Kashmir Tourism and Travel Guide

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kashmir tourism and travel guide

Best Time To visit Climate How To Reach Places To Visit Things To Do Top Restaurants Best Places To Stay Shopping Travel Agents

Known as ‘Paradise on Earth’, Jammu and Kashmir is one of India’s most favoured tourist destinations. The state is popular for its picturesque beauty, the pashmina shawls and the many blue lakes that dot the Himalayan terrain here. The state is a religious amalgamation with natives practicing Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. There’s naturally a lot of cultural diversity to be explored here. And don’t forget the mouth-watering Kashmiri cuisine ‘Wazwan’. For those of you planning to visit the Valley, here’s a detailed travel guide of Jammu Kashmir to fill you up on all the details you need to know for your tourism here.


Best Time To Visit

Kashmir is well and truly a year round destination if you’re waiting for the best time to visit Jammu and Kashmir. All seasons, be it summer or winter in Kashmir, have their allure that beckons travellers from all over India and abroad. So, never mind when to visit Kashmir and just pack your bags and get up here.

March to Early May (15°C to 30°C): These are the best months to visit Kashmir for sightseeing as the weather is pleasant and lets you explore the lush green meadows and enchanting natural beauty of Kashmir without any obstacle. The temperature during these months varies from 15°C to 30°C. This is also the best time to trek the alluring trails of Srinagar, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. Weather in Kashmir in May is also pleasant enough to enjoy the summer vacations with your friends and family.

December to March (-2°C to 12°C): Kashmir’s weather in December, January, and March is the best to enjoy snowfall as the whole valley is covered with snow. The entire Kashmir looks mesmerizing in these months and this is also the best time to visit Kashmir for skiing and snowboarding. The temperature during these months varies from -2°C to 12°C.

Since the entire Kashmir Valley is a mountainous region in a temperate zone, it witnesses a four-season climate pattern: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. Jammu, being closer to the river plains, has a hotter and drier climate throughout the year. Alpine meadows speckled with wildflowers, grazing herds of nomadic tribes, and orchards laden with fruits make spring in Kashmir a splendor worth witnessing. Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Patnitop are best places to visit in Jammu and Kashmir during this time.

The winter season, December through February, is the best time to visit Kashmir for snowfall. Spring, March through May, is the best time to visit Kashmir for a honeymoon as the flowers in the famous Mughal gardens in Srinagar are in bloom. Early spring till mid-April, which is also the offseason in Kashmir, is ideal for those looking to get the best deals on hotels in Kashmir.

The best time to visit Tulip Garden in Kashmir is in the month of April when the whole garden blooms and looks vibrant with different species of colorful tulips.

If you are planning to visit Gulmarg, then the best season to visit Gulmarg depends on the type of activity preferred by you. If you are someone who is looking for snowfall and activities like skiing and snowboarding then October to February is the best time to visit. If you want to explore the true beauty of Gulmarg then March to June would be the best time to visit when Gulmarg blooms with colorful flowers and lush greenery.

The most famous Kashmir festival is the Tulip festival celebrated in the months of March and April when the Kashmir valley blooms with vibrant tulips. Another famous festival celebrated in Kashmir with great pomp and show is the Hemis festival. The festival is celebrated for two days during the month of May in which whole state dress in traditional attires to celebrate the festival with great joy. Besides these two, some other popular festivals celebrated in Kashmir are Shikara festival, Gurez festival, Lohri, and Urs.


Climate

Summer Season in Kashmir

Summer, June through August, is a season of joy and it draws in a constant flood of tourists of all kinds into the Kashmir Valley. Although hotel rates are higher and solitude is hard to come by in Srinagar, but a shikara ride or a nightstay in houseboat on Dal Lake makes it all worthwhile. Summer is also when most locals indulge in many festivities such as Ramzan and weddings. Whether you’re on honeymoon to enjoy time around Dal Lake or an adventurer planning your next trek in the mighty Pir Panjal range, summer is the best season to visit Kashmir Valley. Jammu in summer experiences heat waves as bad as in Chandigarh or Delhi. Summer is also the time when pilgrims go to Vaishno Devi in Jammu or Amarnath Yatra in Kashmir.

Monsoon Season in Kashmir

Monsoons, between September and November, is also a good time to explore the Valley as summer crowds have thinned out by this time and best deals on hotels and packages are on offer. The Monsoon season is an off-season in Kashmir Valley however, don’t let it discourage your plans. Apple picking is the most rewarding activity to do while you’re in Kashmir during the rains.

