Category Archives: Blog

List of Oyo Rooms in Kashmir

Kashmir is one of the popular tourist destinations in India. And this is the reason, popular hotel aggregation chain- Oyo Rooms have active presence in the state. There are over 46 hotels under Oyo label. These Oyo Rooms are available in affordable category as well as in premium range and in different parts of the city. However, unlike other cities, Oyo offers Oyo Homes as well as Oyo Houseboats in Srinagar and at very affordable rates. Continue reading

Why You Should Not Give Houseboats a Miss!

You might have always wondered what makes ‘living on houseboats’ an unusual experience? But, believe me there’s a lot to it… a lot which could not be expressed in mere words. In fact, the entire concept of houseboats is too lavish to explain. Historically, Mughal emperors used to spend their vacations on houseboats whenever they wanted to spend some quality time with their better halves. Since then ‘houseboats’ had snobbish tag attached to it.

What makes it worth trying?

These are wooden houseboats which have very fancy interiors. To suit the climatic conditions, these boats remains heated during winters. Most of the architecture Continue reading

Temperature dips in Kashmir, witnesses snow fall!

The minimum temperature at most places in Kashmir division, including Ladakh region, went down after showing an upward trend for the last three days, even as the Meteorological Department here predicted fairly widespread wet weather spell over few days from tomorrow.

Mercury in Srinagar decreased by over two degrees Celsius from the previous night’s 2.2 degrees Celsius to settle below the freezing point at a low of minus 0.4 degrees Celsius, Continue reading

Here is what Shikara Ride in Srinagar must cost you!

‘Kashmir Gaye or Shikara pe na baithe to Khaak Kashmir Gaye’

Dal Lake in Srinagar is famous for more than one reason. Shikara ride is one of them. Houseboat stay is another reason while beautiful view of water field is the third one. Here are some of the important things you shouldn’t forget-

– If you are going in off season, chances are high that you strike a good deal with the rowers. (I paid just Continue reading

10 Must-To-Do Things in Kashmir

Kashmir is one of those destinations where more you stay is less. There are so many things to do in the valley that you might get confused where to start from. Therefore to make it an easy experience for you, here we have shortlisted the 10 best things to do in Kashmir which shouldn’t miss at all-

Romancing the water on Shikhara Ride

Srinagar will be your base place hence you would be having ample time to explore the town. Start with Shikara Ride where you can enjoy the wonders of water body. The water here is still but you won’t find a single mosquito breeding here. You can float around and relish the beauty of Srinagar landscape.

Zoom across Skiing in Gulmarg

Gulmarg is famous for the kind of skiing experience it offers. The white snow sheath in the town is luring enough to be resisted by anyone. So what you don’t know the trick, hire the instructor or try out by yourself, just by looking others.

Road trip to Sonamarg

Sonamarg is one of the famous getaways around Srinagar where you have to visit compulsorily. Driving through Sonamarg is an ultimate experience in itself. You can’t escape the beauty of snow clad mountains which will take your heart away.

Stay on a House Boat

Wherever you go, you stay in hotel. But Kashmir offers you the chance to spend a night in waters. Hire a houseboat for overnight and experience the luxury of riches and royals.

Enjoy the orange Sunset

Wherever you go, whether its Gulmarg or Sonamarg or local Srinagar, just don’t miss the orange sunset in the valley. The best time to experience the beautiful moment is Dec-Feb.

Shopping in local market

Get some of the original Kashmiri handicraft from the local market. However, it would be tough for you to identify the authentic one, hence take your guide along. You can also buy pure saffron, the speciality of Kashmir.

Feel the height at Gulmarg Gondola ride

Gulmarg Gondola is one of the highest cable car ride in the world. You can experience the breezy winds here while exploring LOC from you naked eye. It is an experience of lifetime, which you shouldn’t miss.

Taste the authentic Kaba

Although it would taste a bit different but believe me it would give your taste buds the most amazing experience that you couldn’t forget.

If you have something to add in this list, leave your comment below:)

Things You Should Not Miss at Dal Lake

There is no doubt in the fact that Dal Lake is one of most romantic landmarks in Kashmir Valley. But don’t just sit into Shikhara and get bored while boatmen sail it for you. Here is the list of some of the most amazing things to do in Dal Lake, not them or pin it to your FB profile so that you don’t forget it-

Get Dressed and Clicked

So what you are with your family, get a landscape sized portrait clicked with your parents and decorate your living room.

