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    Rendezvous With Kasmir
    Wednesday, June 21, 2006
    After much pondering, me and my family decided to visit Jammu & Kashmir [J & K] for 5 days and I must say it was a fantastic trip worth the time and everything else. In this post I will be my experiences during the 5 day tour of Srinagar and its neighboring towns.

    Day 1 - Our Spice Jet flight to Srinagar was late by approximately 10-20 minutes. These flights are becoming like Indian Railways I say. During the flight only a small bottle of mineral water, biscuits and some toffee’s are served. Nothing more, nothing less.

    After some 1 hours 20 mins journey, we touch down at the Srinagar airport. It’s an airport like no other city. There are army bunkers camouflaged throughout the airport area and the airport isn’t really big. But still, it is good. We collect our check-in baggage and realize that the condition of our brand new suitcase is very bad. Evidently, it hasn’t been handled carefully.

    When we come out of the airport to find our taxi, it starts raining. Our driver throughout the tour, Afroz, tells us that since it is raining, we can’t go for any sight-seeing today.

    We reach our hotel, Hotel Broadway which is the second best hotel in Srinagar, the best bring Hotel Oberoi and rest some time. In the eveing, we go to the Dal Lake which is ‘huge’. There are shops opposite the Dal Lake throughtout. These shops range from Hotels to Dhabas [eateries, restaurants kind of] to art / craft shops, etc. It is a very large market and interesting market.

    We stroll till around 8 p.m. and then return to our hotel, have dinner and then sleep.

    Try to get a taxi booked beforehand from a reliable source and be sure

    that the taxi renting company is trustworthy and good.

    Day 2 - As scheduled, our driver came to our hotel at 10:30 a.m. and we left towards one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, ‘Gulmarg’. During the journey to Gulmarg, we saw apricot, cherry, apple trees and we also bought a packet of cherries from a cherry garden in which there were many trees full of bright red cherries. During the journey to Gulmarg, there were many breath-taking scenes because we have to go through mountains in the later stage of the journey.

    All the time, we could see snow-covered peaks and simply that view was very beautiful. A checkpoint has to be crossed at the time when one enters the mountainous area. At this place, we hired a guide. He would go in our car till Gulmarg and get-off after the journey at this point only. The charge is about INR 300.

    After reaching Gulmarg, one has the option to walk 1-2 kms to reach the Gondola [cable car] which takes the person up in the mountains, or likewise, one can cover the distance on a horse. We decided to go on foot as advised by our guide. There is a sort of track beside a large grassland which leads to the Gondola and in this Grassland, there is a temple of Lord Shiva, an ex-Hotel which was in the process of revival.

    Many pictures have been shot in Gulmarg which the guide proudly told us. There is almost always a long queue for the Gondola which has two phases. The first phase will take you to around 10000 ft. from the sea level and the ticket costs around INR 200. We got on the Gondola and enjoyed the ride till our destination. After reaching there, we bought the tickets for the next phase for our journey [which was also by Gondola] and waited in queue for our turn. I came to know that this Gondola was the highest in the world.

    But in midway through the queue, the Gondola broke down and we couldn’t go any further . There was fresh snow [which is not a generality in this season] there but we weren’t allowed to stay there for more than 10 - 20 mins because we are not accustomed to the atmosphere and the decrease in the amount of Oxygen.

    Nevertheless, we decided to go by horses to place where there was snow but not fresh at that place only. So, after some horse riding, I saw it. There is was, all white and gleaming. This was the first time I came this close to snow and at the simple sight of it, my heart did a back-flip.

    This was no ordinary place, there is some speciality here also . This snow is collected at the base of a mountain and from the mountain flows a small waterfall

    which goes below the layer of snow on which we all were standing without melting the snow. And the waterfall’s water is very cold and, I daresay, better than most of the packaged water we get. We enjoyed very much here and before we knew, it was time to go.

    Hiring a guide while going to Gulmarg is a good idea. He tells you many things which you otherwise

    wouldn’t have known.

    Day 3 - Today was the day, we had to go to Pahalgam. Through nearly all along the way, the Ladder river flows alongside the road and the many scenes which are created are very good. It is a small town with the beautiful Ladder River and the breath-taking Kashmir valley. When going to Pahalgam, the vehicle is check 1-2 times and this time security was quiet beefed up because of the ‘Amarnath Yatra’ which goes through this town only.

