Enough about the other places in Kashmir I must take my readers to the Marwah Valley as soon as possible as my farm life is speeding up and I may not get to spend time later on writing this story. Musood took me some of the way as we were going to visit Uplift Kashmir’s society first clinic at Pulwama. After I left him I took a shared jeep to Anantnag and then onwards by various forms of transport to Lehinwan.
Lehinwan is a lovely village on the western side of the Himalayas. From this village it is straight up and over Margan Pass to Inshan. Lehinwan is on the edge of the mountains and at 2744m enjoys a nice summer climate. I arrived in the late afternoon after jumping from shared jeep to shared jeep from Vailu. (with the odd lift on the back of a motor bike with 2 others) When you get to Vailu your first impressions are that the dust of the valleys are no longer with you. Deodar and deciduous trees are more plentiful , the grass looks lush and the rivers are all flowing. The country side in other words is alive and well.
When you leave Lehinwan the road rapidly climbs up to Margan pass and the trees eventually disappear leaving pastures and often a rocky exposed hillside only lived in by the Gudgers. (shepherds) I waited a long time near where this photo was taken and the local children conveyed to me that I was probably in a bad place to be hitch hiking. However it was very beautiful sitting next to what was an abandoned orchard on one side and a Gudger settlement above me to the right of the trucks coming down the hill and the village below me.
However when my resolute to remain was just about to dissolve a shared jeep approached from the township and stopped when I approached. Yes I could come with them! Inside the jeep are a front and back seat and then two more along the walls in what we would normally call the boot. This is the standard arrangement for jeeps in India. No safety devices either and often filled to capacity. This time though there was only 8 I think including the driver and me. But the 6 other paying passengers were all from the J&K police returning to duty from Kishwar. All with AK47 machine guns which never left their side. At first my natural reaction was to think what have I got myself into this time. But gradually they got used to me and the jumbled replies to their questions grew less and I began to relax. A major security check stopped us for a while. These guys looked pretty serious and I thought maybe they would make an issue of me going through. But I let the policemen in my vehicle do most of the talking and perhaps they thought I was under their surveillance and nothing else untoward happened and eventually after signing various papers we proceeded up the pass. Dusk then complete darkness quickly came so that by time we reached the top only small lights were visible from the scattered Gudgers huts until we stopped for something to eat. I am sure my associates were very hungry as Ramadan was now in full swing. So it was a welcome break to sit around the fire inside the shop come eating house and eat and grow warm again.