Lhasa Restaurant, and meeting CSer Shafi

Lunch at Lhasa Restaurant: Rs.340

Shafi is one of the people I contacted in CouchSurfing to be our possible host in Srinagar. Our plans however changed than initial itinerary, where we stayed in Ambassador Houseboat for two nights instead of one, and we didn’t overnight in Gulmarg as planned, and now we’re unexpectedly heading to Mr Bashir’s elder brother’s place when the family we met in Delhi has delightfully invited us to visit their hometown in Kashmir. Nonetheless, we’re still meeting Shafi as he lived not very far from Dal Gate No.2. He’s near Gate No. 4, actually.

 

We’re now leaving this place! So sad.. *_* And me with pretty decorated shikara.. we havent ride one yet, only took boat to cross to the houseboat. Not much difference anyway~

 

So after checking-out Ambassador Houseboat and said goodbye, we with our luggage walked further the Boulevard road to the agreed place, and when I called Shafi, he immediately came over to see us and we walked to his place which is located a few steps away behind the front buildings at the street.

Shafi runs a hotel named Hotel Mount Inn, and at its backyard there’s a nice garden where we sat having tea and chat. He was a nice man willing to share many things about himself and Srinagar. He brought us to see the rooms in his hotel and he said we could come stay here if we have more days. The rooms are really decent and so are their attached bathrooms. The good thing about hotel over houseboat is they usually have centralized heater so you won’t be freezing at night and earlier morning as we are when staying in houseboat!

Apart from hotel, Shafi also owns a souvenir shop where he sells Kashmiri shawls and jacket. He’s a real businessman! I bought one duo-tone pink-blue shawl from him and it was one of the prettiest color I’ve seen in shawl.

 

There’s also bigger shawl with traditional Kashmiri embroidery which is also pretty! But I already made my promise to limit my shopping as we still have more days to spend here :P

Watch the message by Shafi! :D

  

Shops and streets nearby Shafi’s Hotel Mount Inn. We didnt realized that there are many other shops and hotels hidden at the back of the visible buildings from Boulevard Road.

Because of last incident in bus coming back from Gulmarg, I now dont want to risk getting sick even more if we take jeep/taxi/bus for 9 hour on bumpy road to Jammu as we had planned. So we agreed to purchase another flight Srinagar to Jammu, although it’s a bit last minute but we had to go for it. Or so I said.

So Shafi helped us to find a nearest Internet Cafe for me to do the flight ticket purchase. Got panic at first when the Cleartrip system seem to reject my credit card payment when I’m doing this from here (while I didnt have any problem doing the purchase back home in Malaysia!) and I started wondering if it’s related to tight security here in Kashmir (like for example, non-Kashmiri sim card cannot be used in here, and SMS is not supported). We had no choice but to ask the Internet cafe to book for us and we paid him in cash. Now we’re a bit short in cash by few thousands Rupees.. aiyo.

Shafi brought us to this Lhasa Restaurant walking distance from his place. It has a nice open air dining area like a garden, and I guess it’s named so because they have Tibetan-influenced type of food.

Although, Shafi had another matter to do so we were left here, and Az had to go for Friday prayer at mosque nearby, so I had to wait here alone before placing food order.

 

Dining area inside the building, if you dont prefer being outside. And Lhasa Restaurant’s menu booklet. Lhasa restaurant is also featured in Lonely Planet book among chosen restaurants in Srinagar.

  

The food is nothing Kashmiri now.. the vegetable soup and beef noodle taste similar like we have back home in Malaysia, with a bit Chinese taste. And the fruity naan is called Kashmiri naan! I mean, we randomly chose something that is Kashmiri, without knowing that it’s actually a sweet-taste naan, full of dried fruit, coconut and yogurt! Although feeling regret, we had to finish them anyway.

  

Some photos Az took when he went for Friday prayer at this mosque. He simply follow the flow of people going for prayers, and ended up at this small mosque. It was during the very same Friday prayer time, in another mosque in Srinagar, an incident happened when an Imam was killed. I dont want to elaborate further about this, but Alhamdulillah we’ve been protected.

Hazratbal Mosque and town

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.

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Arrrive in Srinagar, Kashmir

Breakfast in Jammu Airport: Nescafe, Rs.20 and Cup corn, Rs 40.

Flight Jammu – Srinagar
SpiceJet SG-851
Class: Economy
Fares/pax: Rs. 1671
Leaves 10:40, Jammu – Satwari (IXJ)
Arrives 11:15 Srinagar (SXR)
Distance: 294km Duration: 35min

Shuttle bus Srinagar airport to Srinagar town: Rs. 45/person

Jammu Airport is a sweet little airport which probably doesnt operate so many flights. Yet it has this shoe-cleaner thingy which is machine-operated device located at a corner at luggage-pickup area. We had never seen such thing before and thought it was cool (still forgot to take photo, also Jammu airport itself). It also has the cleanest toilet we have ever entered in India. Probably because of not many people using the airport in the first place. We had our quick breakfast at the boarding room before our flight.

SpiceJet was our first domestic flight in India and we would give 5 out of 5 rating. It’s a modern low-cost carrier like our AirAsia and I am so hoping that it would fly internationally too (like, being an alternative for AirAsia’s KL-Delhi route). The flight was quick being Srinagar only about 300km away (even KL – Kota Bharu is farther, but interestingly, according to Manu, if you take taxi from Jammu to Srinagar, it would be more than 10 hours on bumpy road).

When we were getting down the plane, we asked from the flight attendants if we can keep this on-board copy of magazine, and they said yes! :) We so hope to fly SpiceJet again!

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Delhi: Jama Masjid

Jama Masjid Delhi

How to get there: It’s located nearby (walking distance 1km) from the Red Fort (refer to here to get to the Red Fort)
Entrance: None, but camera will be charged Rs 200 (expensive!). I guess video camera was more expensive, so we decided to pay for camera only while I hide my DVD camcorder inside bag, and only take it out when nobody’s watching :P

It was Zuhur prayer time when we arrived in Jama Masjid, so I was hoping to see crowds of people praying. But there wasnt as many people as expected, and about half of them are actually tourists like us. There’s a large pond in the center of the mosque yard where you can take the wudu, but I cannot guarantee if you like the color of the water :P I let Az go inside to join the jamaan prayer, while I sit at the waiting area with our backpacks where many women are waiting with their little kids.

The Jama Masjid isn’t actually as big as we had expected. Maybe it’s claimed to be among the largest mosques in India (or at least, Delhi) if you count the yard – which is yes, very big. The interior part was only enough for at most 3 saf (lines).

The courtyard isn’t always full for prayers, probably only during Eid prayers (I think I’ve seen photos of Jama Masjid overloaded with people praying) while other time it’s a place for tourists hanging out, take pictures, and local people trying to sell souvenir.

Oh ya, you can see loads of pigeons inside, and they’re even being fed here. It can be fun, but at minus point, you’ll hardly see any area in the large yard free from birds poop, so watch out where you walk.

Photos above are taken using my super zoom lens, right from where I sat at the waiting area. Left: crowds at a typical street nearby in Old Delhi with insanely lots electric cables hanging. Middle: men sitting at the stairs towards the mosque. Right: The Red Fort seen from far away.

delhi jama masjid

After prayer we went to wander around the old town and find a place for lunch.

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