AtoZ, Blog Challenge, KashmirTravelDiaries, Travel

[C ] Chai Zai cafe in Srinagar | #atozchallenge 2017 |

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Kashmir has got to be one of my most favorite and oft traveled spot in India. Whenever someone asks me how many days to plan for Srinagar, I am at a loss as every time I go there, I discover a new nugget. I can’t get enough of traversing the quiet waters of the Dal Lake in a shikara or clicking the houseboats while walking on the Boulevard or simply daydreaming in the astonishingly beautiful Mughal gardens.

This time I visited Srinagar in peak winters to get a taste of the snowfall and fell in love with the pristine white cloak draped over the landscape, rendering it a dreamy postcard feel with its soft powdery sprinkle over everything.

Since I am such a tea-holic, my hostess decided to take me out toΒ a newly opened Chai Jaai cafe which is located on the scenic Bund on the river Jhelum. I was charmed by the quaintness of the cafe which was actually a re-converted photo studio (Mahatta – Β very popular name in the world of photography).Β The walls were adorned with some gorgeous B&W pictures of Kashmir of yore which were a stupendous visual treat.


What I found admirable about the cafe was the way papier mache (Kashmiri handicraft technique) was patronized to do up the walls in a stunning pattern and color combination. The use of modern light fittings married to the traditional, lent the place an endearing air of warmth and welcome.


There was an interesting wall of square cubby holes which displayed gorgeous tin boxes of various teas – some for use by the cafe and some to be bought by customers to take away. Next to it was a beautiful arrangement of old-fashioned metal samovar and sets of Persian kehwa cups.


And yes the selection of teas and Kehwa was good too. I loved the teapot with its multi-hued digital print, echoing the colors of the cafe.


I think their most popular item is the noon chai or the salt tea (I have not been able to develop a taste for it) and Harissa – a meat dish which (take my word for it) is to die-for. Shirmaal which is a sweet roti is another delicacy to try; though with my aversion to sweet stuff, I haven’t sampled it yet! To make it simpler, just go for the fragrant Kehwa with its gorgeous amber tones (from the saffron threads) and the sweet cardamom smell wafting in soft vapors to tease you into ecstasy.


Overall a pretty appealing cafe in the heart of Srinagar to enjoy a hot cuppa while watching the setting sun play with the crimson hues in the evening skies, over the waters of the Jhelum river. Or simply to read a book as you sip on a brew! Don’t miss out on stopping here, whenever you go to Srinagar next!

My favorite pastime while traveling is to visit cafe in the market places and sip a hot cup while watching the city life. Whats your view on that?

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chai zai cafe in Srinagar kashmir travel diary tea cup kehwa samovar papermachie

Read about the floating post office in a houseboat on Dal Lake here

Fact File:

  • Srinagar is the summer capital of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and is easily accessible by air and road.
  • Kehwa is a popular traditional drink of Kashmir, made out of saffron and cardamom.
  • Bund is the fortification of a section of the river into a channel to contain the flow of water.
  • papier-mache is a Kashmiri art of layering paper (first soaked in glue and water) over any surface (like boxes, trinkets, etc) and then painting it in gorgeous floral patterns and bright colours, often with gold leafing too.



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62 thoughts on “[C ] Chai Zai cafe in Srinagar | #atozchallenge 2017 |

    1. Thanks so much Shailaja – having a seasoned blogger like you praise my writing is such a big thing for me. This means so much, you cant imagine. πŸ™‚

      1. Thankyou Shalini, for such a beautiful post. Do visit again on your next visit.
        ChaiJaai Team.

        1. I really loved your cafe – My friend Yasmin Ali took me there for a cuppa one evening! Will definitely drop in again on my next trip!

  1. Beautiful Shalz. Last time we planned to visit Kashmir, it got cancelled because of the unrest. Your post has rekindled that desire. I do hope that I’ll be able to fulfill the desire of visiting this paradise on earth πŸ™‚

    1. Oh thats sad- but yeah the unrest is very much a part of that region. I f Kashmir intrigues you- you should check out my other posts under KashmirTravelDiaries πŸ™‚


    1. Ohh Nishta why do you say that? I travel atleast every 2 years and it is not the unsafe place as its made out to be in the media. Sure it has its bouts of unrest but when you go there, you will be amazed by the numbers of tourists that fill its popular spots!! πŸ™‚

    1. Ohhh thank you thank you for that! I am floating on such a high with such praise!
      Thanks Darling πŸ™‚

    1. I know Nilanjana – its my favourite place on earth and I concur its indeed the heaven on earth!
      Isnt tea just wonderful!! πŸ˜‰

