Kashmir Tourism

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Read 243 destination reviews with average rating of 4.3/5, out of 922 Kashmir reviews
Rahul Bhatnagar

Rahul Bhatnagarratingratingratingratingrating5.0/5

13 reviewsPosted 2 years ago
0like

Heavens on earth - totally worth a visit in lifetime

I visited Kashmir with my old age parents and wife in Sep 2015.

My day wise experience is below:-

Day 1 - 12th Sep - We landed at the Airport and our extremely noble and diligent driver Shabir was at the Airport to pick us up for our 1st night stay at Nageen Lake. Our trip being through MMT, was all scheduled to be covered through Shabir as hotels sightseeing was covered beforehand. We were surprised to see a "Bandh" declared in Srinagar that day, but the driver showed us why tourists are safe and sound as the troubled areas were cordoned off by the police beforehand and tourists were roaming freely. We reached and stayed at Nageen Lake Houseboat Golden Flower and were welcomed by Gauhar, our caretaker for the day and night. The views/ surroundings/ ambiance of Lake Nageen is much more peaceful, clean and beautiful than Dal Lake and you see a minimum count of hawkers/ boats with a clear view of entire lake. We took off for a shikara ride of the entire lake for about 3. 5 hours and paid Rs. 1000 for that. All this while the ladies kept shopping for small items of Kashmir like Paper mache bangles etc.

The food at the HB was excellent as-per me and we totally loved the cosy atmosphere being a bit chilly in evenings. We sat at the entrance and kept glancing the serenity of lights fading into darkness and the surreal atmosphere at Nageen Lake all this while. The ladies even shopped in evening hours as merchants came to show their products.

Day 2 - 13th Sept - We moved in morning for Gulmarg from Srinagar around 9. 30 am, IST expecting some snow and excitement kept building up for Gondola experience. The driver had told us to cover Gondola same day, to avoid delay on next day travel plan. While on the way, we could see the huge massive mountain ranges and the beauty of this place kept increasing after every km for us. While reaching Gulmarg we were clearly warned by our able driver not to hire any pony for the Gondola as it is too short to walk a distance for us. We checked in Hotel Zam Zam, Gulmarg and were ready for our lifetime trip to Gondola levels. In the meanwhile, we were joined by our good guide Shiny from Tangmarg to assist in getting the Gondola tickets, helping my old age parents to sit in Gondola/ assist my dad to walk on the rocky terrain at Phase 2 as-well as click our memorable photos at a meagre charge of Rs. 600 only. While in Gondola we were experiencing the marvels of engineering and the Stage 1 to Stage 2 was an unmatched experience of our lives. We reached Phase 2 first to avoid timing issues and were aghast seeing the height, beauty of the place. We could see snow at the super high glaciers all this while all around us and the guide was helping in telling us their names/ locations etc. We saw POK areas, Nun-Kun Mountains, a glimpse of Tiger Hill and a few more ranges. The temperature at this time was about -3C and we saw a small patch of snow that people were skiing on with assistance of course. We bought snow shoes, as the area was slippery and went for a very short ski session till the last point where there was nothing else left except deep valleys. Though my parents felt a bit uncomfortable initially, but with rest they managed to enjoy along. We kept climbing all around and the experience was excellent, marvelous, memorable and everlasting. Thereafter spending 2 hours, we moved down to Phase 1 where we could see newer sides of the glaciers and with perfect meadow conditions. Imagine lush green hill sides locked with super high glaciers glistening with snow. The views were panoramic and breathtaking. We didn't have lunch at Phase 1, as it is too pricey and we preferred to be at base point, and enjoy at will. We stayed there for a while, to just fill our eyes with the green beauty of Gulmarg. Thereafter we moved down to base point, and proceeded to the market and had food at a good veg dhada. Thereafter were free for the evening, and we didn't book any pony/ cab for sightseeing as the hotel in itself boasted of best views and there is not much to see in Gulmarg anyhow though touts will tell of 5 different places, but they are total sham and nothing else.

