Nestled between the great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) State in north India, the unearthly beautiful Kashmir Valley, is undoubtedly one of the most stunning regions to travel in India. Snowcapped mountains, fruit laden orchards, divine waterfalls, lily-laden lakes, green meadows with blooming flowers and lush green surroundings of Kashmir has rightly earned it the sobriquet of being “India’s Switzerland”. Extravagantly beautiful, bestowed with enthralling sights, it is the land where myriad holiday dreams are realized.
Come and discover this idyllic summer getaway and have the experience of a lifetime. Some of the hot tourist spots in Kashmir are:
J&K’s summer capital, Srinagar, with its exquisite historic gardens, its distinct Kashmiri wooden mosques, its architectures’ eternal grace, its indulgent houseboats’ quaint charm, its romantic shikara rides, its meandering river and the great Dal Lake, is a perfect introduction to the numerous enchantments of the beautiful valley.
Srinagar is well connected to main cities like Delhi, Chandigarh, Leh and Jammu via flights, trains and buses. When here, take a soothing sightseeing tour of inner parts of the placid waters of Dal Lake and Nagin Lake on a shikara and observe white breasted Kingfishers perched on willow trees’ branches. Visit the Dalgate situated at the southwestern side of Dal Lake; explore the fascinatingly chaotic Old City and observe its cultural influence and rich heritage; shop for intricately hand-woven carpets, glittering copperware, skillfully carved wood handiworks and delicate Pashmina shawls in the busy commercial centre located around Lal Chowk; marvel at the many-hued flowers and playful fountains in the stretching Mughal gardens positioned on the shores of Dal; and visit the intensely beautiful Shalimar, Nishat, Chashma Shahi and Pari Mahal Gardens.
If you are a wildlife enthusiast then do walk through the Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary; and if you love golf then play at the breathtaking and stunning 300 sprawling acres of Royal Springs Golf Course or at the 52 acres of Kashmir Golf Course lush land. Witness the special hand techniques and styles of Kashmiri artists at the Arts Emporium; discover the constructional elegance and holiness at Jama Masjid and Hazratbal Shrine, two of the sacred shrines of Islamic followers; and finally stop at the beautiful Shankaracharya Temple, sitting on the Gopadari Hill.
Srinagar is a year-round destination. To witness picture perfect vistas and experience the cool weather, visit the valley in summers and to enjoy the frozen waters of Dal Lake and the snow covered slopes, visit in winters. In the beginning of April, you can attend the annual Tulip Festival held at the Asia’s largest tulip garden situated here.
Gulmarg, literally meaning ‘Meadow of Flowers,’ is one of the exceptionally beautiful hill resorts in Asia, whose pine fringed snow-clad mountains in winters bear a striking resemblance to Switzerland. If you are a nature lover, then this place is heaven on earth for you and its scenic beauty will definitely rejuvenate your senses.
Gulmarg is easily reachable from Srinagar, being just 52 kilometers away. You can come to Srinagar via direct flight from Amritsar, Delhi or Mumbai; or you can reach Jammu in train and then reach Gulmarg in a bus or car. When here in winters, get enthralled witnessing the panoramic view of the valley, the Wular Lake and the snow-clad ridges resting beyond; take pony rides beside the forested slopes; walk through the abundant meadows comprising of tiny hamlets and small lakes all around; explore the virgin and uncharted terrains in the Nagin valley; visit the Muslim shrine “Baba Reshi” located on the slopes below Gulmarg; or play golf at Gulmarg Golf Club, world's highest and India’s longest green golf course.
If you are a winter sports fanatic, experience the true delight of snowboarding and skiing in the Apharwat Peak here; enjoy the breathtaking view from the gondola ski lift, Asia's highest and the longest ski lift; do tobogganing by sliding downhill on a flat wooden board; ride on a sledge pulled down the snow-clad gentler slopes or roads; or simply make a snowman and camp out right in the lap of nature.
The best time to visit Gulmarg depends on your activity preference. The Skiing season commences from November and lasts till March. From March till June, you can enjoy the summer season when the flowers are in full bloom; and from July to September, it is the monsoon season when the hotel rates are relatively low and you can enjoy Gulmarg’s visual treat along with raindrops.
