Autumn in Kashmir
Autumn in Kashmir, a topic, why and what is it!! We will discuss the beauty of the valley of Kashmir during autumn.
Every season is a blessing and tells a different story of its land, culture, and food, either it’s Autumn, spring, summer, or winter, every season is crucial because it affects people’s lives, their clothing, their diet, everything.
And when we talk about Kashmir, One cannot forget the king of seasons in Kashmir, autumn in Kashmir – the golden season of Kashmir that paints the valley in the shades of Chinar’s fallen leaves. The season of autumn, also known as HARUD in the Kashmiri language, is the season when green turns to Gold and then to russet and red.
Autumn in Kashmir – sets in from mid-September to mid-November in Kashmir. Autumn covers this paradise on earth into hues of gold, yellow, and orange with the shedding of chinar leaves.
Now we will talk about some specific beauties of autumn in Kashmir.
The Majestic Chinar
The CHINAR scientifically called PLATANUS ORIENTALIS is a gigantic sized tree that grows as tall as 25 meters and is largely found in Kashmir.
The shedding of chinar leaves, known as BUEN locally, marks the beginning of autumn and blooming of two marvelous attractions of autumn in Kashmir, which is
1) The flowering of saffron and
2) The reddening of chinar leaves.
During autumn in Kashmir, while walking down the streets, the rustling of fallen chinar leaves creates a magical sound that one cannot forget easily.
The fallen leaves and branches then disintegrate and turn into a part of the soil, which represents the philosophical side of autumn, the beautiful cycle of loss, regeneration, and regrowth.
The misty mornings, pleasant and cooler nights, gardens, and roads filled with the rustling sound of the fallen leaves of the almighty Chinar, makes this paradise more enchanting and beautiful.
Though spring comes as the blossom of charm, autumn comes as an essence of charm that no one can ignore.
“NO SPRING NOR SUMMER BEAUTY HATH SUCH GRACE AS I HAVE SEEN IN ONE AUTUMNAL FACE”
With the beginning of autumn, the markets of the valley start filling with the HOKH SYUEN (dried foods) that have been sun-dried in the summer,
A tradition that adds richness to Kashmir’s exquisite food culture is hokh syuen, which literally means – sun-dried vegetables/foods, a tradition that was in practice because of the valley’s harsh yet beautiful winter season, because of hard snowfall the highways and routes would inundate, and in bone-chilling cold, only a little food can be grown.
Necessity became the mother of invention and as the result, people of Kashmir invented hokh syuen, food dried in sunny summers that can be used in winters.
Autumn is the knock, the alarm that tells you that ‘winter is coming’ (reference: Game of Thrones). During autumn in Kashmir the sellers start putting hokh syuen on display, so people can stock up on winter essentials.
the popular ones are BAMCHOONT HACHHE (quince apple), RUNWANGAN HACHHE (tomatoes), AL HACHHE (bottle gourd), WANGAN HACHHE (eggplant), GOGJAAR (turnip), HOGAAD (dried fish), HU’KH PALAK (spinach), and many more dried delicacies.
A cousin of the Hyderabadi haleem and Armenian hares is Harissa, a mellow fruit of the Kashmiri Autumn. A slow-cooked grain and meat delicacy that is very popular for autumn-winter breakfast.
And the specialty of autumn, pride of Kashmir, the most expensive spice in the world-saffron, during autumn in Kashmir, in the countryside, farmers and their entire family work on the fields and handpicks the small purple saffron flowers, (fun fact alert) surprisingly!! 100 kilograms of saffron flowers yield about 3 kilograms of saffron.
Autumn is also the perfect season to sit together in the evening with family or friends over a hot cup of “Kehwa“, a famous beverage made with a mixture of cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper.
Basically a green tea with flavors of different spices, and traditionally prepared in a brass kettle locally known as a samovar.
Kehwa has many health benefits that make it an amazing beverage that one can include in their lifestyle.
With the temperature getting cooler, autumn brings an alarm and keeps Kashmiri people busy in preparations for winter which is not very far. People gear up to stay warm and cozy and nothing works better than the “PHIRAN“- a long loose cloak worn over the clothes.
A traditional outfit for both men and women, the traditional phiran that used to be popular up to the 19th century used to extends to the feet, but the modern and updated variation of phiran only extends to below the knees, it is paired up with suthan – a loose form of shalwar/lower, this pairing almost makes it similar to the styles worn in Afghanistan.
Allegedly the phiran was introduced in 1586 when Mughal emperor Akbar conquered the valley.
The phiran is either made of wool or jamewar (a mixture of wool and cotton), with no side slits. Male phiran dresses are quite simple, the exact opposite of female phiran dresses designed with colorful flowers and embroidery. The embroidery of thin metal threads is known as ‘Tille’ in the Kashmiri language.