In evening hours, the weather turned out to be colder than we expected and we had to move back to our cosy and warm rooms and I even recorded the weather as -3C around 10pm IST and the prediction stood to touch down -7C around 2 am IST too. The views from the room window were stupendous and we just kept looking around Mt. Apharwat. The hotel stood an average property, but serviced us very well with wonderful views.

Day 3, 14th Sept - This day being the longest of our rides, from Gulmarg to Pahalgam had a very early start. We moved towards Pahalgam around 9 am IST as the distance stood about 120 KMS to be covered and we had a horrible ride from Srinagar to Pahalgam as the highway is in full construction mode. The way towards Pahalgam is wonderful as if you are entering heavens of the world with lush green hills, ranges and Lidder river flowing through side-by-side. We reached our hotel Hotel Bombay Palace, Pahalgam and man we were surprised. The beauty of the place is far more than Gulmarg or Srinagar. We were at a walking distance of 5mins from River Lidder only and could hear the roaring waters all through-out. The temptation dragged us to the river and spent good 2 hours at the banks of Lidder river soaking in the beauty of Pahalgam all this while. The day temperature was moderate.

The day was too tiring for us, but we still managed to hire a taxi for Rs. 200, and went to visit Lidder Valley and it is was superbly beautiful. Clich manicured lawns, beautiful flowers and amazingly pure water of Lidder passing along. We even visited the so called Pahalgam market which is nothing else but a handful count of shops and eateries. We later resigned back to our hotel rooms, being in a colder evening and aged parents. The food was by far the best we had in Kashmir at Bombay Palace, Pahalgam and Sohail our able guest-taker is a extremely jovial and good person. We chatted a lot with the hotel owners/ other servants about Amarnath Yatra, Snowfall days, etc. And no one had issues in sharing their experiences.

Day 4, 15th Sept - This was a momentous day as we had to cover the valleys of Pahalgam in a taxi, which was arranged by MMT locally in Pahalgam. We started for Betaab valley and refused the guide offer out-rightly as we didn't find any need there and had an entry ticket of Rs. 100 per person. The gardens are superbly clean and well-maintained, River Lidder pulls you towards it's water owing to the flow, beauty and color. We kept strolling around and enjoying the beauty and for the 1st glance saw the Chandanwari route/ hill lock as-well as Pandav gufa from a distance. Thereafter, we moved towards Chandanwari valley known for the famous Amarnath Yatra. We hired a guide for Rs. 200, there as the stairs were bumpy and all rocky for my father. We kept climbing a bit and reached a point where Lidder river flows over rocks and from where “Pissu Top", “Maha Ganesh Top" are clearly visible. We were all in awe in amazement of the beauty of the place and the history it beholds within it. We saw quite a few rock solid glaciers still around the river and with our guide help we managed to reach at the tip of glaciers and even played with the fresh snow within them. Had a really good time being so close to actual & real glaciers all this while and thereafter spending good 2 hours, we moved towards the most scenic route of Pahalgam Aru Valley.

Aru valley is located literally on a corner oppo. To Chandanwari route and the serpentine roads, beautiful huge valleys as-well as the secondary River Lidder alongside made the bumpy ride much merrier. The route was extremely scenic and when we reached Aru Valley we couldn't believe that Pahalgam in itself had so many natural wonders in itself. What a pity for us who live in metros.

The valley roads were under construction and we spent a bit less time there, as by extra Rs. 500, we were visiting few more places in Pahalgam today. While back in Pahalgam our local driver took us to Pahalgam Deer Park (a sort of small zoo housing the Kashmiri wild animals like Hangul, Stags, Himalayan Bear, Leopard etc). Though was a tiring place owing to the fact that this mini zoo is all on a hill slope. We saw 1 captured leopard and 2 Himalayan black bear there and quite a few hangul in electrified fenced enclosures, and while strolling a little ahead came across a wild Himalayan Black Bear too who literally brushed off about 250mts from us. We in good hope quietly climbed down where there were people as the park is in a jungle itself though the panoramic views were excellent.

