: Tree of Life’s Adventure in Kashmir!

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Kashmiri handpainted boxes are one of our top items.Last season we visited Srinagar in Kashmir, to check on the condition of workers there.We were satisfied that they are treated fairly - we found the workplace to be healthy and tranquil.And along the way, we also found MAGIC.Behold - the home of Tree of Life's legendary Kashmiri papier-mâché!DSC_0630The dashing Parveez has long been our supplier of Kashmiri papier-mâché products.DSC_0853His artisans train for five years to do this highly meticulous work.Each colour is applied one at a time, in layers. DSC_0814It's a privilege to watch these artists at work. DSC_0738They are swift and precise.A box with painting as fine as this fetches a higher price:DSC_0840We also visited a copper shop and saw some spectacular handcrafted samovars.DSC_1430_2Each piece is full of personality!DSC_1428_2When the weather got too hot, we headed to Gulmarg -the Meadow of Flowers.This famed hillstation is a ski resort in the winter.DSC_1093It was probably one of the coolest places we had ever seen.DSC_1116The landscape all around is rich and romantic.We found Kashmir's proverbial title, "the enchanted vale," to be entirely true.Back in Srinagar, we kept working.Handpainting can adorn almost any product. It was fun brainstorming new items to decorate with this exquisite traditional design.DSC_1372In the evenings, we took sunset cruises on Dal Lake in the tiny boats known as shikaras.It's mostly locals who enjoy the lake. Some use shikaras to tout their wares.DSC_0641There are hundreds of houseboats on Dal Lake too. Their interiors are astoundingly ornate. The carved sandalwood is so fragrant! DSC_0635DSC_0872Parveez introduced us to the glories of saffron tea.We vowed to prepare it ourselves back here in Australia. But somehow, it has never measured up to the Kashmiri original...photography by Shirin Borthwick