Winter Season in Kashmir

Winter in Kashmir lasts usually between December and February. Some places in the Kashmir Valley in Winter witness a lot of snowfall while Jammu in winter has milder winter temperatures. Entire snow-clad Pir Panjal range makes winter the best time to visit Kashmir for a honeymoon. Thousands of tourists come here to enjoy snowfall in Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Srinagar. Patnitop in Jammu is another popular hill station where newlyweds and families love to retreat.


How To Reach

Located in northern India among the Himalayan Mountains, Jammu and Kashmir is also known as ‘Paradise on Earth’. The state is the ideal summer destination in India. It is also the only state in India with two capitals – Jammu in winter and Srinagar in summer.

Planning a trip to Jammu and Kashmir and wondering how to reach there? Read on and plan your trip soon.

By Air

There are three airports in Jammu and Kashmir with regular flights from all major cities of India:

• Sheikh Ul Alam Airport in Srinagar
• Jammu Airport in Jammu
• Kushook Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh

New Delhi is the closest destination to Jammu and Kashmir with daily flights to Jammu and Srinagar. Air India, Spice Jet and Jet Airways are some regular airlines on these routes. After reaching the airport, you can hire a cab to reach various cities and towns of Kashmir.

By Rail

By train, Jammu Tawi is your last stop. You can also head to the Banihal railway station or Udhampur railway station. The Jammu Tawi station of Jammu is well connected to Mumbai, KolkataDelhiChennai, Pune, Trivandrum etc. The trains include Jammu Rajdhani, Jhelum Express, Uttar S Kranti, Andaman Express, Himgiri Express, Swaraj Express and Himsagar Express. It is advisable to check the schedule of these trains before booking tickets as some of them do not run daily. Udhampur railway station is also located in the Jammu region and is around 229 km from Srinagar.

The Banihal railway station (Ramban district) is connected to Srinagar and Jammu by road. The only issue with the railway station is that it is operational only during the summer season. You can avail taxi and state as well as government buses from the stations to reach your destination.

By Road

If you want to take a road trip then you will have to take the NH 1A as it connects to different cities of Jammu and Kashmir. On your way to Kashmir, you will be crossing the Jawahar Tunnel that connects Jammu with Kashmir and it is an enriching experience traveling through this tunnel. As the state is recognized for its tourism industry, the government has taken efforts to build good roads for travelers.
There are many comfortable and private buses that run from Manali, Ludhiana, Shimla and Delhi. Most of these are tourist buses, operated by the Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation. You can also book a private car or taxi.

If you are taking a road trip to Srinagar, the drive may be comfortable, but it can also be tedious as the roads are open to both army and tourists. Some of the places may be difficult to access due to the political unrest in Kashmir and you may have to travel in an army convoy. Travelling by road in rainy and winter seasons can be risky due to landslides and heavy snowfall.


Best Places To Visit

1. Srinagar

Srinagar is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and famous places to visit in Kashmiras well as in India. From boating to trekking, bird watching to water skiing, Srinagar place has it all. Locally this place is known as the mirror to the mountains, Srinagar is a first stopover for every traveler and there are a long list of places to visit in Srinagar, Kashmir. The largest city of Kashmir, this place is enclosed by the green mountains and the main highlight being the Dal Lake which is the gem of the city. This place gives a close outlook to the Kashmiri cuisine and the state’s culture.

Best time to visit: June to October, and for snow December & January would be the best
Things to do: Stay in the boat house, Visit the Mughal gardens, Take the shikara ride

2. Gulmarg

Famously known as the ‘Meadow of Flowers’, Gulmarg is a treat to the eyes with its spread of vibrant flowers against snow capped mountains as backgrounds. This region of Kashmir is also known as the adventurer’s paradise because of its vast options of skiing in the snow while enjoying the views around.

Best time to visit: June to October, and for snow December & January would be the best
Things to do: Mountain Biking, trekking, Skiing if you visit in winters and Gondola rides for a panoramic view of the valley.

3. Sonamarg

Sonamarg, as the name suggests, is famous as the ‘Meadow of Gold’. An endless stream of stunning flowers and undulated trekking routes are its attractions. Sonamarg has to be in every visitors’ list of places to visit in Kashmir for its mesmerizing aura and breathtaking views.

Best time to visit: June through October, December & January for snow
Things to do: Trekking, Camping and nature walks

4. Leh

Leh is one of the best and safe places to visit in Kashmir in summers. The lofty mountains, the alpine lakes, and the quaint settings enable Leh one of the best places to visit. This place is every biker’s dreamland. Clad in the beauty and love of nature, Leh offers breathtaking views, leaving no visitor disappointed.

