The first Indian place you think of when you hear snowy mountains is Kashmir. Kashmir has been attracting travelers and tourists for more than 21 years now. Kashmir is a family trip destination with Himalayan ranges that are pretty much covered with snow.
Let us first know the region. Kashmir is a part of Indian state ‘Jammu and Kashmir’. This state has its own privileges for some really weird reasons (which is a huge debate topic). The state has three parts that it is divided into and have a capital for every region. Jammu and Kashmir have no specific capital for the whole state. Jammu is the capital for the whole Jammu area. Srinagar is capital for Kashmir and Leh is the capital of Ladakh.
Kashmir is the most common destination in a traveler’s diary. There is a typical plan which actually revolves around the main attractions. Kashmir is the division of J&K state which is occupied mostly by Muslims. The rules and strictness here are observed very strictly. Kashmir security is looked upon by three military organizations- Indian Army, Kashmir Police and BSF (Border Security Force). You will find a soldier every 20 meters in the town area and a soldier every 100-200 meters in the remote areas.
Let us look at our first destination for this trip
Srinagar is the capital of Kashmir area. You will find a huge amount of hotels to stay as tourism is the main source of income here. The first attraction here in the city is its huge Dal Lake. Dal Lake covers about 22 Km2 of the area. One of the best experience is the house boat stay. There are more than 500 house boats here in this lake. But do not confuse these boats with the regular boats, these boats do not move. These boats stay at one place and offer rooms to stay in there. The story says that back in the day the king denied any land to the British so they built boats on the water.
There are more than 500 house boats here in this lake. But do not confuse these boats with the regular boats, these boats do not move. These boats stay at one place and offer rooms to stay in there. The story says that back in the day the king denied any land to the British so they built boats on the water.
These boats offer amazing accommodation experience with its wooden build and its designs. You need to cross the lake to stay in these boats. Here comes in the second attraction of Dal Lake. Shikara, a small boat that has a couch to sit on and is rowed by one person. These traditional boats are used here as the lake is shallow and full of plants. There are a few boat centers known as gates. 28 to be exact from where you can catch a ride to your desired house boat.
They even offer two different rides of the whole lake in Shikara which is the most soothing experience as you sit there on the water with a mesmerizing view. One version of the ride is through the market where you can buy dry fruits here and water farming of the lake. The other one takes you to a small island called char chinar where you can have their special tea called Kawa.
Enjoy your evenings with a Kashmiri outfit photograph. People charge about Rs.200 for the photo shoot and you get the printed photos in a couple of minutes. You can rest on the deck of your houseboat and have some kebabs and corn there as the vendors roam around on their Shikaras. A two-day stay would be more than enough for all these experiences.
Srinagar is a huge city and has many more places to visit than Dal Lake. There is a temple at the top of the biggest hill. You can see the whole city from the top of this mountain and is the reason that cameras are not allowed here.
You could probably look into people’s house with a telephoto lens. This hill is completely covered with a forest and looks really great.
There are two huge gardens that are magnificent to roam in. The view that these places have been noteworthy. Shalimar Garden is hats off the best garden here. It’s not as big as others but the beauty is mesmerizing. You can see a temple structure here which is actually on a Rs.10 note. Nishant Garden is the second garden you can see in Srinagar. This is a huge garden and a beauty to see. You can spend all your day here just sitting in different spots in the garden.
Just Srinagar takes about 4 days to roam around. After covering this, you can move to the remote parts of Kashmir tourism.
Sonmarg is a place north of the Srinagar city. You can rent a cab from the Srinagar to visit Sonmarg. It is about 3 hours of drive and is the only way to reach here. Keep your seatbelts on as it’s a pretty bumpy ride. You can see great scenes here on the road itself. In summer, you don’t see much of the snow in the city, but as you go close Sonmarg, you will see some hints of snow. Nowadays, snow is rare even in Sonmarg, but you can be lucky to see snow that you can play in at Sonmarg.
You can be lucky to see snow that you can play in at Sonmarg.The name Sonmarg came from the view here. Basically, when the sun rays hit the snowy greens here, the whole scene looks golden which is ‘Son” in Hindi and ‘marg’ is the road.
Sonmarg is covered with snow but nowadays you cannot see much of snow here. Sonmarg is on the Srinagar-Leh highway. This highway is covered with snow for 9-10 months and opens only in May and June. Sonmarg is the last place you can reach on this highway when it’s not open. The world’s most dangerous road ‘Zozila Pass’ starts from here.
Sonmarg is also a good place for spiritual lovers as one of the two starting points of ‘Amarnath Yatra’ is here. People gather here at this point to start the yatra.
You can ride horses and ride on the meadows of Himalayas. You can even play in the snow (if you are lucky to find any). This takes about a day to roam around.
Gulmarg, the best attraction on this trip for the snow lovers. It is a wildlife sanctuary in the western part of Kashmir area. It’s about 3 hours drive from Srinagar. You drive through the mesmerizing view of pine forest to reach Gulmarg gate. No vehicles are allowed through the gate so you need to walk after this point of a horse ride is available in the parking lot (Be careful about the locals as they charge a lot for the rides.)
You reach exciting cable car ride called ‘Gondola’ which has two levels. The first ride takes you at a height of 3100 meters from 2700 meters. This level is covered with snow all the time. A few patches of greens can be found in summers here but it doesn’t spoil your experience.
The second level takes you to the astonishing height of 4000 meters. The ride itself is pretty exciting as you can see people skiing over the mountains. It takes you about 10 min to reach the top. As you get out of the cable car, you can feel the chilly air here. This mountain is covered with snow for the whole year. For a fee of about 200 rupees, people here take you to a place where you get a view of the LOC(Line Of Control) between India and Pakistan.
Here they let you ski for a while if you want (again be careful about the locals as they charge a lot. Try negotiating here). If any of you face a headache, return immediately as this can be a symptom of High Altitude Sickness.
It takes about a day to complete this destination as the return walk is pretty tiring.
- Aru Valley
Aru Valley is a destination east of Srinagar. It is in the part of Kashmir called Pahalgam, a valley surrounded by huge snowy mountains of Himalaya. Aru Valley is been portrayed in many famous Bollywood films and is a beautiful place. You cannot have a better view from your window.
This place has a local market that is pretty good in carpets and handmade sweaters. After all the roaming of Kashmir, this place is the best to calm down and chill around and is kept as the last destination in every travel plan here.
For the religious ones, Aru Valley is a holy place. The holy ‘Amarnath yatra’ has two starting points and the most famous starts from here. Arrangements are made for a huge crowd and unlike any other spiritual place, this feels clean and holy.
For the cricket lovers, the Kashmir willow bats are made around this area and you can visit the factory here. They sell the bats too. The process for making these bats is pretty long so they show you the stages of the production. This is the last destination on the Kashmir Trip.
Summing up this article, these are the best destinations that you can find in Kashmir that is the main stream. Do suggest if I missed anything in the comments down below and do share this article with the people willing to travel Kashmir.