“Gir firdaus baru e zameen ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast” – Amir Khusrau
(If there is a Paradise on Earth, it is this...it is this...it is this.)
Pristine valleys, snow clad mighty Himalayas, floating markets on the shimmering Dal Lake all add up to the mesmerizing beauty of Kashmir, indeed the heaven on earth. Kashmir has something to offer to everyone – the Tulip Festival in Srinagar for nature lovers, skiing at Gulmarg, white-water rafting in Sonmarg and camping in the green valleys of Pahalgam for adventure enthusiasts.
Don’t leave Kashmir before you:
Dal lake: The Dal Lake is the most celebrated and important lake amongst all in Srinagar. It is home to carved wooden houseboats, vibrant shikaras and floating gardens. Visit Dal Lake early morning to see Srinagar’s famous floating market. If you want, you can also book a stay in a houseboat.
Hazratbal Mosque: The silvery white Hazratbal Mosque is revered for housing a relic, the Prophet’s hair. Situated near Dal Lake, the only domed mosque in Srinagar is a place of serenity. Women are allowed only till the first part of the mosque.
Avantipur Temple: The famous Avantipur Temple was founded by king Avantivarman who reigned from AD 855-883. Over the years, the temple has been reduced to ruins but it is still a popular site for the devout.
Kolahoi Glacier: The only way to reach Kolahoi Glacier is through an arduous trek which is not for the fainthearted. At 18,000 feet, the breathtaking views definitely make the journey worth the effort. The glacier during summers is the source of the Lidder River and some of its tributaries also make it to the Sindh River.
Gadsar Lake: Situated in the Himalayan mountain range, Gadsar Lake is a high altitude lake that is known for its stunning natural beauty. The site serves as a popular trekking base and trout fishing centre.
Take a walk down the picture perfect Mughal Gardens and immerse yourself in their magnificent architecture. These gardens are a combination of Nishat, Shalimar and Chashm-e-Shahi, located on different sides of Dal Lake.
Trekking, trout fishing and whitewater rafting are the most popular summer activities in the Pahalgam valley. Try something new, the popular sport of trout fishing using a Pepsi bottle called Pepsi fishing. In the winter, walk on the frozen greenish-blue Sheshnag Lake or sledge across its famous snow bridge.
Trek to the highest lake in the Himalayan region, the Gadsar Lake. During winters, witness the valley enveloped in snow and indulge in activities like sledging, skiing and tobogganing.
Seeing Gulmarg from 10,000 feet is a surreal experience. It is considered to have one of Asia’s longest and highest cable car plans. The entire ride comprises of two stages - Gulmarg to Kongdoori and Kongdoori to Apharwat Peak. The first phase of the ride takes around 9 minutes while the second takes about 12 minutes. The cable ride till Apherwat offers you panoramic views of Gulmarg, truly a photographer’s delight.
Adventure activities in Gulmarg: Skiing, trekking and fishing are interesting activities to indulge in. Golfing is also one of the most popular things to do in Gulmarg. Gulmarg Golf Course with asymmetrical contours is counted amongst the largest 18-hole golf courses in the country. Situated on the lower ranges of Gulmarg, it has emerged as one of the most popular golfing destinations in India.
Kashmiri Wazwan: Wazwan is a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity. Most dishes are meat-based and use lamb or chicken.
Rogan Josh: Kashmiri Wazwan cuisine is primarily famous for its non-vegetarian dishes and rogan josh is its signature dish. This spicy red lamb-based curry is ideally eaten with saffron rice.
Yakhni: This lamb dish is cooked in curd based gravy which adds the delicious creamy texture. Don’t forget to finish the delicious meal with a cup of Kashmiri kahwa.
Kahwah: The traditional Kashmiri green tea is very soothing and a must try.
Read more about what you can do in Kashmir here.
When to Go
The uniqueness of Kashmir lies in the fact that every season has its own charm.
April to June: This is the most popular time for tourists to visit as the weather is cool and temperatures range between 10 degree Celcius and 30 degree Celcius.
April: You can see the dazzling rainbow colours of the Tulip Festival in Srinagar during the first two weeks of April.
October to March: Srinagar transforms into a winter wonderland during these months when temperatures drop to minus 10 degree Celcius. While the frozen waters of Dal Lake become the playground for cricket matches, the slopes of Gulmarg see an ambush of skiers.
By Air: Srinagar domestic airport (Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport) is well connected to the airports of all major cities in India.
By Train: There are no operational railway stations in Srinagar. Jammu is the nearest railway station, at a distance of 290 kilometres. Jammu railway station is well connected to the Indian railways network.
By Bus: Srinagar is well connected to cities like Jammu, Delhi and Chandigarh. You can take JKSRTC deluxe buses to travel to and from the city.
Coaches: Luxury coaches are available for tourists for the purpose of local sightseeing. The buses are operated by J&K Tourism Development Corporation (J&K TDC) and the J&K State Road Transport Corporation (J&K SRTC).
Tourist Taxis: Taxis are easily available for local sightseeing as well as trips and excursions out of Srinagar.
Mini Bus” Mini buses are the most common and widely used local transport in Kashmir. The buses operate throughout the city as well as the suburban areas on fixed routes.
Auto rickshaws: Throughout the city, auto rickshaws are easily available for the purpose of commuting.
What to Pack:
Must carry heavy woollens, sweaters and scarves especially if travelling during winter
Shoes are needed if you plan to indulge in adventure activities
Basic medicine like Vicks, tablets like Avomine, Metacin saridon etc.
Umbrella, if travelling during December.
So why wait, book tickets to Kashmir today.