They had set out on the trip despite being advised against it.
Photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com
From joy rides on snow scooters to shopping in a floating market in the scenic Dal Lake, Kashmir has it all to make it 'the safest place and a shopping paradise', according to a group of women travelers from Hyderabad, who are out on an expedition to Jammu and Kashmir.
Keeping aside the insecurities arising after continuous violence in the state, the women travelers visited Srinagar, including Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
"I have been here and knew all the media stories on Kashmir are overplayed which creates fear among travelers," Rashida Hussain, who led the group to the valley, said. "Not only did we roam freely here, that too without any male member, we also mixed well with the locals."
Some of us have visited Switzerland also and we found Kashmir more beautiful than it, Hussain said, adding that the valley is not just beautiful, but affordable too.
The travelers wanted to promote Kashmir's beauty and spread the message of how safe the travelers, especially women, are in Kashmir.
Another member of the group, Rehana Khambaty, said they were apprehensive about visiting the valley after watching frequent prime time debates on Kashmir. But, decided to make a plan against all the advisories.
"After spending time here, we found Kashmiri people more welcoming than any part of the world we have visited," she said, adding that all their apprehensions had proven wrong.
Zulekha Broachwala, another traveler, said she enjoyed shopping for Kashmiri handicrafts at the floating market on the famous Dal Lake.
"Shopping in Dal Lake while enjoying a shikara ride is another experience. We got such authentic Kashmiri stuff which we do not get to see anywhere else," Broachwala said.
The women travelers also met Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in Gulmarg during the recent snow carnival and expressed their happiness over visiting the valley.
"We even got to interact with the chief minister here as if we were some VIPs. We are cherishing every bit of Kashmir's beauty," Khambaty said.