Once a famous Poet said, if there exist a Heaven on Earth it must be Kashmir. And he said it for good reason, a place full of Lush Green Valleys, Lakes, with Mighty Himalayas in the backdrop, Hospitality, Food, Great Climate, different flavours in different seasons, and ofcourse the people rich in culture and art.
Few un-parallel Experiences at Kashmir:
Evening Shikara Ride
An evening ride in Shikara at Dal Lake during sunset time listening to the soft sound of shimming water as the boat man Navigates his Shikara through the Venice of India, is an un-parallel experience.
House Boat Stay
Your journey to Kashmir is in-complete without a two night stay at House Boat. As you enter this floating home you are struck with Awa and respect and fall in love with it at first sight. Every inch of this small floating house is furnished with great care and love. Wall to wall carpet, hot-and-cold water showers, bath tubs, every item decorated and organised with greatest of artistic passion. Every house boat has around 5 to 6 large bedrooms with attached toilets, with one personal attendant attached to it who would be there to ensure that your stay is taken care in the most hospitable Kashmiri way. Every House boat also has a common hall, a dining room, a sit out and a small pantry. But remember to leave your shoes out at the entrance as you enter this heavenly home for your stay.
Early morning Shikara Ride to floating Vegetable Market
Get up early at 5am, the effort is worth the experience. Experience the local culture at a floating vegetable wholesale market. Don’t forget to carry tea/coffee in Kettle, you will get to buy freshly baked walnut and chocolate cookies sold by few of the floating bakeries.
Note Kasmiri trades men are extremely sweet talkers before you realise they have struck a deal with you. But its worth the fun, as-long you don’t end up paying too much for it. Products that are being sold generally to tourist (Shawls, Dry Fruits, Flower Seeds, Bakery Items, Jewellery, Precious Stones, Spices etc).
Just on the out-skirts of Srinagar lie Chashmashahi ("The royal spring"), Nishat ("abode of peace") and Shalimar ("abode of love") where Mughal emperors once relaxed with their exquisite queens.
Shankaracharya Temple is an ancient temple that finds its origin in the 4th century. Located on Gopadari Hill in the south-east of Srinagar, Shankaracharya Temple lies at a height of 1100 feet above surface level of the city. The temple is easily accessible from the city by regular buses from Srinagar. In order to ensure a comfortable journey, one can opt for taxis that are readily available throughout the city.
Jama Masjid Srinagar
The Jama Masjid of Srinagar is situated at Nowhatta, in the middle of the old city. An important mosque in Srinagar, it was built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD. Later, the son of Sultan Sikandar, Zain-ul-Abidin got the mosque extended. The attractions of the Jama Masjid of Srinagar, Kashmir include beautiful Indo-Saracenic architecture, a magnificent courtyard and 370 wooden pillars. Another feature of the mosque is the peace and tranquility inside it, standing out against the hustle of the old bazaars around it. Thousands of Muslims assemble at the mosque every Friday to offer their prayers. This Jama Masjid of Kashmir, India has seen a number of destructions till date. It got ruined thrice in fire and was reconstructed every time. The last restoration was carried out during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.
Altitude: 2730 meters
Skiing Season: December to April
Summer Walking Season: Summers June to August
STD Code: 0194
Gulmarg is rated as one of the matchless hill resorts in the world also called as “Medlows of Flowers” Gulmarg is situated at height of 2730 meters. It is famous for its natural beauty, fresh green fields and different types of flowers. It is also popular for the Golf courses built during the British Raj that double up as training skiing location during the winter season.
You may go for Pony Rides of Gondola Cable Car Ride, Stage 1 takes you to an altitude of 3930 meters and stage 2 takes you to an altitude of 4390 meters of Afarwat Mountain. If you have the time and energy walking down the forested mountain slopes is a nice experience. You may also come across few settlements of nomadic Gujar tribes along the way.
How To Reach: J&KSRTC offers regular deluxe and ordinary bus services from Srinagar. Gulmarg is 56 km from Srinagar. Pahalgam 149 km.
What to See: Alpather Lake, Khilanmarg, Ningal Nallah, Ziarat of Babareshi, St. Mary’s Church, Rani Temple, Babu Reshi Shrine.
Altitude: 2130 Meters
STD Code: 01936
Palahlam is setup in mystic valley of Lidder Valley surrounded by mighty mountains covered with pines and snow. Good location for walks in Pine Forest, Pony Rides and fishing in Lidder Nalah.
Most popular walking/ pony ride trails is viewpoint at Baisarn, 5 km above Pahalgam. You may continue here further 2.5km to Dhabyan, or walk 7 km to pretty looking lake at Tulyan.
Mountaineering, Trekking and Winter sports options too are available here.
How To Get There: Pahalgam is connected by road from Srinagar, just 96 km away.
What to See: Amarnath, Baisaran, Kolahoi Glacier, Mamlesvara, Phirilasan, Shikaragah, Tarsar Lake, Tullian Lake.
