The weather of Kashmir is a mixture of seasons, throughout the year seasons come and go but they provide a graceful beauty and alluring landscape to this valley called paradise. There are four seasons in Kashmir spring, summer, autumn, winter. usually people love all the seasons they are happy in spring when the birds tweet and yellow flowers pop out from the ground, everything is vigorous and full of energy. The summer is hot and people go to places like sonmarg, pahalgam,gulmarg with their families to spend some time there on the banks of lidder river where the cool water comes from melted snow high up in mountains and the cool air passes from the pine jungles dense and green, the other season of autumn is beautiful where huge chinars shed their bright red leaves. The winter brings three things to kashmiri people one is (phiren) A long woolen poncho worn by men and women alike though different in style and design. The kangri, and long beard, people keep the beard to keep their faces warm from the cold wind. The coming of winter brings worries to people because it is the only season not much liked by the kashmiri people. winter is cold and damp. The cold winds make the people unhappy and usually people get up late in morning & don't like to go to work the days are shorter.and the sun is bleak, but the only companion of people is the fire pot called kangri in kashmiri. This kangri saves people from biting cold and harsh winter. The kangri is made of clay pot woven by twigs from outer side. The burning coal and ash is put inside the clay pot to remain hot for long time. It has been introduced long back in Kashmir and was very successful because it is portable, durable and good source of heat, it is also cheap. So every one can afford be it rich or poor. These days the rich people have build (ham-mam) in their houses it is a room with hollow base made of large flat stones the fire wood is put inside from the external small door in the hollow area of the room. The wood burns and the stones get hot. when the snow falls and electricity is very scarce the people of Kashmir depend totally on kangri. The month of December to march is the time of winter & this winter is divided in three phases the first is called chlai kalan it is extreme cold period of forty days starting from 21 December and ending 31 January. During this phase of winter lot of people get sick due to cold. In winters the facilities are very limited owing to the closure of jammu Kashmir highway due to heavy snow & avalanches , the cooking gas, medicine, vegetables, and other necessary utilities get very limited. In winters lot of people migrate from Kashmir, people go to Delhi, Kolkatta, Punjab to sell shawls and other kashmiri handicrafts. The government employees go to jammu, the winter capital the government secretariat is also moved to jammu, the people who work in it have to move to jammu, it is a very hard job as shifting the whole secretariat to jammu it's difficult many documents are lost and everything becomes haywire.
The second phase of winter is called chill bacha it begins after the end of chlaikalan this chilbacha starts from the month of Feb and lasts till late march.during this period it is cold, frost, beating rain and snow. The beauty of winter is a attraction to the European tourists who come here to ski in gulmarg. It has some of the best ski slopes with all modern facilities good accommodation available.from past few years the heli skiing has been introduced in gulmarg. It is very cheap it costs little more than U.S 100$ for one turn. chopper takes the skier high up in the mountains of affarwat and from there the skier's come down hill accompanied with ski guide. The gondola is also a better replacement for heli skiing it also takes skiers to high mountains and from there they can come down.Skiing in kashmir is a great adventure activity for everyone, beautiful valleys of gulmarg are covered with snow throughout the winter.the Indian domestic tourists on their Kashmir tour also love to visit gulmarg, as they have been raised in plains and seeing snowfall has been their lifelong dream these tourists bear all the cold and they stay in gulmarg and enjoy their life long dreams of seeing and playing in snow they roll themselves on the white carpet of snow throw piles of snow at each other, take pictures they become very merry. The local people of kashmir stay indoor while it is snowing except the kids they play in snow with their bare hands and boots of rubber their cheeks get more red or a shade of cherry and they wore their kontapas a monkey cap,they like to make snowmen and igloo of the soft snow the kids play (shinjung) which is a battle of snow making balls of snow in hands and throwing on each other.naughty kids shove snow through the collar of kids sending waves of cold across their body.more naughty kids do shitting on the clean white snow then wipe their ass with soft snow.
|kid playing in snow|
|hut under snow|
Adults cook mutton and enjoy a special dish called harisa it is also made of mutton, it keeps them warm, the nunchai and kashmiri kawha which is a tea made on plain water and flavored by saffron & almonds is a treat to have during snow falls. The children complete their winter vacations as their schools are shut down for three months. Winter has it's own charm and beauty, people living in houseboats face a hard winter because in the lake or river the wind rises from water and it becomes more cold and the boats unlike houses have thin layers of wood wall so the cold wind penetrates this wood and comes in their rooms. They get up in morning and find the lake frozen, they have to brake the frozen lake and make a way for their small shikara to pass so they could buy milk & bread from the shop across the lake they call to their servants or fellow neighbors to help them satara, gula, nisara, the crisp sound of breaking ice sheets on water like glass with their wooden paddles and the early morning frost icicles dangling from roofs of houseboats add to the rich beauty of this valley.
For local people the business for these winter months is very low because people don't shop for these months nor there are any marriages during winter. people declare winter as off season.
As i look into the thick snow flakes that are falling on the tall green firs close behind my house i can imagine a moose coming from the woods and playing there and the sunlight has already faded away the darkness is gathering around me but the snow looks bright and clear in the dim light, i remember many beautiful memories of my childhood.