Known as “Paradise on Earth” Kashmir is considered as one among the sought after holiday destinations in the world. Not only tourists but locals also throng popular tourist resorts and offbeat destinations in the Valley. However, some choose to explore the high-altitude lakes beautifully perched in the Valley mountains.
Usually men frequently hike to these alpine lakes, but off late Valley women have also developed fondness for hiking to witness and appreciate nature's bounties.
Sadiya Mirza from Lal Bazar in Srinagar is one such woman, who despite criticism from some keeps dates with alpine lakes.
For Sadiya, who has done her Masters in Economics, trekking has been a solace and helps her concentrate on her studies.
She used to be an introvert till she started exploring the mountains.
“I used to be a lonely person, which affected me mentally and physically. My cousin Salman, who is the owner of River and Peaks Trekking club and our trekking leader and instructor, encouraged me towards hiking which ultimately helped me think positively and focus on social life,” said Sadiya.
Though Sadiya thinks venturing out into the mountains and woods with men was not welcomed by society but she kept date with these lakes despite criticism.
“Kashmir, as compared to the other parts of the country, does not encourage female trekkers and particularly when you are trekking with men. But I felt there are a lot of benefits and I will continue to hike it irrespective of criticism.”
She believes trekking is beneficial for everyone.
“You go out into nature, walk along the trails, enjoy everything around you which releases all the stress and anxiety you've been carrying along. It truly is an experience which is worth experiencing,” said Sadiya.
The female hiker says venturing out into the woods helps us learn more about geography, flora and fauna.
“When you're out into the woods for trekking you need to be well versed with the safety measures. You need to be aware of all the pros and cons about the place where you're deciding to go for the trekking. You should never mess with nature. If you mess with it, you'll end up getting messed up”
She said, “We need to take care of our diet and keep it light, so that we don't feel burdened while trekking.”
Sadiya believes trekking solo is not a good option.
“I remember once we came across a bear on one of our treks. Luckily our trekking leader handled the situation bravely, since he has been into trekking for almost 12 years,” she said.
She said trekking is good for our mental and physical health.
Sadiya could not compare all her treks but feels Naranag Dumail trek was the best of all the trekking expeditions.
“For all the amateur female trekkers, the most important thing for them is don't hold back yourself. It's good to go out on trekking expeditions but make sure you don't do it alone. Always have someone experienced along. No matter how easy or how plain the trekking is, you need to be under guidance, need to be safe and must take all necessary precautions.”