"We live in the world when we love it. "
~ Rabindranath Tagore


An Inevitability called Kashmir

Ashish Kaul is a travel writer, a landscape and outdoor portrait photographer, a trekker and mountaineer. He has traversed many trails in the Himalayas as well as in the Nilgiris and is Editor, Indian Himalayas at suite101.com. Other than that, he lives in the corporate world.

You could say it was inevitable. The time the sun rises or sets. That first there will be life and then death. And that there is nothing in between. A dream with an azure sky, the falling leaves, the awesome mountains, the cool breeze and the Chinar. The placid waters of a blue lake, an imperceptibly floating shikara bedecked with flowers and a misty seemingly ephemeral charm. And a land called Kashmir.

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You could say again that it was inevitable, though you can't say why. That there was no place, there is no place and there won't be another Kashmir. The poets who sang praises, the tourists who shake their heads in disbelief are merely incidental. Mere indicators of this unexplained miracle. You could again say, it was inevitable. That there would be stories of Moses walking the valley. That there will be those who dispute the theory. And that the fading Chinars will never take sides on any argument. They will fade and be reborn like they always do. Only in Kashmir.


The fading Chinars will never take sides on any argument. They will fade and be reborn like they always do. Only in Kashmir.

There is no inevitability, however in the gunshots that join the breeze, the Kalishkinovs that clandestinely stay concealed in the phirens. The death that now haunts the valley. And the darkness that invades the day. The snow that now seems ominous. There is also the inevitability of the thought, that Kashmir will revert to the Kashmir of yore only when we acknowledge its beauty. Not when we shudder at the gun shots.

Somewhere, in moments of loneliness, do we catch the gurgle of an oar slapping the water, faded views of the awesome Himalayas, protectively encircling the valley, a gentle and handsome Kashmiri calling back his sheep in the evening. And the taste of the Kahwa to remind us that we weren't dreaming. The Chinars will stay, as will the lake, the valley and its culture. The kalashkinovs will go. The breeze will not be interrupted by gunfire. And time will stop and inhale the fresh mountain air of Kashmir.

The winters are on their way and next year the summers will inevitably arrive. Isn't it equally inevitable that with time, people get tired of war and death? Isn't it also inevitable, that when they do, they bounce back with a vigour they weren't even aware of? Isn't it inevitable, that it marks the end of terrorism? Not only in Kashmir. It is then that I see the placid water of the Dal, more expansive and welcoming than ever before. Bright eyes and rosy cheeks even for people from the plains. Maybe because we were all meant to be in the mountains. A few of us ended up being more privileged only by the vagaries of history.


Kashmir is calling all of you. One gunshot makes no difference. Just as one swallow doesn't make a summer.

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