Famously known as ‘Heaven on Earth, Srinagar is located in the union territory of Jammu & Kashmir, on the banks of river Jhelum. Srinagar is known for the stationary houseboats and gondola-type rowboats- Shikararas on Dal Lake.
The tourists use Shikaras to see attractions like the Floating Vegetable Market and the Mir Bahris – a lively community of people who live on the lake itself. There are a lot of houseboats that provide a beautiful and unique stay experience on the lake. Srinagar is home to some of India’s most exquisite Mughal-age gardens, with the top attractions being Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh and Chashm-E-Shahi Garden.
Kashmiri cuisine is famous all over the globe, so when in Srinagar, trying out the local dishes, which are rich in unique fragrant spices, is a must. Srinagar is also famous for the Kashmiri shawls, Kashmiri apples, and dried fruits (almonds and walnuts) from the Lal Chowk Market.
Heavy snowfall affects the connectivity of Srinagar during the winter months of December to February. Communal tensions also lead to frequent curfews in some parts of the city; however, things have improved in the past few years. So make sure to check the situation before visiting.
Situated at an altitude of 2730 m above sea level, Gulmarg is a popular skiing destination located in Pir Panjal Range of Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Surrounded by snow-covered lofty Himalayas, meadows of flowers, deep ravines, evergreen forested valleys, Gulmarg also has the world’s second-highest Gondola ride.
Among one of the top honeymoon destinations in India, Gulmarg boasts of being a beautiful town without the crowd like Manali and Shimla. Gulmarg has also been developed as an adventure hub as Indian Institute of Skiing and Mountaineering is located here. A lot of courses on trekking, mountaineering, skiing, and snowboarding are offered by IISM. There are a lot of other private tour operators in Gulmarg as well which provide similar courses and facilities for skiing, snowboarding and trekking. Known for its scenic beauty, Gulmarg has also been a popular destination for shooting of various Bollywood films.
Situated in the Anantnag district of Jammu & Kashmir Valley, Pahalgam is a beautiful hill station and a popular tourist attraction. Pahalgam is located on the banks of the Liddar River and is famous for adventure activities like hiking, trekking, fishing.
Pahalgam serves as the base of one of the most important pilgrimages in India – the Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari, located 16.6 km. away from Pahalgam is the actual base camp of the Amarnath. Kolhoi Glaciers trek via a beautiful village named Aru is one of the most popular treks in the region. The local people also offer sledging on the frozen glaciers. In addition, the long stretches of rivers in Pahalgam are the perfect site for people who enjoy trout fishing.
Pahalgam is where the famous Bollywood movie Betaab, starring Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh, was shot. The valley was consequently named Betaab Valley after that. Sheshnag Lake, situated near Pahalgam, is another bliss altogether. When in Pahalgam, buy authentic Kashmiri saffron from Pampore.
Vaishno Devi is a temple town that’s home to the famous Vaishno Devi Mandir. Located in Trikuta hills, 13 kms from Katra (in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir); this renowned shrine allures millions of devotees from all over the world. Popularly known as Mata Rani, Vaishnavi and Trikuta, Vaishno Devi is a manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Durga. It is believed that during the pooja and aarti, Goddesses arrive at the Holy cave to pay their respect to Mata Rani. Devotees believe the goddess herself calls the devotees to reach here.
Vaishno Devi is said to be Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata (the mother who fulfils the wishes of her children). The darshan of Maa Vaishno Devi in the holy cave is in the form of three naturally formed rocks which are known as pindies. These pindies manifest the three forms of the goddess as Maha Kali, Maha Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi. More than one crore devotees visit the Vaishno Devi temple each year.
Sonamarg is a picturesque hill station in Jammu and Kashmir, located 80km north-east of Srinagar. At an elevation of around 2800 km from sea level, Sonamarg is known for its snow-laden fields, surrounded by majestic glaciers and serene lakes which casts subtle spells on the travellers.
Sonamarg is enveloped by the great Himalayan glaciers – Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier – and gives rise to the famous Three Sisters of Kashmir Valley. Towering over this charming hill town are the peaks like Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak, Machoi Peak and Sirbal Peak which makes Songamarg a popular place for adventure sports tourism.
Patnitop it is a famous hill station in the Udhampur district of Jammu & Kashmir, known for endless meadows and panoramic views of the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas. Along with the widespread abundance in sceneries, Patnitop is known for activities like skiing and trekking as well as water springs.
Patnitop offers adventure activities like paragliding, trekking, skiing etc.
Aru Valley, Pahalgam
Juxtaposed against the snow-covered Himalayan peaks, Aru Valley is an enthralling village in Kashmir. Located around 11 km from Pahalgam, it is the base camp for trekking to the Kolhoi Glacier and the Tarsar-Marsar Lake. Aru lies beside the Aru river, a tributary of the Lidder river, and is known for its scenic meadows and activities like horse riding, hiking and trekking.
During the winter months, Aru Valley becomes a winter wonderland covered with snow as far as the eyes can see. This makes it a perfect place for skiing. There is an entry fee for Aru Wildlife Sanctuary but it doesn’t have any fauna.
Anantnag is one of the most beautiful cities in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, with gushing streams and sights and sounds that make Kashmir the heaven that it truly is. Located at a distance of 53 km from Srinagar, Anantnag is regarded as the commercial and financial capital of the Kashmir valley.
It is a large business and trading centre of the valley. Near Anantnag exists the confluence of three streams, Arapath, Brengi and Sandran, and the resulting river is named Veth or Jhelum. There are several larger streams such as Brengi. Another stream Lidder joins the river a little downstream and from that point the river becomes navigable. In olden times river, Jhelum was the main source of transportation between Anantnag and other towns downstream.
Nigeen Lake, Jammu and Kashmir
Located in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, Nigeen Lake is renowned for its pristine waters and stunning ambience. It is located next to Dal Lake but is much smaller in size. The lake gets its name from the word nageena which means “the jewel in the ring”. It is one of the best places in the city to catch the sunrise and sunset thanks to the beautiful landscape and willow and poplar trees surrounding it.
It is home to a number of houseboats that accommodate guests, with shikaras ferrying them in and around the area. It is a tourist hotspot for those looking to enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains in peace. The Nigeen club lies on the eastern shore of the lake, providing facilities such as saunas, gyms and a coffee shop. Tourists looking for a bit more adventure can also try swimming in the lake for a once in a lifetime experience.
Amarnath, located in union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most important pilgrimage in India for the worshippers of Lord Shiva. The Amarnath cave has an enshrined Shivaling formed naturally with ice, which resembles Lord Shiva.
Amarnath is visited by millions of tourists every year from all across the world for a challenging mountainous trek called ‘Amarnath Yatra’. Legend has it that, this place is regarded to be the same cave where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati.
Amarnath Cave is accessible only during the Sharavan months of July-August. There are two routes available for undertaking the Amarnath Yatra – via Baltal or Pahalgam. The Baltal route, though shorter, has a steeper trekking route. The Pahalgam route is longer but is generally preferred by most of the devotees. It usually takes 3-5 days to reach Amarnath from the base point. Helicopter services are now available by private operators on both these routes. The devotees need to make advance bookings and get registered to undertake the holy pilgrimage to Amarnath.