The place that everyone wants to visit at least once in their life time, recalled as “The Heaven on Earth” or The Paradise on Earth, Kashmir is truly blessed with an eternal natural beauty .
From those charming Houseboats and Shikaras to those thrilling skiing and sledge rides, from the magnificent Gulmarg to the Holy Vaishnodevi temple, the Jewelled crown of India offers everyone a dear memory of Kashmir to behold. A lot has been written about this region, movies and documentaries have been made, Kashmir has been a prominent part of Bollywood for ages. It is truly about embracing the nature.
Let the exploration begin…an inimitable gateway is guaranteed!
First stop -Srinagar
I arrived at the Srinagar International Airport, booked a cab and headed to the beautiful extended House boat. Living on the water in ceda-paneled bedrooms with all the facilities and the charming interior , the Houseboat appears more like a personalized home. Each house boat is unique in its own way and is anchored at the edges of Dal Lake, Nagin Lake and Jhlum River. You will also spot the flower sellers in his shikara passing by while you enjoy the scenic view from you house boat.
Known as ‘Meadow of Gold’ surrounded by snowy mountains and endless roads, Sonamurg provides you a chance to experience sledge rides on the snow. Pony rides or the local car are also available till the “Thajiwas Glacire” which is a major attraction during summer. Pack yourself in warm clothes as much as possible as the climate is extreme and sometimes frequent rainfall is also possible thought not heavy. And I did experience some light rain on our way. In the evening I enjoyed the speed boat ride at the Dal /Nagin Lake.
The Shankaracharya temple situated on the top of the Shankaracharya hill is the holy temple of Lord Shiva. The temple is of huge significance, not only from the religious point of view, but also from the architectural perspective.
Picture credit- wikimedia.org
Next I headed towards the island of Char Chinar where I tried out the gorgeous Kashmiri outfits and photographed too . Also, I enjoyed the Dal Lake Shikara ride with a picturesque view.
Nishat Bagh-‘The garden of Joy, “Garden of Gladness, “Garden of Delight”’ traces its root back in 1633. Built by Asif Khan elder brother of Noor Jehan who was the twentieth and most beloved wife of the Mughal emperor Jahangir, Nishant Bagh beholds a magnificent view of the snow-capped Pir Panjal mountain. It is the second largest Mughal garden in the Kashmir Valley, eclipsed only by the Shalimar Bagh, which also lies on the banks of the Dal Lake.
Shalimar Bagh-‘The Abode or Hall of Love’ traces its roots back to Mughal Emperor Jahangir. This vibrant and colourful garden is the largest of amongst all Mughal Garden. Shalimar Bagh have something interesting to offer in the form of pavilions, pools, or water cascades. It is more flamboyant in architectural quality when compared with its other parallels in Kashmir.
When the Mughal Emperor Jahangir was asked about his cherished desire on his death bed he said:
“Kashmir, the rest is worthless”.
Known as ‘Land of Flowers’ renamed by Sultan Yusuf Shah who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes ornamented with wild flowers. It is a favourite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here.
Gulmarg Gandola is one of the highest in the world .The Cable car ride has become the major attraction for the tourists and you can enjoy the World highest Cable Car ride up to the Affarwat snow point.
En-route you can visit Kashmir carpet factory and view the apple orchards, they are really good.
Picture credit- jkinside.com
You will experience a lot of devout travellers on your way to Pahalgam. En-route visit Avantipur ruins and pass-by the Pampore Saffron fields. It is a perfect setting for photographers.
Head towards Chandanwari for a magnificent view of Lidder valley. Chandanwani has an immense religious and tourist significance. A unique landscape made up of high hills, a little greenery, and twisty streams, all of this make a seamless photography haunt.
Once again you can photograph yourself in Kashmiri outfits at various photo studios and enjoy other activities at Pahalgam on your own.
You really can’t leave Kashmir without visiting Vaishnodevi Temple. The Hindu temple where Goddess Mahalaxmi resides. Proceed to Katra by coach once you arrive in Katra, the base point of Vaishnodevi you can later proceed for the Vaishnodevi Temple. I started my trek from the base at 10pm and reached the top at 1:00 am. The initial walk is the steepest ones and steps should be avoided completely. You have an option of “Palkies, Ponies, Helicopter ride but I preferred the walk. Along the way all the facilities are arranged like water, snakes, beverages, rest rooms etc. A trek of total 28km I reached the base at morning 6 am with lot of stops on the way.
Important thing to consider: Obtain the Yatra slip upon reaching Katra and especially while you are at trekking to enter into the temple. If you forget obtaining Yatra slip then it is impossible to cross beyond the Ban Ganga check post.“Yatra Slip can be booked online also save time in the long queue .
How to get there:
Mumbai to Srinagar Fly- Travel from Chatrapati Shivaji Airport (Mumbai) to Srinagar by booking a flight. It will take around 2hrs 30 mins with approx cost of Rs 7000 for flights .(depends upon the early booking).
Mumbai to Srinagar Train- Travel from Bandra Terminus to Jammu Tawi, the train takes around 31 hours. You can catch a train from Bandra Terminus and get down at Jammu Tawi. The price of the train ticket is around Rs. 2500 (depends upon the early booking).
I enjoyed every moment of my Kashmir Trip and still cherish those memories…It truely is heaven on Earth….
Until then , Keep Spinnin’ Keep smiling….and of course Keep Travelling 🙂