We wake up at 5.30 in the morning, get ready and go around the ashram. The sunrise is yet to happen though the sky has already started assuming colours. The ashram is situated in the middle of the woods. There are some 1500 apple trees. An artificial water body next to the dining area makes it exotic. It is said that at night bears and leopards come and roam around in the ashram. We hear the Vedic chants as the prayer services have started already.
We soon leave the ashram and start towards Verinag, the place from where Jhelum originates. At Verinag, we enjoy the sun, freezing water of Jhelum and the garden with shades of green and vibrant with flowers surrounded by the Peer Panchal range. I spend some time roaming, clicking and imbibing the beauty to take along with me, to cherish them forever.
This is my first time in Kashmir but the experience I have had is definitely not like the usual ‘tourist’ experience! The nature here pristine with snow-capped mountains, shades of green, natural springs, vibrance of flowers, apple orchards, rice fields, saffron field, and tranquility. On one side there are people ready to do anything for you without judging by region or religion; whereas in another, sect of people exist where cruelty and inhumanity thrives. On one hand, people are feeling sorry for all that happened to the Kashmiri Pandits; while on the other, young well-educated people behave as if India is a different country!
This trip, I have had a chance to meet and converse with local people. Once I met this young, highly educated, soft spoken man working in Delhi and we start talking. I felt sad when he said that people blame him and question him for the killing and uprooting of Kashmiri Pandits, for which he has no answers. ‘I never asked for Kashmiri Pandits to leave the valley. I or my family wasn’t even thinking of any such thing. Who does?’ He lamented. As Muslims, even they have felt the heat in the valley. I got a little lost thinking about the situation while Bajee continued talking to him. All of a sudden the same person commented, ‘I go to work in Hindustan!’ Initially I thought I heard it all wrong but once I started following the conversation, I couldn’t believe my ears. I was feeling bad for him, and also for myself.
I know I am nobody to comment. I hardly know anything̱ about Kashmir and its issues. But I just have one wish… to live in a world where people understand and appreciate the language of LOVE and enjoy the PEACE within. And that is the message the VALLEY is trying to give us. Hope this fragmented view of India perishes with time, and united we stand, as children of the same motherland. Soon.