I woke up by 6:30 am everyone else was sleeping peacefully. I tried to move around without making a noise and went to the washroom and got ready for my morning walk. By the time I was out of the washroom Hannah was awake and she asked “Where are you going this early?”. I told her that I was going for a morning walk and we started to talk and this woke up Anjana also. She joined our conversation. Now everyone was awake Vipin told us that he would join us later as he needed to freshen up. Usually, when I tell people on my trip that I’m going for a morning walk nobody joins, But Hannah and Anjana were different they got ready in a few minutes and started our morning walk.
There were two options one was to climb up and another was to descend, We decided to go upwards and started to walk around. The village was already awake, we could see that the horses and their caretakers have started to descend to Pahalgam city where the tourist will hire them for site seeing. It was their way of making their daily bread.
Lidroo was a village that was fully relayed on tourism !!! The previous day we had gone sightseeing on horses and we covered almost 25km on horses that day. While on the horse I was wondering “Why didn’t the government make any roads to reach these places?” Now I know the answer to my question.
Almost every caretaker group asked us if we need to go sightseeing and we humbly denied all of them saying “We went sightseeing yesterday”. But one of the caretakers stick with us, He told us that he takes special trekking trips like Tulian Lake and provides homestay also. He gave us his phone number and we said thank you and started to descend. But he started to walk with us, At one point he saw Anjana taking pictures and he went and took the camera from Anjana’s hands and told her that he will take picture of us. I could see Anjana’s soul leave her body when he took the camera !!!
He took 2 photos and we told him that it is enough. Anjana got her camera back and we started to think of ways to ditch him. We stalled on the way but he was also waiting for us. Then we decided to walk off the road and went inside the pine forest and we were successful to get rid of him. We walked for a few minutes and got back to the main road. We walked down again capturing all the beauty that was on our way.
Anjana saw a kid running on the trail above us and we were wondering how to get on that trail. We decided to walk further until we find a way to climb upwards and we soon found a way to it. One side of the trail was covered with a fence and we could see a board saying it was the Lidder Reserve forest area. Morning sun rays were coming through the trees which was an amazing view and we started to look for a way to get inside the forest.
Then we saw a person walking inside the forest, we called him and asked him if we can come inside, He helped us trespass the fence. He told us his village is inside the forest and invited us for tea. We told him we will join him and started to explore the forest. There were so many spots to take photos and we spend time clicking photos of each other.
Now our next task was to reach our homestay and we started to climb up the hill. On the way, we saw the Lidroo primary school. Children were standing outside the school and playing, We waved our hands and they started to shy away but some cuties came forward. I asked them why they were standing outside. They said their teacher is absent today and they’re waiting for the substitute. I wanted to take a picture with all those kids, it was really an amazing moment to interact with the kids. One of the boys came and asked all of the children to go back to their classes. I guess he was the head boy of the school and everyone did what he said. We walked further and luckily a car came and we asked for a lift. The car owner happily dropped us at our homestay even if he was not going towards our homestay. That’s true hospitality, right?
After breakfast we started our sightseeing, we hired a cab to take us to Aru Valley and Betab Valley. Our first destination was Aru Valley and we were so much excited to visit one of the most beautiful valleys in the world. On the way, we could see many beautiful valleys and mountains. It was a treat to our eyes and cameras.
When we reached Aru Valley it was almost 3 pm and the driver asked us to come back within an hour. We were starving, I saw a bakery that had some kind of bread displayed and we went to check it out. It was only Rs.5 but we didn’t like it that much. We looked for a hotel to have lunch and ended up in a small shop where they had Maggi. We were happy to have Maggi and chai. We started to walk towards the base of Aru Valley and on the way, it started to rain. We took shelter in a shop by the time we reached the base it was almost an hour.
We were approached by horse caretakers for taking us to the Aru Valley. Till then I thought where we were standing was Aru Valley and I said No to the caretaker. Hannah explained to us that we need to either hike or take the horse to reach Aru Valley. We finally agreed to go on the horse. By now I was familiarized with how to ride a horse and it was a pretty good ride compared to our previous day’s ride.
When we reached Aru Valley there was no one, most of the people who were there left when the rain started and we were lucky to have the whole valley to ourselves. I went and sat in the middle of the valley and used my shoes as a tripod for capturing the time-lapse of the moment. Everyone went to explore other parts of the valley. I sat there thinking how lucky I’m to be in the most beautiful valley in the world. After some time the caretakers came and told us that it was time, We decided to spend time in Aru Valley and cancel Betab Valley.
By the time when we reached our cab we had almost spent more than 3 hours in Aru Valley the cab driver was furious he told us that now we need to hire him for the entire day. We told him that we don’t need to go to Betab Valley. He said it’s anyways a day rent now and he took us to Betab Valley. On the way to Betab Valley, we stopped by a stream and spend time over there. It was a very calming place and we had a good time there. Anjana and Vipin started to collect stones from the stream.
When we reached Betab Valley it was too crowded and we decided to explore the nearby places and go back to the stream where we had stopped earlier. We ended our day with some Kashmiri-style Mutton curry and rice.