Narayannag is the place to be when you visit Kashmir, I heard saying from various sources. It’s not only the Kashmiri nature but also the people who live there, the gypsies who wander these lands with their goats and sheep, making their summer shelter high in the hills.
Some of them settle though and stay all year round. I was heading to be hosted by one of those families. They had a simple house with small kitchen and a living room where everybody slept at night as well. Their beds were only big mats, pretty comfy to lie on actually. The living room was also the warmest place in the house because it had a wooden stove.
I got a lovely sunny room upstairs, with windows filling the three of four walls. And right after eating lunch with the family I started on a hike leading up the river. My guide was the father of the family, a small muscled man that ran through these mountain terrains like a mountain goat. Although he preferred to be compared to a horse, one of those small but strong horses his family also owned.
We passed ruins of an old temple and a met a few more villagers and grazing horses. High and steep rocks on the right side were still covered with snow on the tops, from which creeks dropped down, feeding the river. Occasionally we could see an avalange of snow, fallen just above the river bank. That day we finished our hike at a river fork, leaving those two beautiful valleys, each with a different river that carved its way through the hills, unexplored.
On the second day, our steps led us high and steep into the mountains, following a popular trail to Gangabal lake. We took along with us a strong little horse I could occasionally ride. 🙂
The trail led us through a pine forest at first and as we climbed a little higher, we could take a peak of the village and the surrounding mountains.
And after a couple of hours of climbing up, the trees got smaller and smaller and the views uncovered snowy mountain peaks of the Himalayan giants, hiding deeper in the mountain range.
Together with the horse, we pushed through a few fallen trees – this place can get very windy apparently – lucky we had a warm sunny day. Our destination that day was a gypsy summer shelter where we could enjoy the spectacular views and lunch that we shared with the ever present crows.