The Old City of Srinagar and Our Muse- The story that inspired our first collection

'Sheher-e-Khaas' to us was always a maze, it still is, for, one can hardly ever find the way out of here without involving a dozen local street hawkers and random people strolling the alleys. Chaotic, if you bring your car here, but nothing compares to a walk in these alleys. A random stroll in here is sure to be beautifully unpredictable and if you are seeking creative inspiration, you never know what you might find. Its like going on a treasure hunt, being a part of a puzzle that never ceases to amaze you and a maze you wish would never end. Our muse, a 'flâneuse' that she is, found a surprise awaiting her, while she casually strolled in one of these many many alleys that run like veins in ‘Sheher-e-Khaas'.


The city carries in its bossom, the rawness of life, its candidness, the unexpected twists and turns of what you may or may not discover in the next alley you step into. Walking, rather wandering the streets, observing life as it is happening in the moment, letting your guard down to enjoy the ebb and flow, the bustle, merging with the crowd and yet feeling like you stand out somehow, is how we aimed to capture our muse while she was strolling these streets of Sheher-e-Khaas.


After days of recceing the streets of Zaina Kadal, Ali Kadal and almost all of what is popularly called the 'Sheher-e-Khaas', finding the perfect looking 'Zoon Daeb' was a stroke of luck or maybe a manifestation of the law of attraction. Like a time machine, just a glance at this Cantilevered balcony designed to view the moon is enough to transport you decades back in time.


We spoke to the lady of the house who very welcomingly opened the doors of her house to us. We explained to her what it was about and, without even batting an eye, she said, 'yes'. Our perfect Eureka moment was here, after days of navigating around the area without internet. But we couldn't complain, we had finally found the perfect virgin spot for the inception of our story. 


We can't really thank the lady enough for her generous gesture, but our hearts and phones have her forever registered as the lovely 'Zoon Daeb Aunty’.



In the heart of Sheher-e-Khaas, on the banks of Jhelum, Khanqah as a spiritual site has an unmatched aura to it. With the pigeons fluttering around, it becomes the picture-perfect frame for anyone who wants to capture the essence of the old city. How could we have escaped its irresistible charm?


When Mullah Shah saw Dara Shikoh, who was travelling to Kashmir in search of a spiritual mentor, he asked for a lamp to be lit and recited the following verse-


“ Nai Chiragheist Darin Khana-i Virana-i Ma
Roshan az Aatish-i Ishq-i Tu-Shudah Khana-i Ma
In this desolate cell of ours we do not have a candle
As the fire of your Love illuminates our abode. “


Akhund Mullah Shah mosque beholds an aerial view of most of the old city, and the serenity of the surroundings is so magnetic that we couldn't help but film a part of our muse's journey here.


And as very journey culminates in something that wasn't there before or something new-found, but which was a part of us all along. Its an act of discovery, rediscovery and metamorphosis, reminding me of these beautiful lines of the song 'Safarnama.'


Ho.. safarnaama..
sawaalon ka safarnaama
shuru tumse, khatam tumpe
O, this travelogue,
travel narrative of questions,
begins from you, ends at you,
this travelogue..
Wo jise dhoodaa zamaane mein
mujhi mein tha
That, for which I searched through the world,
that was in me only..



Our muse's inspiration seeking journey comes to a halt at the breathtakingly beautiful sunset in 'Pari Mahal' or 'The Angels’ Abode’.


“Our Muse- Zoon”

 Seka petha guma chhus mokhta zan haraan 
Baal chhas karaan kosman kraav’. 
Shalamaara bihith pyaala chhas baraan 
Daala chhas nivaan yuri vaatyam yaar 
Aarakuts poshan maala chhas karaan 
Baal chhas karaan kosman kraav. 
Ishabara bihithay sheesha chhas baraan 
Keesh chhas paeraan vaatem yaar 
Dishi kami byunthum rasha chhas maraan 
Baal chhas karaan poshan kraav. 


Pearls of perspiration fall from his brow 
I gather a harvest of flowers! 
In Shalimar I sit and fill goblets of wine 
And scan the earth, waiting for him 
In my misery, I string flowers together 
While I gather a harvest of flowers! 
At Ishber I fill my cups to the brim 
I comb my hair as I wait for him 
Has he strayed? I’m holding my breath 
I gather a harvest of flowers!


~Habba khatoon (Zoon)