Planning a trip to Kashmir, but aren’t sure about the DOs and DON’Ts? Not to worry, here’s a quick and handy kashmir travel guide for you.
“Gir firdaus baru e zameen ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast”
Meaning, ‘If there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”
kashmir travel guide
Set like a jeweled crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a multi-faceted diamond, changing its colors with the seasons – always lavishly beautiful. Two major Himalayan ranges, the Great Himalayan Range and the Pir Panjal, surround the landscape from the north and south respectively. They are the source of great rivers, which flow down into the valleys, forested with orchards and decorated by lily-laden lakes. Here they lay, with great love and care. Marinate your memories in a warm cup of Kahwah Tea, while indulging in the diverse landscapes of Kashmir. Take in the brittle foggy air, while gorging on warm Kashmiri pulao and mutton rogan josh.
Feel your heart harmonize with the garrulous waters that travel from the glaciers above. Dust the snow off your shoulders after a long trek up a hill and watch the sun-kissed, snow-capped mountains. Kashmir has a variety of terrains ranging from lakes, snow-capped mountains and coniferous kissed hills to glacier fed rivers. On one hand, Kashmir is covered with wild undamaged terrain and on the other; there are fields of saffron and orchards of apples awaiting their full bloom. In winter, when snow carpets the mountains, there is skiing, ice skating, sledge-riding, etc. along the gentle slopes. In spring and summer, the honey-dewed orchards, rippling lakes and blue skies indicate every soul to sample the many delights the mountains and valleys have to offer.
We reached Jammu (around 2 pm) afternoon through Himgiri express.
Day 1 – Reaching Jammu. Stay overnight.
Day 2 – Jammu sightseeing and reaching Katra postlunch.Nightstay Katra.
Day 3 – Katra sightseeing.Nightstay at Katra.
Day 4 – Early morning Vaishno Devi Darshan through helicopter and return. Post lunch transfer to Kud (Patnitop) .Overnight stay at Kud.
Day 5 – Transfer to Pahelgam. Night stay at Pahelgam.
Day 6 – Pahelgam sightseeing.Post lunch transfer to Gulmarg. Nightstay at Gulmarg.
Day 7 – Gulmarg sightseeing .Post lunch transfer to Srinagar.Overnight stay at Srinagar.
Day 8 – Srinagar sightseeing and overnight stays.
Day 9 – Day tour at Sonamarg and back to Srinagar for night stay.
Day 10 – Half day Dal Lake tour and transfer to houseboat. Overnight stay at houseboat.
Day 11 – Airport transfer and back to Kolkata via Jammu and Delhi.
Kashmir travel guide,Kashmir travel packages,Kashmir travel tips
Day 1 – Reaching Jammu. Stay overnight
In Jammu we booked 2 double bedded non AC rooms in JKTDC hotel . There are various types of rooms in JKTDC lodging facility. Rooms have TV and attached bathrooms.
After making ourselves fresh we went to the restaurant to take our lunch. It is a multi cuisine restaurant and well decorated .I advice not to take food there as the price is very high and quantity is also very less.
Jammu has historically been the capital of Jammu Province and the winter capital of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir princely state (1846–1952).
The city name figures in the ancient book Mahabharata. Excavation near Akhnoor, 32 kilometres from Jammu city, provides evidence that Jammu was once part of the Harappan civilization. Remains from the Maurya, Kushan and Gupta periods have also been found in Jammu.
Jammu is also mentioned in accounts of the campaigns of Timur. The area witnessed changes of control following invasions by Mughals and Sikhs, before finally falling under the control of the British. Then came the Dogra Rule that revived its ancient glory by building great temples, mosques, renovated old shrines, built educational institutes and many more. Jammu had no rail services until 1971, when the Indian Railways laid the Pathankot – Jammu Tawi Broad Gauge line. The new Jammu Tawi station was opened in 1975.
In the evening we strolled around our hotel. Here the main bazaars – Vir Marg, Raghunath Bazaar and Hari Market – are famous for Kashmiri handicrafts, traditional Dogra jewellery and various dry fruits, chiefly walnuts (‘akhrot’) and almonds. Jammu is also known for the superlative quality of its ‘basmati’ rice, ‘rajma’ (red beans), ‘ampapar’ (dried and candied mango peel), ‘anardana’ (dried pomegranate seeds) and ‘barfi’ (milk sweets).
Now as per commitment in heading
FACT 1 – KASHMIR WAS FORMERLY A LAKE
According to “Rajtarangini”, a historical write up for Kashmir written by Kalhana, Kashmir Valley was formerly a lake and the water was drained Rishi Kashyap by cutting a gap in the hills at Baramulla. It is proven with the fact that Kashmir is bowl shaped and the word KASHMIR if broken in two parts means DRIED OUT LAND since KA means WATER and SHIMEERA, which means DRIED OUT.
FACT 2 – JAMMU AND KASHMIR TOPS THE LIST OF MOST CORRUPT STATES OF INDIA
Money works everywhere in Jammu and Kashmir. A survey found out that the Jammu and Kashmir police department tops the corruption chart, followed by the forest department, land records/registration and housing. Electricity, banking, education, water supply and the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme fell under the other corrupt services in the state.