Best time to visit: April to June, September to October. Most of the tracks are closed after November due to heavy snowfalls

Things to do: Trekking and Mountain Biking is all it takes to give you a lifetime worth memories

5. Kupwara

Kupwara is a small district located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and situated at a distance of 90 Kms from the state capital, Srinagar. Blessed with the nature’s most finest views, the thriving meadows, alpine mountains, and the gushing clear water make Kupwara a must visit destination in Kashmir. This city epitomizes the beauty of Kashmir.

Best time to visit: April to October
Things to do: Visit to Lolab valley, Qamar Reshi Sahib Shrine, Sheikh Baba Behram

6. Kathua

Commonly called the “city of sufis”, this city in Jammu and Kashmir shares the southern borders with Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. The city has a large presence of Sufi shrines of Pirs within its boundaries. For the history lovers willing to have a glimpse of Kashmir’s past, Kathua should be on your list of top places to visit in Kashmir. Situated on the banks of a river, Kathua offers scintillating views and serene atmosphere. The city is also a gateway to a state and a big industrial town with army presence.

Best time to visit: Summer is the best time to visit Kathua
Things to do: Jasrota fort is a must visit for history lovers. Picnicking in Ujh Barrage

7. Kargil

Kargil is a small town in the Kargil district of Ladakh region, which brings shivers down the spine of the Indian Citizens. This part of the Ladakh is a must visit for every first time traveler for capturing the undaunted beauty of the place. Kargil is the second largest town in Ladakh after Leh which offers a plethora of options to escape in the nature’s lap. Not only does this city bring heart-touching memories but also provides scintillating views. The atmosphere in this city oozes with emotions.

Best time to visit: March to June
Things to do: Mountaineering in the Nun Mountains, trekking to Suru Valley. Visits to Mulbek Gompa, Shergol, Urgyan Dzong and Wakha Rgyal

8. Pulwama

Famously named as the “Rice Bowl Of Kashmir”, this quaint village in Jammu and Kashmir is a great place to witness the nature’s real beauty of the state. Situated at a distance of 40 Kms from Srinagar, this place has many tourist sites for the first time travelers to explore. This multi hued city offers amiable weather, pleasant odor saffron fields, malleable citizens. One cannot have enough of the saffron fields and the rich culture in Pulwama.

Best time to visit: April to October
Things to do: Mountaineering and trekking in summers and skiing and snowboarding in winters

9. Pahalgam

Pahalgam is considered as an illustration of the heaven on earth which is situated at an altitude of 2740 m. Situated at distance of 95 Kms from Srinagar and surrounded by dense forests, beautiful lakes and meadows of flowers. Tranquility and serenity are the other names of Pahalgam! This tiny town is known to suck out all the stress of every visitor.

Best time to visit: June to October, December & January for snow
Things to do: Visit to Betab and Aru Valleys, Horseback riding, canoeing

10. Hemis

One of the many unexplored destinations in Jammu and Kashmir, Hemis is a small village which is located at a distance of 40 Kms southeast of Leh. Like every other region of Jammu and Kashmir, Hemis also epitomizes natural beauty. Hemis is popularly known for its magnificent monasteries and national park. It is a must visit in Kashmir in summers if you are a wildlife enthusiast. Rare species like the snow leopard and bharals find shelter in the national park here.

Best time to Visit: May to July
Things to do: Visit the Hemis Monastery and the Hemis National Park

11. Jammu City

The city of Jammu is indeed one of the famous places in Kashmir area. As you may know it, the city is bestowed by the presence of Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, a significant pilgrimage spot for Hindus. It is also called the City of Temples, as there are many religious sites here, including Peer Baba Temple, Mahamaya Temple and Peer Khoh. Other than the spiritual side, the city is beautified with scenic charm and rugged Bahu Fort.

Best time to visit: Anytime is the best time to visit
Things to do: Temple visit, sightseeing and trekking

12. Kishtwar

Since Kishtwar is somewhere far from tourists’ radar, offbeat travelers consider it a gem. The landscape here bewitches with its lofty hills, lush greenery consisting of pine and deodar forests. The national park in Kishtwar attracts wildlife and nature enthusiasts. Other than that Machail Yatra and Sarthal Yatra are two pilgrimage circuits of high reverence, which you must consider during your visit.

Best time to visit: Summer
Things to do: Trekking, camping, wildlife safari and pilgrimage

13. Doda

Blessed with a diversity in its landscape, Doda is a place for adventure and nature lovers. Whether you are a beginner in adventure activities or an expert, you will consider this a gem. Doda is, though lesser known among tourists, it is well known for two Hindu shrines, namely – Athra Devi Temple and Chandi Mata Temple.