Check out some authentic Kashmiri handicraft

Meera Bazaar has some government sponsored handicraft outlets. Don’t worry, you need not carry it with you, they can get it deliver for free. Just pay a part of the package upfront and rest of the on delivery.

Admire the beautiful Sunset at Dal Lake

The best time to visit Dal Lake is towards late noon. When you will be heading back to your starting point, you would experience the most beautiful sunset-orange, yellow, red and what not.

Dal Lake

Enjoy overnight stay at Houseboat

How about spending a night on a houseboat, floating over water. With exquisite Mughalic interiors and beautiful view of valleys from the portico, select the best houseboat but don’t forget to negotiate as these are very expensive during peak season.

Watch Floating Fields and get amazed

Yes, Dal Lake has several muddy puddle but they have vegetation which you can see. You can just it with your boat and can float it anywhere.

Check out what are other things to do in Srinagar

These are most Luxurious Hotels to live in Kashmir

Hotels that can make you feel like King of Kashmir

Kashmir used to be summer resort for Mughals. Emperors along with their queens used to visit here during summers for experiencing the pleasant weather in the valley. Shalimar Garden and Nishat Garden used to be their favourite hangout place where they used to enjoy the beautiful view of Dal Lake. You too can experience the same royal hospitality in Kashmir, provided you are ready to spend few thousand bucks for the same. Check out these some super abodes in Kashmir valley that can make you feel nothing less than a royalist-

Vivanta by Taj

Address: Vivanta by Taj – Dal View, Srinagar

Kralsangri, Brein,

Srinagar 191121,

Jammu & Kashmir, India

Telephone: +91 194 246 1111 | Facsimile: +91 194 246 1011

The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa

Near Gondola Cable, Gulmarg, Jammu and Kashmir 193403

Phone : +91-1954254666

Email:reservations@khyberhotels.com

Fax: +91 1954 254660

In case, of emergency or not able to connect on board line, you can contact on: 9596780653, 9596780647, 9596780650, 9596780562

The Lalit Grand Palace

Gupkar Road Srinagar

190001 Jammu & Kashmir, India

srinagar@thelalit.com

Tel   +91 194 2501001 / 2501002

Fax  +91 194 2501003

If you have anything to add on to this list, just leave a comment below !

10 Best Things to Buy in Kashmir as Souvenir

Antik Mahajan visited Kashmir in last summer holidays. He was on his family trip and he had long list of relatives back at home whom he promised souvenir from the place. But when he actually went for shopping, he was dumbstruck as he had no clue what to leave and what to buy. In the end, he decided to tour the entire market and make note of the things which he actually found worth investing in. So here’s the 10 must things to buy in Kashmir without second thought- direct from Mahajan’s diary-

Antique copper ware

These are available in old city where you are not going to venture alone. If you have hired a guide, follow his instructions.

Kashmiri Carpets (Kaalin)

You get the most classic designer Carpets in Kashmir. No one can just have one, therefore make space in your baggage. Tip: Negotiate to the core!

Kashmiri Lac ornaments

If you have some female friends, they are surely going to love the Kashmiri jewels.

Spices- Red chilli, Saffron

Your driver/guide would definitely mention about Pampore fields which has best quality of saffron to offer, provided you have the skill to identify the authentic saffron.

Old, Vintage Maps of Kashmir

Just get some and get them framed to showcase it in your drawing room.

Old Photograph of Kashmiri Art

These are other embellishments for your drawing room.

Green Tea

You have to try Kaba here. There are variety of green tea available here, which diet conscious would love.

Ferin 😉

Obviously you are not going to wear this once you are back home but there is no harm in getting one for your wardrobe to add show to your winter collection.

Rugs and Wall hangers

Kashmiri handicraft is very attractive. You can’t keep your hands off if you come across any of such masterpiece.

Bakery Items

f you are flyer, get some delicious bakery items. The taste is just too amazing and would get you applauds.

Travel to Kashmir: Part IV- Sparkling Srinagar

We reached back city after visiting from Sonamarg in just three hours. We were free for the entire day. Packing was almost done so we were in no hurry to return hotel. Hence we decided to go for local sightseeing.

The to-do list was long and time was less. Hence we decided to skip few and visit just the famous ones.