Day 2-Jammu sightseeing and reaching Katra post lunch.Night stay Katra.
1) BAGH E BAHU– The ticket window is just outside the gate and single visit cost is Rs. 5 per person. We entered through the main gate of the garden and came across a huge sign of BAGH-E-BAHU on a side, that is built by the plantation of small plants in the shape of those letters.
Once we entered in the garden, there are series of beautiful flowers and small fountains on the other side of the walking path. The garden is located on the bank of Tawi River in the lap of nature, away from the hustle and bustle of Jammu City.
People from all walks of life find it a beautiful place to spend some time with the nature. So, there are young couples enjoying their relationships, school children playing some games, old people walking in the garden and tourists admiring this beautiful garden of Jammu.
It was built by Raja Bahulochan more than 3000 years ago. Close to the fort, there is a temple devoted to the Hindu Goddess Kali, a must-see place when you pay a visit to it while on a trip to Jammu. It was renovated in 19th century by the Dogra rulers. The terraced garden, Bagh-e-Bahu is around the fort.
2) MAHAMAYA TEMPLE – On the bypass Road, behind Bahu Fort, the city forest surrounds the ancient Mahamaya temple overlooking the river Tawi. A small garden surrounded by acres of woods provides the best view of the city.
Mahamaya Temple is an important site dedicated to a local female freedom fighter, Mahamaya, belonging to the Dogra community. According to historians, about 14 centuries ago, Mahamaya sacrificed her life to save the region from the clutches of foreign invaders.
3) RAGHUNATH MANDIR – Raghunath Temple, with seven shrines each with its own Sikhara, is one of the largest temple complex of north India, and is located in the Jammu . The temple was built during the period 1835-1860 by Maharaja Gulab Singh and his son Maharaja Ranbir Singh. The temple has many Gods, but the main idol is Rama, an Avatar of Vishnu.
On 30 March 2002 when two suicide bombers attacked the temple. Seven persons including three security forces personnel were killed and 20 were injured. While the Hindus were performing puja in the temple complex on 24 November 2002, fidayeen attack by terrorists took place, when two suicide bombers stormed the temple which resulted in the deaths of 13 devotees and injuries to several devotees.
4) AMARMAHAL PALACE – The Amar Mahal Palace is a palace in Jammu, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, India, which has now been converted into a Museum. It was built in the nineteenth century for Raja Amar Singh, a Dogra king by a French .Amar Mahal was sketched by a French architect in the year 1862 but it was not executed till 1890’s. After the death of Maharani Tara Devi in 1967, her son Dr. Karan Singh and his wife Mrs. Yasho Rajya Lakshmi converted this palace for use as a museum.
The museum was inaugurated on April 13, 1975 by then prime minister of India Mrs Indira Gandhi. The objective of establishing this museum was to preserve some of the rarest forms of art and literature and they collaborated with other fine arts institutions for the promotion of Indian art and culture. They transferred this royal property to a trust and named it as Hari Tara charitable trust in honor of his parents.
The palace was donated to the Hari-Tara charitable trust by Dr. Karan Singh for use as a museum. It has many exhibits including a golden throne weighing 120 kg, Pahari miniature and Kangra miniature paintings, a library of 25,000 antique books and many rare art collections.
Then we went to Katra by Indica.
Cab fare for Jammu sight seeing + Katra = Rs. 2,300/- ( Indica / Swift )
only cab = Rs.1,500/- ( Indica / Swift )
Jammu to Katra approx 50 km and cab will take 1 hr 30 minutes. We booked there 2 double bedded JKTDC rooms. Name of the hotel is Hotel City Residency (TRC Katra ).
We reached Katra on 15th Oct 2013 evening. After making ourselves fresh we took rest at JKTDC hotel.
Few facts about Katra
1. Katra, as it is popularly known, is a small town in Udhampur district of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir situated in the foothills of the Trikuta Mountains, where the holy shrine of Vaishno Devi is located.
2. It is located approx 50 km from the city of Jammu.
3. Katra serves as the base camp for pilgrims who visit Vaishno Devi. It has a flourishing tourism industry that offers plenty of hotels, guest houses, restaurants, dhabas, fast-food joints that fit all kinds of budgets.
4. Free accommodation is provided by some registered trusts in the form of Sarais for the poor.
5. The number of pilgrims that visit the shrine every year has increased from 1.4 million in 1986 to 8.2 million in 2009.
6. Over the years, a lot has changed, but one should not miss the opportunity to walk through the main bazaar (market) for buying (do not forget/hesitate to negotiate a bit) souvenirs, dry fruits, woolen garments, hosiery, leather jackets, etc.
7. To reach Vaishno Devi temple the pilgrims have to register at the Katra before starting the trek. By registering, the pilgrims get accidental insurance while on the trek for 1 lakh INR. It is a trek of 10.5 km.
8. There is another trek (1.5 km) from Vaishno Devi temple for Baba Bhaironnath. It is said that the pilgrimage is not complete until you visit this temple at last. The scenery throughout the trek is picturesque.
