Tranquillity in Kashmir

We arrived on our houseboat in Srinagar on the Dal Lake. This is a wonderfully peaceful place. Motor-boats are banned and all one hears is the slap of the paddle against water from the small canoes as they are propelled past, carrying people and produce; the local men sit squat legged in the front and navigate everything skilfully.

The islands are man-made by gradually dropping earth and willow into the shallow lake, so everything is green, indeed verdant.

Kashmir is a Muslim state. As the evening sun fades the chants from the mosque echo over the lake. It is an enormously beautiful and spiritual moment. Try as hard as you like to avoid the sentiment in the West, Islam can seem at times ill at ease with the surroundings. Here it feels entirely right.