Check out things to do in Srinagar

We started with Nishat Garden that didn’t have any blooming roses as it was not the season. We quickly walked around the park, clicked some beautiful pictures with Dal Lake in the background and came back. Same happened in Shalimar Garden which was also in dull mood, thanks to the extreme cold.

Post this, we headed towards Shankracharya Temple, which is one of the biggest religious landmarks in Srinagar city. It is located at a height and has very strict security. No mobile phones, leather articles are allowed inside the temple premises.

There are almost 85 stairs that you need to climb to reach the temple. We took almost 20 minutes to reach at the top, which is pretty normal. There is an army base here which keeps an eye on anti-social deeds, a perfect place to keep note of notorious elements

We spent good 60 minutes here, chit chatting with army personals who were delighted to know that we are from Delhi and its Kejriwal who is going to form government. The view from here was as marvellous as you can imagine. What we can see was just the beautiful Dal Lake

Post Shankracharya temple, we moved to Dal Lake for Shikara Ride. As I have already mentioned it was not peak season, we managed to crack the deal in just Rs 300 for three hours which included few landmarks.

Dal Lake

From Meena Bazaar to Jawahar Park, Dal Lake was full of delights that one could ever think of. However, littering is strictly prohibited here. Hence, make sure you do not get involve in such deeds.

We spent good three hours at Dal Lake. What added to our excitement was the beautiful sunset which took our heart away and made us felt that visiting Kashmir was actually worth it.

We reached back to our hotel after having quick dinner at eight. Since we had to leave early morning to catch our train from Jammu at 9pm, we made a point that we should start early. And as planned, we left the hotel sharp at 5 am as there were chances of snowfall during which Srinagar highway gets shut.

Luckily we were saved from such hassles and we reached Jammu city just on time. So you see how important is planning. If you too are planning Kashmir trip with your family, check out more posts on right panel to discover more about Kashmir.

Missed out Part III? Read here

5 reasons you need to visit Kashmir once in a lifetime

I visited Kashmir when I was 24 and in all senses to understand what Kashmir is all about. I always used to think that the place is overrated, until I visited it. I had already seen the glimpses of Kashmir in various hindi movies but never believed it. However, all my myths and misunderstandings vaporised when I actually visited the place. And I think, once in a lifetime you should witness heaven on earth- which falls here

Kashmir is beautiful! Eternally beautiful…..

 Believe it or not, Kashmir is the most beautiful place on this earth. Its’ true that heaven falls here and it is a real opportunity for any nature lover to actually feel how it is to be in the place where there is just never-ending ranges of mountains which seems to be as high as far as sight goes.

Check out what Betaab Valley is all about

It is beauty beneath danger

Although Kashmir has been in news for all wrong reasons, it is actually interesting that how Indian army and CRPF have maintained the calmness in the niggling territory of India.

You would not get the chance to witness floating city

Dal lake at Srinagar is a floating city where you can enjoy delicious food, spend overnight on house boat as well as can shop at Meena Bazaar. Where else you can experience the swimming city, except you are Italy.

Why Dal Lake is Beautiful

Where else you would see three international borders together 

Afghanistan, Pakistan and China- Kashmir offers you sight of three countries. Just imagine- standing in the idle of the valley and witnessing three borders at one sight. (Note: You can’t actually view three borders together, it is just a metaphor. There are different places in the valley where you have to visit to enjoy the sight of international line of control)

Its snowy as it can get!

 Visit Kashmir between January and March and what you will get to see is white gold- snow. Play, get wet, get dirty and do the Kashmir in coming vacations.

Betaab Valley’s secret out now! What makes it worth visiting!

If you are a ‘bollywood-movie’ freak, then you must be definitely aware of Pahalgam’s one of the most famous landmarks- Betaab Valley. For those who don’t know, here comes the surprise!

Betaab Valley is named after one of the most popular hindi films of 80s, Betaab, starring Amrita Singh (ex-wifey of Saif Ali Khan) and Sunny Deol (who needs an introduction ;)). Some of the scenes were shot in this beautiful valley which is almost 15km from Pahalgam. Reaching here isn’t tough as you can get private cabs from Pahalgam as well as Srinagar.