Men and women prefer different styles of phiran, in a different fabrics. Phiran has withstood the modern times; the traditional attire remains the same but with the trending patterns.
The preparation for winter is what keeps people busy during autumn in Kashmir.
Poot is worn beneath the phiran, it saves the phiran from burns due to Kangri (will explain ahead). Poot is made of lighter materials and works as a second layer of protection in the harsh cold season of the valley of Kashmir.
During autumn in Kashmir, people collect the fallen leaves of Chinar to burn them in piles to make coal for their (Kangri) traditional firepot.
Kangri – an earthen pot woven around with wicker and filled with hot embers is a winter heating pot that keeps the user warm. Generally, a kangri is about 6 inches (150) mm in diameter and reaches a temperature of about 66℃ (150℉).
For those who are visiting the valley for the first time, kangri is a piece of the amusement. People carrying their firepots with them to keep themselves warm, obviously a view of amusement, this amusement has its own history.
Historical data says that the kangri was used in the times of the Mughal Empire and some believe that Kashmiris learned about kangri from the Italians, who during the times of the Mughal empire used to visit the valley, and the reason for this belief could be the existence of the same device in Italy that is known as scaldino.
The most exciting part for me is, a firepot under a cloak, exciting but seem kind of dangerous as well to me, but obviously Kashmiris knows how to handle it because this firepot is what helps them during the bone-chilling days of chillai Kalan. It is a part of Kashmiri tradition and plays an important part in their lives, and can be seen even in public or private offices during winters.
Every home in Kashmir has at least 5-8 kangris, each one assigned to each member of the family.
With the end of November/Autumn, people start preparing for the winter, heavy curtains replace the lighter summer ones, floorings gets an additional layer of woolen carpets, and the colorful handmade rugs known as “NAMDAS“
Autumn in Kashmir sets from mid-September to October.
The temperature during autumn in Kashmir holds a bit of chill in it, certainly because ‘winter is coming’. It can be considered cool, not cold but, if you are someone who is coming from warmer climates\regions, you will find this weather quite cold because during evenings and nights temperature can drop down to almost 0℃, so be prepared for it.
Normally the temperature during autumn in Kashmir ranges between highs of at least 20℃ to lows of at least 9℃.
Since it’s the beginning of winter, not many people head to Kashmir because of the cold, so a benefit that you can get is some best deals on traveling expenses because of little tourism during autumn in Kashmir.
Though the weather is pretty normal for Kashmiri people, they enjoy the autumn, but a traveler should pack as of winters because sometimes it snows in autumn too, so be prepared.
Places to visit during autumn in Kashmir
River dras in Kargil
The Dras village also spelled as Drass, popularly known as “the gateway to Ladakh”, is situated about 60 km away from Kargil. The surprisingly amazing fact about the dras village is that it is the coldest inhabited place in the country and the second coldest inhabited place in the world.
Situated at a height of 10,990 feet above the sea level, this Himalayan getaway is intensely challenging, numbingly cold yet marvelously beautiful.
The beauty of Drass is something that you see in movies and pictures or wallpapers. The raw beauty of barren brown mountains of drass and the blooming of colorful wildflowers in abandon will mesmerize you.
The view of Dras River during autumn will live you speechless.
Aharbal waterfall at kulgam
Aharbal waterfall also known as “the Niagara of Kashmir” is located in the kulgam district, about 70 km from Srinagar city, An unexplored waterfall that looks like a copy of some heavenly waterfall, flowing in front of your eyes.
The waters of the Vishav river tumble down straight 25 meters below at Aharbal, thus creating a waterfall and the sheer volume of water crashing down on rocks creates amazing roar sounds that one can hear even from a distance.
Aharbal also acts as the starting point of the Kausarnag trek, famous for its scenic beauty Aharbal is becoming a well-known spot for tourists as well as for school children to enjoy a picnic day.
And the best time to visit Aharbal is during autumn in Kashmir because this is the time when leaves turn orange and Aharbal looks like a dream straight out of a fairy tale especially during sunset.
Also known as Shalimar bagh, Farah Baksh, and Faiz Baksh, Shalimar garden is the largest Mughal Garden that is situated in Kashmir. The garden that was laid by Mughal emperor Jahangir for his beloved queen Nur Jahan is a representative of charbagh style and spreads over an area of 30.6 acres.
Shalimar Garden is filled with rows of chinar trees and in autumn the view looks really mesmerizing when chinar leaves turn orange and cover the whole garden in hues of red and orange during autumn in Kashmir. The garden also has a marble palace as well as marble pavilions, fountains, terraces, and cascades.
The paradise route to forest training school, Bandipore
A less known scenic spot of north Kashmir, located at 11 km from the main town, after covering a little distance, you will enter in view of exotic and mystic woods that lead you to the state’s only Forest Training School.