Best time to visit: Summer
Things to do: Trekking, mountaineering, rock climbing and temple visit

14. Poonch

One of the top tourist places in Kashmir, without a doubt, is Poonch. The lush green
Meadows, view of snow capped mountains and the eighteenth century Poonch Fort combine to weave a panorama that makes you weak in the knees. The seven lakes of Girgan Dhok have to be in you itinerary, alongside many religious shrines like Baksh Sahib and Gurudwara Nangali Sahib.

Best time to visit: Summer
Things to do: Temple visit, trekking and sightseeing

15. Anantnag

Adorned with flourishing gardens and freshwater springs, Anantnag is a divine destination. Right here, you get to enjoy the comfort of a city and essence of nature. There are number of places you can go on for a day tour, such as Verinag and Daksum. Surely, our list of places to see in Kashmir wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this one!

Best time to visit: Anytime
Things to do: Sightseeing, day trips, temple visit.


Best Things To Do

Mostly located in the Himalayan ranges, Kashmir offers a plethora of experiences that one must take by indulging in the below listed exciting things to do. The location and the terrain make some of the things are exclusive to this destination, so go ahead and enjoy all of these:

1. Shikara Ride

Lay back and admire the beauty of the distant mountains as your boatman takes you through a ride across the lake. Away from the hustle bustle of the polluted city life, a shikara ride ranks on the top of the list of the best things to do in Kashmir. No smoke or sound of the vehicles, no high-pitched angry crowd, nothing. Just the soft sound of the boatman’s oar breaking the surface of the water and the touch of the cold water as you trail your hand on the surface of the lake.

Where to try: Dal Lake in Srinagar and Manasbal Lake near Sonamarg
Timings: 6:00 am – 5:00 pm; all days of the week
Cost per person: INR 150 – INR 250

2. Houseboat Stay

And it is not just the shikara rides in Dal Lake, this is one of the best offbeat things to do in Srinagar. Spending a night at the houseboat docked at the Dal Lake jetty is also among the top things to do in Kashmir. Be it honeymooners, families, or solo travelers; a night stay at one of the houseboats in Srinagar is something that you simply can not miss. The houseboats have Wifi and airport transfer facilities available. You can also avail the meals facilities provided by them. Houseboat stay facility in Jammu and Kashmir is best experiences if you are here with your family, a group of friends or with your partner.

3. ‘Gondola’ Cable Car Ride

Riding the Gondola cable car is one of the exciting and fun things to do in Kashmir for people of all ages. Tourists prefer to travel via cable car to enjoy the best views of the snowcapped mountains. Taking a Gondola ride is one of the best things to do in Kashmir in Maybecause during this month, the summers are coming to an end and the view is really great.

The ride takes place in three phases.

  • Phase 1: Gulmarg to Kongdoori
  • Phase 2: Kongdoori to Apharwat Peak
  • Phase 3: Kongdoori to Mary Shoulder [Chair Lift]

Timings: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Ride) | 9:00 am – 3:00 pm (Ticket sale); all days of the week
Cost per person: INR 600 (Phase I) | INR 800 (Phase II) | INR 300 (Chair Lift)
Website

4. Gulmarg Golf Club

This is one of the offbeat things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. The Gulmarg Golf Club is coveted as one of the largest and highest 18-hole golf courses in the world. Playing golf in this ‘Meadow of Flowers’ is, indeed, one of the most fun-filled activities to do in Jammu and Kashmir. This destination has a natural golf course so enjoy this game in the lap of nature.

Timings: 08:30 am – 10:00 pm
Entry Fee: INR 800 for Indians | INR 1200 for Foreigners

5. Kashmiri Cuisine

Like in any other destination across the world, trying the local cuisine is one of the most important things to do in Kashmir. We all have heard about the Kashmiri Kahwa (tea) and Lamb Mutton Rogan Josh. But the cuisine has many more sumptuous dishes. These include Nadroo Yakhni (yogurt based Kashmiri curry with lotus stems), Paneer Chaman (fried paneer simmered in tomato sauce and flavored with spices and fennel seeds powder), Dum Aloo, Matschgand (minced meatballs cooked in spicy red gravy), and Gushtaba (minced mutton cooked in flavorful yogurt gravy and spices).

6. Tourist Attractions

Be it a family tour, honeymoon, or an outing with friends, no one would want to miss the beautiful attractions of Kashmir. Of the various places to visit in Kashmir, Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Sonamarg are the most popular ones. Heading to explore these cities is one of the most popular things to do in Kashmir.

