The Paradise on Earth – that is how the world knows Kashmir as. Kashmir for long has been inspiring poets and writers to express their creativity with its natural beauty. Visiting Kashmir can be a life-altering experience for anyone. The pure beauty and tranquility of both Jammu and Kashmir is really hard to find anywhere else. Yes, there has been a long on-going dispute between India, Pakistan and China on its acquisition, but the political disturbance and even natural calamities have failed to bring much change.
India is proud of having this mountainous region as a nature’s gift. The local people are very amiable and make tourists feel welcome. Any kind of traveler would enjoy coming here. The nature lovers can have a relaxed trip and fall more in love with nature as they ride on houseboats on the lakes, the adventure freaks will be thrilled as they can do skiing, mountain biking, hiking, trekking and mountaineering. It is a trekker’ s paradise where global tourists have been coming for years.
This heaven of earth will make you marvel at how miraculous and incredible nature can be. If dull regular life has made your mind jarred, a visit here will completely freshen your mind and reawaken your soul. Based on your preferences, what kind of holidays you prefer, you can opt for a tourism option or package. Kashmir is a place where you can visit parents, wife and children, or friends. It can be a relaxed holiday or an adventurous trip or a good balance of both., however you wish it to be!
Kashmir is truly the Paradise on Earth, even if you are a global traveler, you will accept this after visiting Kashmir once. The nomenclature became famous when Emperor Jahangir in the 17th century was bowled over by Kashmir’s beauty and what he said can be translated as ‘’If there is a paradise anywhere on the earth, it is here, it is here, it is here”.
As has been mentioned above, apart from casually exploring the place, one can indulge in adventure activities like camping and paragliding.
Our 5-day tour package will begin with your reporting at Srinagar on the first day and our dropping you off at the Srinagar airport or railway station on the last day. Let Kashmir welcome you with its enchanting valleys, diamond-like lakes, impressive handicrafts and amazing wildlife.
Srinagar is known as Kashmir’s summer capital and our trip together will start from here. We will do a relaxed sightseeing at Srinagar on the day you arrive. The afternoon can be utilized by visiting Srinagar’s local sightseeing destinations like the different Mughal gardens built here, which are Shalimar meaning ‘The abode of Love’, Chesma Shahi which means ‘Mughal Spring’ and Nishat meaning ‘The garden of Bliss’. You can enjoy the famous shikara ride in the early evening on Dal lake. We are going to take you for it on the last day though, before you bid goodbye to Srinagar.
Delightful Dal Lake
A part of a natural wetland that is spanned across an area of 21.1 sq. kms inclusive of the floating gardens, Dal Lake is big, covering an area of 18 sq. kms. These floating gardens are called ‘Rad’ in Kashmir. The floating gardens look splendid during July and August because this is the time for lotus flowers to bloom.
Dal Lake in Srinagar is known for its Shikaras and houseboats. During our Srinagar visit, we will stay at a houseboat on Dal Lake. Dal Lake is very fascinating and seems like a different world altogether. To understand how life is on this iconic lake, you must explore the creeks and inner waterways.
When you are on a Kashmir trip, you cannot miss visiting Dal Lake in Srinagar and staying at a houseboat completes the experience. Though staying at a houseboat is undoubtedly an unique experience, there is much more to Dal. Snow-capped mountains surround this gorgeous lake on three sides. Kashmir tourism is incomplete without Dal Lake. The reflection of the Zabarwan ranges fall clearly on the water of the lake and the shikaras and houseboats on it create an unforgettable scenery. The lake is also surrounded by beautiful Mughal gardens.
A shikara ride on Dal Lake might be the biggest cliche, especially if you seek offbeat experiences, but you must not absolutely miss out on it. One of the most cherishable experiences you can have in Srinagar is to stay on an elegant and old houseboat with a Kashmiri family and know more about their lifestyle on the lake. The most touristy experience can also be a real eye-opener.
Causeways divide the wetland into four basins which are known as Gagri Bal, Nigeen Lake, Bod Dal and Lokut Dal., but Nigeen is somehow taken to be an independent lake. There is an island in the middle of both Bod Dal and Lokut Dal. They are also called ‘Sona Lank’ which means Golden Island and ‘Rup Lank’, which means Silver Island.
On Boulevard Road which is at the edge of Dal Lake, enchanting Mughal gardens like the Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh are present. From these gardens, you can get an excellent view of the lakes. You will also be able to see the Hari Parbat in the background.
Apart from going for a shikara ride and staying on a houseboat, there are other enjoyable things you can do in Dal Lake which are experiences you should not miss. You can walk on the main road along the road which is called Boulevard street, and visit the floating vegetable market in the morning, which starts at predawn hour. You should view the sunset with the Pir Panjal and Hari Parbat in the background. The scenery becomes astonishing. And you must visit the Mughal gardens like Nishat garden and Shalimar Bagh.
