An escape to Raineera Meadow, where dreams meet reality. The melodies of rustling leaves and babbling brooks while being caressed by the gentle mountain breeze and nature’s symphony awaits, offering solace and rejuvenation
A first-hand account by Suhaib Idrees Lateef
Kashmir, often referred to as the Crown of the northern geographical region of the Indian subcontinent, possesses a serene and captivating ambience that defies expression through mere words. The Farsi couplet, beautifully composed, reveres the Kashmir Valley as nothing short of Heaven on Earth, capturing its ethereal essence:
“Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.”
(If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this).
This exquisite land boasts a treasure trove of natural wonders. From snowy glaciers and shimmering lakes to flowing streams nestled amidst majestic mountains, everything in Kashmir has been meticulously crafted by the hands of nature. Verdant forests and lush meadows adorn the landscape, complemented by the music of gushing rivers.
Among the many alluring destinations in Kashmir, the Raineera meadow stands out as a mini-paradise within the region. While famous places like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Yusmarg, Tosa Maidan, and Peer ki Gali are well-known, there remain hidden gems like Raineera, relatively unexplored and less frequented.
On a cloudy Saturday, the 15th of July, my two friends, Tariq Ahmad and Shahid Ahmad, and I gathered at the village of Sedow. Unfortunately, Mohammad Yamin and Dawood Ashaq couldn’t join us as they were already engaged. With our backpacks filled with light snacks, peanuts, colas, and water bottles, we set off early in the morning, around 6 AM, for the enchanting meadow of Raineera. My excitement for this trip had been building since the previous year, and I was eager to embark on this journey.
There were three routes to reach our destination:
1. Heerpora-Shahkoot Circuit
2. Ladigasan-Draenaad-Zabran-Shahkoot route
3. Sedow-Draenaad-Zabran-Shahkoot route
After discussing the options with the Forest Department personnel at Sedow, we opted for the third route, despite it being longer. Our journey began heading northwards, with a well-carved path guiding us through dense forests of towering pine and deodar trees. The atmosphere was filled with the sounds of travelers and horses passing by, exchanging greetings and creating a sense of camaraderie along the way. The gentle breeze brushed against us, offering solace and companionship during our steep ascent.
As we continued our trek, the path unfolded into a series of large and small meadows scattered at regular intervals, almost as if nature had carefully planned the stops for weary travelers. Each steep stretch revealed a soothing meadow, a welcoming respite for the tired soul:
Embarking on our journey towards the enchanting Raineera meadow, we encountered the first meadow, Drae-Naad, after a small 3 km stretch. It was a little piece of heaven that provided us a much-needed rest and an opportunity to listen to the tales of the Gujjars living there. Amidst the verdant beauty, we spotted a few nomadic settlements and were graciously offered their favorite filtered milk, known as Gurus. This revitalizing elixir energized our tired bodies instantly, giving us a boost to continue our expedition.
Continuing our trek through the flat lush green grass, we marveled at the breathtaking vistas while making our way towards Jabbdan meadow, which was approximately 2.5 km from Drae-Naad. The soul-stirring voices of the pines and the mesmerizing surroundings seemed like a melodious symphony that invigorated our spirits and spurred us on towards our destination. At Jabdan-Chamb, we indulged in chocolates, peanuts, and hydrated ourselves, while also interacting with the locals who were grazing their cattle there.
We had the privilege of conversing with an octogenarian Bakerwal, who shared his experiences of the forest and meadows. He spoke about Raineera, the lush green mountainous meadow that provided them with good health, contrasting the ailments they faced in the lower regions. His insights and happiness to talk to us were heartwarming, and we reciprocated their kindness by offering biscuits and other food items.
As we moved ahead, the cycle of meadows and forests continued, taking us through deep pine forest covers, crystal-clear waters, and eventually leading us to the awe-inspiring Shahkoot meadow. The sight of this exuberant meadow left us speechless, as its beauty was a rare treasure that not everyone gets to witness. Shahkoot served as a potential camping site and a place for horse riding, adding to the charm of our journey.
However, our ultimate destination, Raineera meadow, awaited us, and we bid farewell to Shahkoot. The path leading to Raineera was clearly carved with sloping, steep, and rugged terrains, surrounded by green mountainous forests on one side and the broad and abundant meadows of Choor Gali, Kaenwean, or Kooler on the other. The serene beauty of the surroundings, along with the lyrical sound coming from the deep down forests, was a mesmerizing experience that touched our souls.
Finally, we reached Raineera Meadow, and all our fatigue and weariness disappeared in an instant. The unending expanse of green meadows, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, greeted us with a captivating panorama of the Pir Panjal Range. It was a sight to behold, and we couldn’t help but feel spiritually uplifted.
During our time at Raineera, we explored some of the mounting meadows, further immersing ourselves in the serenity and tranquility of the place. After a brief rest and a delicious meal of fried chicken, we bid farewell to this magical place with heavy hearts, but with a promise to return someday.
As responsible travelers, we made sure not to leave any polythene covers, plastic bottles, or any other waste behind. Our group adheres to the principles of environmental conservation, and we took great care to protect the pristine beauty of the area we were privileged to experience.
Our 3.5-hour, 11 km deep and steep trek had taken us on an unforgettable adventure through nature’s wonders, leaving us with memories to cherish for a lifetime.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of this newspaper. The author can be reached at [email protected]