Must visit Kashmir at least once in a Lifetime

The stunningly beautiful Kashmir valley lies nestled between the great Himalayas and the equally lofty Pir Panjal mountain ranges. From the resplendent Mughal Gardens of Srinagar to the picturesque landscape of the Betaab Valley, here are some compelling reasons to pay a visit to this Paradise on Earth at least once in a lifetime.

Land of the lakes

The pristine waters of the Dal and Nigeen Lake of Srinagar offer a wonderful opportunity for visitors to enjoy a Shikara boat ride or relish the hospitality of the locals during a stay on a houseboat. Further up are the alpine lakes of Tarsar, Marsar and Gadaar, each visually appealing in their own right..

The water bodies of the Kashmir valley form a complex and vibrant ecosystem and have become a major attraction for people from all over the world. Book through reputed tour operators to enjoy Kashmir and its stunning landscapes.

Wonderful climate

Even at the height of the summer season, when the plains of India sizzle at 40°+ temperatures, the Kashmir valley remains cool and pleasant. With green meadows and flowers in full bloom, a summer visit provides an incredible vacation.

During winter, sheets of snow cover the surrounding mountain tops and branches of the tall Chinar trees which makes the landscape look all the more breathtaking.

Mesmerizing Pahalgam

Pahalgam, the land of the shepherds, is a renowned tourist spot a few hours drives from the capital Srinagar. It is also home to the beautiful Betaab Valley from where one can get an excellent view of the surrounding landscape against the backdrop of the snow-covered mountains

Pahalgam stands at the confluence of the Sheshnag Lake and the Lidder River and is bounded by a thick pine forest. The region is also a haven for adventure lovers as it features white-water rafting and is the starting point for many popular treks.

Blend it with Ladakh

Surrounded by the Himalayan and Karakoram mountain ranges, Ladakh is another place of exceptional beauty. An excursion to this land of Buddhist monasteries can easily be combined with a trip to Kashmir valley by road via Kargil and Drass towns. Needless to say, this two-day journey passes through interesting spots like Suru Valley and Sonmarg before ending at Srinagar.

Ride the Gulmarg Gondola

Must visit Kashmir at least once in a Lifetime

The gondola at Gulmarg is Asias highest cable car ride and second only to Mi Teleferico of Bolivia. This top attraction provides a great view of the surrounding landscape during its two-stage ascent of 21 minutes from Gulmarg to Kongdoori Mountain at an elevation of 3747m. 

A further 11 minutes ride by chairlift takes skiing enthusiasts to Mary Shoulder, the venue for all ski events.

Mecca for History buffs

There are many important places of interest where history lovers can have a field day. The sixth-century Hari Parbat Fort(Kooh-e-Maran) and the eighteenth-century mosque Khanqah Shah Hamadan are considered to be of particular significance. Another must-visit attraction in Srinagar is the famous Hazratbal Shrine, where a strand of hair of Prophet Muhammad lies carefully preserved.

A paradise for handicrafts

Shopping in Kashmir is unlike anywhere else in India as it offers a unique experience. The local outlets are flooded with silverware, shawls, antique copper products, and of course the famous Kashmiri carpets

During winter, pure sheep wool items, dresses, baskets, and flower pots made of papier-mache can be found on the streets of Lal Chowk, Raghunath Bazar, and the J&K Arts Emporium.

Excellent cuisine

The cuisine of Kashmir is influenced by Hindus, Muslims, Persians as well as Afghans. The chefs which came from Samarkand during the Timur invasion, are said to be behind what authentic Kashmir cuisine is today.

Since mutton forms an essential part of the food of the locals, it is prepared in many delicious ways in different spices to provide a unique twist of its own. Vegetarian dishes are also carefully prepared using cottage cheese, potatoes, and dried vegetables in an interesting combination.

Visit Dachigam National Park

Must visit Kashmir at least once in a Lifetime

This scenic park lies 22km from Srinagar and is home to the only species of red deer found in India, the highly endangered Hangul or the Kashmir stag. The upper and lower region of this National Park covers an area of outstanding natural beauty with deep valleys and rocky outcrops encircled by mountains. 

The park was once a source of water for Srinagar city, a practice that was stopped later. Numerous rare animals like musk deer, brown bear, ibex, markhor, and Himalayan black bear are residents of Dachigam. The only way to explore this area is on foot.

No matter how much you expect, the beauty of Kashmir is bound to hit you hard. The sights and sounds of this welcoming valley will stay with you for long after you have gone, but not before leaving you breathless for more. One thing is sure, the ethereal charm of Kashmir will make you think about your return trip as soon as the current one is over.

So irrespective of the time of the year, a visit to the valley will offer the ultimate once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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