Places to visit in Srinagar: Dal Lake, Nehru Park, Floating Post Office, Shankaracharya Hill Temple, Jama Masjid, Tomb of Zain-ul-Abidin’s mother, Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, Chashme Shahi, Pari Mahal, Hari Parbat Fort are the key attractions of Srinagar.

Places to visit in Gulmarg: Maharani Temple, Ziarat of Baba Reshi, Khilanmarg, Apharwat peak, and Strawberry Valley are some of the places to visit in Gulmarg.

Places to visit in Sonamarg: Thajiwas Glacier, Manasbal Lake, Ganderbal, Khir-Bhawani temple, and Narang temple are the major tourist attractions of Sonamarg.

Places to visit in Pahalgam: Lidder River & Amusement Park, Deer Park & Zoo, Mamleshwar Temple, Betaab Valley, Sheshnag Lake, Aru Village, Matrand Sun Temple, Saffron fields, and Anantnag Sulpher Springs are some of the attractions of Pahalgam.

7. Shopping

Shopping is one of the most common things to do in Kashmir. And no, I do not mean just antiques and other souvenirs. Tourists here can shop for exquisite Kashmiri handlooms and Pashmina shawls, antique copperware like samovars, Namda hand-woven carpets, local garments called Ferins, and expensive Doda Sapphire. And then there are flowers, fruits, and vegetables sold on the shikaras in Dal Lake. More than what you buy, how you buy will be the reason for your excitement here.

8. Pony Ride Excursions

Pony is a common mode of transport in the valleys of Kashmir. Taking a short pony ride in the beautiful valleys is another interesting thing to do in Kashmir. Pony rides in Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Yusmarg, and Gulmarg are very popular. Pony rides are more common in places where transport cannot be motorized. Taking a pony ride is a great way to enjoy the real lifestyle of Jammu and Kashmir.

9. Old Srinagar Heritage Walk

They say, walk more to know more. And the same is true with Srinagar. With some structures over 4 centuries old and gardens that are no less than a paradise, the city has an architecture that is influenced by 3 different styles and 3 different religions. Walking through the old town is one of the peaceful things to do in Kashmir. Visit the marvelous structures including Jamia Masjid featuring 370 pillars made of the Maple tree. Take a walk through the lanes of the old Srinagar that has old markets of spices, dry fruits and threads.

10. Wildlife Tour

The snow-capped mountains and dense forests of Jammu and Kashmir treasures some of the most wonderful and rarest species of flora and fauna. Best protected within the boundaries of over 7 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Jammu and Kashmir, you can explore these wildlife species by visiting any of these places including Hemis National Park, Kishtwar National Park, Dachigam National Park, Kazinag National Park, and Salim Ali National Park.

Snow leopard, musk deer, brown bear, Marmot, red fox, Himalayan black bear, golden eagles, Monal pheasants, and griffon vultures are some of the rare species that are found in this region. You can also go bird watching at one of the 24 wetlands in Jammu and Kashmir where over 500 different species of bird find a home. Gharana and Surinsar regions in Ladakh are ideal places to spot migratory birds. You would get to see Black-necked crane, European blue whistling thrush vulture, falcon and bar-headed geese.

Top Adventure Activities To Do In Kashmir

Kashmir is full of experiences and there is so much to do and see. And if you want to do something that is different from the regular tourist tours, here are some offbeat things to do and activities that you can do in this heaven on Earth:

11. River Rafting

White river rafting is one of the most adrenaline rush giving adventurous things to do in Kashmir. The rapids here are easy or moderate, which implies that rafting in Kashmir is not very difficult. You can go rafting near Sonamarg as well. However, the white water rafting in the Lidder river in Pahalgam is more famous. Teamwork coordination is an important feature in river rafting and you must also follow the safety instructions given by the instructors

Details:

  • Short Lidder River Rafting: 3 km (Pahalgam) | Yarganpal to Yaneed Bridge | Grades II & III
  • Medium Sindh River Rafting: 8 km (Sonamarg) | Mamar to Satrun Margund | Grades II, III, & IV
  • Long Sindh River Rafting: 28 km (Sonamarg) | Mamar to Wayul Bridge | Grades II, III, & IV

12. Paragliding

For all those adrenaline junkies, there is also an option to go for paragliding. The majestic beautiful valley beneath is a sight to behold. The unique view of the green valleys makes paragliding one of the most thrilling things to do in Kashmir. Paragliding options are available in Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Bhaderwah, Sanasar, and Harwan (Srinagar). Of these, paragliding in Harwan is most easily accessible as it lies on the route of the tour of the Grand Mughal Gardens.

Note: Refer to the Website for details about paragliding at Harwan.

Tip: Also try paragliding and hot air ballooning at Sanasar.