Thereafter we visited a wasted park called “Lavender Park" where we could manage just the plants, with no flowers owing to no season and moved to Mamleshwar Temple which is known to have existed since 400 BC and made by Pandavas with a natural stream flowing right in front. The temple though small was a superbly robust one with huge stone walls and pillars and a very old shivling and other idols. Even saw the services of the natural water stream in the pool at the temple and felt really good and at peace.

Thereafter, we moved to a place called as Valley View-point, which is nothing else, but a small dam with water flowing out very slowly of Lidder river, the place was average but the water color was turquoise blue all around only. This day stood extremely tiring but the dilemma of not visiting Baisaran, mini Switzerland kept haunting us. This place can only be visited by pony or by avid trekkers. The charges initially quoted are very high but they come down to Rs. 400 for Baisaran trip but we didn't do the trip being tired.

Day 5, 16th Sept - This day as soon as we checked out of our hotel and were on the highway towards Srinagar the locals informed our driver of another “Bandh" declared which has blocked the highway temp. They went ahead and guided him another route to reach a place called Sangam where Jhelum and Lidder rivers meet. The route was all through small orchards/ farms and villages with extremely scenic views and a bit nervousness but the people were very nice there. The driver thus took us to a shop in Pampore to buy dry fruits etc. And we did authenticate the saffron and bought 2 gms for Rs. 500 owing to low crop season in 2014 due to floods. The shop known to us from other fellow MMT travelers stood 100% authentic and didn't charge anything extra at-all. We thereafter went to see the Avantipura ruins, and didn't spend a lot of time there but glazed as were late for our local Srinagar tour.

Once in Srinagar, the driver drove straight towards Shalimar Bagh, right on the banks of Dal Lake with an artificial stream flowing through. We have never seen such beautiful gardens that too so neatly maintained that we were forgetting everything and soaking the beauty of this garden. Spent a good hour or so in a sunny noon and proceeded to Nishat Garden. Another surprising park where the architecture stood for so long, giving the feeling to everyone of a king and queen by the natural streams.

The highlight of the gardens was Chashme Shahi Garden which actually boasts of a natural spring water stream flowing through which anyone can drink water from. The place again much similarly maintained like other 2 gardens stood well above our expectations. Once we visited these places, we moved to our Hotel Star of Kashmir for the stay. The hotel is fine, nothing too high on expectations but boasts of the worst service, bad snobbish faces and sulking waiters all around. The room service was far more than pathetic and experiencing such attitudes were shocking for us as we were always greeted very nicely by all other 3 hotels except here. They possibly were more keen on independent bookings than a tour company. We later retired after dinner for an early next day trip to Sonamarg.

Day 6, 17th Sept - This was the last of our actual night stay and our day trip started early morning around 9 am IST for Sonamarg which is at the same distance nearly as Pahalgam from Srinagar. Once we were off the highway towards Sonamarg we were totally amazed seeing the different kind of mountain ranges/ different surroundings totally vs. What we saw in Gulmarg and Pahalgam.

The hills stood barren like we hear in Ladakh region/ some had snow on them/ some had huge glaciers and Indus river flowing side by side on the highway made the journey even more exciting for us.