The view, the aura, environment, flora, and fauna, because this is a forest area, everything will give you the vibes of paradise and you can see the beauty of it at its peak during autumn in Kashmir.
Autumn view of Patnitop
Patnitop is a tourist location situated on a plateau in the Shivalik belt of the Himalayas, though it is an anytime place, but the views will surely take your breath away during autumn in Kashmir.
Patnitop is an awesome spot for adventurers as well; you can enjoy paragliding at patnitop or after covering a short trek from patnitop, you can reach Nathatop and enjoy the views as well as paragliding there.
Chinar tree leaves along Dal Lake
Taking a shikara ride in Dal Lake or walking on its bank, under the hues of the orange and red color of chinar leaves during autumn in Kashmir is something that sounds minimal but the truth is it can be a really peaceful and spiritual experience for an individual.
The University Campus
And a major attraction of autumn in Kashmir lies in the campus of the University of Kashmir. Located on the western shore of dal lake, 8 kilometers away from Srinagar city, a Garden called Naseem Bagh that literally means “the Garden of Breeze” is the most beautiful part of the campus, especially during autumn.
During autumn in Kashmir, Naseem Bagh turns into a major attraction for tourists because of the beautiful hues of orange and red chinar leaves.
The garden is full of chinar trees and during autumn it looks like a Garden of some fairy Dream, and as the name suggests already, the ‘Naseem’ meaning air of early morning walks in this Garden will give you a mesmerizing experience of autumn in Kashmir.
Uphill drive to Chashma Shahi
The smallest yet very popular garden in the valley of Kashmir is the Chashma Shahi garden. This garden is a prime example of the serene beauty of Mughal Designs.
Climb the garden terraces and enjoy the prime views of Dal Lake and chinar trees during autumn in Kashmir.
One can really spend a whole day admiring the beauty of nature and the aesthetic beauty of the Chashma shahi garden.
A garden about 6 kilometers away from the main city, Nehru Park is not a Mughal Garden.
Nehru Park was built in the middle of the 20th century. Though this is the busiest area on the Boulevard, one can enjoy the splendid views of Dal Lake and the views of the Hari Parbat or Pari Mehal, even the Shiva temple that is located on the top of the Shankaracharya hill can also be seen from this park.
One can really enjoy some splendid views here especially during late autumn in Kashmir.
Dachigam National Park
During autumn in Kashmir, one should definitely visit Dachigam National Park to enjoy the flora and fauna. The park is situated about 22 kilometers from Srinagar city.
In the past the park was exclusively reserved for the hunting activities of the Maharaja of Kashmir, in 1951 it was declared as a wildlife sanctuary and in 1981 it was declared as a national park.
The park is very popular for its diverse wildlife; it contains the last viable Hangul population in the world. With over 145 different bird species and floral wealth, the park is really diverse.
The park has several lakes, rivers, meadows, waterfalls, and dense forests.
For some general queries;
What is the best season to visit Kashmir?
The valley of Kashmir is a place that has everything for everyone, it truly depends on your choice, Kashmir has different faces of mesmerizing beauty during different seasons, so choose one according to your budget and according to the type of activity you want to do or places you want to visit there.
For example, if you love trekking, the winter season would be a bad choice for you because during winter everything gets covered in snow and treks get lost under the sheets of snow, but if you love skiing then the winter season would be the best option for you because heavy snowfall in the valley provides a lot of snow for it.
So in conclusion, it truly depends on you, what you want to do and when you want to go!!
What is autumn called in the Kashmiri language?
Autumn is called HARUD in the Kashmiri language and SHARAD in the Pahari language.
Does it snow in October in Kashmir?
Normally in the valley of Kashmir, it snows a lot during winter that sets from November, but some high-altitude places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, or Pahalgam can experience snowfall even during late autumn in Kashmir.
Does Gulmarg have snowfall in October?
Weather can be very unpredictable, and normally it snows during winter but you can experience the snowfall at end of October in Gulmarg.
Which is the hottest month in Kashmir valley?
With a maximum temperature of 32℃, July can be crowned as the hottest month in the valley of Kashmir.
How many days do you need for Kashmir?
Seven nights and eight days sounds pretty reasonable to me, though the valley of Kashmir is a place that you will love to visit again and again, schedule it according to your budget and the time you have in your hands, peace.
How much does a trip to Kashmir cost?
Duration of one week, for a single person, roughly costs around 14,000/- Indian rupees.
What is Kashmiri Gown called?
The traditional outfit for both men and women is called a Phiran or Pheran.
Is one day enough for Gulmarg?
According to your schedule, if you have spare time, then you should stay there for at least a day. In case of lack of time and tight schedule, enjoying the main attraction of Gulmarg – the Gondola ride can be enjoyed in a single day.
Which place is known as the gateway of Ladakh?