13. Trekking

With mountains generously covering the landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, trekking has become one of the best things to do here. Though in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, trekking in Ladakh is more famous. There are short treks and hikes that tourists can take in the valleys of Kashmir. There are many high altitude alpine lakes in Kashmir, such as Vishansar Lake, Tarsar Lake, Gadsar Lake, Alpather Lake, and Satsar Lake.

Since these beautiful lakes can only be accessed after scaling the hills, trekking has become one of the best things to do in Kashmir for the nature lovers and adventure seekers. No matter how long the trek is, the final view from the top is definitely going to be breathtaking. Make sure you wear a comfortable and grippy pair of footwear to the trek. Carry enough water to drink, and wear you sunscreens too.

14. Skiing And Snowboarding

Kashmir is a cold region, with snow-capped mountains and freezing – cold river streams, and to experience it at its best, you must visit Kashmir in the winter season. This is one of the best things to do in Kashmir in Winter. With the onset of winters, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, and Gulmarg are entirely covered in snow. And this open ups an opportunity for the winter sports. Snowboarding and skiing are the best things to do in Kashmir during winters, especially if you have an adrenaline rush to satiate.

Skiing Organizers: Powerhounds (Gulmarg) | Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports (Pahalgam)

Adventure seekers can also take a beginner level ski course at Pahalgam:

Cost per person: INR 5,600 onwards*
Dates: 30th January to 2nd February and 5th February to 8th February
Contact Number: +91-99069678430
*Package inclusive of instructor, skiing dress, equipment, food, and stay

15. Mountain Biking

Ever thought of exploring the green valleys, snow-capped mountains, gushing rivers and still-clear lakes on a bike? If this has been your idea of fun then there is no better place than Jammu and Kashmir. The location, the scenery, and the terrain make this destination ideal to enjoy mountain biking activity. If you like smoother rides then Kashmir Valleys are apt but if like an off-roading experience then Ladakh’s rugged terrain is the best.

The challenging treks during your cycling journey would raise the bar of thrill too. The popular cycling routes include Srinagar to Sonamarg, Sonamarg to Manasbal lake, Srinagar to Gulmarg, Gulmarg to Pahalgam and Pahalgam to Srinagar. And if you want to meet the mighty Himalayas, take the Srinagar – Leh highway route that goes through ten mountain passes.

16. Hot Air Ballooning

Jammu and Kashmir have countless options when it comes to adventure activities and they are not just limited to land and water. The vastness of the landforms here and the beauty of the scenic views make it a perfect destination for Aero sports too. Just like paragliding, hot air ballooning is also gaining popularity demand.

The mesmerizing sight of the lush-green and floral hills, deep valleys, snow-covered mountain ranges, milky – white streams and those signature-style slope-roofed houses, from the top will really want you to extend your stay in this heaven on Earth. Valleys of Suru and Zanskar are the popular spots in Jammu for enjoying hot air balloon rides. The ride takes to a height of around 3,000 feet and lasts for about 2 hours. Winter months are the best time to experience this activity.

Spiritual Things To Do In Jammu And Kashmir

If you thought Jammu and Kashmir is only about the breathtaking scenic beauty, here’s a surprise for you. If this is the heaven on Earth, there has to almighty’s abode too. Here some of the popular temples, shrines, and monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir that you must not miss on your visit:

17. Amarnath Cave And Vaishnodevi Temple

Taking a pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave & Vaishno Devi Cave Temple is among the most religious things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. The Amarnath Yatra is done to worship the ice stalagmite Shivalinga. It is said that Lord Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati. The pilgrimage takes place during July – August. This 45-days Shravan Mela is dedicated to Shri Amarnath Ji.

The Vaishno Devi Yatra is a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi. The Trikuta mountain, where the shrine is located, has one base but three different peaks. A similar structure is seen inside the cave. The three heads are said to be of Mata Kali, Mata Laxmi, and Mata Saraswati – Hindu goddesses. This yatra, too, takes place in the months of July and August.

18. Ladakh Buddhist Monasteries

Of the numerous places to visit in Leh Ladakh, the Buddhist monasteries are the rarest gems of Jammu Kashmir tourism. An exploration of these Gompas is one of the most religious things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. Some of the most popular monasteries (gompas) of Ladakh are:

  • Hemis Monastery: Constructed by Stagchen Raschegn during the 17th century, the monastery is most popular for its masked dance during the Hemis festival.
  • Thiksey Monastery: Home to over 500 monks, the monastery houses many items of Buddhist art like wall paintings, statues, thangkas and swords.
  • Likir Monastery: Believed to be the first monastery to be erected by Tibetan monks, it was founded by Lama Dhwang during the 14th century. The monastery houses many Tibetan artifacts.