You can either do some shopping at the local markets or you can simply chill and rest at the homestay after arriving in Srinagar. We would suggest you indulge in some shopping because Kashmir is after all the best place for a few things like saffron, pashminas, Kashmiri carpets, hand carved wooden boxes etc. You can also visit the popular eateries to savor the authentic Kashmiri dishes. The rich spices and color makes Kashmiri cuisine an example of culinary excellence.
Kashmir’s Gulmarag or Gulmarg falls under the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir of India. It is a small hill town which is really well-known as a skiing destination. It is situated within the Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary and the town is located on Western Himalaya’s Pir Panjal Range.
We will be visiting Gulmarg on the second day. This is Kashmir Valley’s one of the most breathtaking destinations. It is also referred to as ‘Meadow of Flowers’ and with good reason. Gulmarg turns into a flower bed during the spring season and you will only be seeing flowers as far as your eyes can see. The ride to Gulmarg will take you through cherry and apple orchards and strawberry fields.
We will drive to the Gondola ride departure station which is one of the world’s highest cable-car stations. The cable car is called ‘Gondola’ here. It is in fact the world’s second highest cable car and runs along Apharwat. The single cable car is extremely well-known among foreign thrill-seekers and trekkers too because it goes upto a height of 4265 feet, just below the Apharwat peak. One has to get off the cable car half-way if they want to go skiing there.
If you are a fan of the sport Golf or like to play Golf, you can visit the Gulmarg Golf Course. It is really difficult to find golf courses which are as beautiful as this one. We will return to our homestay after doing the activities we had planned on the Apharwat peak.
No matter how many times you have done skiing before, doing it on Asia’s largest skiing terrain is a life-altering experience. Gulmarg is located at a distance of 31 kms, west of Srinagar. This ‘Meadow of flowers’ is nestled in Jammu and Kashmir’s Great Himalayas. There are daily flights which connect Srianagar with major Indian cities. There are taxis at the Srinagar airport which take tourists directly to Gulmarg.
Being in the Himalayan region, Gulmarg receives extremely heavy snowfall but the skiing season is very limited or of short span and it is further affected by the climate change which has made the weather whimsical. The time to go skiing there is from the middle of January to the end of February. Depending on the weather and climate of a particular year, it can also be from the middle of December till March end. There are only a few kms of marked ski-runs, known as pistes, in Gulmarg.
The town has bunny slopes which are good for amateurs. One can ski down the base of the Apharwat peak which is the Phase I if one practices for a day. If you are a beginner skier who has skied on American or European skiing terrains, this experience is going to be markedly different as there are very few low-capacity individual lifts, called J-bars and only one chairlift.
The intermediate skiers should ski down Mary Shoulder. Gulmarg has to offer many skiing terrain for the experienced snowboarders and skiers, like the pistes and off-pistes of Monkey Hill on the east of Apharwat peak’s Trajan Bowl, Sunrise Peak, Sunset Peak and Jamiah Gulley. Apharwat’s skiable terrain is one of Asia’s largest, highest and longest.
Gondolas will take you to the skiing region and also very close to Apharwat peak. Out of all the peaks in the Himalayan range, Apharwat peak of Pir Panjal is a major one at a height of 13,780 feet. You can get a breathtaking view of the Nanga Parbat from here, which is at a height of 26,247 feet! Do not try skiing at the upper reaches of the Apharwat as it is strictly for intermediate and highly-experienced skiers and snowboarders.
After skiing, you would definitely need to warm yourself up with a cuppa or two of Kahwa or steaming hot coffee and also eat biscuits and chocolates to refill your energy level!
We will be heading towards Pahalgam on the third day. Pahalgam in Vale of Kashmir is also known as ‘Valley of Shepherds’. This place is all about serenity and has been the location for many movie shoots. People stop on their way to Pahalgam to see the saffron fields and Awantipora ruins.
When you go to Pahalgam, you can also visit the Tarsar and Marsar lakes, Sheshnaag lake and the Betaab Valley. In and around the vicinity, there is the Lavender park, the Pahalgam Club with its large green lawns, the garden of flowers – the Poshwan Park and Bobby Hut. If you stop at some places during the drive, it will take three to four hours from Srinagar.
As soon as you enter the Pahalgam valley, the river named Lidder will welcome you. The cool and crisp breeze, the gushing of the river water will make you feel excited immediately. You can get down from your vehicle to see the glorious Lidder and spend some time by its shore.
Pahalgam is also a great place for fishing. Anglers would greatly enjoy themselves catching rainbow coloured and brown trouts. We will have an enjoyable day at Pahalgam by doing Pahalgam river rafting on the Lider river.