Pahalgam Betaab Valley

The ideal time to pay visit to director’s paradise is between Oct-April. You can visit here most probably anytime of the day. Sunsets are more beautiful than sunrise but keeping out after dark can be risky as the area is still impacted by militancy. If you are a nature lover, you can spend your entire day in the valley and get some fabulous pictures clicked.

Another secret which makes it a worth to go place is its geography. The valley is situated between Pir Panjal range and Zanskar. Interestingly, this part of Kashmir was ruled by some of the wisest Mughal emperors.

betaab valley

For those who love trekking, Betaab valley is definitely a heaven. This is one of the passing landmark if you are going towards Amarnath. In fact, you can also trek to Betaab Valley starting from Pahalgam, which is not just comfortable but easy and would make you less tired, keep you safe and you can also enjoy the beautiful surroundings at your own ease.

So before you prepare itinerary for Kashmir trip, make sure you check out all the information posted on blogs and chalk out the best trip at heaven.

Chashma Shahi

Things to Remember in Kashmir

It is the fact that Jammu and Kashmir is not like other usual tourist destination. Hence, you need to be extra careful while traveling in the state. Although infiltration and militancy is actually a serious problem here but you are extremely safe as the security network provided  by CRPF Jawans and army is more than extraordinary. Here are some of the handy tips which you should consider and remember while taking a trip to valley-

Keep your identification documents with you

Always carry your ID cards with you. Due to serious tensions in the state, there is extra layer of security in some corners of the valley. Since tourism is the main source of revenue in the state, special care is taken to make sure tourists remain safe and devoid of any danger.

Always follow the safety measures mentioned by the local police

Ask your driver, hotel management staff and other local people you are familiar with about to-do and not-to-do things in the city. There are some corners in the city which are not safe as thet are sensitive during communal riots. Remain within city limits and if possible close to popular tourist landmark such as Dal Lake in Srinagar, Golf course in Gulmarg and so on.

Avoid visiting sensitive areas during odd hours

Unlike any other tourist destination, you have to be extra cautious about your timings and whereabouts during odd hours. If you are going for sightseeing, make sure you get back to the hotel on time and take a good nap at night. 😉

Get back to your hotel on time

Utmost 8 o’clock. Make sure you come back to the hotel maximum by 8 in the evening. Have your luscious dinner and take a brisk walk close by. Enjoy the breezy winds and reach back to your hotel safely.

Patnitop

Best Time To Visit Kashmir

Are you planning your maiden Kashmir trip with your family or with your partner? Are you confused which is the right time to visit the valley? Well, this majorly depends on your motive of holidaying in Kashmir.

Best time to visit Kashmir to see snowfall– visit the place between December to March. The region witnesses maximum snowfall in Jan, Feb. However, Srinagar-Jammu highway gets closed during the season as it further increases the risks of accidents on already very narrow roads. Moreover, it would be unbearably cold. Hence make up your mind, before you plan the trip.

Best time to visit Kashmir to see snow- If you want to just play in snow and want to enjoy the whitey kind of ice and get some superb images, visit the place during end of February. Do check the weather updates which might get true sometimes. 😉 But you will get lot of snow if you visit in March however, the rates are almost at peak during this season. Hotels, Shikaara, travel- everything would be double the actual cost.

Best time to visit Kashmir Tulip Garden- Tulip Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens of India. Spring is the best time to visit the place. April and early May would be the ideal time to  visit if you want to get glimpse of blooming gardens.

Best time to visit Kashmir for honeymoon– Honeymooning in Kashmir would be enjoyable almost in every season. In fact, its’ all on you and on your idea of holidays how you want to celebrate the occasion. If it is about playing in snow and getting some beautiful pictures clicked, visit in February but if you want to just reel the romantic ride on the beautiful landscape, you should visit between April to June, when the weather is extremely pleasant.

Kashmir

Packing Checklist For Kashmir

Have you planned your trip to Kashmir already? Are you busy packing for the trip and confused what you should pack. So this is the time you go through my travel itineraries in detail already published just before this post. The right side panel would take you to previous post and go through this one to get the best idea what should you carry and what you should definitely carry while traveling to Kashmir-

Identity Proof- Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most sensitive areas of India where anything can go wrong anytime. Hence carry documents which can prove your nationality.

Contact details of any local citizen- If you know someone who lives in any part of the state don’t forget to carry their contact details as it may help you at most unexpected moments.