Best Places To Eat

On the Shikara, Dal Lake:

I would advise you to eat the goshtaba (soft meat balls served with soup) from a shikara. Do not forget to ask for all the three chutneys:

The cucumber, red chilli powder and carrots
Carrots and cucumber mixed in curd with some spice
Chopped tomatoes mixed with some sauce, dahi and Kashmiri chilli powder

Chutneys served with Gushtaba

Price: Rs. 150-200 (4 pieces)

Masal, Dal Lake Promenade:

On the Dal lake promenade, you will find a small temporary stall selling masal. It is ideally a Kashmiri version of bhel. A mix of chilli powder, sauced and chopped tomatoes are spread on a maida roti. They make a mixture of curd, carrot, cucumber and chickpeas and roll it into a wrap. It is simply a lip smacking healthy snack.

Price: Rs. 40/- (for one wrap)

Shamyana (Dal Lake Promenade, Opposite Gate No. 2):

This is the best food joint in Srinagar. I would recommend any dish with mutton, mutton biryani, chicken biryani or the Kashmiri Wazwan (a Kashmiri food platter).
Price: Rs. 500 (for 2 people)

Sunset Boulevard (On the way to Shalimar Bagh):

This restaurant offers to you a wide variety of cuisine but I would only recommend eating Kashmiri food here. I recommend Rista, Rogan Josh and Dahiwal Korma along with a butter paratha for some dough with the gravy. Do not try the Momos!
Price: Rs. 600/- (for 2 people)

Lhasa (Dal Lake Promenade, Opposite Gate No. 9):

This restaurant serves lip smacking food. I would recommend you to sit in the garden area (the setting is made absolutely beautiful with a centre piece fountain). I recommend Rista, Chowmein and Rogan Josh.
Don’t order too much, as they are quite generous with their quantity.
Price: Rs. 400/- (for 2 people)

Mughal Darbar (Shervani Road) – Not Recommended

This restaurant is the most recommended on all the ‘good food in Kashmir’ sites but it was a rather disappointing experience.

The Kashmiri Wazwan (its most recommended dish) was served cold. The food had a lot of oil. The meat was chewy and rubbery and the chicken served was raw. They did not have good sense of replacing the dish or even accepting the fact that it was raw in the first place.
The dishes are also highly priced compared to other restaurants.
Price: Rs. 650/- (for 2 people)

A Crash Course in Kashmiri Food (for non-vegetarians)

Kashmiri Wazwan

· Rogan Josh: Red masala gravy with a smoky flavor with mutton/chicken

· Dahiwal Korma: Curd cooked in masala with mutton/chicken

Kahwa

· Rista: Minced mutton balls with red masala gravy (spicy)

· Gushtaba: Soft meat balls served in gravy or boiled (similar to Rista but not spicy)

· Kashmiri Wazwan: A platter of all the Kashmiri dishes

· Tabak Maz: Fried goat ribs (not recommended, unless you like eating crispy fat)

· Kahwa: A refreshing Kashmiri drink that includes namkeen tea, cinnamon and cardamom


Best Places To Stay

Best Hotels In Srinagar – Budget

Here are some of the best Kashmir hotels that offer an unparalleled experience:

1. Welcome Hotel Gulmarg – Award winning hospitality

The view of rolling slopes of the Gulmarg valley makes Welcome Hotel one of the best hotels in Gulmarg, Kashmir. Laden with snow in the winter and bright green with grass during summer, the location is simply superb making it one of the best hotels in Kashmir. One of the best mid-budget hotels in Gulmarg, Welcome Hotel is fitted with all the amenities a traveller requires. Wake up to the splendid view of Nanga Parbat and enjoy a Kashmiri Kahwa tea for breakfast!

Location: Circular Road, Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir 193403
Starting price: INR 4,500 per night
Google Rating: 3.4 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4
Website

2. Comrade Inn – A comfortable stay away from home

Comrade Inn is an ideal choice to explore the city of Srinagar. It is one of the few good hotels in Kashmir near Dal Lake and other tourist attractions like Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, and Chashme Shahi. The tastefully decorated hotel is fitted with all the modern amenities that you will seek on your travels. If you’re looking for 3 star hotels in Kashmir, you can go for this one.

Location: 1, Rajbagh, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190008
Starting price: INR 5,000 per night
Google Rating: 3.9 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4
Website

3. Nedou’s Hotel – A unique holiday experience

For over 120 years, Nedou’s has been hosting guests at its luxurious hotel in Gulmarg. One of the best boutique hotels in Srinagar, Kashmir, it is ideal for skiing in the winter and golfing in the summer! With quaint cottages offering privacy, Nedou’s is ideal for a romantic getaway for couples offering relaxation and comfort.

