Authored by Tanveer Badyari
Autumn, or “Harud”, as they say in local language, denotes the foggy season with different hues in air. It is harvest time in India, and one of the most expensive spices, “saffron”, gets harvested during this season.
The brown mountains adore the beauty of Kashmir and glorify its scenic gardens. This season of mist brings countless joys to the tourists as they see thick foliage everywhere carpeting the paths and gardens.
During Autumn in Kashmir, tourists enjoy visiting apple orchards where they help farmer’s with apple picking efforts. This is the high season for apples in Kashmir.
Other sites to experience in fall in Kashmir include the University campus, uphill drive to Chashma Shahi, and the hilly road to the shrine in Brein. These places are very nearby major tourist attractions of Srinagar such as Dal lake, Rajbagh and Nehru park.
If you want to enhance your fall experience in Kashmir, a visit to Dachigam National Park is highly recommended. This wildlife park hosts Black bear and Snow leopards unlike those seen anywhere else in the world.
Though for Kashmiri people, autumn brings a different message. It alarms and keeps them busy in preparing for the winter which is not very far.
Foggy mornings encircle the vast fields and mountains ablaze with the amber look of ripe and mellow grass. Roses grow throughout from spring to summer and die away when the autumn ends.
As I walk one evening on the famed Boulevard Road I can see signs of autumn everywhere; sunlight crossing through the translucent maple leaves, hitting the array of mountains around the lake, willow trees of gold slanting in the brown earth in a hazy light.
Crisp leaves flutter down from trees like gold coins. Shepherds bring back their flock from nearby mountains, carrying baby goats in their arms and making themselves warm with their wool, their women carrying piles of firewood on their heads for cooking food at home.
I see fountains of Dal Lake slashing the blue sky, a lone shikara loitering in the silent waves as the shade of mountains fill the lake.
During autumn, people collect the fallen leaves and burn them in a pile to make coal for their (kangri) traditional firepot. Handicrafts & curio shops become glossy with the brightly colored embroidered shawls of pashmina wool. A traditional Kashmiri woolen dress, “piren”, is made to keep oneself warm.
The outskirts of Kashmir provide incredibly romantic views; villager’s making stacks of paddy amongst large amounts of brown grass, mountain slopes cluttered with sheep, log huts on terraced rice fields along the winding Chenab river, pines & spruce trees lending a shade of green to the Chenabs stagnant waters, and donkey’s carry sandbags from the river shores.
Above, a curvy road winds through the gorge and boys can be seen playing cricket in corn fields. Freezing winds come down from the snowy mountains & reach to the gypsy women, who are covered in tweed ponchos making tea on burning logs.
As the curtain of fog rises from the meadows a fluff of black and white sheep stay cuddled with the grass. Before the winter starts shepherds take their herds out for grazing, after snow falls the earth will not be visible for four months.
Village women emerge from the forest trails carrying pitchers of drinking water, on their heads collected from the spring.
As one walks down the Boulevard road a crushing sound of leaves can be heard simultaneously with the footsteps, a boat man ferries on the mist which hangs loosely on the lake carrying his goods and calls the customers which stay warm inside the houseboats.
Autumn has arrived in Kashmir.
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