Situated on the confluence of the waterway coming from the Lidder River and the Sheeshnag Lake, bordered by snow clad lofty peaks and lush green pine forests, Pahalgam is a prime tourist spot in Kashmir. This picturesque low-rise resort town offers a captivating view of the clear valleys near the foothills of Himalayas with crystal clear waters flowing through it.
It is quite easy to reach Pahalgam as it is well connected with other main cities of India via train, roadways and airways. You can arrive at Srinagar or Jammu by train or flight and from there can reach Pahalgam by bus or cab. When here, stroll along the Lidder River; savor delicious Kashmiri apples in the apple orchards stretching across Pahalgam’s north eastern part; shop for popular wool products like ‘Namdas’ and ‘Gabbas’ from local shops; horse ride to the pine forested areas and undulating Baisaran meadow; stop for a picnic at the “Betaab Valley”; behold the picturesque meadow of “Aru”; discover the temple ruins in Avantipur; and if you are a devout then join the annual Amarnath Yatra that starts from Chandanwari.
If you are an adventure enthusiast then trek to Trasar & Marsar Lakes, Katar Nag, Kolhai glacier and Lidder Watt; go for trout fishing using a Pepsi bottle known as Pepsi fishing; do whitewater rafting in the turbulent Lidder River; or golf at the wonderful golf course sitting on top of the valley at 7,800 feet. In winters, sledge across Sheshnag Lake’s famous snow bridge or walk on the frozen lake itself.
You can visit this pristine valley any time of the year. From March to June, you can bask in the idyllic meadows; from July to September, you can enjoy outdoor activities; and from October to February, you can take in the picture postcard beauty of the snow clad valley.
Yusmarg, situated to the south-west of Srinagar among Sang-e-Safed valley, ringed by pine forests and grand snow clad peaks equivalent to European Alps with its exquisite scenic beauty, bewitches tourists all year round. This breath-taking meadow, an ideal picnic spot, far-famed for having some exceptional spring flowers, houses some of the highest peaks in the PirPanjal range like the Sunset Peak (4746 meters) and the Tatta Kutti (4725 meters).
You can reach Yusmarg in a two hour drive from Srinagar by hiring a cab or by bus. When here, explore acres of grassy meadow; take a short detour to Charari- Sharief, Shrine of Kashmir’s greatest mystic-saint Nund Reshi or Sheikh Noor-ud-din, revered by both Hindus & Muslims; picnic by the side of pristine blue-watered Nilnag Lake or in the oval-shaped Sang-e-Safed meadow; trek or pony ride to the Mount Tatta Kutti; marvel at the impressive Doodh Ganga River; or ski in the natural slopes of Yusmarg, if you are a ski expert.
The best time to visit Yusmarg is during the winter season, between October to March, and during the summer season, between May to August.
Sonmarg, literally meaning 'Meadow of Gold', positioned just before the Zojii La pass at an altitude of 2,740 meters above sea level, is an incredible snow covered flower-laden meadow in the magnificent Himalayan mountain region bordered by serene lakes and breathtaking glaciers. Gateway to the tranquil Ladakh, Sonmarg owes its name to the quaint natural beauty in the area.
Being about 87 kms from Srinagar, Sonmarg can be easily reached via bus or cab. When here, enjoy snow front fishing in the river; camp out near the Glacier valley’s mouth; explore the natural beauty and go for a challenging trek or hike, up the undulated hilly mountains; thrill on a sledge ride on the everlasting Thajiwas glacier; behold the various types of fishes found in the Vishansar Lake; or have fun in rainbow trout fishing at Mt. Harmukh.
The best time to visit Sonmarg is from April to June, when there is a burst of wild flowers running throughout the valley and the weather is mild. In July and August, there is heavy pilgrim traffic for the Amarnath Yatra and from November to April, it is off-season as the sub-zero temperatures make it a bit difficult to explore the area, however, the snow clad mountains are picturesque.
Verinag, situated in Anantnag district, is a scenic town named after its most famous tourist spot, the Verinag spring, which itself is named after Nila Nag, son of renowned Hindu sage Kashyap Rishi (credited for instituting the state of Jammu and Kashmir). The Verinag spring, located in the Kothar district about 80 km from Srinagar, is one of the largest springs in India. Easily accessible through the link road that turns off from the Jammu – Srinagar National Highway at Lower Munda, this spring is believed to be the chief source of the Jhelum River.
