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Kashmir - heaven on earth
Kashmir will win you over – be it Vaishno Devi temple or its snow-covered hills where temperatures often fall below zero and last but not least, its hospitable people, who eke out a living by hauling sledges , selling woollens and gumboots.
PERCHED AT the very edge of India, Kashmir is a land apart. Surrounded by absolute greenery, hills and valleys, lies the most blessed temple, “Vaishno Devi” where Maa Durga, Maa Saraswati and Maa Lakshmi manifest themselves as “pindies” (black stones). Situated atop a mountain, the view leaves an indelible imprint on our mind. It is one of the magical creations in this part of India and it will not be wrong if we call it “heaven on earth”.

No matter what your age or background, Kashmir holds an adventure for you. It might be the sledge-ride on snow-covered mountains or the 14-km climb from Katra (the town that never sleeps) to the Vaishno Devi temple or the special helicopter services and even the horse-ride. Provision of wheel-chairs for the physically-challenged has also been made. Though your feet will be freezing cold when you enter the temple, you will be left mesmerised by the exquisite form of the three goddesses the moment you cast your eyes on the holy shrine. With people chanting “Jai Mata Di” all the way to the top, the stress and strain involved in the climb is not felt at all.

Towards northern Kashmir lies Patni Top and Natha Top, both covered with snow during winter, with temperatures falling below zero. These places provide no livelihood to the inhabitants, other than by hauling sledges, selling woollen coats and gumboots and clicking photographs of the tourists.

The place nearby these hill stations is Udhampur, which resembles the villages you come across in Enid Blyton’s novels. The station situated in the middle of the valleys impresses us – it is something which we can only imagine or come across in fairy tales. Along with nature’s beauty, the people of Kashmir are also gifted with beauty, both inward and outward, viz, the beauty of the mind, soul and the body. People here are extremely benevolent, helpful and friendly.

For one who loves nature, Kashmir is a dream destination. This charming state has it all – the truly transcendent scenery, exceptionally friendly locals and gorgeous little villages, all of which give a unique feeling to the tourist. Kashmir will surely win you over with all its charms.
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