9. Environment-friendly auto rickshaws and helicopter services also have started now-a-days to make the journey a pleasant one.
We took food at MONORANJAN DHABA/PUNJABI HAVELI/POOJA VAISHNO DHABA .You will not get non veg.
JKTDC DB AC ROOMS – Rs. 1,250 / NIGHT
NON AC – Rs.850 / NIGHT
This is not an original map of J&K . This is the Map of the area that India considers as it’s territory after it acceded to it in 1947.(whole green area was under the rule of Maharaja , the time it became part of India.)
It’s a de facto map of India, clearly showing the areas under different occupations. The blue area is actually under Indian occupation which is nearly 60% of the whole territory of the state. The green area is under the rule of Pakistan and the yellow area is under China.
FACT 4- J&K has its own constitution and flag.
Day 3-Katra sightseeing. Night stay at Katra
On day 3 we visited few places nearby Katra .
Baba Dhansar Temple – The holy place of Baba Dhansar is located at Karua Jheel (Pond) near village Karua, 17 km from Reasi towards Katra in Reasi district of Jammu & Kashmir State, India. The approach involves a walk of 200 metres from the road. It is a mythological belief that when Lord Shiva went to the Amarnath cave to tell Parvati the story of his immortality, he left his serpent king, Sheshnag at Anantnag. Shesh Nag came in the human form as Vasudev. One of the sons of Vasudev was Dhansar who was a saintly person.
As the local belief goes, in the ancient times there was a demon who lived near Karua Jheel (lake) and committed atrocities on the people of village Karua. The villagers sought help of Baba Dhansar to get rid of the Demon. It is believed that Baba Dhansar prayed to Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva arrived and helped in killing the Demon. The temple of Baba Dhansar and a cave of Lord Shiva near Karua Jheel has become a place of worship. Karua Jheel is considered sacred where bathing is not permitted. However, the devotees may take a bath downstream. People believe that their wishes are fulfilled if they take bath in the stream and pray with complete faith. A large number of devotees visit the place every year on the day of Mahashivratri when an annual fare (mela) is organized.
Nou Deviya-Just 3 or 4 KM from Katra surrounded by the high mountains a very small cave in which only one person goes inside at one time. There is nine temples with Lord Shiva, A couple of Pigeon,Lord Ganesha . A priest sits inside the cave to tell about all of this.
Baba Jitto-The renowned hero Baba Jitto’s temple is located at village Aghar Jitto, which is just 5 km from Katra, on the Katra-Reasi Road. Baba Jitto was a peasant by occupation, was a firm follower of the Goddess Vaishno Devi. He is remembered by the peasants for his revolutionary act of encounter with the landlord’s domination and consequently laying down his life for the justice.
The Samadhi of Baba Ji was stationed at Jhiri over 650 years back on the occasion of Kartik Purnima and ever since then a convention fair is organized every year and is visited by lots of devotees, perform rituals. Jhiri fair is organized every year in the months of October – November.
All done by hiring one auto. All 3 points Rs. 600 for 4 hours.
FACT 5-Jammu and Kashmir has dual citizenship
Yes! That’s right. People here have two citizenships i.e. of Jammu and Kashmir and India. Also if a girl belongs to Jammu and Kashmir gets married to a person of any other state, her citizenship gets terminated. But if she gets married to a citizen of Pakistan, then that man will get the citizenship of Jammu & Kashmir. Also, the citizen of Jammu & Kashmir can be the citizen of India, but a citizen of India cannot be the citizen of Jammu & Kashmir.
FACT 6- Rich in Religious History
Kashmir Valley has a rich religious history. Srinagar is the first capital of this place. It was established by the Buddhist emperor Ashoka. Then the area started to serve as a important center of Buddhism. Hinduism was introduced in this area in the 9th century AD. Thereafter, this place allowed these two religions to flourish side by side. This area was invaded in the 14th century by the Mongol ruler, Dulucha. Thus, Islam was introduced and it ended long run of ruling by Hinduism and Buddhism.
Day 4-Early morning Vaishno Devi Darshan through helicopter and return. Post lunch transfer to Kud (Patnitop) .Overnight stay at Kud.
Maata Vaishno Devi Darshan
Next morning we went to Maata Vaishnodevi Darsan through helicopter. Few points to mention & remember here
1) Chances of getting helicopter ticket in peak season is almost zero. This is my personal experience. After doing extensive research in various websites & practice in MAATA VAISHNODEVI SHRINE website https://www.maavaishnodevi.org/OnlineServices/login.aspx
I was unable to purchase ticket online. It is faster than first finger first of KBC.
Somwhow I was informed about YATHARTH TRAVELS
Of Delhi (ph. No. Arjun: 09313426399). Originally Rs.1600/ ticket (up & down) they charged Rs.2300/ticket (up & down) from me. How, when, where, all technicalities has been taken care by them. Thanks to ARJUN of YATHARTH, because it is impossible for us walking almost 24 KMs.
For all about Vaishnodevi Helicopter Tour click below mentioned link
Starting at 6 am we came back at Katra at 12 noon. After taking lunch started for Patnitop .We arranged max Mahindra for Rs. 2000.
