As turtle doves and pigeons compete with each other to pick the fallen grain in paddy fields left after harvesting and the cicadas buzz at a high pitch, the message is loud and clear — autumn, Kashmir’s golden brown season of plenty, has arrived.
Despite sporadic incidents of violence, one can never have enough of Kashmir at this time. Film crews from Bollywood and South India have started arriving here to capture the glory of the picture-postcard season.
The unmistakable nip in the mornings and the evenings and the ripening of apples, walnuts, grapes, rice and maize are all indications that the farmers and the orchardists must make hay while the sun shines over the meadows, mountains and the plains of Kashmir.
Nomadic goatherds called Bakerwals are hurrying with their flocks of sheep and goats down to warmer pastures in the Jammu region. The passage of the hardy souls carrying children, tents, household goods and other equipment they needed during their stay in the alpine pastures of the Valley is a saga of human endeavour and hardship.
Countryside has suddenly come to life as men and women harvest paddy. Thanks to the timely rain and a comparatively hotter summer, the paddy yield is expected to be rich this year.
This, despite the fact that the agriculture department had issued advisories for restraining paddy sowing to only well-irrigated areas as experts feared less than average rainfall during the summer.
Truckloads of apples of different varieties are being despatched to markets outside the state. The rates of apple varieties are better than the last year in markets outside the Valley.
This has encouraged the local orchardists who are taking extra caution to ensure that only the best quality apples are sent to markets outside.
Kashmiri apple is facing competition from Himachal Pradesh where good quality apples are now grown and marketed.
The glistening waters of streams, rivers and lakes are soothing as there are plenty of fish, both local and exotic species.
Flocks of swans and ducks floating on the waters of the Dal, Manasbal and the Wular lakes are a pageant of plume and cackle.
The majestic chinar trees are slowly beginning to change the colour of their leaves from green to crimson and eventually to golden brown. Autumn is undoubtedly the best season in Kashmir as Mother Nature showers her blessings so that the locals start equipping themselves for the harsh winter ahead.
Before October-end, thousands of migratory birds from the Philippines, China, Eastern Europe and Siberia will arrive to ward off the extreme cold of their summer homes and spend the winter in the relatively less harsh winter of Kashmir.
Traditionally, most foreign tourists prefer to visit the Valley during the autumn and the houseboat owners, hoteliers and taxi owners are looking forward to host the visitors.
In all its radiant glory, the autumn stands to prove what the Sufi saint and poet Amir Khusrau said about Kashmir in Persian: ‘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).
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