underdeveloped and most of the people still live in abject poverty. Shafi proceeded to fill us in on the dynamics on the Kashmir conflict stating that in the past they had wanted to be part of Pakistan but now the Kashmiris want to be an independent state.
24 November 2008
Our last day in Kashmir and in our houseboat and I was looking forward to being back in the warmer climate of Delhi and Rajasthan and away from the cold air of this mountainous region. Yusuf prepared us breakfast – a couple of slices of flat, cold and hard naan bread with some even harder butter. At least the tea was warm and it was enough to get us up and running for our last bit of sightseeing in the town to the various mosques and Mughal gardens. We decided to walk around town a bit and have lunch at the local restaurant which was by Indian standards, rather expensive and I had a bite of the weirdest tasting lamb meat ball. We got back to the houseboat by the late afternoon where we warmed up by the fireplace with some tea and cookies, brought to us by Yusuf.