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The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

The student news site of Colonia High School

The Declaration

Step out of your comfort zone, travel to Kashmir

Photo Credit: Afrah Momin
Nishat Bagh- Mughal Gardens in Srinagar, Kashmir.

Do you enjoy traveling abroad? Why do so many people enjoy traveling to foreign places? 3.5 percent of Americans travel overseas. Traveling overseas is a great experience. You learn the different types of culture, traditions, food, and style of clothing each country has. It’s a great way to understand how each country survives all around the globe.

In a turn of events, would you ever visit a country that doesn’t have much tourism? There are many countries all around the globe that may not have enough tourists visiting their country because of fear, having difficulty getting a visa, too much money, or having to plan ahead. Some countries where tourism isn’t very popular are: Dominica, Bhutan, and Tonga.

Just over the summer, I visited India to see some family and friends in Mumbai, but I also visited two other places in India: Kashmir and Ladakh. The most shocking thing I noticed after visiting was how different each experience was. Both of the places were beautiful, but I was more content with one place than the other.

Photo Credit: Qamrunnisa Momin
The view of Pangong Lake in Ladakh

Tourism in Ladakh

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I visited a city in Ladakh known as Leh. Ladakh is a mountainous region, so the moment you land in Ladakh, your hotel receptionist will tell you that it is highly recommended for foreigners to take a FULL DAY’S REST. You are to sit in your hotel room, drink lots of water, smell these tablets called camphor (which most doctors recommend for places with low oxygen), and not sleep too much. I had felt so tired from the flight that I instantly fell asleep after eating, but the moment I woke up, I felt nauseous. So I remembered for the next few days not to make the same mistake again. If you want to visit a beautiful place like Ladakh, these are some tips you need to keep in mind.

After my whole day of rest, I noticed that the citizens of Ladakh were very calm and content with their lives. Little kids would all welcome us with a warm smile. The people of Ladakh were extremely kind. I felt safe and very happy to be in such a beautiful place.

In an interview with  Jitendra Chaudhry, the hotel manager at Hotel Yarab Tso, described Ladakh as “the cradle of civilization.” Mr. Chaudhry has been living in Ladakh for about 9 months, and recommends tourists to come visit because he feels that “they can feel themselves in true nature.”

I also got an interview with Mukesh Verma, the chef at Hotel Yarab Tso. Chef Verma is always getting complimented for his extremely delicious cooking.  He also makes all the guests feel comfortable and  makes sure everyone eats well. He always had a warm smile on his face whenever I met him. Mr. Verma described Ladakh as being “the best place for him.”

Ladakh is a really great place for foreigners to go trekking and also camel riding. Due to these tourist attractions, Ladakh has gained a lot of tourism. They get tourists not only in the summer, but in the winter as well.

Besides Ladakh being a mountainous region, Ladakh is very famous for Bollywood films. One of my favorite Bollywood films was filmed here: 3 Idiots. After it released,  3 Idiots increased tourism in Ladakh tremendously because there were two places in the film that were filmed there: Pangong Lake, and Rancho’s School.

Photo Credit: Afrah Momin
Taking a shikara boat ride in Srinagar, Kashmir.

What makes Kashmir so different? 

My experience in Kashmir was an “okay” one. I didn’t enjoy this trip as much as I enjoyed my last one. When I came to Kashmir, I felt like I was back in Mumbai. It felt so much like a city when I first landed.  It wasn’t as exciting as going up a mountain by car.

I can understand why this trip wasn’t as exciting as Ladakh. Kashmir is actually one of the places in India where there isn’t as many tourists. Before the trip, my mom’s friends told her not to go to Kashmir because of fear. For most people that don’t know much about Kashmir, Kashmir was actually one of the most beautiful places in India. Many old Bollywood film stars would come there because of its beautiful scenery and nature.  One of the most talked about films in Kashmir is Jab Jab Phool Khile (whenever the flowers bloomed.)

While I was in Kashmir, most of the native people of Kashmir compared their tourism to Ladakh’s. A majority said Ladakh’s tourism was more popular than Kashmir’s. It’s so bad that in an article from Times of India, a shikarawala (a shikara employee) named Rashid stated: “we suffered massive losses last year. There are not enough tourists this year either.” After dealing with 27 years of conflict, the people of Kashmir keep their heads up.

The reason I am trying to promote tourism in Kashmir is because there aren’t any foreigners there. Most of the tourists who come there are:  Indian, Malaysian, Japanese, or Chinese. A shop owner named Altaf who owns Kashmir Valley Emporium, told my family and I that “no international tourist visits Kashmir.” So he was shocked to hear that we were from another country.

Kashmir is a beautiful state and I guarantee you that it’s one of the places in India you wouldn’t want to miss. Kashmir is popular for horse riding in Pahalgam, there’s lots of beautiful gardens to visit in the city of Srinagar, go shikara riding in Dal Lake, spend a night in a houseboat. This is one place you’ll definitely want to add to your bucket list.









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About the Contributor
Afrah Momin
Afrah Momin, Fall Editor & Reporter
Afrah Momin is a seventeen year old senior at CHS. She is an optimistic and cheerful young girl. She enjoys most of her time listening to music, binge watching her favorite TV shows on Netflix, and texting her friends. She was diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) in 2003 and got out of remission in 2005. Her favorite season is winter because she loves snow and Christmas. She enjoys making her friends smile and laugh. As her final year, she is excited to gain more experience in her second year of Journalism. She hopes to pursue a career as a reporter.  

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Step out of your comfort zone, travel to Kashmir