“Ma’am please go to Daksum” said an app message from Tasir. Both J and I looked at each other and Umer just smiled. We were travelling back from Sinthan Top and according to Tasir there was a beautiful stop over named Daksum, just near Sinthan Top. We were intrigued with the word beauty and we were all ready to investigate our intrigue. So we went ahead.
As we emerged from the clouded mountains, the serpentine road in front of us, trailed into huge pine trees forming dense and dark growth of greenery. We followed the road and we were engulfed in the fragrance of wood, leaves, and wet mud. All around us was a deafening silence and the only sound we could hear were the cricket’s singing in the wilderness. We stopped our car near a gushing stream and went to the stream .
The stream was enmeshed in pebbles and big boulders. As usual J was planning to cross over to the other side and had already taken off her shoes to wade through the water. I, with my precocious self was just contemplating my next move, when Umer offered to order some tea which would be served to us right in the middle of the stream, atop the boulders. I was charmed by the services offered.
Wonder of wonders, as we sat atop the huge pipeline which lay across the stream, we were served tea and Marie biscuits on a tray, right in the middle of the gushing stream. Being a tea addict , if God had given me a choice to live or to die at that spot, I think I would have chosen to die sitting in the middle of the stream, surrounded by lush green trees and mountain views with a cup of tea in my hand. Immortalized.
Often enough in my journeys , I have been quite touched by people from all walks of life and their philosophy of life. The simple tea shop owner, who probably did not have a great number of visitors on certain days touched my heart when he contributed humbly to our divine experience. Simple people who earn their living by sheer hard work ,cannot indulge in luxuries like discrimination on the basis of caste/creed/region/language. The word ‘Guest’ or ‘Mehmaan’ does not have any divide based on these limitations.
We spent some time just enjoying the sound of the water and crickets around us. Suddenly Umer spoke up, ‘Ma’am ,hum apko abh Kokernaag phir Achhabal hoke Mattan le chaltey hain.'(I will take you to Mattan via Kokernaag and Achabal). Sounded great but we suddenly realized that we were actually supposed to reach Pahalgaun at 11:30 in the morning and it was already 3:45pm. Oh! the luxuries of a bohemian life. We agreed with rapid enthusiasm to his offer and climbed on to our home for next few hours, the Travera.
Hence we started on our onward journey to Kokernaag and Achabal….
Down we went on our drive. Kokernaag Mughal Gardens. Needless to say, it was rich with flora and fauna and the beauty was enhanced because of the hilly terrain. The trees were all planted and shaded in steps, thereby making the slopes of the hillocks look as if they were painted in different shades of green. The most beautiful spots were with Chinar trees and the beautiful lakes, which were decorated with small footbridges and fishes swimming in the crystalline water.
As we came out to the car park, we were attracted to the food shops outside the garden, and was quite intrigued by the gigantic parathas that were being sold along with pakodas and halwas. As usual we bought 100 gms of whatever was available and tasted the local fast food. Well ,apart from a faint scent of local edible oil, the rest of it tasted quite good.
Umer ,our ever innovative chauffeur decided to encourage our adventurous spirit and set off to a new place called ‘Mattan’ (pronounced as mutton, which put us into doubts about the inhabitants of the place). However it turned out to be a fresh water spring pool surrounded with temples and Gurudwaras. The pools had transparent water surface where freshwater fishes could be seen. I bought some puffed rice and as I threw a fistful into the pool, the fishes bunched up and grabbed the food. The struggle for existence at its best form.
The most beautiful scene which impressed me ,was a set of 3 friends belonging to three different religion sharing a soft drink and clicking pics with their mobiles. The temple site was open to all . We could see Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims all sitting under and around a huge banyan tree and the deep pools.We carried the joy of serenity and the thrill of seeing a new place to our onward journey.
Then we started our journey for Pahalgaun……
How to reach Kokernaag :
Reach Kokernag By Road
Kokernag is very well connected to various major cities of Jammu and Kashmir. Kokernag is 10 Kms from Anantnag, 54 Kms from Pahalgam, 76 Kms from Srinagar, 117 Kms from Gulmarg and 247 Kms from Jammu.
Reach Kokernag By Train
The nearest railway station from Kokernag is Jammu Tawi Railway Station, roughly 6 hour drive from the town and it is well connected to New Delhi.
Kokernag to Duksum:
14.6 km. It takes about 20 mins via road to reach Duksum.
Google Map: Click here for the route and the direction.