As spring gets ready to turn into summer and the countryside is speckled with the hues of newly-blossomed wildflowers, we make our way to a recently-added destination on the tourist map. A winding road, flanked by snow-capped peaks and marked by the scent of pine leads to Doodhpathri, also known locally as Dodhpather.
It is pouring as we enter the town, with the roar of the rivers Shaliganga and Sokhnag drowned by the sound of thunder and incessant rain. And then, as if to prove the famous unpredictability of Kashmir’s weather, spring regresses into winter in a flash, turning rain into snow and transforming vast green meadows into a magical winter wonderland. The name Doodhpathri may be translated as "milk and stones", believed to refer to the white waters that flow along riverside rocks. On this snowy day in spring, however, the entire landscape appears to be bathed in milk, cupped by the surrounding Pir Panjal range.
A two-hour drive from Srinagar leads you to Doodhpathri, where snowy afternoons are best spent outdoors. Photo: Athul Prasad
There are no places to stay in Doodhpathri, so it is only a day trip. The region’s long-stay visitors, however, include the pastoral Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes that migrate to the lower plains of Budgam in winter and come here, to the upper reaches for the summer. As we plod through the snow, we spot smoke wafting out of a hut and a pheran-clad young man tending his horses in the vast stillness.