We started from Katra around 2 pm & reached Kud at 5.30 pm.
Kud is a town and a notified area committee in Udhampur District in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located on the Udhampur Srinagar Highway.100 k.m from Jammu and 34 k.m from Udhampur city, it is just short of the tourist spot of Patnitop while driving to Patnitop from Udhampur. After Patnitop is the adjoining town of Batote.
Kud is quite famous for its Local Sweet called PATISA…. You must try that. Prem Sweet Shop is the Oldest and the Best one. I purchased 2 boxes (½ kg each).It is really yummy.
Distance: Katra is 85 kms from Patnitop. It takes 150 Minutes to reach patnitop by a cab. The stopovers in between are Udhampur, Chenani and Kud.
Stayed at JKTDC Tourist hut,Kud .It is one of the best. Ambiance is really good.
In Patnitop the hotels are expensive compared to the facilities…. better option is to stop at KUD that comes 4-5 km before Patnitop…. you will get cheaper hotels…..if you reach Patnitop at night they charge you more.
E g. DB NON AC ROOMS at JKTDC Kud is Rs. 500 whereas in Patnitop the same is Rs. 2000 but you have to book early (means 5-6 months before).
Food is expensive in JKTDC restaurants. For details of JKTDC Tourist hut,Kud please click below mentioned link
FACT 7 – Highest Rail Bridge, Immense Resource of Power, and Splendid Cultivation
The Kashmir Valley will be the place where the world’s highest rail bridge will be situated once the Chenab Bridge (359m high) is completed. The Kashmir Valley has enormous natural resources in store. The water resources of this region can produce power measuring in thousands of megawatts. It is also the only place in India that is suitable for the cultivation of costly Saffron and Walnuts.
FACT 8 – Home to a unique floating post office
A real charmer, the floating post office-cum-philately museum fits itself into a big boat and is moored right on the Boulevard. It is known to be India’s first floating post office.
Day 5 – Transfer to Pahelgam. Night stay at Pahelgam
We started for Pahalgam after doing our breakfast (covered Patnitop on the way).
Jawahar Tunnel or Banihal Tunnel is a road tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir. Named after the first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, it was constructed for round-the-year surface transport by Alfred Kunz and C. Barsel (both were German) between 1954 and 1960. The Jawahar tunnel has been operational since 22 December 1956. The length of tunnel is 2.85 km , its elevation is 2,194 m (7,198 ft) and it has one lane road in either direction. It is situated between Banihal and Qazigund on NH 1A that has been renumbered NH 44 The tunnel facilitates round-the-year road connectivity from Srinagar to Jammu.
We reached Pahalgam at 4.30 pm.
Pahalgam is a town and a popular tourist destination, and every year, many tourists visit Pahalgam. It was once a tourist attraction and a favorite place for shooting of Bollywood films and is still a health resort. Besides tourist huts, several hotels in private sector have come up here and these hotels provide modern facilities to their guests. A number of treks in this region also begin from Pahalgam, as the 35 km track traverses through pinewoods to the stunning Kolahoi Glacier.
Pahalgam is also associated with the annual Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari 16 km from Pahalgam, is the starting point of the yatra that takes place every year in the month of Sawan (July to August). The road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is on fairly flat terrain and can be undertaken by car. From Chandanwari onwards the track becomes much steeper, and is accessible on foot or by pony. About 11 km from Chandanwari is the mountain lake of Sheshnag, after which, 13 km away is the last stop, Panchtarni. The Amarnath cave is 6 km away from there. During the month of Sawan, an ice stalagmite forms a natural Shivling in the Amarnath cave.
FACT 9 – The origin of houseboats on the Dal Lake
The boat-dwelling Hanji community of Srinagar started building floating homes or houseboats on Dal Lake for English visitors and residents, who were not allowed to own land in Kashmir.
Day 6 – Pahelgam sightseeing.Post lunch transfer to Gulmarg. Nightstay at Gulmarg
Aru, Chandanwadi and Betaab Valley are the three main points we thought for our sightseeing. You cannot use your vehicle here that’s with you for the entire journey is a kind of rule in Pahalgam. You have to book a taxi there for one day sightseeing. We told Rs. 3000/- for those three points for a Tavera. It will take around 3-4 hours. Later, you can cover Baisaran by Pony. (Around 2 – 3 hours).But 2 tours in a single day will be hectic. We have done 4 points with pony. Per pony charged Rs. 1000. We visited
1) BETAAB VALLEY – Betaab valley is situated at a distance of 15 kilometers from Pahalgam in Anantnag district. The valley got its name from the Sunny Deol-Amrita Singh hit debut film Betaab. The Valley is towards northeast of Pahalgam and falls between Pahalgam and Chandanwadi and is en route Amarnath Temple Yatra. The valley encircled by lush green meadows, snow clad mountains and covered with dense vegetation.
2) Baisaran or ‘Mini Switzerland’ – The meadow is surrounded by thickly wooded pine forests. The meadows are covered by pine forests with snow capped mountain peaks in the backdrop. The picttorial view of the Lidder River lends a delightful appeal to the place. The virgin valley appears like a fresh emerald in summer and is ideal for photography sessions. The vast area is perfect for picnics and fun times. The beautiful valley is a 5 km trek from Pahalgam. Only ponies and by foot can you arrive in the untouched heaven.
