The Ulitmate Travel Guide for Kashmir
Nestled in the foothills of the mighty Himalayan Mountain ranges, the Kashmir valley is bestowed with the best of nature’s gifts in terms of beauty and grace. No amount of words will ever measure up to meet the standard of beauty Kashmir holds unless you visit the place and witness it yourself. Considered to be one of the most exotic travel destinations in India, Kashmir offers an array of things a visitor can experience. From the snow-capped mountains crowning the valley to the luscious meadow of gold and the floating market coupled with magnificent lakes, the so-called ‘Paradise on Earth’ calls for an experience of a lifetime.
To help you experience the best of Kashmir’s offerings, here is a comprehensive list of guides that will come in handy when planning a trip to Kashmir.
Where to go:
The summer capital of Kashmir is an exotic location waiting to be explored. This majestic city is an embodiment of nature’s wonder with sparkling lakes, lofty mountains, bustling markets, splendid gardens, and various religious sites.
Popularly known as the ‘Valley of Sheperd’, this town in the Anantnag district is adorned with the most mesmerizing spread of lush meadows. The Lidder river flowing in the heart of the town and the tall Himalayan mountain ranges add to the town's picturesque quality.
One of the most enticing destinations in Kashmir valley is Sonamarg also translated as the Meadow of Gold. This small mountain city set in a scenic position is the starting point for a range of hikes and adventures into the girding peaks, glaciers, and valleys.
The crowning glory of Kashmir, Gulmarg is a dream destination that will surely take your breath away. A stunning town surrounded by snow-capped mountains, Gulmarg is every adventure seeker’s dream as it hosts a variety of exciting activities.
What to do:
Houseboat Stay at Dal Lake
One of the most loved and recommended activities in Kashmir is the Houseboat Stay and it attracts a lot of tourists. These houseboats are designed in pleasant Kashmiri architecture generally having luxury bedrooms, separate dining, and lounge rooms, as well as a balcony facing the lake with snow-covered mountains on the horizon.
Shikara Ride at Dal Lake
Considered to be one of the best things to do in Srinagar, this simple Shikara boat ride brings instant joy and some quality quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Riding on a boat amidst the clean blue water of Dal Lake, enjoying the surrounding of the snow-draped mountains and the soft sound of the boatman’s oar breaking the surface of the water, this activity will surely be a breath-taking experience.
Kolahoi Glacier Trek
The Kolahoi Glacier, usually referred to as the “Goddess of Light”, is a landmark valley glacier also iconic for being the highest glacier in Kashmir. Nestled below the Kolahoi mountain and above the Lidder valley, the 5 Km hanging glacier is truly magnificent in its way. The trek also provides an illustrious view of the sprawling green meadows, endearing waterfalls, and spellbinding coniferous forests.
Gondola Ride at Gulmarg
A top attraction in Gulmarg, the Gondola cable car ride is Asia’s largest and highest cable car project. The ride that takes you high in the sky offers you a bird’s eye view of Gulmarg valley covered either in a white sheet of snow or lush green vegetation. One of the cable cars moves up from Gulmarg to Kongdoor, and another one goes up from Kongdoor to Apharwat. It is about 13,500 ft above sea level and offers a view like no other.
When to go:
The best time to visit Kashmir is in the months from April to October. The summer months from April to June serve as the perfect time for activities like trekking, camping, shikara rides, houseboat stays, paragliding, and various other outdoor activities. The months from October to February are perfect for winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, and sightseeing, etc.
The peak tourist season starts from March to June and October to February. During these months, the bookings for flights and hotels are mostly packed and hence prior bookings should be done. The months from July to September are not rushed for bookings and hence it can be a good time to enjoy the calm nature of Kashmir.
How to go:
By Air: The Shiekh-ul-Alam Airport in Srinagar is the most well-connected airport in Kashmir.
By Train: The only functional railway station in Kashmir is the Jammu Tawi which is connected to all major cities in India.
By Road: The road network in Kashmir is well established. NH 1 and NH 44 connect Kashmir to all major cities in India. Both private and state bus services are available from cities across India.
What to eat:
Nadir Monji - Nadir Monji, made from Lotus stem, is a popular snack among Kashmir residents. Served with mint dip, Nadir Monji will surely enlighten your taste buds.
Dum Olav - Dum Aloo is cooked with golden fried potatoes, yogurt, ginger powder, fennel, and other hot spices to give it a unique flavor and aroma.
Rogan Josh - The mutton meat is cooked and the ingredients are made with a combination of spices, yogurt, and browned onions. A healthy low-fat dish, Rogan Josh is best savored with rice or naan bread.
Yakhni - Yakhni is mutton cooked in a yogurt-based gravy, and the lamb is prepared in a gravy made with yogurt, mawal flowers, onion paste, and dry mint leaves.
Travel tips and cautions to keep in mind:
Check the weather updates regularly while traveling in Kashmir since, during monsoons, severe storms become prevalent. And in the winters, the temperature drops below sub-zero degrees and heavy snowfall ensues. So, always keep an eye out for extreme weather conditions to prevent accidents.
Keep your warm clothes ready and carry them wherever you go especially during winters since the temperatures drop to negative degrees and it can severely impact your normal body function.
Carry your IDs wherever you go. You may be a foreign tourist or a domestic one but it is always advisable to keep your IDs ready since Jammu & Kashmir is a sensitive area and the security in the region is very strictly regulated.
Always carry sufficient cash while visiting Kashmir. In some places, the ATMs may run out of money during the rush tourist months, and hence carrying extra cash helps. But always be wary of pickpockets in the markets and major tourist sites.
Book your tickets in advance and especially during the peak tourist season as it can get very difficult to find any proper accommodation or enjoy activities given the inflow of crowds of tourists.
The vibrant culture, the friendly locals, the beautiful surroundings and the serene nature of Kashmir is what make it so much more attractive. And in case you are wondering about your safety while visiting Kashmir, you don’t have to fret about it. The main tourist areas of Kashmir rarely experience any sort of violent altercations. Rest assured, you can be assured of your safety if you adhere to the rules and guidelines while traveling in Kashmir. Leave all your doubts and worries aside and book your tickets to Kashmir for your next holiday.