The travel bug has bitten me since my teen days. I remember my journeys to offbeat destinations and then penning down my experiences as memoirs. It was always so much fun to read them after a few years. People eulogise about Kashmir, a place that is any traveller’s dream trip. An unsatisfied traveller like me went a step ahead in Kashmir tourism. “Seen Kashmir, what next?”; my curious mind pondered. I was on a lookout for an offbeat tourist destination in Kashmir when I landed up in an unexplored small hamlet like Gool.
This place is real treat, approximately 53 kilometres from Ramban, it is a paradise unexplored. I guess Mother Nature used her special magic wand to create Gool that is a rare combination of magnificence, tranquillity and a quiet retreat. Exploring such incredibly beauty is an amazing experience. Lush green meadows, snow capped Pirpanjal Mountains and gently rolling Basantadar ridge creates a breathtaking panoramic view. The Mahakunda ridge further adds to the picturesque Gool.
Why you should go to Gool?
- To enjoy pristine handiwork of Nature
- To explore something different. Gool, an offbeat tourist destination in Kashmir is any backpackers, trekkers and quiet traveller’s dream destination.
- To click photographs, a photographer’s true delight
- To relax and lay back
- To shop for authentic carpets
- To eat tasty Kashmiri food
Places to Explore
Walk upto Daggan Top which is just 10 kilometers away. Nestled in the shelter of lush and virgin forests full of deodars and lilies Daggan Top is an untrodden hill. The route stands picturesque with wild lilies scattered all through. This place is an ideal sunset point with green meadows and lambs grazing leisurely and the local bakarwalis singing folk songs to nudge the lambs. It resembles a scene straight from a romantic Bollywood movie. Tourists often mistake this place as a golf course because of lush green meadows spread as far as the eyes can see.
According to Archaeological Survey of India, Ghora gali is a historical place associated with Mahabharta and the Pandavas. There are many ponies carved out of stone at this location. There are some beautiful stone sculptures of horses and their riders. Once done with the review of the artistic beauty carved on the stones you must also check out the local artisans’ colony nearby. You might get something interesting here.
If you love trekking then Darsha and Lapri are the places to hit. The journey from Ramban to Gool is apprioximately 4 hours. Hire a private vehicle to reach Gool and there onwards start your trek from and explore. Civilisation is scanty. For the night, stay at the local mud huts called Dhok for an experience of life time. Don’t expect the rooms to be very warm so it is best to carry your own sleeping bag or an extra pair of socks.
As you trek down towards the Gool market, the wild river can be seen making its way through the uncut massive rocks. Mountains contribute to the charm of waters and waters bring life and vigour to the mountains.
Gool market comprises of some 30 odd shops. The small alley provides 5 bakeries offering some 15 varieties of bread. The local tea or kahwa and the namkin chai (salty tea) have a special clove-cinnamon flavour which they claim is intrinsic to Gool. Contradicting the popular notion, you can savour a lot of tasty vegetarian food like the delicious hak saag along with the naan. Morel mushrooms or ‘gahchi’ is the a–la-carte of the local cuisine. The hamlet is so pocket-friendly that you can actually relish the mutton delicacies like mutton yakhni and rista in just Rs 60.
Shopping in Gool
Once you are done with the gastronomic treat then you can always go shopping.
You visit Kashmir and don’t buy a carpet? Not possible. Here in Gool you get carpets that are better both in terms of quality and price. The near extinction local art gabba is a must buy.
The creole work is done on the blankets. Not only it serves the purpose of keeping people warm but also looks gorgeous with colourful wool embroidery. Pick antique silver pieces with outstanding designs depicting the richness of the designers’ creativity. Check out the kohl box, kersar daani and even the bakarwali style anklets. Walnuts and rajmah from the Gool market are the best souvenirs to gift someone back home.
How to reach Gool
The main connectivity axis is from Ramban. If you are planning your trip from Delhi then you can come by road or take a flight till Jammu or Udhampur and from there drive to Gool. You can plan a day’s visit to Gool and pack up before evening. It is best to plan your Srinagar trip the next day as it is near to Srinagar.
A word of caution: You may not find a decent place for overnight halts.
Weather in Gool
Gool is pleasant in summer and extremely cold in winter. In the first half of the year weather is pleasant but it can be quite changeable.
Gool definitely remains an unexplored offbeat tourist destination in Kashmir waiting for limelight.
While meandering through the green path of Goal I found myself mumbling the famous lines from Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken,
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
What offbeat tourist destination have you been to?
This blog is contributed by Priya Chakraborty Giri, an Army Officer’s wife who loves to explore the road less travelled.