2) Pahalgam Town – The area holds a rich cover of vegetation, the dominant forest consisting of conifers which account for over 90%. There are many species of rare, endangered and protected species. The main species are musk deer, brown bear, Leopard, macaque, grey langur, Himalayan mouse hare, etc.Wild bears still roam much of the area, and local villagers are on constant alert for their presence. Due to the constant threat of illegal border crossings, the Indian army is always patrolling the area and is on constant high alert. As the local population cannot carry firearms, this has saved the bears from being hunted to extinction. With the abundance of fresh trout in the rivers and local farm animals, they have plenty to eat. Monkeys also populate the area.
3) Dabian – Dabian is a one house village between Baisaran and Pahalgam.
After taking lunch we started for Gulmarg around 2 pm.On the way covered saffron field, bat factory & Avantipura ruins.
4) Saffron field – There are only two or three places in the whole world where saffron grows. Kashmir has the proud privilege of being one of these places. The blooming time of this flower is autumn. Saffron has a unique sweet smell.
The purple colored flowers appear just above the ground and are a beautiful sight. The orange stigmas of the saffron plant are harvested as saffron used as a flavoring and coloring agent in various recipes. Saffron is added to Kahwa – the traditional Saffron Tea drunk by people in Kashmir.
“Saffron flowers bloom for about three weeks from mid-October to the first days of November. To see them during the day is nice. But seeing (and smelling) them on a moonlight October night is an experience even emperors notably ‘Jehangir’, the Mughal- would crave for.”
Called Kesar in the rest of India, saffron is used as a flavoring agent in many food preparations, from rice dishes, such as biryani, to various sweets.Saffron should be stored in an airtight container and kept away from moisture and bright light. Bright light such as sunlight will bleach the color of saffron.
5) Bat Factory – The willow used in making these bats was brought in by the British, who ruled India, during the 1820. The industry, established in Kashmir, combines traditional tools with modern technology.
Kashmiri bats require constant knocking and oiling to make the bat good enough to use in a cricket match. Knocking makes the fibers of the willow blade compress together, which helps the bat, bear the impact of the ball. Another major aspect of taking care of such bats is oiling.
6) Awantipura Ruins – Awantipora or Avantipur, which is around 30 Km away from Srinagar, on the Srinagar-Anantnag National Highway, there is a town called Bijbehra (known before as Ladu) in Pulwama district and both the temples are situated there. The distance between the temples was 1 Km (Approx). Awantipora or Avantipur was named after King Avanti Varman. He was the King who founded Utpala Dynasty and ruled Kashmir during 855 – 883 AD. He built two massive temples, one dedicated to Lord Vishnu and another to Lord Shiva.
These temples were destroyed by the earthquake and reclaimed after removal of debris. This temple were neglected more than thousand years .These temples faced the destruction during the reign of Sikandar Butshikan in the 14th century. During the excavation of this temple by ASI (Archeological Survey of India) recovered large assortments of antiquities and most valuable were a series of sculptures.
We stayed at Pine View Hotel and Resturant, which is in Tangmarg , 12 km before Gulmarg.We got 2 decent road-view room. Beds can accommodate family members of 2 adults only.Food is tasty. Especially Rogan josh. We loved it. Other items are average. Real value for money.I paid 2000 INR for one night each room only. Try a hotel in Gulmarg as first choice; this can be second choice if you have no options. We reached we stayed and we enjoyed a lot , clean washrooms and room service was excellent, and manager of hotel was really helpful ,And one thing, that view of mount apharwat from its restaurant , will leave you speechless.
FACT 10 – Overall literacy rate in Kashmir is higher than that of India & Pakistan.
Day 7 – Gulmarg sightseeing .Post lunch transfer to Srinagar.Overnight stay at Srinagar.
A panoramic view greeted us. Snow-capped peaks and bumbling hills emerge over bent pasture grounds and terraced fields. Green washed housetops of Tangmarg are visible below. It’s quite a sight.
After having the breakfast in the Pine View Hotel and Restaurant, we checked out and left for Gulmarg. A fellow on the road stopped our car, jumps in without a word, exchanged greetings with Shaukat bhai(our driver) and hellos with me. On the way he introduced himself.
“I’m Abdul. I work as a guide in Gulmarg.Your gondola ticket will be arranged by me.”
“Abdul is the best guide in the business,” Shaukat bhai claimed, “He’ll give you the best sightseeing at dirt-cheap rates. You’ll see…” Abdul smiled.
The road from Tangmarg to Gulmarg is smooth. The pine trees along the winding road are showering dew drop upon the road.
Originally called ‘Gaurimarg’ by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes adorned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favorite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country’s premier ski resort in the winter.
The journey to Gulmarg is half the charm of reaching there– roads bordered by rigid avenues of poplar spread with charming villages. After Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides. At one point, known simply as View Point, travelers generally stop their vehicles for a few minutes and look out a spectacle of snow-covered mountains, almost within touching distance.
