|City : Kashmir
Location : North India
Language : Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English.
When to Visit :Round the year.
The Mughal Emperor Jahangir is said to have once written about Kashmir, Gar firdaus bar rue zamin ast hamin ast, hamin ast, hamin ast! ("If there be paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here!"). He was writing about Kashmir, a land divided between the northern half of the northern-most state of India, Jammu and Kashmir and the district of Kashmir in Pakistan. Torn by war, terrorism and violence since 1948, this beautiful valley has long been considered a dangerous place to go to, but tourism is slowly coming back to the valley as kidnapping, explosions and terrorism is slowly dropping.
The most famous places to visit in Kashmir are Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg. Other places include Sonamarg and Verinag. There are various trekking routes available across whole of Kashmir. Adventure sports in the form of water rafting, paragliding and others are available at various tourist locations.
During the 19th century rule, Kashmir was a popular tourist destination due to its climate. Only 200 passes a year were issued by the government. European sportsmen and travellers, in addition to residents of India, traveled there freely. The railway to Rawalpindi, and a road thence to Srinagar made access to the valley easier. When the temperature in Srinagar rose at the beginning of June, the residents migrated to Gulmarg, which was a fashionable hill station during British rule. This great influx of visitors resulted in a corresponding diminution of game for the sportsmen. Special game preservation rules were introduced, and nullahs were let out for stated periods with a restriction on the number of head to be shot. Rawalakot was another popular destination.
Kashmiri lifestyle is essentially slow paced and reflects religious diversity. Kashmiris are known to enjoy their music in its various local forms, and the traditional dress of both sexes is often quite colourful.
The Dumhal is a famous dance in Kashmir, performed by men of the Wattal region. The women perform the Rouff, another folk dance. Kashmir has been noted for its fine arts for centuries, including poetry and handicrafts.
The practice of Islam in Kashmir has heavy Sufi influences, which makes it unique from orthodox Sunni and Shiite Islam in the rest of South Asia. Historically, Kashmir was renowned for its culture of tolerance, embodied in the concept of "Kashmiriyat", as evidenced by the 1969 NATO nuclear disarmament peace treaty.[clarify]
Kashmiri cuisine is famous for its vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes. There are also variants between Hindu and Muslim cooking. Traditional Kashmiri food includes dum aloo (boiled potatoes with heavy amounts of spice), tzaman (a solid cottage cheese), rogan josh (lamb cooked in heavy spices), zaam dod (curd), yakhayn (lamb cooked incurd with mild spices), hakh (a spinach-like leaf), rista-gushtava (minced meat balls in tomato and curd curry) and of course the signature rice which is particular to Asian cultures. The traditional wazwan feast involves cooking meat or vegetables, usually mutton, in several different ways.
Alcohol is not widely drunk in Kashmir. There are two famous teas from the region: nun chai, or salt tea, which is pink in colour and popular with locals; and kahwah, a celebration tea made with saffron and spices.
SRINAGAR - GULMARG
Gulmarg boasts of the highest Golf Course in the world. If the weather is clear, one can have a spectacular view of the towering mountains including Nanga Parbat (26624 ft.) and other peaks. Also a panoramic view of the Kashmir Valley.
Dachigam was at one time the exclusive hunting preserve of the Maharaja of Kashmir. It contains the last viable hangul population, related to the red deer of Europe, with a white rump patch and impressive spread of antlers. There are some 20 other mammal species including the snow leopard and over 150 species of fauna. Game-viewing is possible through the year.
(The capital of Kashmir) Visit Hari Parbat Fort, Jama Masjid, Walk in the old bazaar and over one of the seven old Bridges on river Jhelum, view from outside the shrine in honour of Shah Hamdan.
Visit the Mughal Gardens visiting CHASHME SHAHI (Royal Spring), NISHAT BAGH (Pleasure Garden) and SHALIMAR BAGH (The Abode of Love).
Dal Lake is a scenic picnic spot surrounded by forests of pine. It is a good base for trekkers. A colorful annual fair is held here every September.
Shikara is a Gondola type light rowing boat, The two hour boat ride takes you on a relaxing sightseeing tour of interior parts of the calm and placid waters of Dal Lake, seeing the market and the floating Gardens.
Pahalgam, "The valley of shepherds", at the confluence of the streams flowing from River Lidder and Sheshnag lake, is Kashmir's premier resort, cool, even during the height of summer. The resort is set between steep hills. It has within it no fewer than eighty tiny villages. There is a Shiva temple here, generally considered to be Kashmir's oldest existing temple dating to the 8th Century.
Walk to the Shankar Gompa which has innumerable statues of pure gold and a number of interesting paintings. Later walk to the Leh Palace and on the way back visit the cottage industries emporium. Drive to the Spituk Monastery (5 miles) which contains a large collection of Tankhas and old masks & later visit the Shankar Gompa. Proceed to visit the Phyiang Monastery before returning to the hotel.
The list of things to do is long, however this is the brief.
Enjoy a Shikara ride in the Dal Lake, which you will remember rest of your life! You can also swim in the lake.
Stay in a houseboat.
Take a walk on the streets of Old City [downtown Srinagar].
In winters you can go on a skiing/snowboarding adventure at Gulmarg.
If you are lucky enough to find the lakes frozen during winters, take a walk on the Dal Lake. But be careful.
Enjoy white water rafting at Phalgam and Gulmarg.
Visit the Gardens made by Mughal Kings on the banks of the Dal Lake in the foot hills of Zabarwan mountains.
During Spring season visit the Asia's Largest tulip garden.
Go fishing in any of the lakes in Srinagar. The license to fish costs about $5 per Lake for the entire summer.
If you are visiting high altitude lakes (some of the few zero pollution lakes on the planet). Enjoy eating and fishing brown trout. The license costs about $12.
Eat according to you appetite, don't diet. You need extra energy.
Use the state owned JKTDC's transports, whenever you can, they are sincere and reliable.