The valley of Kashmir is known all over the world for its beauty and charm and often called the ‘Paradise on Earth’. Situated about 300 km. from Jammu across steep mountain passes and ravines the emerald valley of Kashmir is cradled in the Himalayas, under the crystal blue skies, against the background of snow-capped mountains.
It is a magical land of silvery streams, rivers, fresh water lakes, pine, deodar and chinar forests, snow clad mountains, sparkling waterfalls, shikaras, green meadows and grassy slopes full of flowers of vibrant colours – the land of bewitching beauty with exotic fruits, flora and flowers. Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir is nestled amidst the huge lakes, meadows and unique floating gardens in the valley.
Places to Visit
Gulmarg is one of the beautiful places that can be visited in Kashmir valley. The snow-clad peaks and the lovely landscapes have provided background for several Bollywood ventures. A wide range of adventure activities and various winter sports facilities like skiing resort make Gulmarg a preferred spot for adventure lovers. It is a convenient base for treks to the Himalayas to the tourists.
Gulmarg can be visited throughout the year. The winter months from November to February are ideal for skiing. The months from May to September are pleasant to visit the place.
Places in Gulmarg
Khilanmarg is the famous spot for skiing in winters and offers a beautiful view of the surrounding peaks and the Kashmir Valley.
The Alpather Lake is a picturesque alpine lake at the foot of the twin Apharwat Peaks. It remains frozen until late June.
Wular Lake is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia. It looks like the Genevo Lake of Switzerland. It has a beautiful setting, with Haramuk Mountain at its head.
The Manasbal Lake is situated only a few kilometers away from the Wular lake. It is known for its lotus blossoms.
Pahalgam is situated at the confluence of the streams flowing from the Lidder River and Sheshnag Lake. Once a humble shepherd’s village it is bestowed with breathtaking views with snow clad mountain peaks on all sides, a white water river that traverses the bottoms of the narrow valley, and a wonderful weather. The flora and fauna is good and the scenery is also captivating.
Pahalgam is also the base point for undertaking the trekking to Amarnath Cave. Trekking, golf, fishing in the Lidder River, angling and horse riding are the various activities which can be done in Pahalgam.
Places in Pahalgam
Famous for its snow bridge, Chandanwari is also famous for Sri Amarnath Yatra. At a height of 9500 ft Chandanwari is the end point of road journey and devotees have to trek 32 Km to reach the holy cave of Sri Amarnath.
Situated at the track leading to Amarnath cave, the waters of this greenish blue lake are covered with ice till June.
The place of the five streams, it is a camp site on the way to the Amarnath cave. A narrow spiralling path from Panchtarni leads to the Amarnath Cave.
The Amaranth cave is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. It is situated on the mountains of Lidder valley amidst iced snow at a height on 13,000 feet.
Mamal is a tiny village in Pahalgam. A Shiva temple is also situated here, which is considered to be one of the oldest existing temples in Kashmir, dating to the 5th century.
Aru is a charming meadow that can be reached by walking along a mountain path, 11 Km upstream the Lidder River. The Lidder River disappears at Gur Khumb and reappears after 27 metres.
Baisaran is one of the most beautiful places in Pahalgam and also known as ‘Mini Switzerland’ because of its long dark meadows resembling the ones in Switzerland. Baisaran is surrounded by thickly wooded forests of pine which presents a picturesque view of the snow-clad mountains.
Sonamarg is a small and beautiful hill resort and literally means the ‘Meadow of Gold’. It is known so due to the flowers in the meadow during spring. The passage to Sonamarg is through the Sindh Valley which presents another face of the countryside in Kashmir. Sonamarg is the main base for the trek that passes along several mountain lakes like the Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. Sonamarg is also the major point for the drive to Ladakh across the Zoji La pass. Sonamarg is also a base for undertaking the yatra to the holy Amarnath cave.
Places in Sonamarg
It is the place where a mountain river meets the Indus River. The water of the Nilagrad River is reddish in colour and is believed to have curative power of many diseases.
Yousmarg is a famous picnic spot located near Sonamarg. Yousmarg is known for its green pastures, pines and firs.
Nichnai Pass is a destination for all trek lovers and is a vintage point to view the breathtakingly beautiful lakes of Vishansar, Krishansar and Gangabal.
Thajiwas is located after a short and interesting walk from Sonamarg. Thajiwas is known for the glaciers. The miniature plateaus, snowfields, pines and islets add to the charm of Thajiwas.
Bisansar Lake & Krishnasar Lake
Bisansar and Krishnasar are two beautiful lakes that add to the beauty of Sonamarg. Both lakes are situated in the vicinity of Sonamarg at an elevation of 3710 meters. The Krishnasar Lake is famous for trout fishing.
Srinagar, the beautiful capital city of Kashmir was established by Emperor Ashoka. Srinagar has been described by some Western visitors as the Venice of the East. Blessed with a rich architectural heritage, Srinagar’s old houses on the Jhelum River with labyrinthine alleys seem frozen in time.
Srinagar is transformed into a different world every season. It is snowbound and harsh in cold winters while it is very beautiful during spring and summers, when flowers bloom all over the valley, snow melts and trees take a new shape. The roof-tops of the houses in Srinagar are also turned into flower gardens. One of the unique charms of Srinagar is the houseboats which are floating little hotels which can be seen on the edge of the Dal Lake or in the secluded areas of the Nagin Lake.
Places in Srinagar
The Shankaracharya temple is a unique landmark of Srinagar. Stone steps take you right on top where a small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva stands.
The Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in Kashmir. Jama Masjid is the prominent example of the Kashmiri mosque, and combination of Islamic, Hindu and Buddhist styles of architecture distinguished by its tall spires.
Nagin and Dal Lakes
Nestled amongst the high mountain peaks of the Himalayas are the Dal and Nagin Lakes. Fed by natural springs the waters in the Dal and Nagin Lakes are transparent.
Nishat, Shalimar and Chashme Shahi are the three famous Mughal gardens which are situated around the Dal Lake. These Mughal gardens are beautifully laid out with fountains and cascading streams.
Dachigam National Park
Located around 22 km from Srinagar, the park is divided into two sectors – Upper and Lower Dachigam. There is a road from Srinagar to Lower Dachigam while Upper Dachigam can only be explored on foot.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Kashmir would depend upon the experience you are looking for. It is snowbound and harsh in cold winter between the months of December and January. It is very beautiful during spring and summers when the snow melts and the valley becomes colourful.