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: British Empire & Commonwealth
: Twenty-Eight Days in Kashmir, August 1946
: August - October 1946
: Handwritten notes by Stephens of his trek to Kashmir during his leave. The account is arranged into short chapters. Chapter I - Rawalpindi to Srinigar. Driving from Rawlpindi to Srinigar along Jhelum Valley Road (from Punjab to NW Frontier Province) in army truck driven by Sikh. Describes taking photographs en route (see page 16 of album 2005/044/1/1) including one of L C Bhatty, a Kashmiri in the Indian Air Force who was his travelling companion. 'We saw a suspension bridge over the river reminding me of Clifton Suspension Bridge, but on a much smaller scale.' In Srinigar stays at Mrs Amesbury's Hotel in Gupker Road. Chapter II - Srinigar. Hand drawn map. Sightseeing with 'a converted Brahmin' - taken to government silk factory, an old museum, Kashmir Government Emporium. Long description of carpet factory, 'lads of 8 or 9 years old' assisting. Chapter III - On Sunday, climbs the hill of Takth Suleiman overlooking Srinigar (see photographs on page 17 in album 2005/044/1/1). Cycles to the Muslim quarter to meet L C Bhatty in his home. Church service - invited home by Vicar, who has spent 'the whole of his ministry in India'. On Monday, takes day trip to Gulmarg. Back at the hotel meets two new companions. Chapter IV - On Tuesday, exploring Srinigar, including Moghul Gardens with Bhatty (and the Shalimar Gardens) then cycling on to a small village, finishing up with a moonlit shikara ride. Next day birdwatching on Anchar Lake (see photographs on pages 18-19 in album 2005/044/1/1, including the very distant one of the perched kingfisher). Thursday 29 August to Nagin Bagh, takes shikaras to a houseboat 'New Honolulu'. 'We all had our first try at the very expensive sport of surf-riding' (see photographs on pages 19-20 in album 2005/044/1/1). An evening meal at the home of Mr Bhatty 'a pukka Kashmiri dinner' after which they go to the Regal Cinema to see Abbot and Costello The following day goes to Nasim Bagh 'pretty snaps of Dal Lake through the trees (see pages 22-23 in album 2005/044/1/1). Next day makes final arrangements for trek and is introduced to Ahamdoo, cook and guide. Chapter V - Trek begins, mail bus along Sind Valley, accompanied by Mr Bhatty for some of the journey. Meets young South African who is going bear-shooting and intends to sell any shot in the Bazaar. His guide, Ahmadoo, recently widowed with 4 children is anti-Hindu but also 'had no time for the League or Congress; both sought gain for their own leaders'. He wants the English to stay in India. 'After playing some hymns and folksongs on my recorder I decided to turn in'. (See photographs in 2005/044/1/2 for start of trek) Chapter VI - Trek continues, rainy weather, snow capped peaks in distance. Encounter with local man seeking baksheesh. Following the valley of the Sind - 'it was glorious scenery and I took several snaps' - passed shepherds and pony caravans of wool from Ladakh en route to Srinigar (see photographs on page 6 in album 2005/044/1/2) Chapter VII - Supplies replenished in Sonamarg and camped at Baltal (see photographs on pages 6-7 in album 2005/044/1/2) Chapter VIII - Climbs the pass, at Zoji-La (see pages 8-11 in album 2005/044/1/2). This is the trade route to Ladakh and Tibet. Interested in the snow bridge, and photographs it with Munwar, his guide (see pages 12-13 in album 2005/044/1/2). Prospect of ice forming on next part of route (Amar Nath - Pahlgam) necessitates route change next day Chapter IX - follows Sind on pony towards Amar Nath Cave which turns into difficult climb on shale banks, Ponies left at a tree and finally climb is abandoned. Returns to Kulan as weather deteriorates. Chapter X - Leaves Kulan, crossing Sind (see page 14 in album 2005/044/1/2). Evidence of logging. Camp at Zaiwan and morning walk in forest, spiritually elevated by nature. Onwards to Jamhar Pass at 13,448 ft (see pages 15-16 in album 2005/044/1/2) difficult for ponies and constant hail, turning to snow Chapter XI - On into the valley, sees marmot and then large red bear. Camps overnight in shepherd's huts. Next day to Liddarwat, records the birds seen. Camps at Aran (see pages 16-18 in album 2005/044/1/2) Chapter XII - Last day, trek on to Pahlgam ('final snap of myself') where he hires a bus for return journey via Anantnag to Srinigar (see pages 18-19 in album 2005/044/1/2) Chapter XIII - Trip to Gandarbal and Manasbal Lake, and to Gulmarg. Playing tennis. September 16 is last day in Srinigar -regatta on Dal Lake before returning to Rawalpindi.
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