National Geographic : 1948 Apr
lax i esror roI °tess 1 .s"Y1 Trenches Scar the "Happy Valley" as Indian Troops Defend Kashmir Sikh soldiers dug in to guard the road between Baramula and Srinagar when tribesmen from Moslem Pakistan clashed with them last fall in the State of Jammu and Kashmir (map, page 526). Prompt arrival of troops by air from the Hindu-led Dominion of India blocked the way to Srinagar, the summer capital, and brought recapture of Baramula, at the entrance to the Vale. hammedan mosque and Hindu temple alike in the course of our picturemaking. We must have made a strange-looking trio-the tall, dignified, red-bearded Mo hammedan, the slender, scholarly looking young Hindu who had majored in Sanskrit and usually had several books under his arm, and finally the American, in old Army trou sers, checkered Kashmiri shirt, and tight fitting red skullcap. The Kashmiri cap was a master stroke. I bought it to keep my hair from blowing into my eyes, but it gave the Kashmiris no end of amusement, broke the ice, and made pho tography easy. Apparently they had never before seen a sahib wearing one of their caps. Gondola with Inner-spring Mattress To see a cross section of life in Srinagar, we boarded a shikara on the Jhelum River, which winds caressingly through the city as if reluctant to leave. A characteristic institution of this Venice of India, the shikara, made of boards, is both a water-borne taxicab and a romantic pleasure boat akin to the Venetian gondola. Many have inner-spring mattresses upon which the indolent may recline, and such inducements are shouted to the world by the decidedly unbashful boatmen as they compete for patronage. Coney Island, Honeymoon Springs, Good Fortune, Susy Q-nearly all the boats have names, like American bombing planes.* Many are designed to appeal to visitors from the United States, for numerous GIs came to Kashmir during the war and left their initials and chewing gum even on Himalayan moun taintops. On a canopy-covered inner-spring mattress we glided smoothly down the Jhelum as the boatmen plied their paddles with curious heart-shaped blades (Plate IX). The winding street of water was alive with colorful traffic. In one oversized shikara reclined a well-fed businessman smoking the Kashmiri equivalent of a large, luxurious cigar-an elaborate hookah, the hubble-bubble water pipe. In another, three or four Moslem girls were going to school. Pretentious houseboats of the wealthy and * See "Fun Helped Them Fight," by Stuart E. Jones, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, January, 1948.