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.
- We arrive at Srinagar airport before noon. We then drive to Gulmarg, which is 60 km away. The almost 2 hour drive is in itself an experience. We 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 we 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.
-We check into our hotels, have dinner and retire for the day.
- We drive from Gulmarg to Sonmarg 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 our hotels we go to the Thajiwas Glacier. Be dressed to beat the cold here, for we will be walking on a glacier and it will be really cold. Pony rides are also available (at own cost).
- We come back to our hotel, have dinner and retire for the day.
- After breakfast we transfer to Srinagar. It's an 80 km drive and takes us approximately 2.5 hours. In Srinagar we enjoy the Shikara ride on Dal Lake. We also visit the very famous Mughal Gardens. Here are rows of flower beds and sprinkling water fountains.
- We have home cooked local food for dinner at a resident Kashmiri's house. So we get to experience how Kashmiris live.
- We 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 we transfer to Pahalgam, it is a 3 hour drive. In Pajalgam we 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.
- We explore Pahalgam. We go to the valleys and the one made famous by the film Betaab. In fact, the valley is now called Betaab valley.
- We 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).
- We 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 we drive back to Srinagar. It should take us not more than 3 hours. You will have a few hours in Srinagar, if you want to go shopping (at your own cost).
-In the night we have a special musical evening for us. Local artists will sing for our group. For people like me, it will be a totally new world of music. Since the only Kashmiri song I know is 'Bumroo-Bumroo' from the film Mission Kashmir.
-After dinner we retire for the night in our hotel.
-After breakfast we transfer to the Srinagar airport. Alvida Kashmir.
- Stay on twin sharing basis (including stay in house boat for 1 night).
- Breakfast and dinner
- Musical night
- 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
- Assistance from travel pal
- 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
Note: Contact us for recommended flights from your city to Srinagar. Single occupancy can be arranged at an extra cost.
Image courtesy: Sukanya Subramanian