The fall of 2008 was marked by public protests, and then government curfews, restricting all travel out on the streets...not too good for Kashtravel 101. But then... there seemed to be a window with no curfews (and the snow was too deep to climb peaks :)), so I headed off...
I spent about 14 days in October 2008 traveling by bus from Leh through Srinagar, and on south to Jammu, where I caught the train all the way to Delhi. As you may already know, Kashmir comprises the far northwestern part of India, located in an unsavory geopolitical sandwich between Pakistan, China and the rest of India. The vast majority (but not all) Kashmiris are Muslim, making their allegiance to India tenuous at best. Kashmir's historically close political and economic relationship with Pakistan is complicated by radical jihadistas who now use the Vale and surrounding areas as staging points for violence. Add to this the fact that the area is rich in natural resources, from its substantial hydro power to its incredibly bounty of fruits and vegetables, and you have a region worth fighting over.
Sporadically over the past half century, Kashmir has been an occupied zone. While the identity of all the political players and their motivations remain complex, the average Kashmiri now just wants peace and the ability to move around, conduct trade, have a life.
I look forward to going back soon. The people are warm and welcoming; the landscape is stunning. My thanks to Abdul Aziz Guroo & his family for their warmth and kindness.
Welcome to Kashmir
To the Mountains!
Got ourselves a Convoy...
Hookahs & horsemen
Faces and more people of Kashmir
Bigger Map of Kashmir
Stairs to the Sun, Jammu