In the seventeenth century the Mughal Emperor Jahangir set his eyes on the valley of Kashmir. While living in a houseboat on Dal Lake he said “Gar firdaus, ruhe zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.” If there is ever a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here it is here. The beauty of Kashmir is unparalleled and the valley boasts of many places to visit for sight-seeing and is a traveler’s delight. There are many places to visit in the three regions; Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
This is a blog series of the various places that one must see in this heavenly state. The whole state of Jammu & Kashmir can be divided into three main regions of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. All three regions are beautiful; with so much beauty and so many awesome locales that one truly feels the essence of life in its various shades and moods. We will be exploring all these regions one by one in this series, with the aim that whenever you visit this heaven on earth, you do not miss on any one of them and know what your journey is going to be like.
In Part 2 of this series, we will be exploring the many locations you must visit in the Kashmir region of our state for a breathtaking experience that will stay with you for your life long.
1. Gulmarg ("Meadow of Flowers") is a town, a hill station, a popular skiing destination in Kashmir. Gulmarg's legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of the premier hill resorts in the country. Originally called 'Gaurimarg' by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favorite haunt of Emperor Jahangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country's premier ski resort in the winter. The Cable car "Gondola" has 60 cable cons that ferry the tourists right upto the height of 3090 meters from 2690 meters at the base (Gulmarg). A circular road, 11 Km in length, runs right round the Gulmarg through pleasant pine forests with excellent views over the Kashmir Valley. Nanga Parbat is visible to the north and Haramukh and Sunset Peak to the south-east.
2. Pahalgam is a popular tourist destination. This world famous hill station is 45 km. from the District Headquarters at Anantnag and located on the banks of Lidder River at an altitude of 7200 ft. from sea level. Pahalgam is one among the five tehsils of Anantnag district and tehsils headquarters are located in the main town of Pahalgam. Besides tourist huts, several hotels in private sector have come up here and these hotels provide modern facilities to their guests. A number of treks in this region also begin from Pahalgam, as the 35 km trail traverses through pinewoods to the spectacular Kola hoi Glacier.
3. Sonamarg ("The Golden Meadow") is at an altitude of 2740 meters, 85 Kms northeast of Srinagar, the road that leads to Sonamarg is an enchanted journey in itself overlooking the awesome spectacles of beauty. In its vicinity lie the great Himalayan glaciers of Kashmir Valley namely Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier with some peaks of above 5000 meters: Sirbal Peak, Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak. Sonamarg an alpine valley is situated at the bank of Nallah Sindh, 87 km north-east from Srinagar. It lies at an altitude of 2800 meters above sea level. Sonamarg is also known as "Gateway of Ladakh”. Sonamarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several mountain lakes –Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal.
4. Yusmarg is a hill station in the western part of Kashmir Valley situated 47 km south of Srinagar. Yusmarg has a great scope for adventure tourism. Doodganga, a river flows through this meadow. In its vicinity lies the alpine meadow of Tosa Maidan. A trek of 4 km leads to a small Lake named as Nilnag surrounded by pine trees. Another 10 km trek leads to the most interesting lake the frozen lake in Sang-e-Safed valley, most portion of this lake is covered by ice even during the summer. A number of tourist huts, restaurants and hotels are available for lodging. The other activities include horse riding, fishing, skiing during winter and photography.
5. Daksum is located in the Green Forests along Anantnag-Semthan-Kishtwar road and is a natural scenic spot. It is an awesome place with serenity and quiet amidst the natures lap. Standing at an altitude of 2438 m in a densely forested gorge, Daksum offers peace and tranquility. The only sound heard there is that of the Bringhi River, rushing right through its center. Daksum in Kashmir valley is a must for those fond of walking and nature.
6. Sinthan Top The Sinthan pass connects Kashmir valley with Jammu Province through Kishtwar. It is 12,500 feet (3,800 m) above sea level and is snow capped for most of the year. Like other areas of the valley, Sinthan Top is known for its beauty and wonderful tourist attractions. The spot is fast emerging for mountaineering, trekking and skiing. Sinthan Top is easily accessible from Srinagar, almost 4–5 hours drive by car. Attractions like Kokernag, Daksum and Achabal fall en-route that offer tourists varied choice of resting and makes traveling more pleasant and less tiresome. At the spot called '360 Degree View', one can see areas of both Kashmir and Jammu Divisions.
7. Kupwara is another district of Kashmir and is known for its amazing beauty. Among the many tourist places in Kupwara, Lolab Valley has special significance. Sogam is a Tehsil and a really beautiful place to visit for its meadows, mountains, gushing waters, and fresh air.
8. Baramulla is located on the banks of Jhelum River, downstream from Srinagar .The city was previously known as Varahamula (Sanskrit for "boar's molar").There are many beautiful locales to see in this snow bound region, the top amongst them are the Eco Park, Khadniyar, which is located at the island in the middle of Jhelum river on the road from Baramulla town to Uri offering a great view with mountains in the background, Jhelum river flowing along the island and lush green well-maintained garden with some beautifully designed wooden huts. It is one of the best places to visit in the Baramulla and is a famous destination of locals particularly in summer evenings. Some other beautiful places to see are Kitter Dajje and Mund dajje popular for the scenic view they have to offer.
9. Gurez or Gurais, also pronounced Gorai is a valley located in the high Himalayas, about 86 kilometers from Bandipore and 123 kilometers (76 mi) from Srinagar. At about 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, the valley is surrounded by snow capped mountains. It has diverse fauna and wildlife including the Himalayan brown bear and the snow leopard. The Kishanganga River flows through the valley.
10. Kokernag Koker means 'fowl' and nag means 'serpent'. The spring gushes out of the base of a thickly wooded hill from where it divides into channels, which resembles to the claw-foot of a hen, hence its name. Kokernag is at the height of(approx.)2000 mts from sea level. Place is famous for gardens, largest fresh water springs in Kashmir and for its largest rainbow trout hatchery of north India.
11. Achabal Garden is one of the most important and splendid tourist places in the state of Kashmir and is about 8 kilometers away from Anantnag. It was in the state of Kashmir that the Mughal style gardens were brought to perfection and Achabal is one such masterpiece. This place is famous all over due to an ancient spring surrounded by a terrace garden, which was developed by the Mughals. The historical significance of this place strikes the visitor with awe. Achabal Garden, once the pleasure retreat of the Mughal Empress Noor Jahan is a beautifully created garden in Kashmir with its own special allure and character. Its` picturesque beauty makes it one of the best Mughal gardens of the Indian subcontinent. The upper portion of the garden is popularly known as `Bag-e-Begum Abad` and was developed by Malika Noor Jehan Begum in 1620 A.D. Later it became renowned as Sahib Abad in which there was a `Hamam` or treasure of water getting heat from a logical lamp or `tosng`. The garden was created at the site of a powerful spring, which enters the garden as a waterfall. The design of this wonderfully created garden is ascribed to the beloved wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
12. Aharbal Waterfall Aharbal lies in the Kulgam district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located on the Veshu River, a tributary of the Jhelum River, in an alpine valley covered in pine and fir trees within the Pir Panjal Mountains, 18 km south of the town of Shopian and 28 km west of Kulgam. It lies at an altitude of 2266 meters above sea level. Aharbal is known for its waterfall, Aharbal Falls, where the Veshu falls noisily 25 meters and 7 meters through a narrow gorge of granite boulders. Aharbal Falls are also referred to as the Niagara Falls of Kashmir, owing to the volume of the water that falls. The terraces leading to the falls are fenced, but care must be taken to avoid slipping.