Pony walas of ARU, Kashmir: Photo Memorabilia

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They say if there is a “heaven on earth– it is the Kashmir valley in India. And if you grew up in India, this association would not sound new to you. Growing up I had developed a particular curiosity about Kashmir for two particular reasons – one, because my father outsourced Indian-wear to vendors in Kashmir and had all sorts of unique stories of Kashmir’s beauty and food to tell; and two, because my neighbors were originally from Kashmir, and beautifully Kashmiri.  

When I turned 22, my dad finally took us on a trip to the valley, and all my stories came to reality. I knew it then, why Kashmir is often labeled as “heaven” – because its untouched, and ethereally raw. For some strange reason I find Kashmiris extremely beautiful too. Hence, I have always wanted to have a Kashmir series on StreetTrotter.

Well, the wish has now come true. This photo series is by Naveed Hussain, my neighbor’s son who is my brother’s age and who grew up next door to me all these years. Today, he is a beautiful and a talented young boy, with a passion for his camera and his roots deep inside the heaven called Kashmir. 

“For me mountains and cold regions are perfect for a cerebral environment. And Kashmir never disappoints. So this year I went to Kashmir with my friends. And I took them to this place called ARU,” narrates Naveed.

Aru is a tourist spot located around 12 km from Pahalgam, in Kashmir. Noted for its scenic meadows, lakes and mountains, the village of Aru is also a base camp for trekkers to the famous Kolahoi Glacier, the Tarsar-Marsar lakes and the Katrinag valley.

Naveed continues, “It was raining during the day and at dusk I took my camera and went on a small hike where I met different Pony-walas, their cute little children and a beautiful family. As the weather was moody it started drizzling. I went inside the Pony-walas tent for shelter. It was warm & cozy inside and they offered me some tea with bread. It was a surreal experience which I can never forget.”

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About the photographer: Naveed Hussain is a photographer and an illustrator. A foodie who loves to travel. He has a keen interest in street art, music, hiking & skateboarding. Currently pursuing his Bachelors in Fine Art from College of Art, Delhi.