After Kargil war memorial, we moved on towards Kashmir.
The scene got more scenic, war ore abundant, streams fuller and frothier, the slopes more grassy.
We spotted Dropati Kund, Zojila war memorial, as we passed. We didn’t stop though.
After some more driving, the Devdar trees came into sight. They glorified the hill slopes. They reminded my father of ancient saints, rishis, for they were often depicted in literature as performing penance in the vicinity of the Devdar trees, so he remarked.
And then, most unexpectedly, the car stopped and the driver asked us to look at the valley below. We did and were breathless. Thousands of tiny little tents and camps, yellow blue and grey, closed packed together, yet neat, dotted the floor of the valley. Some of them shined like little mirrors, reflecting the sunlight off their metallic roofs. We were looking at the Amarnath pilgrim camps. So this is how it looked. There were helipads in their midst. We even spotted one or two helicopters mid air, very far away and very tiny, like red dragonflies. These were carrying the wealthier of the pilgrims to the holy shrine.
The soil beneath our feet was really really loose but the sight so awe inspiring that I stood over it and moved further to the edge to take more pictures, so as not to miss something.
We continued our descent. Buses and SUV’s seeming like tiny match boxes were lined bumper to bumper on what seemed like an approach road to the camps and elsewhere, huddled together in what seemed like a bus stand.
We did not even know we would get to see this pilgrim camp. It was an unexpected bonanza. A surprise. Something to teach all of us that travel is more about journey than destinations. So also life. But most of them, just wont get it and will move from destination to another and essentially, from one disillusionment to another.