Auto-rickshaw from Dal Gate to Hazratbal (return): Rs. 300
Crispy fried lotus roots: Rs.10
Shoe repair: Rs.30
Our first outing in Srinagar, we really dont know how to get to where. Because it seems a bit late by now to visit the gardens (Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh etc) we decided to go to Hazratbal this afternoon and do the gardens another day. At the Dal Gate where we saw many auto-rickshaws, one of them approaches us making an offer, that he could ‘bundle’ all main destinations in Srinagar (Hazratbal and the gardens for two days) for Rs. 700. Surprisingly, we did not bargain and agreed (which I later blamed Az for agreeing too fast and myself for not objecting), perhaps we were mesmerized with his nice way of offering. So the driver brought us to Hazratbal, which is actually a town the other side of Dal Lake by some 7km, and it takes rather a while driving at small roads but we enjoyed watching views we passed by.
Arriving Hazratbal Mosque, the driver let us spend some time at the mosque and lake side, also to the town nearby. It was very beautiful here, the mosque is facing the lake and there are some strange looking trees at the landscape.
There was a fountain in the lake but cannot be seen in these pics. We cannot see any other tourists and we felt great about that. After prayers (which I accidentally prayed the wrong direction at first, not knowing the actual kiblat, but only guessing from positions of women who sit around reading Quran and only was told that I was wrong right after my prayer’s done =,=) we walked towards Hazratbal town nearby.
Hazratbal is a sweet old town with some nice old buildings I cant help falling in love with :)
We were in this small roads with small shops in both edges, it gave me a real good atmosphere being here. We looked for a cobbler for my shoes were a bit torn thanks so alot of walking since Delhi.
We wanted to eat something, and went into a bakery hoping to find some hot, fresh-from-the-oven bread, which could be perfect for this cold day. But after second shop, we realized that maybe there’s no such thing as hot bread sold in Srinagar, and all they have are cold, hard bread just like naan we have everyday as breakfast.
Realizing that the auto-rickshaw fare was rather expensive to our expectation, we discussed and decided to cancel our two-days package with the driver, suspecting that he had overcharged us. In fact before coming to Hazratbal, he had stopped us at a Kashmiri souvenir shop which sells shawls, carpets and clothes claiming that the shop was the cheapest with price displayed. We only came in to take a look quickly and decided it’s not the time to shop yet. Plus we were well convinced that the driver would get some extra commission from the shop owner for bringing us here.
So we would pay only for Hazratbal return trip from Dal Gate, which he decided to take Rs. 300 from us. We still thought it was expensive, but having no choice because we already ‘chartered’ him and had him wait for us at the mosque and town before going back. Maybe it’s included waiting charge also. We gave excuse that tomorrow we’re planning to visit Gulmarg instead (we’re going to visit the Tourist Information Center and ask about bus to Gulmarg after this).
At the old town there are some food stalls (kind of like night market, only it’s daytime) selling many different hawker food. We passed by this boy’s stall having some fried snacks. I remember that when we were at Mr.Bashir’s house, the guys were eating something like this during breakfast (but didnt offer us, maybe it was limited!) and when we asked the boy, it’s actually deep-fried lotus roots. Lotus roots, I say, something we dont have in our place and never thought of eating! But it looks tasty, so I ordered a pack. And it IS really tasty.
Watch the video for glimpse of Hazratbal and our discovery of eating lotus roots :) The boy’s name is Yasin and after we took photos with him, he asked us to send the pic to him, but he doesnt have email. Okay, if somehow Yasin or anyone knowing him reading this post finally, I hope you like it when I featured you here ;D