    There are water sports available here. When we went, there was rafting going on in the Ladder river thought the water level was not at its highest and that is why we didn’t try it. Instead, we went on horses [again ]

    through mountains to the Kashmir Valley, which is very beautiful. One can go by foot also but it may be tiring because there is quuiet a lot of trekking. Other than this, there is not much to see in Pahalgam. The market can be visited but we didn’t as there wasn’t anything special in it.

    Don’t never, ever forget to take you camera with you. You will regret the whole of your life this mistake. The photographic scenes are, at places, very good and such scenes, one may never find elsewhere.

    Day 4 - This day was devoted to only Srinagar. There are 3 main gardens in Srinagar, namely, ‘Nishat Garden’ built by Jehanger, ‘Chashm-E-Shahi’ & ‘Shalimar Garden’. First off, we went to ‘Chashm-E-Shahi’ Garden. Chashm means waterfall and Shahi means Royal. During the mughal rule in India, in this garden, the royal family came and drank water which flowed here by a small waterfall. Today also, the water flows and if you go there, it is must

    that you take a sip of the water that comes flowing. It is so good and cold that I can’t describe it. Otherwise, the garden is fairly good. Next, we went to ‘Nishat’ Garden which is based just opposite the Dal Lake. Through this garden also, a stream flows into the Dal Lake but I won’t recommend drinking wated form it . This garden has many levels and on each level there are 2 or more Maple [Chinar - in Hindi] trees. These trees are huge and give plently of shade.

    Then, we went to the last garden, ‘Shalimar’ Garden. In this garden, I didn’t find anything interesting. This one is fairly basic garden whith trees, flowers, etc. so we left early because we had to cover 3 more destinations.

    Our next destination was the Shankaracharya Temple located in top of a small mountain situated near the Dal Lake. To reach this temple, first we have to go up a winding road and after the usual checking, one has to cover 320 steps to reach the temple. Once at the top, we get to see the whole Srinagar. The temple itself is small but is very good. It was constructed in around 5 B.C. and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Earlier, it was called the ‘Lord Shiva Temple’ but when Shankaracharya

    came and meditated here, its name has been changed to ‘Shankaracharya Temple’. And in the movie Mission Kashmir, the terrorists conspire

    to blow up this temple only :P . Now was the time of the famous ‘Shikara’ ride. So, we hopped in the ‘Shikara’ and did a tour of the Dal Lake. ow, the Dal Lake isin’t like any other lake. It has its own specialities like the House Boats. These boats are basically very large boats in which people live and some are converted to hotels also. Yes, you can go and live in these boats. They are said to be very nice & big inside but I couldn’t check them out. And then there is the boat market, floating garden, etc.

    which are self-explanatory. After the boat ride of around 3 hrs. we then decided to go to the ‘Lal Chowk’. This is the main market of Srinagar. You will get everything here from Kashmiri handicrafts to low-rise Levis . We bought some Kashmiri handicrafts and some other stuffs. We had dinner outside Hotel Broadway today.

    Day 5 - We had our flight today at around 1:50 p.m. so we had to leave early. So, we just had a quick round of the Lal Chowk market o pick up things we couldn’t get the day before. And then we were off to the Airport. Damn, the flight late again. :P

    Kashmir has been of lately plagued of the terriost attacks, threats, etc. During whole of my tour, I even once did not feel scared. The locals are also opposing the terroist activities. By tourism only, the majority of the people there earn their lively-hood. Our driver told us that there were 3 kinds of people present there.

    1] who want Kashmir to become an independent country.

    2] who want Kashmir to remain a part of India.

    3] who want Kashmir to become part of Pakistan.

    I admit there is this feeling of in-security due to the bomb blasts, but the media also highlights all the negative aspects only. Have you ever seen them portraying that how many tourists have gone there? I haven’t. Earlier I also believed that Kashmir is a place where I didn’t want to go. But after I went there, whole of my aspect has changed.

    I say, that if you want to go to Kashmir, and are not going due to these aspects, go there and have a great time! But, keep in control, don’t stay out late and avoid crowded areas like bus stations, etc.

    source - http://pickster.5gigs.com
    posted by J @ 11:10 PM   4 comments
    \/\/ordpress Blogging
    Friday, June 09, 2006
    When I thought of starting my blog, a thought came into my mind. Which blogging service would I choose. The top competitors were Blogspot and \/\/ordpress. Wordpress is a fairly good service which you can host at their own servers or get wordpress and host on any server...
    But in the end I chose Blogspot over Wordpress because it offered more customisation options.
    Now, I decided to give Wordpress a try. So now, I have another blog, http://pickster.5gigs.com. Please give you feedback..
    posted by J @ 3:22 PM   4 comments
    Connection Woes!

