“If there is paradise on this Earth, it is here, it is here…” – these are the words used by the great poet Amir Khusrau to describe the Kashmir Valley. And this sentiment continues in the hearts of travellers who come from far and wide to visit the stunning valley today. Endowed with implausible beauty, Kashmir is rightly called the ‘paradise on Earth’. Resplendent with stunning views, majestic settings and unspoiled nature, Kashmir provides a view that transports people into a different world altogether and nestled in this valley is a newly opened resort ‘Qaayam Gah’.
Qaayam Gah spent eight years in the making and even longer to plan, the progress did come to a standstill due to the socio-political scenario in Kashmir, and the Covid-19 pandemic but at the end of it emerged a heavenly space centred around Sufism. Altaf Chapri, the man behind Qaayam Gah and a well-known name in the world of hospitality is the force behind making the resort what it is today. His signature style is that of tranquillity and that is the core of Qaayam Gah and reflected in every aspect of the property.
Kashmir has been the muse of poets since time immemorial and that is where the symbiosis of Sufism comes from in the property. Sufism follows the mystical teachings of Islam and Sufism is the very raison d’être of Qayaam Gah. “In the spiritual symbolism of Sufism, Qayaam signifies the highest mystical state,” says Chapri, “First comes sukoon, the unshakeable peace, then with time this matures into Qayaam, the ultimate station. Qayaam is the experience of unity with everything, the conscious and unbroken enjoyment of the oneness of life.” The next step in this journey would be Mukaam; the ultimate place on the Sufi journey. Each of the detached villas at the resort is named after Sufi poetesses including Kashmiri Lal Ded, Habba Khatoon and Rabia of Basra whereas the rooms are named after some of the great Sufi saints such as Rumi and his master Shamas of Tabriz. Built of Cedarwood, glass and stone from Manasbal and Pandrethan traditional textiles and Kashmiri craft techniques, Qaayam Gah exudes a feeling of home. From wood-burning bukhari to the intricate latticework used everywhere, these are things that one will only find at this heavenly abode.
Inside the resort, Kashmiriyat surrounds you everywhere you go. For example, the ‘Qalb’ terrace; is the heart and focal point of Qaayam Gah! From dusk till dawn, this space is buzzing with something or the other, be it yoga sessions in the morning or the high tea with traditional performances in the evening. You can always relax here while gazing out towards the 360-degree view of Kashmir Valley. Then there is ‘Ruh’, Qaayam Gah’s very own restaurant which embodies the soul of this space. Chef Tabassum, once a home chef, now wows the guests with her traditional Kashmiri delights and ensures that her love and warmth is present in everything she cooks.
The water in the rooms is provided in jugs made of beaten copper and comes directly from Qaayam Gah’s own natural mountain spring. Almost all of their produce also comes from their own gardens, the milk comes from their cow tethered close enough for you to hear her calling you out every morning. This focus on a sustainable lifestyle also extends itself to the Kama Ayurveda bath amenities aligned in ceramic jars. Not one tree was felled during the construction as Chapri wanted the surroundings to stay as they are; naturally blossoming into their best selves.
Crafted with glass, cedar and pine, Ruh is the crown jewel of the property. Embellished with Lotus motifs and jail screens and accentuated with antique rugs, the space encompasses a feeling of old and new. Qaayam Gah is not the resort you go to get away from the city but a sumptuous space where you soak in all of Kashmir and reconnect with yourself.
“The very centre of your heart is where life begins – the most beautiful place on earth” – Rumi