Friday, 12 July 2013

One Volunteer's Trip to Gulabgarh by Alessandro Bordoli

I spent one week in Gulabgarh, and although my time was limited, the place had an immense impact on me. The trip there from the nearest airports, Srinagar and Jammu, is long and follows treacherous roads along awesome heights through the mountains. As you travel there, you really get the sense that you are traveling somewhere remote, which for me was a new experience. When I finally arrived in Gulabgarh, exhausted, I was amazed by the innate beauty of the location. The village is situated on the banks of a river and surrounded by the towering and snow-covered peaks. It is firmly nestled between the river and the mountains, almost as if delicately dropped in the spot, and the feeling I got as I walked through for the first time was of the overwhelming sense of being far far away from the world I have always known. The silence and the beauty of the spot fill all the senses and produce a feeling of having arrived to one of the most beautiful places on Earth, an area still largely untouched by the forces of man.

In the week that I spent in Gulabgarh, I stayed with a family from the village, and I soon started to get a sense of how life in the village is. Electricity is not always reliable, nor is running water. Phone service is hard to get and the internet remains out of reach. Despite these obstacles, however, the people have an incredible culture and sense of family and friendship with their neighbors. If the electricity is not working, they build solar panels or use candles and lamps.  All people are bound together by their experience and by a great pride in the beauty of their home.

The people were all so kind to me as well. They welcomed me into their homes and bars and treated me as they would family. They went out of their way to make me feel at home, and constantly probed to see if I was enjoying my experience. It was a truly beautiful thing, to live in a place so far from my family, friends, and
the world that I grew up in, and yet to feel at peace there. I have many fond memories from my time in Gulabgarh that I will take with me forever: playing soccer on the cricket field in the pouring rain with other kids from the village, writing in my journal by the candlelight about my experiences there, the warm smiles of the people I met in my short time there.

The vibrancy of the culture there will always stick out in my mind, as well as the happiness of the people and the stunning beauty of the location. These are the things I think of when I think about Gulabgarh (which I often do). When you go, the place just sticks in your mind and heart. I was there only a week, and yet I miss it in a way. It felt strange to leave a place after such a short time and feel such an attachment, but such was my experience there that it has created a longing to return someday, a longing that I hope I can answer by going back next summer.

1 comment:

  1. rightly thats the mirror of gulab garh! thanks for your nice trip and hope to see you again