Photo courtesy: Hans Nelisse — Wikimedia Commons
Because I wasn’t a climber, I kept my distance from the mountains. Instead, I hired a shikara to travel past water lilies floating on Dal Lake to the Shalimar Gardens. Built by a Mughal emperor for his wife, the gardens were in sharp contrast to Srinagar. Manicured gardens, water tinkling from a fountain, and a pillared pavilion offering shade, created a peaceful setting before the lake. It was easy to imagine Persian poets idling by the tank, ruminating over their next verse or classical dancers performing with the sparkling water as a backdrop.The gardens provided the perfect resting place. Ahead, was my journey back to Jammu, and on to what I would soon discover, the turmoil of Varanasi.