Complete Itinerary of My Kashmir Trip
Going to Kashmir had always been on my bucket list but planning it seemed a bit dicey because of the perpetual unrest settled over there. Also let me tell you that I am blogging about it now but this trip was taken before four years, but I still want to share my experience. Given the recent unsettling events like Burhan Wani encounter, terrorist attack on Indian army posts and surgical strike that ensued later on, this might not be the right time to visit Kashmir. But when it happened for me few years ago, it was so sudden that I couldn’t believe it for some time. To say that I was beyond excited would be an understatement.
All the pride I had for being a citizen of the country that houses earth’s paradise, bubbled up and I was a jar of butterflies for a month that I took in packing for the trip. It happens a lot that when you plan a trip, lots of things are missed due to unawareness, you cannot go to a lot of places because of weather and you can certainly not fit a lot many plans in one trip, right?
Fortunately, when we planned our trip, everything went right. So I am going to lay before you my itinerary and ideally what all you should include and what could be given a miss. First of all, if your sole aim to visit Kashmir is to enjoy snow, plan your trip somewhere in February end or first week of March because at that time last snowfalls are happening and melting has yet not begun. So weather is bearable as well as you get to feel the chill.
To begin with, we took a flight to Delhi, spent a day there chilling around, shopping, trying local street food and we also paid a visit to the stunning Akshardham temple which is more than just a temple.
Then we took a flight from Delhi to Jammu. Actually we were supposed to book a flight directly to Srinagar from Delhi but some friend suggested us to drive through the route from Jammu to Srinagar and bless that friend, it was stupendous. The ten hour long drive did not tire us at all. In fact, we made so many pit stops to take in the breath taking view that we reached Srinagar after 12 hours.
That’s me below, waiting for our car outside Jammu airport.
(Outside Jammu Airport)
Below is my picture somewhere between Jammu and Srinagar. It is that beautiful, you get the idea?
(Scenic break somewhere between Jammu and Srinagar)
We lunched on some roadside dhaba which served delicious Rajma chawal (Kidney beans curry and rice)
(Our badass driver. Plus check out the view behind him)
Next morning, we set out towards the first destination on our list. We wasted no time in reaching the ultimate snow spot. So we hit the road to Gulmarg, the best and most popular place to enjoy snow.
Checkout the scenic drive to Gulamrg.
(Me overclothed with woolens in Gulmarg)
After returning from Gulmarg, we had a lavish Kashmiri dinner. In fact we practically gobbled up lots of hot soup to keep us warm in the chilling weather.
Next day we roamed around royal gardens of Kashmir that were conceptualized by the Mughals of their era. And how could I miss the chance of dressing like a Kashmiri!
Check me out in Kashmiri attire (Pheran).
We were booked in a royal houseboat on the famed Dal lake of Srinagar. So at sunset we reached there and boy it was stunning? I had never seen a whole city afloat on a lake before. It was simply marvelous. I had no words. Locals were selling everything from fruits and vegetables to Kashmiri merchandise as well as ice-creams on small boats called ‘Shikaras’. Parents were dropping their kids to floating schools in their local vehicles which were again small Shikaras. Isn’t it cute?
It was so amazing to be pampered with all the lavishness on a boat. Checkout the aristocratic interiors of our houseboat. These boats are named after different countries to attract foreign tourists. We stayed in a houseboat named New Zealand. (Wink)
(Interior of our houseboat)
This is the view we woke up to from our houseboat.
After a hearty breakfast and lunch prepared by the keeper family of our Shikara, we set out towards our next major destination which was Pahalgam. It is a place of magnificent valleys. And the whole 2 hours drive was filled with beautiful saffron farms where we stopped and learnt how saffron is harvested. Take a look. Is it any less than Switzerland?
(Our own Switzerland)
By the time we reached Pahalgam, we were so awestruck by the views that we literally dumped our luggage and rushed out to our first target, Aru Valley.
(A lone haunted house in Chandanwari)
(Betaab Valley- the place famous for lots of Bollywood shootings)
(View from my hotel, Mount View- like literally ;-))
On our last day, we explored Mamal, a small village in Pahalgam on our own. With help of a local young shephard, we climbed a hill, crossed a river and actually enjoyed a picnic lunch on top of a mountain. After climbing down, we were invited to the shephard’s family where we spent time knowing more about Kashmiri culture, food, family tradition and a lot of interesting stuff.
(These beauties chilling in spring waters in Mamal)
(The handsome shepherd)
(Streets of Mamal- A small Kashmiri village)
(Just crossed a river….yay!!)
(tall Deodar trees….No, don’t try to see their tips, it might break your neck.. I am telling you ;-))
Broke your neck???…told ya!!
(Our hosts- A typical Kashmiri family….. all wearing pherans)
(Interior of a typical Kashmiri house)
I would let you in on a secret here. This family and the whole aura inspired me to write a book. So I took one year to write a novel with a thrilling plot and included this sweet family in it. Such was the experience that it changed how I perceived the world.
What was your experience in Kashmir? How did you plan your trip to Kashmir? Let’s hit the comment box for some interesting chitchat.