Basic medicines- Carry antiseptics, antibiotics, antacids and painkillers along with inhalers and pain relief sprays, ointment to avoid any last moment mood spoiler.

Full sleeves waterproof jackets- It depends on the season you are visiting. Although, you would need light woollens round the year but you need to carry heavy ones if you are visiting between November to March. Water repellent jackets would keep you safe from unseasonal rains.

Trekking Shoes/boots- These may help you in Sonamarg and Gulmarg as the ice level are usually more than 8 ft, and boots are basic necessities to carry for such destination. Although, you can rent it here but its always wise to carry your own.

Moisturisers- If you have dry skin, better you carry two bottles of your brand.

Extra bag- For picking up your dirty wears and keep it away from the woollens.

Umbrella- If it’s a monsoon, umbrella is a must carry. It rains and it rains heavily in Kashmir.

Cash in hidden pockets- Kashmir is actually Cash-more as at every point you need to spend without thinking twice. The best part is eating jaunts are too cheap here. You can eat here limitlessly without burning a hole in your pocket. So eat.. and stay calm.

 

Sunrise in Sonamarg

Travel to Kashmir: Part III- Scenic Sonamarg

This was our third and last day in Kashmir valley. Last two days were as tiring as it can be as we all had become muse of ice clad mountains. But when at the end of the day, you hit back the bed, you actually realise the pain of being in a climate which is too extreme for you. Sometimes it will be bones and most of the times it would be muscular pain that will haunt you post your Kashmir trip.

For us, Sonamarg was extra inclusion as our tour guide mislead us and didn’t informed the driver about the itinerary. Despite of the written statement, our driver refused to ply us to the place or asked us to pay extra. Since we didn’t want to miss on one of the largest glacier of the world, we didn’t mind giving him additional bucks for invaluable experience.

We decided to start for Sonamarg early morning 6’o clock. This would serve two purpose- we wanted to relish the rising sun behind some of the giant mountains on earth and we had to come back to the city on time so that we can enjoy local Srinagar sightseeing.

So after all much-to-do planning and excitement, we started at 7’0 clock (Its true, we Indians can never be punctual). We experienced Srinagar mornings for the very first time which were so quiet, calm and serene. The city seems to be very lazy as you cant even find a single human on even the main streets of the town at even 7 o’ clock. But things weren’t as they seems to be. Since the temperature is too low for human existence, the common household choirs starts when the sun goes up and weather becomes less harsh.

Sonamarg isn’t too far from the city, just 56 km and is the last stop in Kashmir valley on route to Ladakh. We knew that Sonamarg was beautiful but we never imagined even the picturesque landscape enroute would also be so enthralling. Each of the scene, each of the mountain that we pass through was so-so beautiful that you can’t keep your hands off camera. The narrow roads and mini shanties on those hills will make you think that how beautiful it would be to live here, the life away from the hustles and bustles and close to ice.

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Sonamarg

You would be forced to think which is more beautiful- the one you left behind or the one which you are about to witness. Because each of the scene makes you feel high to the limits, at Sonamarg you need to push your limits in order to realise how much awesomeness you can imbibe at once.

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We took almost two hours to reach the place where we have to leave the car and get o   n to the pony. Cars with chained tyres are also available here which you can hire and would charge you Rs 1,000-1,500, depending on the season you are visiting. We decided to take a moment off in a restaurant which was also a hotel. As we got down of our cab, its’ hard to believe but its true that the winds outside were so chilling and fast that you can get swayed. The temperature at that moment was -3 degree celcius, coldest what I had experienced till now.

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We weren’t able to stand by that cool breeze that was more like a tornado. Hence as fast as we could we ran into the hotel. We took a deep warm breathe and had tea, not the Kabba but the typical Delhi-type of tea. The hotel was too close to the mountains that we were exploring while driving.

So close that we realised that all those dotted greens weren’t trees but were army posts as well, where armed forces were well hidden and was keeping watch on all kinds of unnatural activities. There was a river as well, flowing just close to the mountain which was surprisingly not frozen because of the temperature.

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Because of such freezing cold we couldn’t clicked our pictures but were satisfied that this time we had captured the most beautiful scene we can ever see. Close your eyes, just imagine a mountain covered with snow, with dotted green patches at distance and sun rising from its back. If this is the most beautiful scene you can ever imagine, I can make you sure Sonamarg was 100 times better than this.