Location: Gulmarg, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190001
Starting price: INR 6,000 per night
Google Rating: 3.6 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4
Website

4. RK Sarovar Portico – A pleasant & memorable stay

Built on the cliff-side, the RK Sarovar offers fantastic views of Srinagar city and the mountains beyond. You can enjoy the easy access to all tourist attractions and yet experience a serene holiday in the calm hotel environment. With facilities like spa, beautiful gardens and one of the best restaurants in Srinagar offering sumptuous food, you have many chances to rewind and relax!

Location: Next To United Nations Head Office Srinagar Jammu and Kashmir, 190001
Starting price: INR 7,500 per night
Google Rating: 4 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4
Website

5. Hotel Glacier Heights – The best value for money

Hotel Glacier Heights offers the comforts and conveniences of home in the town of Sonamarg. Whether you are heading on the Amarnath Yatra or simply taking in the beauty of Sonamarg, this definitely is one of the best hotels in Kashmir. They also help tourists explore the town and nearby areas and assist in organising the best things to do in Kashmir like trekking, rafting, camping and fishing tours.

Location: Main Market, Sonmarg Ganderbal Jammu and Kashmir, 191202
Starting price: INR 3,000 per night
Google Rating: 4.3 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4
Website

Luxury Hotels In Kashmir

For lavish services and a royal treatment, pick from these:

6. The Heritage by Heevan – Experience the true Kashmiri heritage

The Heritage by Heevan is definitely among the best luxury hotels in Kashmir. Built in traditional wood architecture, this hotel is located in an idyllic location with stunning views of the mountains. Perfect for families and even for solo travelers, you will be amazed at the warm hospitality.

Location: 193 BB Cantt., Shivpora, Srinagar, 190004
Starting price: INR 9,000 per night
Google Rating: 3.9 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5
Website

7. The Vintage Gulmarg – A holistic mountain retreat

The Vintage Gulmarg offers the best in Gulmarg! Whether it is summer or winter, this decadent hotel offers stunning 360 degree views of the mountains and the valley. A short distance from the gondola ride, it is suitable for a ski holiday. Imagine relaxing with a comforting spa massage after a thrilling ski session at one of the best hotels in Kashmir!

Location: 2739, Circular Road, Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir 193403
Starting price: INR 9,000 per night
Google Rating: 4.4 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5
Website

8. WelcomHotel Pine-n-Peak – True indulgence

The WelcomHotel Pine-n-Peak is undoubtedly one of the best luxury hotels in Kashmir. The captivating scenery with views of the Pahalgam valley and the Lidder River offer an ideal location. You can choose to relax with a book on its gorgeous lawns facing the river or head to the spa. Or choose to get high on adrenaline with trekking and river rafting.

Location: Aru Road, Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir
Starting price: INR 12,000 per night
Google Rating: 4.7 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4.5
Website

9. Hotel Heevan Pahalgam – The ultimate heavenly holiday

The sound of the Lidder River gurgling past the Hotel Heevan is what will stay in your mind forever, bringing back beautiful memories of Kashmir. The hotel is located truly in a piece of heaven. It faces snow-capped mountains in the winters and gorgeous greenery in the summer. Hotel Heevan is among the top hotels in Kashmir, for those who’re looking for absolute peace.

Location: Opposite Amusement Park, Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir 192401
Starting price: INR 9,000 per night
Google Rating: 4.2 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4
Website

10. Hotel Rah Villas – A tranquil rendezvous with nature

An active vacation or a relaxing holiday, you get to choose the kind of trip you want at the Hotel Rah Villas. The beautiful hotel is located away from the busy Sonamarg town in the midst of nature. You can choose to relax with a barbeque near the river or choose to go on a pony ride with a picnic hamper to a nearby glacier! Rah Villas is among the best hotels to stay in Kashmir with your loved ones.

Location: Kulan Sonmarg, Srinagar, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, 191202
Starting price: INR 9,000 per night
Google Rating: 4.4 | TripAdvisor Rating: 4
Website


Shopping In Kashmir


Travel Agents

1. Shoes On Loose Pvt Ltd

Address: 473 A, Street No.1, Hardevpuri, Gautam Nagar, Near Father Agnel School, Delhi, 110049, India

2. RegularTrip

Address: 401, 4th Floor Aggarwal Chamber No 4, 27 Veer Savarkar block Shakarpur Delhi -110092, Delhi, 110092, India