It enticed us with the first of its gifts called Verinag gardens.
We had no intentions of going to Verinag’s Mughal gardens, we were travelling for ten hours, we were tired, we wanted the journey to end and for us to reach Chatpal, but there was still some time, the beauty was never ending and we had to go through it moment by moment.
We were so wrong, when we saw those Chinar trees lined up all around the garden, we saw kids playing around, we saw couples taking a stroll, we saw elder ones engaging in conversations with whoever ready to listen to their stories, we saw the blue sky slowly being taken over by an orange hue of an approaching sunset, and we saw smiles being passed from faces to faces.
There it was a stream cutting through the garden, and upon asking we came to know that it was Jhelum, taking birth from a nearby spring before flowing away through the Kashmir Valley.
We sat by it, with our feet and conversations immersed in its icy cold waters, and a sense of calm took over us, as our words slowly gave way to silence. We sat there, staring all around us, realizing where we were, nowhere but in a heaven.
There in the gardens we were surrounded by flowers of all kinds of colours. Together they were busy catching our fancy, we haven’t been to a garden more beautiful, we were slowly losing all our tiredness.
After the first half an hour of soaking in all the beauty , conversations with the locals ensued, who were all curious to know about our whereabouts, and upon looking around, we were the only tourists present there.
Some invited us to their home for iftaar, the fast breaking that evening, we politely refused even though none of us wanted to. Only because we were running late.
We were on the road, and Chatpal was waiting for us, and somewhere in the sky the sun had started to set, and the drivers were calling us back saying that we were running late, but the Chinar trees were ready to listen to our stories, the flowers seemed to have bloomed for us, the people around wanted to share their stories, the cold waters of Jhelum were flowing away, somewhere towards Kashmir Valley and beyond into Pakistan, to meet our brothers and sisters across the border.
And there we were, ten of us, in the Verinag garden. Just accepting these moments of bliss, imparted on us.