Kashmir, with its mesmerizing beauty, is truly heaven on Earth. With adventure sports to pilgrim tours, there are a zillion things you can do here, all the while enjoying the serene beauty. It is one of the top travel destinations for many (especially for the honeymoon) and every time, it doesn’t fail to surprise you. Paragliding, mountain biking, white water rafting, visiting Vaishno Devi and Shanti stupa, Shalimar Bagh, Chadar Trek and Aru Valley are just a few to be named.
Best time to visit in Kashmir:
March to September is the perfect time to visit Kashmir. The flowers are in full bloom in the spring season from March to early May and you get to see what paradise looks like. You get to pluck plum apples as well at this time. After September the weather starts to get extremely cold with December and January as the coldest months. Most roads are closed at this time normal people cannot withstand the cold.
Ways to reach Kashmir:
- By Air - Airports are in Jammu, Srinagar and Leh. There are frequent Indian Airlines, SpiceJet and Jet Airways flights that commute to and from these cities.
- By Train – The farthest you can go via train is till Udhampur. From there you will get cabs and buses to go to other major cities.
- By Bus – J&K SRTC buses ply between Jammu and Srinagar and from Manali to Leh.
- By Road – It is not advised to drive by yourself on the roads here as they have hairpin turns and are quite slippery. SUVs and MUVs are easily available for hire.
Places to stay in Kashmir:
Some cosy, hospitable accommodation facilities available are-
- RK Sarovar Portico in Srinagar
- Fortune Resort Heaven in Srinagar
- Houseboat Sikandra Palace in Srinagar
- Chinar Resort and Spa in Pahalgam
- The Vintage Gulmarg in Gulmarg
The prices range from 2000 to 6000 per night for deluxe rooms and suite style rooms will cost more.
Places to visit in Kashmir:
- Gulmarg- Gulmarg is known for its natural beauty and picturesque sceneries as seen in Bollywood movies. There are dense forests here and it is one of the most unique tourist destinations in the world. You can play golf here as they have many golf courses and can go skiing as well. Tourists also get to see the Line of Control (LOC) from Gulmarg.
- Srinagar- Another breathtakingly beautiful city, you can do a zillion things in Srinagar from rafting to trekking and bird watching to water skiing. You should take the shikara ride and also not miss walking through the splendid rose gardens.
- Leh- Leh is every biker’s holy abode as you get to do a whole lot of mountain biking and trekking here.
- Vaishno Devi- One of the most religious places in India, Vaishno Devi is the temple of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi ji. The 12 km trek from the base camp at Katra is quite adventurous. There are no idols inside the temple.
- Amarnath Cave- Amarnath is famous for the ice shivaling. Pilgrims from far off places visit here in large numbers on full moon nights.
- Bahu Fort- Fort of the Dogra rulers, it is right next to the Tawi river, at a distance of 5 km from Jammu. You can also see the maa kali temple which was built inside the fort.
Festivals in Kashmir:
Some famous festivals celebrated here are-
- Eid-ul-fitr: It is celebrated to break the fasting month of Ramzan and sweets are exchanged between friends and family. Namaaz is an integral part of the festivities and is read several times in a day.
- Hemis festival- This festival is celebrated with great fervour to mark the birth of the Tibetan Buddhism founder. People perform a dance called “Chaam dance” where they use horns and drums.
- Tulip festival: The Tulip Festival is the most gorgeous and eye candy of all. It takes place in the spring when the tulips are in full bloom in Srinagar, which has the largest tulip garden of Asia.
- Shikara festival: This festival is held in either July or August and shikaras are beautifully painted and decorated with flowers. Boat races are held.
Must eat foods in Kashmir:
Kashmiri food is irresistible and for sure will leave your mouth watering. It is mild in taste and rich in flavour of spices like cardamom, cloves and saffron. It is mostly inspired by Mughal’s cuisine. Some must have food items are-
- Rogan Josh
- Dum Olav
- Modur Pulao
- Muji Gaad
- Sheer Chai and Kahwah Chai
- Tabak Maaz
- Al yaakhni and
Shopping and local markets in Kashmir:
There are a lot of shops and markets, popularly called bazaars here, all around and inside Kashmir. The main market is the best for embroidery objects and handlooms. Maharaja Bazaar and Kokar Bazaar are the best for spices. Art supplies and beautiful paintings are available at Lal Chowk and Badshah Chowk. Some must buy collectables from Kashmir are-
- Pashmina Shawl
- Handwoven carpet called Namda
- Antique copperware
- Some willow baskets for your kitchen
- Kashmiri lac ornaments
- Spices and saffron
- Kashmiri paintings
- Beware of the surroundings. Don’t go off to remote areas.
- Adventure sports are risky. Take all the precautions and wear all the safety gear.
- Be mindful of the local people here. Most don’t know English so communication is tough.
- Take lots and lots of warm clothes with you.
- Be sure to eat as many apples you can. You will not get apples this good anywhere else.
- Also make sure to eat wazan (the multi course meal) at least once.