‘Gar Firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin asto’ – The poetic verse translates into ‘If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here.’ That’s how the legendary Amir Khusro described Kashmir’s beauty ages ago. And the fact remains the same ages after the description by Amir Khusro. Kashmir is home to scenic mountains decorated by snow-laden peaks, the famous Dal Lake, and lush green deodar forests. It is due to its geographic location and exquisite landscapes that Kashmir is known as the Switzerland of India. The state is known as India’s crown due to its geographic location on the map and is guarded by the mighty Himalayas and Pir Panjal range. The erstwhile state which is now a Union Territory has seen a lot because of being located near a very hostile border, but even decades of ruckus couldn’t take away the charm of Kashmir.
Kashmir is arguably the most beautiful part of the country and is a leading holiday destination that attracts not only Indians but also foreign tourists. It is the region(inhabited) that witnesses the highest snowfall in the country along with a few areas of Himachal Pradesh. It is a daunting task to pick a few from a vast list of beautiful places in Kashmir, but we’ve tried to compile 6 such destinations that you must visit to witness the glory of Kashmir.
1. Srinagar: Srinagar is the capital city and political center of Kashmir. The nearest airport to key tourist places is also situated in Srinagar. Giant green mountains guard the biggest city of Kashmir that is also the home to the iconic Dal Lake, where you can enjoy living on the traditional Kashmiri boat or Shikara. Srinagar is the best place to understand Kashmir’s culture and enjoy traditional Kashmiri cuisine. Other key places to visit in Srinagar are the Mughal Gardens and Nishat Bagh. You can enjoy a lot of activities such as trekking, bird watching, and water skiing. The best time to visit Srinagar is between June to October. However, December or January may be the best time to visit Srinagar if you are a fan of snowfall.
2. Gulmarg: A trip to Kashmir can never be complete without paying a visit to the mesmerizing Gulmarg. Known as the ‘Meadows of Flowers’, Gulmarg is a hypnotic town full of snow-capped mountains with a series of pine trees and a variety of flowers, making it a picturesque spot. The gorgeous hill station is a famous skiing destination that attracts thousands of adventure junkies every year. You can try a series of adventure activities here after reaching the hill station from Srinagar via a bus. The cable cars in Gulmarg are the best way to take a glimpse of the glorious Pir Panjal range from the top. The best way to visit Gulmarg is from December to January as this is the time when the hill station witnesses snowfall.
3. Sonmarg: If Gulmarg is famous for its snow-laden mountains and the glorious Pir Panjal range, Sonmarg is the synonym to lush green valleys and beautiful landscapes. As the name suggests, Sonmarg is also known as the ‘Meadow of Gold’. Kashmir is not only known for Snowfall and Sonmarg is the reason for the diversity in Kashmir’s beauty. Located in the Ganderbal district, the hill station looks equally beautiful in both the summer as well as winter. You can enjoy camping beside the lush green mountains in Sonmarg after reaching there from Srinagar Airport through a taxi. The best time to visit Sonmarg is between June to October or in December and January.
4. Pahalgam: A small yet beautiful town in the Anantnag district, Pahalgam is a small yet beautiful town that is the closest you can get to the Kashmiri tradition and its culture. Apart from its gigantic mountains that guard the boundaries of Pahalgam just like any other Kashmiri town, the exotic hill-station is known for its dense forests, beautiful lakes running along with the town, and meadows of flowers. This is the best place to kill your stress while enjoying your stay at a traditional Kashmiri resort or villa. Located at an altitude of 2740 meters, Betab and Aru valleys are Pahalgam’s jewels. Sheshnag Lake is another key attraction of Pahalgam. You can visit the town either between June to October or in December and January. The hill-station is situated nearly 95 kms from Srinagar and you can reach there by hiring a private cab.
5. Patnitop: Amir Khusro must have visited this heavenly location before describing Kashmir as the heaven on earth. A breathtaking hilltop tourist destination in Udhampur district, Patnitop is located nearly 185 kms from Srinagar and you can reach there by hiring a private taxi. You can also take a train till Udhampur and take a cab from there for Patnitop. Patnitop is a picture-perfect tourist destination for winters that earns its beauty from its snow-laden mountains that include the mighty Himalayas. This is the best place to get an adrenaline rush that will take your breath away with its heavenly beauty and picturesque landscapes. You can try your hands at trekking, paragliding, and skiing while in Patnitop. You can visit this heaven on earth between May to June or September to October.
6. Sanasar: Sanasar is a perfect off-beat destination that is different from any other tourist spot in the region. Sanasar is the collective name given to the two small villages of Sana and Sar in Jammu province. This hidden gem in Kashmir is a picture-perfect tourist destination for adventure junkies. You can enjoy camping and photography near the Surni Kund. Paragliding, Trekking, Abseiling, and Rock climbing are some of the key adventure activities that you can try your hands at while in Sanasar. Naad Mandir and ShankPal temple are some holy places situated in the valley. It is one of the best places for a rejuvenating experience away from the city life. The best time to visit Sanasar is between April and June. You can reach Jammu either via flight or a train and hire a cab from there.