“In the last 3 days it seems like we’ve been the only international tourists in Srinagar.”

“That’s because your media always paints the wrong picture of Kashmir.”

He was right. Although Srinagar boasts more security checkpoints than the rest of India, it otherwise presents itself as an idyllic, peaceful city with its fair healthy share of touts and honking rickshaws — just like any other city you’d find in India (but prettier than most). Although some people of Kashmir mostly yearn to become an autonomous (dare I say, independent even) state maintaining a core of peaceful relations with Pakistan, India, and China, they would prefer peace over aggressive secession. And for others, it’s all about putting food on the table, politics be damned.

Unfortunately, Western media only reports India and Pakistani border clashes in Kashmir. They only report on violence, conflict, and the idea that bombs go off every couple of hours. Even friends from back home, including Indian Americans, warned me about coming here. I got an e-mail from someone who was already in India (and whom I’ll possibly be meeting up with in Jodhpur in a week), who wrote: “Kashmir seems a little too unsafe for me to go to. Let’s meet later.”

If only we could rise above misconceptions presented to us by complete strangers and actually take a willing first step into the unknown and figure it out for ourselves. So let’s get to the point: Kashmir is safe. And beautiful. Make it one of your top destinations if you ever find yourself in India during the summer. It’s that simple.



- At time of posting in Srinagar, it was 19 °C - Humidity: 70% | Wind Speed: 2km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy


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July 2011