Altitude: 2740 meters
STD Code: 0194
Road Open from Sonmarg to Leh: June to September
Sonmarg lies 80 km north-west of Srinagar on Srinagar-Leh route. Sonmarg is surrounded by high mountains. Legends goes that somewhere in the valley there is a well whose water is golden, so it is called “Meadow of Gold”. The natural beauty of Sonmarg charms the tourists. In winter the full Sonmarg valley is covered by heavy snow.
Thajiwas Glacier, is located 4 km above town. Ponies are easily available if you wish to go there. Sonmarg was once a very popular destination as base town for various trekking destination.
How To Get There: Sonmarg falls on route Srinagar – Leh/Kargil around 60 km from Srinagar. It is located just few km before Baltal Camp (Base Camp for Amarnath Yatra).
What to See: Thajwas Glacier, Gangabal Lake, Naranag Ruins.
Don’t forget to keep one Lunch off the tour package. Have it a Mughal Darbar in Srinagar. One of the best non-veg food you will every get to enjoy (Over 30 different Mutton Carries). Reach early before lunch time to grab a place here. Mughal Darbar also has a great Bakery.
Few Kashmiri Non-Veg Food
Rogan Josh (The most delectable Kashmiri dish, Rogan Josh is goat or lamb meat cooked with the most intensely hot and fragrant spices.)
Seyvon Kalye - Yellow Meat (A Kashmiri delicacy meat cooked with a mild spices like turmeric, fennel powder and ginger powder. )
Yakhani (A mildly spicy meat dish cooked in yogurt and spices. )
Tabakh Naat or Kabar Gaah (Spicy fried ribs, usually served as a side dish. )
Mutsch (A spicy ground mutton dish. )
Kutur / Murga (Chicken curry made with tomatoes, onions, ginger, and garlic.)
Kashir Gaad (Kashmiri style fish made with exotic spices. Tastes hot and spicy.)
Kashmiri Pandit food is also very elaborate, and is an important part of the Pandits' ethnic identity. The food usually uses a lot of yogurt, oils and spices as such turmeric, but avoids onion, garlic, tomatoes, and chicken. Unlike Kashmiri Muslim cuisine, it does not include many minced meat dishes.
For vegeterians try some receipies famous with Kasmiri Pandits.
Typical vegetarian dishes include:
Ladyar Tsaman (Indian Cheese in yoghurt base gravy seasoned with turmeric, ladyar referring to the colour "Yellow" as well as "turmeric")
Veth tsaman (Indian Cheese, cooked in oil and Kashmiri spices, without yoghurt and seasoned with chilli peppers)
Dam oluv (Whole potatos cooked in a spicy form with generous amounts of chilli pepper powdered)
Nadeir yakhean (Lotus Stem in a yoghurt base)
Hak (with nadeir/vangan , refers to a leafy vegetable, generally stewed)
Nadier palak (dish consiting of lotus root slices in spinach stewed)
Tsoek vangan (meaning "Sour aubergines" aubergines cooked in a tangy spicy curry)
Razmah goagji (a popular dish consisting of large cut turnips in a delicately flavoured kidney bean curry)Don't forget Kashmiri Tea and Sweets before say good bye..
Teas and Sweets:
Roath (Sweet bread made with wheat flour and ghee.)
Kehwa / Kava / Mougel Chai ( Traditional Kashmiri sweet green tea.)
Sheer Chai (Salty pink tea. )
Non Chai (Salty green tea )
Tchur tschut (Rice flour pan cake made with rice flour and salt. )
Yaj (This is cone shaped bread made with rice four)
Druana (Bread crumbs of rice flour bread.)
Alla Posh Munji (Pumpkin yellow flower battered with rice flour powder and chili powder and fried in oil.
Pumpkin - Flower. Pumpkin vines have large, yellow flowers that are 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Males are on long stems with a rod like structure inside the flower This flower is low in Saturated Fat and Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol.)
Nadur Munji (Nadur battered with rice flour and chili powder and fried in oil.)
Other things to check out at KashmirParimahal, JPahalgam, Gulmarg, Amarnath Yatra, Vaishno Devi (At Jummu), Patni Top (at Jammu), ZojiLa Pass , Sonmarg, etc. Details would be added shortly.
Keep some time out for Shopping too.
Few sample Tour Packages (Note commercials are approximate in the below links).
Kashmir in 4 Nights and 5 Days for details click here
Kashmir in 6 Nights and 7 Days for details click here
Kashmir in 9 Nights and 10 Days for details click here
Vaishno Devi and Kashmir for details click here
Amarnath Yatra by Helicopter Via Pahalgam for details click here
Amarnath Yatra by Helicopter Via Baltal Near Sonmarg for details click here
Amarnath Yatra Start at Pahalgam and End at Baltal for details click here
Adventure Trip to Pahalgam (White Water Rafting and Small Treks)
Know all about Jammu
Know all about Ladakh