Dadu Aur Madak

Pahalgam is a pastoral area about seventy kilometers from Srinigar, and a popular destination for short treks. Unfortunately, the area is also home to a large Indian Army boot camp. One goes through no fewer than four checkpoints in the last ten miles before reaching the town, and there is a segment of about five miles where there is literally an armed soldier stationed on the road every twenty feet. Taking pictures of soldiers, or anything military for that matter, is seriously frowned upon. Once beyond that obstacle though, both the landscape and the people make it worth the effort. We were able to hire a couple of horses for a few bucks, and climb past clear mountain streams through pine forests to a beautiful open meadow.

There was one unobtrusive Army command tent off to one side, and another tent that served as one of the ubiquitous "tea stalls". A cup of masala cha is a must.

On the way down we visited for a few minutes with this family of nomadic Kasmiri goat herders. Their goats produce some of the most sought after wool on earth--Cashmere. This young mom was proud to show off her recent newborn.