Located in the northern most parts of India, Kashmir is regarded as paradise on earth. This beautiful valley is border by the Himalayan and the Pirpanjal range. It is one of the most popular tourist spots across the globe. Every part of this heavenly state is as real as god has created it. A slow rate of development in the state ensures that it remains as beautiful as it has been for centuries. The presence of some of the highest mountain ranges, serene lakes, tranquil springs, royal gardens makes it much better for nature lovers.
Around the year, millions of people from visit Kashmir. To overlook them there are various government organizations and other NGO established in the state. In addition to this there are many private organizations, who work day and night to ensure that the quality of the service, which a tourist gets, is always good. Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Kokernag, Verinag are some of the most important places in Kashmir in terms of tourism.
Srinagar the heart of Jammu and Kashmir
The city of Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the most preferred tourist destination in the state. Some of the best lakes in the world like Dal Lake and Nigeen Lake are located at this place. The city also houses some of the magnificent Mughal gardens in India such as Nishat and Shalimar garden. The best way to reach this place is via road as it will give you a chance to see some spectacular views during your journey. However, in winter it is better to opt for Air transport as the weather condition can change in seconds and this can cause the blockage of highway to Kashmir. Many hotels and restaurants are available round the year. Apart from hotels there are many Houseboats where you can get accommodation at a very affordable price.
Places to visit in Srinagar:
- Dal Lake: Surrounded by snow-capped mountains Dal lake is considered as one of the best and largest fresh water natural lakes on planet. It can be seen from almost all the major parts of the city and is the main attraction for the tourists. It has been for long remained as an icon for the tourism industry in the state.
- Nigeen Lake: This lake shares its boundaries with Dal Lake and is sometimes by mistake considered as part of Dal. Nigeen Lake is very famous among foreign visitors.
- Nishat garden: This beautiful garden was developed in the era of Mughal emperor Jahangir, who commissioned it. The garden is situated on the banks of Dal Lake and is a major tourist attraction. In summer, it sometimes seems impossible to get an entry pass as thousands of tourists visit this place every day during the summer. The presence of numerous Chinar trees adds to its magnificence.
- Dachigam National park: Located on the outskirts of Srinagar city is Dachigam Natural Park. It is famous for being home to endangered Kashmiri stag, also known as hangul. The best time to visit this park is March-October. It also houses other animals, such as snow leopard, grey langurs and Himalayan Brown Bear.
- Chashma Shahi: Another spectacular tourist spot in Srinagar is Chashma Shahi, which is considered as mineral rich and purest source of fresh water. It is located on a hill in north-west of side Srinagar city. It is rumoured that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi never had water from any other source, after she tasted the water from Chashma Shahi spring. Till her death two canisters of water from Chashma Shahi were air transported to her residence in Delhi every day.
Gulmarg the Rose Vally
Situated in the Baramula District, Gulmarg is around 55 Km away from Srinagar. It takes about 90 minutes by car from Shrinagar to reach this place. Gulmarg means valley/meadow of roses. Well known for winter sports activities that are held here every year, Gulmarg is one of the picturesque hill stations in Kashmir and also rated as the best hill resort in India. It has been ranked as the seventh best ski resorts in the world. Gulmarg is ornamented magnificently by the wild plant like pine, Kikar and other evergreen trees, which makes this place charming and refreshing, giving it truly a divine look and fabulous charm. Accommodation is not a problem here. There are numerous hotels and lodges, which one can have at affordable prices. Only road transport is available to reach this hill resort and that makes it more awesome as you will have a chance to see and experience the nature and the Himalayan at its best. Some of the other tourist spots within Gulmarg or its reaches are Gondola – world’s second highest cable car projects, Frozen lake, Yusmarg, Baba reshi.
Tourist attractions in Gulmarg Kashmir
- Gondola: It is located within Gulmarg and is prominent among tourist. It is the highest cable car service in Asia. Gondola is a small cable car, which has a capacity to transport 4-6 people at one time. It is usually used for sightseeing in the upper reaches of Gulmarg. If you ever visit Gulmarg and go for a ride in gondolas make sure to carry warm clothes with you as the weather can be chilly, whether summer or winter. Never go for this ride if you suffer from respiratory problems or heart diseases.
- Frozen lake: Located in the uppermost reaches of Gulmarg is frozen lake, which is usually famous for ice skating. It can only be accessed during summers. This lake remains frozen throughout the year.
- Yusmarg: It is also a famous tourist destination and falls on the way to Gulmarg. There are many hotels and restaurants in Yusmarg, which provide good accommodation and food.
- Baba-reshi: It is a shrine at a distance of around 10 km from Gulmarg. It is respected highly by the people of Kashmir, irrespective of belonging to any religion. It is open for people from all communities and religions.