Sonamarg Hills

As the locals informed us that the way up to glacier was closed due to snowfall, going on that route would have been life-risking challenge as pony can slip and even cars can skid. While we insisted that can we go up walking but that trekking would be anywhere close to 12km as they said. Hence, we did not forced ourselves to get into the love of the ice-clad mountains and came back from the point where we had tea.

People say that glacier is apple of everyone’s eye. This even includes Bollywood directors who come here to get inspired and shoot the snowy mountain trail. Here is one of the songs picturised in the valley of Sonamarg!

Although, we were high but left dry just because of the weather. Thankfully, it didn’t rain and no there was just enough security, not that one that left you irritated.

While coming back we stopped for munching some food. The entire road trip to Sonamarg took almost four hours which includes traveling to and fro and halt of half an hour at the hotel where we had tea.

Initially, we were sad that we couldn’t experience the real Sonamarg but if we would have we could have freezed because the temperature was only decreasing. By the time we left, it was close to -6 degree Celsius. This gave us the feeling that February is definitely not the time to visit Sonamarg at least. And if you are, make sure you are dressed up well.

Travel to Kashmir: Part II- Exploring Gulmarg

Twelve hours of vigorous traveling that too on a curvaceous highway drained our energy and we slept like animals, after taking a warm bath. Our morning was welcomed by fine sun rays , visible from our beautiful balcony which gave us the immediate view of some local pond and distant view of Shankracharya Temple, which was hardly 3-4km from our place of stay. As the driver said, the hotel belonged to one of the hot-shot personalities of the state, which makes it one of the safest place to stay, despite being close to Srinagar’s Lal Chowk (have very notorious historyL).

As guided by the driver, we need to get ready by 10 o’clock as we have to start for Gulmarg which wasn’t too far from the city but it was important to reach on time so that we can come back on time.

The sky was clear, sun was shining and there was almost no chances of rain. Even the cold waves were medium paced, making the temperature good enough to be handled by just one sweater but we decided to carry one extra pair of jacket to face the sweeping cool icy breeze at Gulmarg.

We started around half hour late from our schedule. Gulmarg is over 50km from the city. We passed through the beautiful landscape of Srinagar where ‘brownish’ bushes and trees made it look more scenic and graceful. Most of these were Apple and Chinar trees and almost all of them have shed their leaves to get the new one. Tangmarg was the route we drove on for almost one and half hour. This is also one of the roads to reach Baramullah and Sopore (if you follow the news, you must be aware why these destinations are super-popular).

We took a halt just before Gulmarg to have some quick delicious breakfast.

Gulmarg

Note: Don’t forget to carry handy eateries as not all ‘dhabas’ or hotels are hygienic here. There are several vegetarian restaurants as well but are very few and you would take almost the entire day to discover them.

Incidentally, I came across a friend of mine from Delhi who was also a tour operator and was on family trip. Thankfully, he gave me a clear knowledge what are the things to do in Gulmarg and how to go about it. Bidding good bye to him, we started again and reached Gulmarg around 1.30 pm.

Gulmarg

Now you have to be very attentive to this. Since Gulmarg golf course is at the heights, not all cars are allowed to go on the slopes. Only cars with chained tyres are permitted which would charge you anything between Rs 1500-2000. But you can convince your driver to go after paying the taxes but that would be on your own risk. You also need to rent the winter clothing and shoes (they call it boots ;)) which would cost you another Rs 300 per person and this is mandatory as they say (at least the shoes)

Gulmarg 7

Gulmarg 6

Gulmarg 8

Gulmarg 9

As we moved up, the white sheath of ice glared our sights. It was as impeccable as it can be. Just pure white gold all around and that’s all. To our farthest sight, it was just tidy, creamy snow and uncountable trees which have fine layering of this white substance which can make anyone go crazy. It rained and Gulmarg 10made the roads slippery and made it tough for us to rely on unchained vehicle, but we decided to move on as the roads were too narrow to take a U-turn. We reached Gulmarg Golf Course in another half an hour where we parked our car and had to hire a guide (it’s compulsory).

Post this, you have to face sledge guys. They have a cart like structure tied with rope and pulled by them. They have rate card which you need not follow during off season and can negotiate well. They will take you around and make you feel cheated for money (sorry, it’s the truth and you can escape it).