    The condition of my broadband is so bad that sometimes it is not worthy of being a ‘Boradband’. Sometimes, I get download speeds of around 6-7.. I mean, come’on. That around dial-up’s speed.

    To add salt to the wound it disconnects often and when it does manage to connect even then the internet down not function. Yep, connected but still not connected. It even has a data cap of 400 MB. I mailed to an officer to change my plan but to no avail.

    Someone, kill my ISP and get me a new one.

    posted by J @ 1:10 PM   0 comments
    Windows Vista Goes For Public Download

    Neowin has reportes that Windows Vista Beta 2 is available for free public download.

    MSBlog is reporting that Microsoft plans to release Windows Vista Beta 2 to the masses today. Although the downloads are not yet available, the access denied page is evident that indeed, the files will be up later on.

    The release is reportedly 5384.4, the same release given out at WinHEC 2006, to no ones surprise.

    Download: Windows Vista Beta 2 x86 or x64 | Direct Link (x86) ~ 3.12 GB.

    There is quiet a load on the servers so it may not be surprising that one may get low download speeds or the download stops.

    posted by J @ 1:02 PM   1 comments
    Athlete's Foot?
    Wednesday, June 07, 2006
    I absolutely love football... So, the day before yeserday I was playing football with my father in our garden. The game was going smoothly, the scores were level at 2 - 2 and then lightining strikes... My father was in possession of the ball. He was going to kick it but I did not want him to do so because it was a clear goal if he managed to kick the ball. I went to take away the ball and he swung his leg to kick but instead of he hitting the ball, he hit the side of my right foot. Awww.... it hurt so much. It is hurting now also after 3 days when I walk and when there is pressure on that area. My father said it ain't a fracture [he is a doc] but even then I went to see a orthopedic doctor who took 2 x-rays and it became clear that there was no fracture just soft-tissue injuries. But, no football for me for 2 weeks. That covers nearly all of the summer vacation also with the football world-cup coming up. This is not at all good.
    posted by J @ 10:36 AM   3 comments
    Change Is A Part Of Life...
    Saturday, June 03, 2006
    At last I have managed to change the header of my blog... hope it is good enough [ I made it myself with help from : <here> ]. Earlier, when I tried to implement it, there used to be a slight repetition of a small part of the image.. Dunno why. It was supposed to be split in 4 parts. But then I had an idea, 'Why not split it in just 2 parts?. I did exactly that and now the result is in front of your eyes! Suggestions are welcome...

    Before




    After
    posted by J @ 3:42 PM   5 comments
    Back To [Read] Book Land
    Tuesday, May 30, 2006
    These days, being summer vacations, I am doing mainly my projects and some studying also..
    For the leisure-time activity, I sit on computers [ of-course ] & am reading books also.

    But, I realised that I didn't have any new books so I started re-reading old ones. I have so far [re]read : Kill The Messenger by Tami Hoag, The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, King Of Torts by John Grisham, The Last Juror by John Grisham. Then, I thought, which other books I have? I remembered that I had the Harry Potter Series... except The Sorcerer's Stone.

    I don't like The Chamber Of Secrets very much so I started with The Prisoner Of Azkaban [which I managed to finish in 1 evening] and now, after finishing The Goblet Of Fire in 1 day, I am reading The Order of The Phoenix.

    I thought I remembered many things about the Harry Potter series, but with every chapter, I am discovering new things. Now, back to reading...
    posted by J @ 8:20 PM   11 comments
    How 'The Da Vinci Code' Dosen't Work
    Saturday, May 27, 2006

    Since its 2003 publication, "The Da Vinci Code" has caused quite a
    stir. Since its debut to glowing reviews, it has sold more than 40
    million copies in at least 44 languages.
    In addition to being a bestseller, it's sparked a lot of controversy.
    It's a work of fiction, but it presents itself as based in fact, and
    many critics have raised questions about whether those facts are
    accurate.