There are three popular spots in Pahalgam which taxis will cover on a full-day trip – the Aru Valley, Betaab Valley and Chandanwari. We will share more on these spots, in case you want to cover these spots yourselves.
Aru Valley – Green meadows covering a vast area forms a part of this beautiful valley. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The lidder river sometimes flows by the sides of the meadows and sometimes through them. You will never be able to forget the sight of playful horses of different colors, neighing and grazing.
It is such a beautiful place that you would want to just sit there, absorbing all its beauty. You can either explore the place on a horse or tour it by walking, but every corner of the valley will look pretty much the same.. There is a natural water spring cave and you can hike towards it. You will find shepehers here and your phone signal will not work. You should keep some time on your hands if you want to cover this place.
Betaab Valley – There was a famous Hindi movie named Betaab which featured Amrita Singh as the actress and Sunny Deol as the hero. The Valley got its name from the movie. Entry to Betaab Valley is not free. You have to purchase a ticket for entering.
You will see the Lidder river again, flowing through the valley. But what is striking is the color of the water here. The river has a surreal milky greenish-blue colorr. You must not forget to take photos of it. When you upload these pics on your social media, people will definitely think they are edited. You will find two small eateries here too, other than the river. You wouldn’t like to spend more than one hour over there as there isn’t really much to do.
Chandanwari – You will be able to reach Chandanwari from Betaab valley in about forty minutes. The valley becomes almost empty by sunset. It gets very cold after sunset, especially if there has been rainfall. You might find a local dhaba where you can have a quick sip of Kahwa, hot chocolate or a regular cup of hot tea to warm you up. For the uninitiated, Chandanwari is the base point for the Amarnath Yatra. The yatris gather here before they begin their religious trek. You can also hike up a couple of kilometers to view the sunset when you reach.
Snow-capped mountains form a spectacular background for this meadow whose name literally means ‘Meadow of Gold’, yes that’s Sonamarg for you. It is the last destination of our Kashmir trip. Being in this place will make you feel that you are in heaven. It has the river Sindh flowing through it. While going to Sonamarg, there are some spots where you can stop to see, like the Gagangir Tourist Village, Hazratbal shrine, paddy fields with river flowing on one side, and other beautiful towns and villages.
Sonamarg will welcome you with rolling green meadows and clear and sparkling waterfalls.
The Thajiwas glacier is a summer attraction and people can hire ponies for going up to it. It is one of the best tourist spots of Sonamarg. The glacier has snow throughout the year. Sonamarg also has the Nilagrad river which holds high value for the locals here. It is believed by them that the water of the river has medicinal properties and helps in curing the ailing. Try not to miss visiting this on your visit to Sonamarg.
There is a famous Kashmir lakes trek which includes trekking to five to seven lakes like Vishansar, Gangabal, Kishansar, Satasar and Gadsar. Sonamarg is the base point of this trek.
If one has to go Ladakh through the Zojila Pass, which is a major pass, Sonamarg is the station for taking-off. The srinagar-Leh Road passes through Zojila. Religious trekkers come to Sonamarg during Sawan Purnima for making their yatra to the pious Amarnath cave.
10 am - Report to our representative at the Srinagar airport.
10.30 am - Transferred to your homestay where you freshen up.
11.30 - Start local sightseeing in Srinagar.
8 pm - Return to homestay.
9 pm - Dinner and sleep.
5 am - Wake up
5.30 am - Transfer to Gulmarg. Breakfast en-route.
8.30 am - Take a Gondola ride by paying for it yourself.
5 pm - Complete Apharwat peak activities and return back.
8 pm - Dinner and sleep
5 am - Wake up call.
6 am - Get ready for being transferred to Pahalgam.
7 am - Drive to Pahalgam after breakfast. You can do river rafting at your own cost. There is a trout fishing program too. You can also visit the nearby attractions like the parks and valleys.
6.30 pm - Return to Srinagar homestay.
8 pm - Dinner
9.30 pm - Time to sleep.
5 am - Wake up.
6 am - Leave for Sonamarg.
8 am - The drive to Sonamarg for a daytrip is a very beautiful one. There will be stops at beautiful spots on the way. One can ride a horse to see the Thajiwas glacier, which is 4 kms from Sinagar, the gateway to Ladakh.
5 pm - Return to Srinagar Boatstay
8 pm - Dinner time
9 pm - Time to sleep.
7 am - Time to wake up.
8 am - Have breakfast after freshening up.
8.30 am - Go for an hour-long shikara ride on Dal lake.
11.30 am - Head towards Srinagar airport.
1 pm - Arrive at the airport or Srinagar railway station.