Kashmir has always been on my bucket list but with a lot of inhibitions. Regular news of extremism, terrorism, stone-pelting and unsocial elements pollutes your mind and also hides the real beauty of this heaven called Kashmir. When I received an invitation from RK Sarovar Portico to visit their newly-renovated property, I grabbed it instantly. And a few days later, I was on a flight to Srinagar with two fellow journalists. Though it was a short trip but full of revelations and picturesque moments. Launched in 2013, the property has undergone a revamp and is all set to welcome its guests. One of the best mid-segment hotels of Kashmir, it boasts of beautiful snow clad mountain views and is a contemporary and elegant retreat for the discerning business as well as leisure traveller. Here is my pictorial journey of the property.
As soon as we landed at the Srinagar airport, we were welcomed by the cool breeze and this enticing almond blossom. Word of caution: Prepaid mobile numbers do not work in Kashmir. So, either carry a postpaid sim or simply enjoy an undisturbed holiday in the beautiful valley.
After a smooth and short ride, I was at my destination – RK Sarovar Portico. The hotel looks like a small haven and is located within a kilometre to the Dal Lake. What I liked about the hotel is that it is situated on an elevation and is secluded from the noise of the city.
The hotel focusses on business cum leisure travellers and the architecture is an amalgamation of modern and Kashmiri style. RK Sarovar Portico is located next to the United Nations Head Office which is one of the most secure places of Srinagar. Though Kashmir saw a huge turmoil in the 1990s, the place is now completely safe and is slowly reclaiming its place as one of the most visited tourist destinations of India.
Right across the reception area is the open-air coffee and hookah bar, Sheesha. One can enjoy an extra-smooth latte or a flavourful hookah while enjoying the stunning mountain views.
Here is the room that was allocated for me. A cosy and carefully done, this den was my home for the two days. I was lucky enough as this room gives some of the best views.
It is one of the views from my room’s window. It overlooks the mountains of Zabarwan range and the UN head office as well. The room is equipped with all the facilities.
The all-day dining restaurant, Takht-e-Sulaiman offers a delectable spread of authentic Kashmiri dishes from Rogan Josh to Nadru Yakhni, Kashmiri Methi Maas and Rajma. Apart from the Kashmiri cuisine, it also offers other Indian dishes.
Apart from the mouth-watering food, the restaurant also offers some stunning views of the valley. Seeing snow-capped mountains during summer while enjoying an authentic Kashmiri meal is a true traveller’s delight.
Kashmir aaye aur kahwa nahi piya to kya khaak kashmir aaye. Kahwa is the traditional drink of the region and made in a copper vessel called Samovar. The restaurant has a life-sized installation of the vessel to please its guests. It also serves kahwa as their welcome drink.
A large part of Kashmir is inspired by the Persia and middle-east Asia as it was Shah-e-Hamdan who brought Islam to the valley and with him came a lot of artisans and craftsmen. One of the walls has this intriguing display of traditional Persian lamps which further enhance the beauty of the place.
While one can’t get over their stay at RK Sarovar Portico but if you wish to spend a night at one of the houseboats, the hotel management can arrange it for you. The houseboats are made in traditional Kashmiri style with a lot of intricate artworks.
And that’s how the hotel looks during the night hours.
The next morning I was welcomed with this breath-taking view from my room’s window. What’s better to start your day than seeing the sunrise into the mountains.
Though my first trip to this heaven on earth was short but I am sure I will go back there soon.
Address: Behind United Nations Head Office, Gupkar Road, Sonwar, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190001
Phone: 0194 250 0737
Text and images by Supriya Aggarwal
PS: THN was invited by RK Sarovar Portico for a media visit to Srinagar.