Kargil town roughly located between Srinagar and Leh is known as Gateway of Ladakh.
Where is Dras River?
Dras River, also spelled as Drass, flows completely in the Drass valley the coldest place in India.
Which waterfall is known as Niagra of Kashmir?
Aharbal waterfall located at an altitude of 2266 m above sea level is known as “The Niagra Fall of Kashmir”.
What is the best time to visit Aharbal?
The place really looks gorgeous in autumn, so the best time to visit Aharbal is from April to October.
How much do private taxis from Srinagar to Aharbal cost?
The cost of taxis/cars starts from the range of 1800 and then it expands according to the variation of car you have chosen. For example, for SUVs like Scorpio and Innova, the cost will range between 2000 – 2500 Indian rupees.
Where to stay at Aharbal?
Because the place is usually visited as a day trip by travelers and it is not yet fully developed for tourists, finding accommodation there can be a difficult task, although there is a J & K tourist Bungalow where you can book a room online.
Are there any Banks and ATMs at Aharbal?
No, there are no ATMs and Banks available there; the nearest ones are in Shopian.
How can I commute within Patnitop?
Patnitop is a small Hill station, you can experience most of it on foot easily, and for some long distances, you can have a taxi or even hire a pony.
How much does a package cost for Patnitop?
According to a rough calculation, a package for patnitop can cost you around 7,000 Indian rupees for a single person.
What are the top sightseeing places in Patnitop?
Nathatop as mentioned above already, and naag mandir, kud park, nature walks, billoo ki pawri are some additions that you can enjoy near patnitop.
How to reach Nathatop?
From the nearest railway station which is Udhampur, one can easily take a cab or bus to reach Nathatop.
Who built Chashma Shahi?
In 1632, the garden was constructed by the Mughal Governor Ali Mardan Khan.
How do I get a permit for Dachigam National Park?
To visit Dachigam National Park a permit has to be acquired from the wildlife department office.
When can we visit Dachigam National Park?
The park is open for visitors throughout the year but the best time to visit is from summer to late autumn that means from April to October.
Why Dachigam National Park is Famous?
The park is vividly known for its unique and diverse flora and fauna, but the major attraction is the last viable Hangul population in the world.
During Autumn in Kashmir, tourists love visiting the apple orchards, where they adore helping the farmers with apple-picking efforts.
The other mention-worthy and beautiful sites to experience the full glory of Autumn in Kashmir include The University campus, uphill drive to Chashma Shahi and the hilly road to the shrine in Brein and some major tourist attractions of Srinagar are Dal lake, Rajbagh, and Nehru Park.
And a visit to Dachigam National Park is recommended to see the peak of environmental beauty with its wildlife during autumn in Kashmir, The wildlife Park hosts Black bears and snow leopards.
The Valley of Kashmir, a paradise solely made for humans on earth, is the finest example of nature’s aesthetics on its peak when it wears autumn’s golden crown.
During autumn in Kashmir, one can feel the breeze filled with the smell of chinar leaves and the sound of the crunch of dead chinar leaves under their steps, steps taken on roads and gardens covered with the yellow and orange shades of autumn’s golden crown that is shining brightly as sun rays pass through the majestic chinar trees, trees who are gloriously shedding their leaves to illuminate this crown on the head of the paradise on earth.
Fall creates bare and vulnerable branches and nature starts preparing for winter, end of autumn reminds us that every living organism has to fade one day after reaching its destination.
And the end of one season is the beginning of the other one; when autumn in Kashmir ends, the winter begins, thus the cycle of life goes on and on like this.
Winter- the season of white, the season that paints the valley in white with snow and cold that sends shivering chills down your spine.
And what autumn does, prepares both nature and people for the upcoming winters, it gives them those shades of yellow that will motivate them to enjoy and survive the shades of white.
Autumn in Kashmir “Summary”
Every season has its own importance and what autumn gives to us is these memories of days that are not too hot or cold, that misty weather that keeps you calm after the scorching heat of summer days, weather in autumn gives hope and adorable memories.
And autumn in Kashmir gives memories that are filled with shades of fallen chinar leaves, that paint the canvas of the valley into hues of reds and Orange before it turns into snow white.
And as autumn starts progressing towards its end, The brown mountains, before turning completely snow white, enhance the beauty of Kashmir, and Roses that grow throughout the spring to die with the autumn’s end reminds us of the beautiful cycle of seasons as well as one’s life.
And as the Autumn in Kashmir dies, the season of romance, the most poetic season, the season of philosophy that makes us think about the beginnings and endings, it also gives us a hope, a hope that says that it will come again, after the snow and then after the sun, the misty, golden, and the season of almighty Chinar’s glory at its peak will surely come again to make you thankful for the memories it gave you during autumn in Kashmir and for the memories that you are gonna make with it in the future.
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