The Aru Valley Walk and Camp
Explore Kashmir’s sublime beauty at a pace that reflects its gentle sufi character.
Stay in Eco Luxury Houseboat
WALKING WITH ONE NIGHT CAMPING IN ARU VALLEY
From Sukoon an exhilarating drive takes us to the mountain paradise of Aru – a lush valley nestling deep in the Himalayas. The drive in itself is a visual delight as we pass paddy fields; fields of saffron (in bloom in October); ruins of Avantipura temples; and then from Pahalgam (valley of shepherds) into an astonishingly green valley, along the gushing Lidder River to reach the meadows of Aru, where we sojourn for a night or two, at the luxurious Sukoon Deluxe Camp. From here we can explore the meadows further up the hillside, paying a visit to the Gujar tribes and experience their living which has remained unchanged for centuries.
After a few hours of gentle hill walking on verdant slopes and concluding it with a cup of tea with the Gujars we return to base, where a sumptuous five course dinner with traditional music played by local musicians await us by a crackling campfire under the Himalayan sky.
Travel through this enchanting land where magical stories come to life!
Day 01: Arrive in Srinagar and be welcomed by your smiling hosts at the Houseboat Sukoon - a slice of paradise on a Himalayan lake. If time and energy levels permit then enjoy a gentle shikara (Kashmiri canoe) ride through wetlands in the heart of the lake.
Day 02: Inhale the morning air as you tuck into a hearty breakfast on the sundeck of Sukoon, aptly named Fizaa (ambience). Now, how about a guided tour of the old city today, walking through atmospheric bazaars, past old houses and Sufi Shrines. Feeling tired? It’s time for lunch in a local restaurant. Refreshed? Let us now visit the Shankaracharya Temple on top of a hill, for a bird’s eye view of the valley. Enough for today? Then return to your floating “home away from home” for a relaxing evening and a sumptuous dinner on Fizaa to the accompaniment of Sufi music.
Day 03: Wake up and take your time to stretch and linger a little longer in bed as it is after all your holiday but don’t tarry too long as you have to visit the beautiful historic gardens of Srinagar today. Another wonderful breakfast on Fizaa and you are ready to take on the world. The delightful gardens located at various points around the Dal lake were all established during the Mughal period have charming appellations – Pari Mahal (abode of fairies), Nishat Bagh (garden of delight) Chashme Shahi (the royal spring) and the oldest amongst them Shalimar Bagh.
After a visual treat at the gardens, surrender your soul to the peace and tranquillity of the Hazratbal mosque, the holiest of Kashmir’s Muslim shrines. Hazratbal is said to contain moi-e-muqqadas believed to be a hair of Prophet Muhammad. From Hazratbal, board a shikara and float across the lake to Sukoon enjoying the kahwa (Kashmiri tea prepared with dry fruits and served without milk) and soft drinks as you stretch out enjoying the scenery all around. Enjoy another scintillating evening on board Sukoon.
Day 04: Once again a hearty breakfast on Fizaa and prepare to leave for an overnight camp at Aru valley. A three hour drive will bring you to Pahalgam where you will take a break for lunch and then, after another one hour run, reach Aru – a small piece of heaven on earth at 2400 metres deep in the mountains. Aru is a lush meadow which lies next to ravine of the Lidder River and here you will stay in comfortable safari style carpeted tents, furnished with beds. In the afternoon take a two hours gentle hike up the hill to Gujar summer pastures. Return to camp for a trout dinner, campfire and local music.
Day 05: Nothing can be more exhilarating than to be greeted by the chirping of birds and the swish of a gentle breeze through your tent, as you open your eyes. While you perform your morning ablutions, your breakfast is served on tables laid out under a sapphire coloured sky, in a meadow resplendent with emerald green grass, still wet with the morning dew.
After breakfast you drive back to Sukoon, visiting the 8th century Avanti Pura Temples en route. On this penultimate evening of the holiday take walk in the market for some shopping or simply to observe the life of Srinagar town.
Day 06: Rise early for a morning shikara ride to the vegetable market, and watch transactions being conducted with the age old barter system of yore still is use. Return to houseboat for one more breakfast on Fizaa; after breakfast bid goodbye to Sukoon family before setting out for the airport.
Five deluxe tents
Above Aru village, pitched between two small mountain streams in a sprawling meadow stands our camp.The meadow is spread on the right banks of the gushing tributary of Lidder River and a hill rises sharply from its left bank, its slopes adorned with stately deodar trees.The enchanting campsite offers 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains and the beautiful meadow, only 10 minutes walk from where you alight from your car.
Altitude: 2700 mts
Distance from Srinagar: 107kms/ about 3 hours drive.
The voluminous safari style tents have large net windows to allow fresh air inside and doors have zippers to secure the tents for privacy.The tents also have a safe place for putting muddy shoes so that interiors remain clean.Each tent is adequately furnished with twin beds, a dressing table, a luggage rack, a chair and a Kashmiri carpet.Blankets are provided for the night.Accessories in the tents include solar torches/ lights and lanterns for illumination.
Tents with wooden bases are provided for bathing / freshening up. These wash tents are supplied with hot and cold water and have enough space to place towels / clothes / toiletries etc. Each boarding tent has its own personal toilet, pitched separately but close by, with commode and water for cleaning.
A large circular tent furnished with cane furniture serves as the dining area, though one has the choice of dining al fresco if one wishes. Dining tents also act as cosy living rooms if it gets windy or cold.
The pride of Sukoon is its workforce that works tirelessly all the time to make your stay pleasant and memorable. A five member team looks after your needs. With more than forty years of culinary experience on hundreds of treks, our camp Chef Amin will regale you with his cookery expertise. Amin has been a Himalayas veteran but has now learnt the art of new styling as 'camping on the move' and 'fixed camping' have different requirements. He is assisted by a kitchen helper. Our man in charge of housekeeping will ensure that your tent is clean, bed is properly made and there is a hot water bottle in the bed, before you go to sleep. There is one man for odd jobs around the camp, while a supervisor trained on board Sukoon and Lotus, oversees and coordinates activities in camp.
So, while you read your book outside your tent, basking in the golden sunlight, the camp kitchen prepares some fresh crispy munchies for you to go with that steaming cup of tea. As you sip the hot beverage from your cup, enjoy the vistas all around. A stay with us will put the bounce back in your step.
Kashmir is still young in tourism terms and has opened after 22 years of unrest, so services may vary in standards to other destination in India, specially guides are still learning the art of handling VIP guests. Sukoon team will do very best to ensure a safe and enjoyable holiday for your guests.
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