Even as the Kashmir Valley reels under the harsh Chillai-Kalan—the coldest period of the winter in this region locals and tourists find time to linger and take the stark beauty in. Srinagar recorded a low of -8.4°C this week, purported to be the coldest in 30 years, causing many water bodies including the Dal Lake as well as water supply lines to freeze over.
Despite the chill, intrepid lovers who sit by the lake, others go about their day, trying to find a way to navigate the frozen lake to earn their daily bread. As locals and tourists take tentative steps to test the ice, despite advisories issued against it, teams are on standby to prevent mishaps or help those stranded due to the sudden freezing.
The houseboats stand still, their gentle rocking stilled. This is winter. Cruel and magnificent all at once. And yet, the lines return —
Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.
(If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here)