A huge cup shaped meadow, lush and green with slopes where the silence is broken only by the tinkle of cowbells, Gulmarg looks like a fantasy set in a film and not surprisingly have been the venue of several films. The summer season turns Gulmarg into another place, with the coming of spring flowers start to bloom which finally turns into a meadow of flowers or a valley of flowers. The monsoon season starting in June is like an off season but you can get attractive deals on hotels and tours.
In Gulmarg taking a Gondola ride is a must. It is counted as world’s second highest cable car project, Gulmarg Gondola is two-tiered ride. In the first phase, the visitors are taken to Kongdori, which is situated at a height of 2600, and in the second phase, the visitors are taken to at Aparwath Peak. The view from Gulmarg Gondola is truly admirable as on a clear sky day one can even observe the wonderful Nanga Parbat as well.For complete write up about Gulmarg Gondola please click below link
After gondola ride we started for Srinagar and decided to have our lunch on the way. Gulmarg restaurants will not give you proper value for money .On the way we also visited apple garden and spent 20 minutes there. About 80% of the apples that are supplied to the rest of the country, as well as Nepal and Bangladesh, comes from Kashmir. It seems like a scene from a movie – the ground is carpeted with flourishing green trees that are dotted with shiny apples. May is the time of the harvest season and is hence a great time to visit. You can also buy cases of these fresh apples to take home.
We reached Srinagar around 5 pm and checked in our pre booked hotel. As we are very much tired that day we finished our dinner early and went to bed.
FACT 11- Kashmir is surrounded by 2 nuclear-armed countries (Pakistan and China) and is a part of the third one, India.
Day 8-Srinagar sightseeing and overnight stays.
Srinagar – The capital of Kashmir
Next day I woke up first. After freshen up myself I have done some research on Srinagar and Kashmir.
Srinagar is located in the heart of the Kashmir valley at an altitude of 1,730 m above sea level, spread on both sides of the river Jhelum. The Dal and Nagin lakes augment its charming setting, while the changing play of the seasons and the healthy climate ensures that the city is equally gorgeous to visitors around the year.
Kalhana, the author of ‘Rajtarangini’, states that Srinagar was founded by Emperor Ashoka (3rd Century BC). The present city of Srinagar was founded by Pravarasena-II, and Hiuen Tsang, who visited Kashmir in 631 AD, found it at the same site as it is today. Laltaditya Muktapida was the most memorable ruler of Kashmir in the Hindu period, which ended in 1339 AD. King Zain-ul-Abidin (1420-70 AD), popularly known as ‘Budshah’, was a great patron of Sanskrit. Akbar captured Kashmir valley for the Mughals, who endowed Srinagar with beautiful mosques and gardens. The Sikhs overthrew the last Muslim ruler in the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1819. In 1846 the Dogras secured the power of Kashmir from the British under the Treaty of Amrjtsar, and in 1947 the state of Jammu and Kashmir with Srinagar as its capital, became part of the Indian Union.
Today Srinagar is a resort for the tourist who can experience, at first hand, the spectacular beauty of the valley that has attracted the Chinese, the Mughals and the British to it. Its waterways with their own charming lifestyle, the unique Houseboat, the blooming gardens, water sports activities, shopping for lovingly hand-crafted souvenirs and the nearby resorts make it a cherished spot among those looking for a memorable holiday.
Today is our sightseeing day in Srinagar. After doing our breakfast first we went to
For detail of Srinagar Sightseeing please click below mentioned link
Then we went to our Srinagar Hotel.
Day 9- Day tour at Sonamarg and back to Srinagar for night stay
According to the itinerary, we had to leave for Sonamarg. We woke up around 7:00 AM, had a tea. We left the hotel at 9:00 AM and Saukat Bhai(our drever) was waiting for us on the other side of the lake.
Saukat Bhai gave us some info about Sonamarg. He said that Sonamarg is 87 km northeast of Srinagar & situated at an altitude of 8,950 ft. The drive to Sonamarg is through the Indus Valley which presents yet another spectacular feature of countryside in Kashmir. Sonamarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several mountain lakes -Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. Sonamarg is also the take off station for the drive to Ladakh across the Zojila, a major pass in the Great Himalayan Range, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes. The everlasting Thajiwas glacier, Mansabal Lake, Narang Ruins etc. are some of the places of interest in Sonamarg. He also mentioned that the way to Sonamarg is a feast for eyes & it would seem that you are in Switzerland. In the month of spring, the entire region is flooded with bright yellow gold flowers known as crocuses. In addition to the beautiful spring flowers, travelers to this region are treated to stunning views with include alpine forests and mountain peaks covered in snow.
We had some cookies and namkeen on the way, which we had brought from Srinagar. Everyone was indulged in seeing the view, and as usual I was busy capturing those moments in my camera. After plenty of shots, I decided to have a capture the scenery in my mind. Indeed, the picture of those beautiful roads is still fresh in my memory. We had covered a good distance in an hour or so. Moving further, we came across the snow capped mountains and the Indus River. The breathtaking view was so beautiful that I could have spent hours sitting there. Now, we were hardly a few kilometers away from Sonamarg.