Once we were in Sonamarg and we stepped out, for few minutes we couldn't believe of seeing the famous Thajiwas Glacier so up close and clear from the taxi stand which had huge piles of snow all around it. We freshened up, and talked to a local driver to cover following places: Zojila Pass view, Baltal Base Camp, Trout Fishing ponds and Thajiwas Glacier. We agreed to pay Rs. 3000 for all this as we had to spend good 3-4 hours with him. The driver ran through meandering roads towards Zojila Pass and all this while the scenic views kept shifting from green mountains to barren rock mountains which were more a of tip of Ladakh region. The army trucks kept passing along and we reached the Baltal base camp thereafter. What a feeling it was being so near to Amarnathji Cave that we just sat there for an hour soaking the beauty of nature for us. Saw the Zojila Pass and moved to Thajiwas Glacier thereafter. Refused the pony wallas for a trip to snow cave/ snow fields as the tourists coming back told us of hardly any snow being there and touts bluffing all along. We spent time at the banks of Indus River, spent time seeing the Thajiwas Glacier known to be older than 1000 years and the nature marvel beauty and what it presented to us. Thanked our gods to have allowed us for this trip and saw what commercialisation was doing to Sonamarg with frequent cloudbursts in monsoon season etc. The place is a heaven in itself.

Next day, we moved for the Airport owing to the numerous security checkpoints and were back in Gurgaon.

This trip will stay fresh will me forever in this life as I could take my aged parents and wife on our 1st maiden trip as a complete family to the “Heavens on Earth". We have vowed to come back to Kashmir again in the snow season to cherish our hearts and mind of the white beauty of these places after we saw the richer and more beautiful green Kashmir.

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  • Heavens on earth - totally worth a visit in lifetime
  • Heavens on earth - totally worth a visit in lifetime
  • Heavens on earth - totally worth a visit in lifetime
  • Heavens on earth - totally worth a visit in lifetime
    +28

Anuradha Agrawal

Anuradha Agrawalratingratingratingratingrating5.0/5

1 reviewPosted 2 years ago
8like

A trip to Heaven on earth - Kashmir

Hie Guys. Here is my descriptive narrative of my most treasured trip to “The heaven on earth - Kashmir which truly lives upto it's name.

Day 1: We reached Srinagar airport by 4 pm. We stayed at New Jacqueline houseboat at Nigeen lake. (booked through ibibo). Immediately after check-in at New Jacquline houseboats we were offered Kahwa which was quite rejuvenating. We did Shikara ride in nigeen lake itself and ended the day. (Since it was too late already and the city does not have a night life).

The houseboats are beautiful, intricately carved, nice food and courteous staff.

If you are looking to stay near main market place, then Dal lake houseboats would be a better option. But if you are looking for a calm scenic stay, then Nigeen lake houseboats are to be chosen (since it is pretty less crowded as compared to Dal lake).

Day 2: The early morning view from the house boat was breathtaking. Snow clad mountains, Shikaras, cool breeze, ducks around make it all the more amazing. After having breakfast, our journey to Pahalgam started (pre-booked cab). The way was very scenic with Sarson fields, Apple valley, Bat making factories, etc. Sarson fields reminded of DDLJ movie ;) we did strike few poses. Lol. Also, had a cute little chat with local kids and clicked few snaps.

We reached Pehelgam by afternoon and checked into Mount view hotel. Hotel view is excellent but service is not so great.

There are two types of tours in Pahalgam, one is Chandanwari, Aru valley and Betab valley which all three you can cover by hiring fixed price local cab. Other one is mini Switzerland, Baisaran which you can cover by horse. We covered the one with cab, Chandanwari is recommended but Aru and Betab are not great. We witnessed snowfall at Chandanwari and it was very beautiful.

Can't comment on the horse tour since didn't do it.

In the evening, we scored local shops, ate at a local outlet and went back to hotel.

Day 3: Next day morning again there was snowfall at the hotel and we enjoyed thoroughly the scenic view and the snowfall in the hotel lawn. Then we left for Srinagar. We reached Srinagar by afternoon and shopped some leather stuff (at a place called Chattabal. It's far off from the main market but is famous for leather). Be cautious with second hand leather sellers. Then we started for Gulmarg and reached by evening.

Gulmarg is the most scenic place I have ever been to and looked like a place seen in Hollywood movies. It's truly amazing and picturesque.

