Whatever part of India you live in, Kashmir has always been on everyone's list of 'places-to-visit'. Well, when you are born that beautiful, you can demand such attention. Kashmir is surrounded by three mountain ranges of the Himalayas - Karakoram, Zanskar and Pir Panjal. Together their snowcapped crowns form a picturesque backdrop to Kashmir.
Everything about Kashmir is distinct. From its food, culture, attire to music and way of living. When you travel to Kashmir, be ready to get bowled over by the crisp and cool air. And then by the fragrant smell of wild flowers blooming in the meadows. Definitely not to miss the mountain smell of pine trees. The gurgling Lidder river, and the chill when you walk on snow. The lullaby that the buoying shikara will sing you, and the flavours of wazwan. Welcome to our very own paradise. Let's Bismillah this trip.
- Arrive at Srinagar airport before noon. Meet your the local expert. You then drive to Gulmarg, which is 60 km away. The almost 2 hour drive is in itself an experience. You drive through valleys and the fragrant smell of pine trees won't escape you. The word Gulmarg means a meadow of flowers. So do keep checking with your travelpal to explain the scenery around. It will definitely bring a smile on your face.
-In Gulmarg you take a Gondola ride (at own cost). It is one of the world's highest operating cable cars. And will take you to a height of 12293 ft. On the top you will be welcomed by snow and the closest one can get to the Pir Panjal range without scaling it. Ask your travelpal to describe the stunning view of the snowcapped mountains.
-You check into your hotels, have dinner and retire for the day.
- You drive from Gulmarg to Sonmyarg after breakfast. It is a 3 and a half hour drive. Sonmarg literally means yellow meadow, named after the yellow corcus flowers that cover the whole valley when it blooms.
- After checking into your hotel you go to the Thajiwas Glacier. Be dressed to beat the cold here, for you will be walking on a glacier and it will be really cold. Pony rides are also available (at own cost).
- You come back to your hotel, have dinner and retire for the day.
- After breakfast you transfer to Srinagar. It's an 80 km drive and takes us approximately 2.5 hours. In Srinagar you enjoy the Shikara ride on Dal Lake. You also visit the very famous Mughal Gardens. Here are rows of flower beds and sprinkling water fountains.
- You have home cooked local food for dinner at a resident Kashmiri's house. So you get to experience how Kashmiris live.
- You spend the night in houseboats.
- If you wake up early, you will witness the flower market on the Dal Lake (at your own cost). The sells and aroma will enchant you and so will the chatter in Kashmiri accent. After breakfast you transfer to Pahalgam, it is a 3 hour drive. In Pahalgam you will be staying within a Pine Forest. Imagine the fragrant air surrounding you. You can also take a leisure walk in the forest with your travelpal.
You can also visit the river Lidder and sit beside it for hours. The gushing waters of the river and the cool breeze will do you good.
- You explore Pahalgam. You go to the valleys and the one made famous by the film Betaab. In fact, the valley is now called Betaab valley.
- You stopover for lunch at Troutbeat Cafe or a similar outlet. Do try some dishes made from fresh catch of the day (at your own cost).
- You also visit an outlet of Himalayan Cheese. It's a local revolution where the Gujjars sell milk to the Dutchman Chris Zandee. With the help of locals, he makes Gouda and other varieties of cheese.
-After breakfast You drive back to Srinagar. It should take you not more than 3 hours. You will have a few hours in Srinagar, if you want to go shopping (at your own cost).
-After dinner retire for the night in your hotel.
-After breakfast you transfer to the Srinagar airport. Alvida Kashmir.
- Stay in 4-5 star property (including stay in house boat for 1 night).
- Breakfast and dinner
- All transfers
- Visit to a local's house
- Shikara ride (1 boat ride in Dal Lake for 1 hour, four passengers in one Shikara)
- Visit to cheese market or similar activity
- Flight tickets to and from Srinagar
- Entrance tickets
- Expenses mentioned in itinerary as 'at own cost'
- Medicines, if needed
- Bottled water, incidentals, porterage, charges, tips or any other service
- Any type of natural crises, road blocking and flight delay charges.
- Anything not included in inclusions
Image courtesy: Sukanya Subramanian