Sonamarg literally means ‘the meadow of gold’ and with snow-capped mountains set against a impressive blue sky, it is as close to heaven. The Indus River flows through the valley. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, which is a major local attraction during summer. Sonamarg is also a base for undertaking the yatra to the holy Amarnath cave, during Sawan Purnima.
Here it is not difficult to lose track of time being lost in the scenery of Nature’s artistry. The pointed conifers make the whole mountain appear pointing towards sky trying to attain some more height in the process. The white of snow matched with brown patches of earth has no match when it comes to subtle yet magnificent color of landscape.
These elements are divine enough to allow its viewers enter in a kind of daydream, as momentary as it might be. Once upon a time, the place acted as a part of ancient silk gateways, but now the place is primarily known for the adventure chance as well as viewing various glaciers, high altitude lakes, Indus River, and many other wonders to get indulged in.
As you enter Sonamarg, you’ll find yourself surrounded by huge mountains, tons of horses etc. Saukat Bhai parked the car and we got off to explore the beauty of nature. But before that, we proceeded to Hotel Sounsar & Restaurant to have our lunch. The hotel was very clean and was nicely built. The restaurant was very warm. We ordered rotis,sabji and salad. After a quick meal, I ran outside to experience snow.
As soon as we were out of the restaurant, we were surrounded by horsemen who tried to convince us with their competitive prices. They had good marketing strategies. At first they offered us Rs. 1,000 for a ride up to Thajiwas glacier. After an argument they halved the prices. I must say that those tons of horses make this place a little dirty. They shit all around and the melted snow makes it dirtier.
Thajiwas Glacier exemplifies the charm of Sonamarg. Located at a distance of 3 kms from the town, it is the most easily accessible glacier in the region. Confined to gentle ice-slopes in the summers, Thajiwas Glacier dwindles in the valley of Sonamarg.
A great asset to Jammu & Kashmir tourism, the glacier entails delight to the adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. A ride up the hill on ponies or a leisure walk can lead up to best Sonamarg tourist place to visit. With its inherent natural beauty and exceptional vistas, Thajiwas glacier beckons enthusiasts across the world.
After exploring and having fun in Sonamarg for about 4 hours, it was time for us to go back. We proceeded to the taxi stand and Saukat Bhai drove us back to Srinagar. All of us were so tried that as usual we took a nap in the car itself. Tomorrow we were supposed to enjoy the Shikara Ride on Dal Lake.
Tonight we are going to stay at houseboat on Dal Lake . The Dal Lake, which is the second largest in the state, is integral to tourism and recreation in Kashmir .The Lake is also an important source for commercial operations in fishing and water plant harvesting.
For all about Dal Lake Houseboat click below mentioned link-
We stayed at Trambak Houseboat. For detail review click below mentioned link
Tomorrow we were supposed to enjoy the Shikara Ride on Dal Lake. In the next part I’ll be covering the Shikara Ride in detail.
Day 10 – Half day Dal Lake tour and transfer to houseboat. Overnight stay at houseboat.
Dal lake shikara ride
A dreamland for everyone who has been lusting for some relaxing moments amidst the breathtaking scene of nature, Kashmir indisputably comes out on top. And Srinagar is the perfect place of your trip. Sprinkled with numerous beautiful sights, the city looks amazing in a covering of landscaped flowering gardens, crystal clear lakes, magnificent structures and busy market. Amidst this colorful world lies something opulent and swift.
After our lunch we roamed around the road for another 1 hour and came back to our Houseboat Trambak.
Day 11 – Airport transfer and back to Kolkata via Jammu and Delhi
Today we are going back to Kolkata.Saukat Bhai warned us about heavy traffic of airport route.
For details about Srinagar Airport Depurture Security Checking,click below mentioned link-
The day we had to say goodbye to Kashmir.
Few information about Jammu & Kashmir ( from my research, can’t able resist to share )
1) The Dumhal is a famous dance in the Kashmir Valley, performed by men of the Wattal region. The women perform the Rouff, another traditional folk dance.
2) Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts.
3) The Constitution of India does not allow people from regions other than Jammu and Kashmir to purchase land in the state. As a consequence, houseboats became popular among those who were unable to purchase land in the Valley and has now become an integral part of the Kashmiri lifestyle.
4) Kawa, traditional green tea with spices and almond, is consumed all through the day in the chilly winter climate of Kashmir.
5) Jammu’s Dogra culture and tradition is very similar to that of neighboring Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Traditional Punjabi festivals such as Lohri and Vaisakhi are celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout the region, along with Accession Day, an annual holiday which commemorates the accession of Jammu & Kashmir to the Dominion of India.
6) After Dogras, Gujjars form the second-largest ethnic group in Jammu. Known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle, Gujjars are also found in large numbers in the Kashmir Valley. Similar to Gujjars, Gaddis are primarily herdsmen who hail from the Chamba region in Himachal Pradesh. Gaddis is generally associated with emotive music played on the flute. The Bakkarwalas found both in Jammu and the Kashmir valley is wholly nomadic pastoral people who move along the Himalayan slopes in search of pastures for their huge flocks of goats and sheep.
