Verinag, Anantnag and Baktoot
Verinag was not included in the programme list supplied by the tour operator. We visited the place as suggested by our driver. We reached Verinag in the afternoon. Entry fee was Rs 50/-.
Verinag park is extremely well maintained. The reservoir with blue water is located under a small hill and has the trees mirrored in its tranquil waters.
Octagonal Verinag kund (spring)
Verinag spring is the source of the river Chenab. According to legends, it is named after Nila Nag, the son of the saint, Kashyap. The original shape of this spring was circular in the form of a kund. Current octagonal shape was created in 1620 by Emperor Jehangir. The spring has a circumference of 80m and is enclosed by a brick wall under which are vaults. The octagonal tank built around the spring was designed to form the centre of the palace buildings that no longer exist. We could see twenty-four arched recesses still roofed over around the reservoir. Small stairways were also present. There is a walkway around the lake.
On entering the walkway, at the right side, we could see the deity of Verinag, in the form of a snake.
Verinag (the snake recoiled) – Deity
The beautifully manicured lawns adorned both sides of the canal originating from the Verinag lake. Age old Chinar trees are well preserved. In September, the flowers with different colors were in full bloom.
We walked along the canal to reach the end of the park where the water of the canal was converted to the water falls to flow as Chenab (Jhelum) river.
Verinag spring falls to form Chenab river
Sun temple of Anantnag
Next place of visit was the current Martand temple at Anantnag . The driver did not take us to the original Martand temple of Anantnag. It appears that he was not aware of the place.
Before reaching Martand temple, the driver treated us with ‘lassey’ in huge glasses.
Martand temple (Sun temple) of Anantnag
Martand temple complex was under renovation at certain places. Besides the sun temple, Shiv and Annapurna temples are also there and a clean “lotus” pond with shoals of fish without any trace of lotus.
Very clean lotus pond at temple complex Anantnag
Though the lake had no trace of any lotus, thickly crowded shoals of fishes made some parts of the water dark.
Shoals of fishes at lotus pond, Anantnag
The day we visited Anantnag, we could see the army posting. Later, we were told that there were some disturbances at Anantnag to protest the visit of the Home Minister, Sh. Rajnath Singh. However, we were safe.
Enjoying the views of corn fields, paddy fields, apple trees and walnut trees on both sides of the smooth road and the houses with typical red terraces, we reached Baktoot from Anantnag at about 4 pm. We stopped for our night stay at hotel Golden Royal, about 10 km from Pahalgam.
Baktoot used to be the starting point for Amarnath pilgrimage once upon a time. The hotel had a small park where a tent was being put up for a Kashmiri wedding. We strolled in the evening for some time along corn fields and paddy fields on one side and walnut trees on other to reach a park through which Lidder river flows.
A local old person was breaking walnuts from roadside and gave us one peeled walnut to eat.
Unlike Hotel Patnitop, Hotel golden Royal had a separate dining area and the food was good but not the service.
Tomorrow we will start for Betab valley.