    There are some errors with The Code which are quiet evident. How Stuff Works looks at some of them.. Read more.
    posted by J @ 8:17 PM   2 comments
    Few Things Up My Sleeve
    Thursday, May 25, 2006
    Recently, Firefox has been behaving rather abruptly. It has closed twice today without any notice. It just hangs and then :

    The classic program close error.

    Another thing is that I have changed the template of my blog. I liked it but I had to do a lot of tweaking and the Blog Title's colour won't change.. dunno why. And the posts have also acted up... They all have become mis-arranged..

    Will have to leave that for another day.
    posted by J @ 9:32 PM   6 comments
    Optimist & Pessimist
    Wednesday, May 24, 2006
    Pessimist : It can't get any worse than this...
    Optimist : Oh yes it can!

    I saw this in the local newspaper.
    Being an optimist in every situation dosen't help...
    posted by J @ 11:23 AM   2 comments
    Change Window's Boot Screen
    Sunday, May 21, 2006
    Bored of the same boot screen that comes each time you load Windows? Now, we will learn of an easy way to change it. We will change the boot screen using a software called TuneUp Utilities 2006 which you can get from here.

    Firstly, open up TuneUp Utilities 2006 and click on the TuneUp Styler 2 button.




















    Then, in the TuneUp Styler 2 window, click on 'Change the windows XP boot screen, and create or download new boot screens'.
















    This, opens a window in which you can create new boot screens, apply any boot screen, download boot screens, etc.


















    We will make a new boot screen. Click on the new screen button. Click on 'Search local drives' and select your desired photo. You can select the alignment of the image, progress bar position, colour of the progress bar, etc. It will suggest a background color, you may accept the suggestion. After all your tweaking, click on 'Save Boot Screen'.











    You can view the image as it will appear while booting by clicking on the 'Show Large Preview' button. Apply the boot screen you have just made & cherish your creation next time your Windows loads! Its as simple as that.
    posted by J @ 10:18 PM   7 comments
    Change Of Plan
    Today, I mailed an officer of my Internet Service Provider to change my broadband connection plan from Home - 250 [ monthly download limit : 400 MB] to 900 UL [ no download limit! ].
    It will be a very big relief to me after the plan is activated, but, today is a Sunday so, it will take some time. I hope the plan changes at the earliest.
    posted by J @ 3:01 PM   5 comments
    Windows Media Player 11 Is Available
    Friday, May 19, 2006
    Windows Media Player 11 is available to download officially from Microsoft's website.
    The link is : http://www.microsoft.com/windows/windowsmedia/player/11/default.aspx
    You can visit this link to download WMP 11 and view more information about it.
    posted by J @ 11:47 AM   1 comments
    Windows Media Player 11 - A Review/Preview
    Sunday, May 14, 2006
    I downloaded another copy of Windows Media Player 11, this time, through a torrent from here after I downloaded a corrupt .rar file.












    The new Windows Media Player borrows from iTunes in terms of the interface to make it easy to use and un-cluttered. On the left pane navigation tree, instead of Music, Video, TV all at once like in the previous Media Player, this version incorporates Playlists, Now Playing, Library, Online Store [URGE - as default] and the Audio - CD/DVD Drive laying emphasis on Music rather than Videos etc. but these are still accessible by activating a separate menu.














    Music is organized by album art, which can be resized. Applying album art is easy. You can copy any image and paste it on the image which says 'Paste Art Here' beside any Album which dosen't have an album art. Along the top pane, WMP keeps the Now Playing, Library, Rip, Sync, and Burn buttons, but they're all split keys--the bottom halves offer contextual menus for each option which are quiet useful. There is also a prominent live-search, which means that search box workes instantaneously, narrowing results as each letter was typed, which is a welcome addition.













    I could not test the portable music devices which are compatible with Windows Media Player and labelled as PlaysForSure but it is said to have been improved. CD burning has been improved a lot. The Player also splits long playlists into divisions so that one can burn several CD's in succession.












    In conclusion, Windows Media Player has improved a lot since its last version. Oh, and one more thing, it works only on Original Windows.
    posted by J @ 8:59 PM   13 comments
    Windows Media Player 11 ....
    Windows Media Player 11 Beta is released for download and is available here.
    The version is Microsoft Windows Media Player 11 build 11.0.53558.4826 and the file size is 23.0 MB. I am downloading it, but the speed is very slow and will try to give a review / first look later on.
    posted by J @ 12:15 PM   0 comments
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