We checked in to Hotel Welcome which had an awesome view from it room. We visited Rani temple with another couple at the hotel. It was a tricky walk of 20 minutes through tons of snow and darkness. We took darshan and then had dinner at Bakshi's. Food at Bakshi's is awesome.

Day 4: We had a breathtaking view in the morning of the surrounding from our hotel room window. Can't describe it in words. We preferred walking instead of cab and reached Gondola from hotel by 9 (It was around two km from the hotel). On the way, many cabbies and guides accompanied us pushing for bookings. Somehow we managed to dodge them and enjoyed our walk in the snow. First we went to Phase II instead of halting at phase I. Staff at Phase II were shocked to see us and later told us that we were the first tourists to come to Phase II in past 3 days.

Phase II was an ULTIMATE experience. We could also see an army bunker in those extreme circumstances. Hats off to the Indian Army. We do hear about difficult lives of our soldiers, but when I visited Kashmir I could actually see how difficult it is for them to stay away from their families, survive and keep themselves motivated all the times. This trip has made me feel even more proud of them.

We spent time at Phase II and had coffee offered by the staff. Then we went to Phase I.

Phase I was much crowded and commercialized. We did skiing and sledge ride and skipped the snow bike. We had Raajma Chawal at Phase I itself (which tasted even more yummy at those altitudes) and then started our Gondola ride back to Gulmarg. We walked down to the hotel. On the way, we met some Army officials and had a chance to talk to them.

Within an hour, we left for Srinagar. We reached Srinagar by 6pm and checked in the boat house. We had some Kahwa and then visited Hazratbal Dargah. We also shopped some beautiful willow baskets from shops near the Dargah itself.

Day 5: We visited Mughal Garden and Shalimar Garden. Tulip garden opens for tourists only for a month in a year and we were fortunate to see the bloom since the garden opened just a day before. It is spectacular to see Tulips in various colors all around. Beautiful, scenic, a must visit!

We scored Polo view market and lal chowk for shopping. In my opinion, Polo view market has better stuff than lal chowk. We shopped all the garments, shawls and stoles from a fixed price shop at Polo View. Our cab driver took us to an artisan's home for Papier Mache goods. He indeed had unique collection at market prices. We just loved the stuff and shopped for some nick knacks. On the way back to the Hotel, we tried some Kulchas at a local bakery called Mughal Darbar.

Day 6: It started raining very heavily and we had a very tough time to reach Airport on time. (Word of advice: Please leave for airport much earlier than you plan to leave since there is an Army checkpoint 1km before the Airport where you have to scan all your baggage and then again load them and go to the airport). Finally, we boarded our flight marking an end to our beautiful trip to heaven on earth and carried memories for lifetime.

Tips!!

1. Try looking for fixed price shops (though they are very rare!) or bargain hard.
2. There is no need for a guide in Gulmarg. You can venture on yourself.
3. Pre-book your tickets online for Gondola Ride to skip the queue.
4. Be aware of local people. Some are helpful while most of them are real CHEATS.
5. Do not venture around late nights for safety reasons.
6. If you're short of time, you can skip Aru and Betaab valley. Nothing much to see.
7. Carry all your winter clothes, believe me it's chilling there.
8. Do try Kahwa, the Kashmiri tea- it's awesome.
9. Leave for Airport much earlier than your scheduled time.
10. Do not shop from the shops where your cab drivers take you. They get commission from the shopkeepers.
11. Ensure that you local travel itinerary is final, since the cab drivers are not very accommodating and won't change it later on.
12. Take long boots and overcoats on rental from Tangmarg, so that you can venture around and explore Gulmarg at ease.

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  • A trip to Heaven on earth - Kashmir
  • A trip to Heaven on earth - Kashmir
  • A trip to Heaven on earth - Kashmir
  • A trip to Heaven on earth - Kashmir
    +22

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