  2. That’s the fanciest Chai Cafe I have seen in my life!!!

    Loved your post, by the way! Anything to do with #chai has to be on the top of my list. ((wink, winkk))

    1. Thanks so much Ashmita for dropping in and I am so happy to hear you liked what I shared.
      Hi-five on the tea love; I am an addict who collects tea wherever she travels. So my tea cupboard has tea from Kashmir,Jodhpur, Wayanad, Palampur, Mumbai, Bangalore, Benares…….. πŸ™‚

  3. This is such an aesthetically appealing post, Shalini. I love the teapot and the cafe looks like something out of a fairy tale.
    I love Kehwa, a lot.
    As a Tea Lover i hope to visit this Cafe someday, soon:)

    1. Thanks Mayuri – you hit the nail on the head – fairytale is what it felt like πŸ™‚
      I hope you get your wish soonest!!!!

  4. I am a tea lover and you got me there with the title. Stunning pictures and the nuances you shared, make me long for a trip to Srinagar. One of my dreams is to be able to live in a house where windows look up to the Himalayas. Maybe some day πŸ™‚

    1. Ditto on the chai love Parul πŸ™‚
      Believe me the view of the mountains when you wake up especially freshly powdered with snow – oh man!!!! I enjoyed these and many such views whenever I am in Kashmir and its simply breathtaking.
      Hope the dream comes true soonest πŸ™‚

    1. Aww thanks so much for such a sunny comment. You always say such positive and happy things Roma! Thank you…. Take me with you if you going away to Kashmir πŸ˜‰

  5. Shalz your post on chai at Kashmir has brought mere less desire to visit those places and taste the relishing foods. Everyday your post brings chillness on this summer days.

    1. Thank you so much Shraesta for such a warm and genuine compliment – I am so happy to hear such lovely words πŸ™‚

    1. Kashmir IS surreal – have you seen the movie Fitoor? The visuals of Kashmir in it are just stunning and believe me in winters it looks just like that. I hope you get to go there soon too! πŸ™‚

  6. Kashmir has something different and beautiful to offer in every season. We stayed in Jammu for a few years and would visit Srinagar in holidays. The cafe is a lovely blend of modern and traditional art and decor. Kahwa is my fav and yes, I didnt like the taste of noon chai too. Lovely pics, Shalini!

    1. Hey Shilpa I am from Jammu – wow when were you there? Srinagar is a glorious place for a holiday and every season change brings out different vistas and colours! Thanks for liking the pics!

    1. Hope you get to go there soonest; do check out my other posts on Kashmir as there is tonnes to discover there! More posts coming up too on Kashmir this april!

  7. The cafe looks really cute! And I loved that cute kettle! I’ve never been to Kashmir but I want to go for sure! And whenever I’m going to go there, I’m sure going to visit this cafe!

    Also, sheermal I really like!


  8. Srinagar has got another addition, an exquisite team room, Chai Jai now. β€œThe tourists coming Kashmir often look for various varieties of teas and I hope this place does serve a couple of them. I am not a tea fan but I love visiting cafes. Kashmir is in my to visit list and now this place gets added.

    1. Thanks Roms; whenever you plan your trip, you must tell me – I will tell you all the places to go and do things! πŸ™‚

  9. The ambiance looks pretty. I guess the chai would also be great. Though not a great chai lover I would certainly like to check them out here once.

    1. Thanks Dipanwita- if not a tea lover, you could check out the Kehwa which is a must recommended brew to try in Kashmir! Hope you get to visit! πŸ™‚

    1. I know! Its a hidden gem for sure; next trip Amzee! The decor is done very well and yeah that teapot is something else πŸ™‚

    1. I love tea pots too Jacqui and in Kashmir you get such exquisite Teacosies to keep them warm too – I fell in love with an elephant shaped – the colours of embroidery on it were just unique – maybe I will dig up the pic and share! πŸ˜‰

  10. And I have never been to Srinagar! πŸ™ That teapot is to die for! When I go there, I know where to head for that great cup of chai! πŸ™‚ Loved the post, Shalini.

  11. This is my favourite post from you for the a till g! I have not visited srinagar, but to read your experiences and see the pictures, makes it one for the bucket list! I loved reading this post.

    1. Yeah Varsha this was unexpected and really divine. I couldnt do jusctice to the view from this place of the setting sun on the Jhelum river – its was just so surreal!

    1. Ihope you do Damyanti; lovely places to explore in just Srinagar alone. I have a schoolfriend who runs a guesthouse there- would be happy to connect you to her.

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