I'd recently set out on an adventurous journey from Manali to Leh on a bicycle. As a reward to self on completing the trip successfully, I decided to return via Srinagar to Delhi. I stayed in the Kashmir area for a couple of days only and in Srinagar for not more than 30 hours. So I don't know whether I qualify for answering this, But let me share my feelings post the numerous conversations I had there with locals (auto-wallahs to store owners to hotel staff etc).
1) Heaven on Earth: If any non-Kashmiri doubts the fables about the beauty of Kashmir.. Kill them doubts now, The serenity and scenery of that area is near-divine. And no amount of violence or fear or terrorism can take that away.
2) Divide from India: Not that Kashmir residents resent being Indians or a part of India. But my conversation with the people that I met there led me to feel that there is a certain sense of divide from the governance. During the conversations, 'the Indian Government' was accused for a lot of problems on numerous occasions, but in a tone that differed from how a Delhi/ Patna/ Kolkata resident would accuse the government (more of an 'our' government thing)
3) Article 370: The people that I talked to didn't seem to think of this section of the constitution as their birth right, rather they thought of it as a political propaganda. On further plodding as to how they felt about other Indians residing in Kashmir, I got straight face answers such as "how would that make a difference to me? why should I oppose that? " or a simple one "a kasmiri can reside in delhi, right? "
4) Presence of the Army: I have never seen so many army personnel on streets in my entire life as I saw on the road from Sonmarg to Srinagar ( not even in Kargil or Dras!!). While it may feel re-assuring, it was also quite scary. To see how a few people have so much power over the others. and not everyone is a saint, imagine a semi-automatic riffle wielding officer who has a thing against Muslims or Kashmiris or a cultural trait, who can do anything he pleases with the public. Army life does has its own cons too, but in Kashmir someone might bear the brunt of that for no fault of his own. Something that has changed now from before I visited the area, is that I do feel empathetic when I read about instances of Army's oppression in that area.
5) This is just an experience that I would share with everyone without further commenting on it.. While chatting with the auto-driver there, he raises this point about this guy who lived in his neighbourhood who he said had a striking resemblance to me, but he was a "pandit's" (a Hindu).. He was about to tell me something more about him when I interrupted him and told me that I am a "pandit" as well.. He paused for a while, the pause continued for a longer duration. He finally resumed conversation by changing the topic..
All said, Kashmir IS Heaven on Earth.. the people there are blessed and they know that. Maybe that's why they hate it when there's so much violence over what is their's first and in midst of that it is their rights which are being killed..
P.S: Great views, beautiful women and amazing food.. This place must have a place reserved in anyone's Bucket List.The article is written by Amuransh Sharma while returning back from his vXplor Manali to Leh Cycling trip. Amuransh loves adventure and is a cycling freak.... For more detail on the writer please visit http://www.quora.com/What-