The drive from Srinagar to Yousmarg is mostly uneventful. The one and a half hour ride, for most part goes through Srinagar’s down town, a few bustling villages posing as towns and only in the latter half winds up a mountain and passes by apple orchards.
Cross the historic town of Charar-I-Sharief, and suddenly around a bend, you will see houses dotted on the mountainside across the valley. Zip down the road and it’s becoming prettier by the minute.
Right before you enter main Yousmarg, on the left is Hotel Sangarmal. A green vertical banner with the hotel’s name printed on it, stands tall on the opposite side of the road.
It gives a cozy homestay vibe the moment you enter the gates. There is a nice flower garden, chairs to sun under, a stream running right behind the property. The property itself resembles a house, and like many Kashmiri houses in the countryside, has a nice wooded structure.
The property is run by two brothers – Salman and Aaquib. Very different from each other, they add their own flavour to the stay experience. Salman is an artist, soft spoken, and an amazing cook. Non vegetarians, do not miss out on his Rogan Josh and other mutton creations. Best mutton I had! Thoughtful, he recognized very early that I love Honey Lemon Tea and every time I’d come back to the hotel, he’d ask me if I’d like to have some 😊 Once when we returned from a trek, he had left for Srinagar. But he left rajma chawal for us, knowing that we’d be back late afternoon and would be hungry. Super nice guy.
Aaquib likes talking to people, and shared a lot of Kashmir stories with us. The elder son of the family, he has delved deep into the family fruit business, but harbours dreams of starting his own business. I spent a lot of time talking and trekking with Aaquib.
The property has five rooms as of now. Salman and Aaquib make sure that you are comfortable and not lacking in anything. There is a large common room upstairs, with comfy sofas where you can chill with your family and friends. The whole place made me feel that it was the perfect place to write, or take a workation. Another smaller room gives you space to sit on cushions on the floor, for a traditional Kashmiri wazwan meal serving.
The two brothers will also help you if you want to go on a trek in Yousmarg.
Pros of living at Hotel Sangarmal:
- The location is gorgeous. You can go for a hike on the hillock flanking the property and there are awesome views from the top.
- The hospitality is personal, warm, and thoughtful.
- The food is super yummy
- Its perfect for a long, peaceful, non commercial holiday
- They can organize local treks for you.
Cons of staying:
- As of now there is no network or wifi within the property. You will get Airtel/Jio/BSNL network at specific points in the garden. Note: They are planning to set up a private internet network very soon at the property so I’ll remove this ‘Con’ promptly.