Halcyon Days

If one were to take to praise Kashmir, whole books would have to be written. . . . Kashmir is a garden of eternal spring, or an iron fort to a palace of kings – a delightful flower-bed, and a heart-expanding hermitage for dervishes.
The Jehangirnama

The following passage is an excerpt from:

We could scarcely have chosen a better morning for our excursion. The sun was gilding the snow-covered peaks of the northern Pinjal as we commenced the ascent, and by the time we had gained the temple, his rays, in one flood of golden lights had illuminated half the valley, leaving the southern portion and the slopes of the Peer Pinjal yet intact.

Seldom does he shine on more varied and beautiful scenery, for in all my wanderings before and since I have never witnessed its equal. There lay the capital at our feet, half-hidden among clusters of poplars, chunars, and forest trees – the Dul lake, washing the western base of the Tukt-i-Salaman, stretched westward with all its ever-changing forms.

On the placid waters of the lake numerous skiffs shot either rapidly along, or threaded their way through a labyrinth of weeds, diversified by the countless floating gardens, and the Isle of Chunars, with its noble plane-trees. The Shalimar and pleasure-grounds of the Delhi emperors, now faded, and fast passing into the wild jungle around them, covered portions of the northern bank of the lake.

Huri Purbet, like a fortress which had undergone a siege, its walls crumbling into decay, stood on the side of a spur overlooking a scene which for loveliness and grandeur has scarcely an equal. So perfect seemed both the natural and artificial portions of the panorama so faintly blending with each other, and yet so grand, that the eye in one sweep passed over most perfect pictures of lake and mountain scenery.

Towards the city stretched a noble avenue of poplars, upwards of a mile in length, and straight as arrows ; whilst away towards the east rich pastures and fields teemed with grain ; villages nestled in clusters of trees, which in rows were seen fringing the banks of the classical Hydaspes, that like a huge snake twisted through the plain.

Then, last of the many beauties, rose those grand and noble mountains, encircling the whole panorama, and shielding the paradise from the northern blasts, whilst from their rugged sides dashed a thousand rills to fertilise and beautify its soil.