In awe of spring blossom in Skardu, Baltistan
The entire atmosphere is fragrant with spring blossom. The sunlight is so dimmed and faded as if it has not decided to be fully awake yet. I notice this while sitting on the balcony of my home. It is a beautiful morning on April 2 and I am surrounded by a very peaceful and serene mood. Everything around me is in a state of daze. It is as if an earthworm is wriggling in the soil -- slow, lazy and deliberate. The time period of the sleepy sunlight was quite brief as it started raining soon .The rain, the sweet smells coming from the land and the crisp, cool wind of Skardu forced me to have a tour through the city.
The mountains stood hazy and dazed. The snow clad peaks were covered with lofty clouds so that it became a trail of white smoke. Like a smoke out of a chimney.
The apricot trees locally known as the “chuli mindoq” are like balls of cotton candies. There are other trees as well. The apple trees, peach trees, almond trees and the cherry trees.
These are of shades of white and pink. Like a white furry puppy or a pink fairy standing in the snow. The entire region seems to be dazzled of its own pure white elegance.
After the harsh and prolonged winters, the moderately populated region of Skardu seems to be taking a new start .Little weeds and other tiny greens have started to come out of the rot.
Life is taking a new leap in the region of Skardu which is also one of the coldest regions in the country. It is indeed a miracle that such beauty could be found after intense climatic conditions or may be only such harsh conditions is capable of producing such utterly dazzling beauty.
An overview of the region shows little glossy multi-colored houses, floating in an ocean of cotton balls, chimneys emitting smoke as the temperature still tends to go in the negatives. Present between the fruit trees are trees, locally called Safaidas .One of the most abundant species of flora in the area.
One of the most attractive tourist destinations of the country, Skardu is a myriad of landscapes. The small town is host to the baby river Indus, a small desert, abundant orchards and the towering mountains of the Himalayas and the Karakorum ranges. The town is also the proud owner of the highest plain in the world--Deosai and the beautiful Shangri-La resort.
While I was touring through the place I couldn’t help but notice the large orchards fenced with clay bricks, an awkward nursery of pine trees, little kids running barefoot on the periphery and a relatively larger yet underdeveloped bazaar. The khurpa centre, the famous polo ground, polo being the favorite sport of the ancestors and the dusty little “dhabas” serving delicious local soup called “balle” popular in such cold days attracted my attention. The dusty large coats and the Mongolian styled smiles are one of the things you would never fail to notice. The comparatively shorter and the slightly diminutive population is one of the kindest, non-violent and courteous populations in the world. Greg Mortenson in his autobiography aptly described the general attitude of the people.”Here we do three cups of tea to do business: the first you are a stranger, the second you become a friend and the third you join our family and for family we are prepared to do anything, even die”. Haji Ali, Three cups of tea.