When here, marvel at the octagonal base at the spring, bordered by a covered passage and tall Pine trees; enjoy watching the sparklingly clear and calm waters of the spring; see the remains of Mughal baths and pavilion down the stream to the east; and delight at the sight of diverse colorful flowers, swaying gently to the beat of the chilly mountain breeze.The best time to visit Verinag is during the summer and autumn season when the landscape colors are the most vibrant.
Lolab valley, located in Kupwara district at a distance of 120 kms from Srinagar, is referred to as “land of love and beauty” and a true destination by many poets. Lolab, a blend of three valleys, namely Kalaroos valley, Potnai valley and Brunai valley, houses the picturesque Nagmarg meadows that divide Lolab from Bandipora district. Locally famous as ‘Wadi-e-Lolab’, the valley is popular for its lake, lush rice fields, springs and fruit orchards that include apple, cherry, peach, apricot and walnut.
Lolab is easily reachable by road from Srinagar by a local bus or hired cab. When here, explore the breath-taking and pristine valley; discover the deep and crystal clear waters of Lavnag spring and Gauri spring; see the Chandigam village, bounded by lush green Pine and Deodar trees and magnificent mountains that have supreme scenic beauty; trek from the Lolab valley to Lake Wullar in Bandipore; stop over at the ancient caves located in Kalaroos in the Madmadow forest; or visit the resting place of the famous saint Kashyap reshi, situated about 1km from village Lalpur.
The best time to visit the Lolab Valley is from August to March, when the weather is mild and quite pleasing. At this time, you can enjoy mountaineering and trekking as well as thoroughly enjoy seeing the flourishing vegetation.
Exploring the exquisite Kashmir valley at a leisurely pace is not always an option for most of us. For those, who have at the most 10 days to discover this serene and magnificent valley, Odyssey Tours and Travels has handpicked an itinerary that will allow you to experience the best of Kashmir.
Tour Duration: 8 nights/ 9 days
• Day 1: Srinagar
Once you arrive at Srinagar in the morning, proceed to your hotel and relax. In the afternoon, visit the famous ‘Mughal gardens’, namely Shalimar & Nishat and have an overnight at Srinagar.
• Day 2: Srinagar - Gulmarg
After breakfast, drive down to Gulmarg. Enjoy the immense picturesque beauty and the crisp air of Khilanmarg; do adventure activities; take a Gondola ride and behold the fantastic mountains surrounding the valley. Have an overnight at Gulmarg.
• Day 3: Gulmarg
Today as well, immerse in the natural beauty of Gulmarg and explore the valley. Again have an overnight at Gulmarg.
• Day 4: Gulmarg - Pahalgam
After breakfast, proceed to Pahalgam (5 hrs /148 kms) and take delight in exploring the exquisite meadows and flowers at the riverside Pahalgam. Go for long walks by the Lidder River and have a night stay at Pahalgam.
• Days 5- 6: Pahalgam
You have 2 days for relaxing and absorbing Pahalgam’s serene beauty. Explore the meadows; visit Baisaran; or if you want to enjoy snow in summer then you can either visit Aru or Chandanwari (16 kms). Have overnights at Pahalgam.
• Day 7: Pahalgam - Srinagar
Today, after breakfast come back to Srinagar and in the afternoon, take pleasure in a Shikara ride on the famous Dal Lake. In the evening go for souvenir shopping and have a night stay at Srinagar.
• Day 8: Srinagar – Sonamarg – Srinagar
After having an early breakfast, leave for a pleasure trip to Sonamarg. Enroute see the famous Thajiwas glaciers and catch a glimpse of the famous Sind stream. Have an overnight at Srinagar.
• Day 9: Srinagar - Departure
After breakfast go to Sheikh Ul Alam Srinagar airport for your onward flight back home.
About Odyssey Travels
Odyssey Travels is a leading IATA accredited Travel Company, established in 1992. We specialize in planning customized holidays in India and abroad for our clients which includes air ticketing, worldwide hotel reservations, inclusive tours, sightseeing activities, visa assistance & travel insurance services. For further information or to make a booking contact 020-66442929 or visit http://www.odysseytravels.net/