On the road from Srinagar to Sonamarg, near Bardparan, if you keep a sharp look-out on your right, you’ll find this little signboard.
This was the most wonderful resting place we could possibly imagine. Our hosts were little Farah, her mother Odile, and dad Abdul Rashid. We were welcomed as members of their family which also included a cow, dogs, cats, about a dozen and a half hens and little chicks, and a beautiful 8-week old calf.
The family stayed in the white villa (left, below), and the guests stayed in a lovely red house (right, below) overlooking the Sindhu river.
Our room with a verandah on two sides of the villa overlooked the river, flowing down from the mountain, swollen by the melting snows and the incessant rains of the last few days. The gentle roar of the river was the most soothing sound one could imagine – a constant backdrop to the chatter of birds, the barking of dogs, the patter of raindrops, and conversation. This was really heaven on earth, and we would have spent our entire holiday at the Homestay if we could.
The views from the verandah were captivating. The wood and the sloping fields on the other bank of the river, the mountains in the distance, and the slowly meandering herd of cattle tended by a pair small boys – one remembered having read about them in storybooks in my childhood, but here they were come to life.
The family gave us a most memorable anniversary dinner – Odile baked a cake specially for the occasion. It was one of the most beautiful anniversary evenings we’d spent in our long (36 years!) married life.
Farah’s Homestay is totally recommended if you wish to spend a few days soaking in the beauties of Nature, and if you’re not in a rush to see as much of Kashmir as you can in a really short time. Come here to spend a few leisurely days, live as part of the family, warm yourself in the kitchen, walk about in the garden, lean over the railing to look at the river, curl up in one of the verandah chairs with a book, whatever – just relax, and be happy.