Sonamarg – golden meadows
- Sonamarg is astonishingly blessed by nature, its literal meaning is golden meadows and so it is. It is a spectacular place and some rate it as the best in Kashmir. It is located on the banks of River Sind around 90 km from Srinagar. The presence of many glacier, adds to its charm in a number of way. It has to be noted that the name Sonamarg is given to this place for the fact of these glaciers given golden impressions during afternoon. The place is a heaven for white water sports lovers. The best way to reach Sonamarg is by paid cabs. Sometimes helicopter services also operate from Srinagar. There are other places that are located near or on the way to Sonamarg and are equally beautiful and serene. Some of these places are Naranag and Zojila pass.
Famous tourist places in Sonamarg
- Naranag: It is located on the way that leads to Sonamarg. A small deviation from the main road can bring you to this natural valley. This place is as natural as god has created it. If you want to visit this place and wish to spend a day or two here, make sure bring your accommodation (camps) and food with you. There is not even a single hotel or restaurant that you can find in here. Any kind of construction is strictly prohibited. The only construction you can see here is some millennium old temple ruins. If you are in true sense a nature lover, visit this place. You can also enjoy trout fishing at Naranag.
- Zojila pass: It is located about 20 km away on the Sonamarg-Kargil road. It is one of the highest passes in the world. Don’t visit if you can’t withstand absolute thin air.
Pahalgam or valley of shepherds is located in the Anantnag district. It is one of the best summer tourist locations in Kashmir. It is 90 km away from Srinagar and the only way to reach here is by road. It takes about 2 hours by car to reach this beautiful valley, which is surrounded by majestic mountain peaks. The main attraction of this place is Lidder River, which flows through it. The mesmerizing sound of rushing water of Lidder is a treat for nature lovers. Some of the main activities one can enjoy in Pahalgam are water sports, horse riding, and sightseeing. It also houses a wild life sanctuary, which is open for general public from March to October. There are plenty of hotels offering services and accommodations at different budgets. You can have any kind of Indian as well as international cuisine in Pahalgam. For the record Pahalgam is considered as the best health resorts in India. There are numerous tourist spots, which are very close to Pahalgam, some of the most prominent ones are Chandanwari, Aru, Amarnath, Akad Park, Mattan temples.
Tourist destinations in Pahalgam
- Chandanwari: It is around 12 km away from Pahalgam. It is a small valley and seems like being engulfed by the mighty mountain ranges that surround it. A part of the Lidder River flows through this place too.
- Aru: It is at a distance of 13 km from pahalgam, located on a nearby mountain. While one part of Lidder flows through Chandanwari, the other one comes from this place. It is also the base point for Tarshal Marshal Peak, which is a high altitude trekking spot. Unlike Chandanwari, this place has many hotels and restaurants.
- Amarnath cave: It is located on one of the snowcapped peak of Himalayas. It is a holy cave and is considered as the sitting place of Lord Shiva, Maa Parvati and Ganesha. It is one of the most famous Hindu pilgrim sites in whole sub-continent. It is about 50 km away from Pahalgam.
- Akad Park: Is situated on Anantnag-Pahalgam road and only a few KM before Pahalgam. The park is a resting place for tourists. There are many restaurants and tuck shops in and around the park. There is also a trout fish sanctuary located next to park.
- Mattan temples: Famous for its ancient Hindu temples, Mattan is the first stop for all the pilgrims who are going to Amarnath. It is considered very sacred. It is said that the spring, which is located within the temple has healing powers.
Kokernag’s literal meanings are cock like springs. It has been given this name for a number of chicken claws like water outlets, which act as its source. Also known by the name Papshudhannag (sin cleaning nag/snake), It is located around 20 km from Srinagar and 20 km from Anantnag town. There is a trout fish farm housed next to the main garden, which is the main tourist attraction of this place. The Kokernag garden in itself gives a heaven like feel. There are few hotels and guest houses, which offer quality accommodations and delicious food. Kokernag has many other tourist spots near to it. Two most famous of these places are Daksum and Achabal.
Places to visit in Kokernag
- Daksum: It is located on the banks of Bringhi river and is very popular among Indian as well as foreign trekkers. It is situated at a height of 2438 m and is in real sense a paradise. The combination of beautiful mountain ranges, crystal clear water and spectacular environment is just amazing. No kind of accommodation except JKTDC guest house is available here.
- Achabal: It is a Mughal garden and falls on the way that goes to Kokernag. It resembles Nishat garden in a number of ways. The garden was also commissioned by Emperor Jahangir. The garden has a spring, which erupts from a stone crater.
There would have been no Kashmir if Verinag hasn’t been there. Everyone knows civilizations prosper only on the banks of rivers. Same is the case in Kashmir; It has grown this much only because of river Jhelum which flows through it. Verinag is the source of Jhelum. It is here where this majestic river starts its journey. In this way it can be considered as the most important place in Kashmir. Best time to visit this place is in summers.