Mumbai band Aankh Micholi tells you why Kashmir should be on your travel list

Some of the band members saw snow for the first time in Gulmarg

It's rare for a young band, new on the scene, to get the traction that the Mumbai-based Aankh Micholi has got in the last year. Formed in 2015 at the True School of Music, the alternative folk fusion has been performing all over the city and country in 2018, gathering praise for their soulful music, which they describe as "a marriage between powerful lyrics and compelling storytelling". Recently, the five members - Osho Jain, 23, Bharat Chandore, 20, Pankaj Pathe, 26, Akshay Dabhadkar, 21, and Hansel Dias, 23 - performed at Winterfell Café in Srinagar, which is known for musical performances.

The band also used a sled as a percussion instrument

"We had heard about the café and we just took a chance and called them, and said, 'would you like to host us?', and they couldn't have been happier. They also told us that we were the first non-Kashmiri band to have played in the Valley. The band, Parvaz, had performed before us, but all its members are Kashmiri," Jain tells us. We asked the band why they think the Valley should be our next travel destination and this is what they had to say.

And sang a few songs, which they shared on Facebook

'The people are amazing'We literally haven't met better people ever before. Firstly, at the café, which takes its inspiration from the Game of Thrones, a crowd of over 50 turned up, which is great for that area. This café has a lot of things happening all the time - open mics, storytelling, all performance-based art. The music that we were playing was very different from the kind of music they are exposed to, which is basically Kashmiri folk music. This was very new to them, but they just loved it, and responded with such gusto. People are just nice everywhere you go, and help is at hand whenever you need it.

A select few airlines offer direct flights from Mumbai to Srinagar, or you can fly to Delhi and take a connecting flight

As soon as we landed, we just dumped our bags at our hotel, and headed to the Dal Lake. We then sat in the shikaras, and started playing our guitars and singing our original songs. We were entertaining people, and they were loving it. After a while, people joined us in the singing. It was one of our most overwhelming moments.

The snow is magicalOn the second day we were there, we headed to Gulmarg. It wasn't supposed to snow that day, and hasn't snowed for the last 20 days. But, as soon as we got there, it started snowing, and even the locals were surprised. Some of us had never seen snow before. We were on the slopes and we were sledding. We also used the sled as a percussion instrument, and sang a few songs as we did a Facebook live from the slopes.

Binge on Kashmiri Noon chaiSince most of were vegetarian, food was a bit of an issue. But, we all fell in love with the kahwa. That sweet, sweet tea, really hit the spot in the cold. We also sampled the Kashmiri noon chai, also called sheer chai, gulabi chai, which is a traditional tea made with salt, milk and baking soda. It's very different to taste, and it would be right to say that it's an acquired taste. But we loved it.

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