Famous Personality of Jammu and Kashmir
Alla Rakha – Ustad Allarakha Qureshi , popularly known as Alla Rakha, was an Indian tabla player specialized in Hindustani Classical music. He was a frequent accompanist of sitar player Ravi Shankar.
Shivkumar Sharma– Pandit Shivkumar Sharma is an Indian santoor player from the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The santoor is a folk instrument.
Alia Bhatt– Alia Bhatt is a British film actress and singer who works in Bollywood. Born into the Bhatt family, she is the daughter of filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and actress Soni Razdan.
Anupam Kher– Anupam Kher is an Indian actor and the current Chairman of Film and Television Institute of India. He has appeared in over 500 films in several languages and many plays.
Jeevan– Jeevan, born as Omkar Nath Dhar in Srinagar , was an Indian Bollywood actor who played the role of Narad Muni in mythological films of the 1950s a total of 49 times. Later, he played the role of a villain in many films of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His son Kiran Kumar is also an actor.
K L Saigal– Om Prakash was an Indian character actor. He was born in Jammu, as Om Prakash Chibber
Vidhu Vinod Chopra– Vidhu Vinod Chopra is an Indian film director, screenwriter and producer. Parinda, 1942: A Love Story , Munna Bhai film series (Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. and Lage Raho Munna Bhai) and 3 Idiots are some of his highly popular films.
Suresh Raina– Suresh Kumar Raina is an Indian professional cricketer. An aggressive left-handed middle-order batsman and an occasional off-spin bowler, he is considered as one of the best fielders in world cricket.
More tips from my Kashmir travel Experience
1) Understand your trip plan very cautiously like how many points cab driver will take you. Take everything in written.
2) Set your payment plan while booking cab at travel agency. Like how much you will pay in advance and how much will you in subsequent phases.
3) Tell your driver clearly that he should stop where ever you want.
4) Take your Songs inventory (of your choice) with you otherwise you may end up other songs not of your choice.
5) Check that your driver had proper sleep because it is very risky to drive on Jammu-Srinagar Highway.
6) Don’t pre-book your hotel or houseboat. Without seeing you should not decide.
7) Do thorough research on internet about good hotels, restaurant, houseboats and prices etc.
8) Always leave early for Gulmarg and Pahalgam else you may miss few beautiful places.
9) Make a proper Itinerary and stick to your plan. Don’t trust your driver or Local people; they will tell you things beneficial to them only.
10) Have all important contact numbers with you.
11) Don’t buy Chingu from any shop in Kashmir.
12) Make sure your TV, Geyser and other appliances are working in hotel room.
13) Try to bargain everything there. For Shawl, carpets and other local made things you can expect discount up to 70%. Don’t hesitate in speaking your price.
14) There are benefits of booking vehicle on day to day basis. It would be up to you to drop the vehicle, if behavior of driver does not suit; whereas you can always continue the driver, if his behavior is okay!
15) Even if you book vehicle for whole trip, don’t give more than one days fare as advance. Several time drivers insist on getting tank full for the whole trip, but you would have to deny it.
16) Take Postpaid mobiles only, as prepaid mobiles from outside the state is banned by Government and will not work.
17) Weather in Kashmir is very unpredictable. Get some woolen clothes and raincoat along with umbrella which is required while stay in the Hotel. Otherwise, Raincoats and Snow Jackets are easily available for Rent in Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam etc.
18) While booking Hotel ask for a price with room heater and electric blanket (for all season) and Warm water availability. Always bargain. Why should you feel shy if Kashmiris don’t feel it when quoting astronomical prices? As I said earlier, Kashmiris have got lot of Experience in tourism; they leave no stone unturned to extract money from their big source: TOURIST.
19) If you are a couple or going in small group then always prefer Jammu Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) buses (Available near Tourist Reception Center (TRC)). They run especially for tourist and are on same day return pattern. If you are planning to halt then return by bus next day evening then book tickets accordingly. They are very cheap as compared to Taxi (Rs. 220 v/s Rs. 2200) and are very reliable. Don’t buy things where driver of bus stops. They also might have commission. Reach the destination and look out for things on your own.
20) Only buy Dry-fruits (Walnut, Almond and pista nuts only, other dry-fruits are imported). Don’t buy clothes and shawls (even from villages). All are very costly and are imported from Amritsar and Delhi.
21) Take precautions while going high altitude, some breathing problem may occur.
22) Never believe on the words of locals, howsoever nice, hospitable and reliable they seem to be. Everyone is linked with the nexus of commission. Always discover your own ways and decide according to your wish.
23) Never follows the advise of Hotel receptionist or Taxi driver (remember Commission Nexus).
24) Never opt for photography by Local photographer.
22) Pony Ride : Never agree to the amount of which Pony-wala tells you at first. Start with the 10 % of that amount and settle within 20 %. Always be ready to walk up to the point. It’s easy and more enjoyable. Never believe the words of Pony-wala about the difficulties and dangers. Don’t argue or bargain too much.
23) Shikara Ride: Rates are displayed everywhere in Dal lake. Even in that, bargain a little.