Gulmarg 2Beside all, don’t forget to carry your glares as the sun seems much more bright due to reflection from white snow. You can easily spend over three hours playing on deep snow roads, clicking as many pictures as you can, as you won’t possibly come back.

Gulmarg 3

Gulmarg Gondola is the most popular over the world as it is one of the highest cable cars, operational till now. This is the two stage gondola ride which takes you to Mt. Afarwat and can view the ninth highest peak of the world Nanga Parbat and catch glimpse of neighbouring country. This is the experience you wont ever forget in your lifetime, hence it is advisable to keep your camera handy and also place your mobile phones deep inside the pocket as once fallen, its almost impossible to track it down.Gulmarg 11

We spent over five good hours in Gulmarg and I swear, it was the best experience ever. We paid Rs 300 for Gondola stage 1 ride while another Rs 300 for sledge ride. You can also go for skiing that would also cost you Rs 300. But, make sure you get down before the sun sets as once it gets dark, it  becomes difficult to drive down the slippery slopes.

We again halted at a point from where China border was visible. It was as cold as it can be. One thing that you will notice everywhere, throughout Kashmir valley was CRPF camps. There were innumerable. In a biting cold, where it was difficult for us to stand for a while, they were on their toes 24×7.

We returned the stuff we rented and thanked (not so friendly) Kashmiris. We started back and took another three hours to reach our hotel. Aftermath, we were free to explore city but that’s another story to tell.

Watch out for this space to explore more about Kashmir Valley from the eyes of not so Kashmiri tourist !

Sonamarg

Travel to Kashmir: Part 1- Reaching Srinagar  

‘Heaven falls here’- this is the universal truth and I have witnessed it. Jammu & Kashmir were always on my ‘to see’ list and I got the chance to visit here in Feb 2015, when it was chilling cold everywhere. Temperature was close to 3-4 degree Celsius during day and nights were freezing as you can imagine. Starting from Delhi, I took a train to Jammu and then bus to Katra to pay visit the famous Vaishno Devi.

List of trains from Delhi to Jammu

Train No. Train Name From Departure To Arrival Dist.(Km) Travel Time
16317 HIMSAGAR EXP NDLS 00:10 JAT 13:10 593 13:00
16787 TEN JAMMU EXP NDLS 00:10 JAT 13:10 593 13:00
12471 SWARAJ EXPRESS NDLS 04:50 JAT 14:45 577 09:55
12919 MALWA EXPRESS NDLS 05:20 JAT 16:10 577 10:50
14645 SHALIMAR EXP DLI 15:50 JAT 05:20 640 13:30
22461 SHRI SHAKTI EXP NDLS 17:30 JAT 03:10 577 09:40
14033 JAMMU MAIL DLI 20:10 JAT 09:15 583 13:05
12425 JAMMU RAJDHANI NDLS 20:40 JAT 05:45 577 09:05
12445 UTTAR S KRANTI NDLS 20:50 JAT 06:35 577 09:45
04401 ANVT SVDK SPL ANVT 21:00 JAT 09:45 633 12:45
11077 JHELUM EXPRESS NDLS 21:05 JAT 10:00 577 12:55
12413 AII JAT EXPRESS DEC 21:15 JAT 08:10 589 10:55
18101 TATA JAT EXP DLI 22:00 JAT 14:10 653 16:10
22401 DEE UHP AC SUP DEE 22:15 JAT 07:15 578 09:00
16031 ANDAMAN EXPRESS NZM 22:35 JAT 13:10 600 14:35

Let me tell you, Kashmir trip was completely unplanned, it happened when one of the tour organisers approached me and offered me irresistible deal in Katra. This small town has numerous tour organisers which can help you to save thousands of bucks, provided you do research and take quotes from more than five organisers at least, especially, if it is the off season.

Coming back to the offer I got, this deal included destinations like Patnitop, Srinagar, Gulmarg and Sonamarg with four day complete hotel stay and local conveyance as well for just Rs 8,999 for four person. Yes, it did sound amazing! We started next day at 12’0 clock in afternoon, but we didn’t knew that this would be so tough to handle. We weren’t aware that our next 12 hours will be spent in this car that too on the road which isn’t straight at all.

Note:  One can choose flights as well to travel to Srinagar. Flights from Delhi and Jammu to Srinagar are available easily. There is no train connectivity so you need to make a best pick which can suit your budget and requirement.

We started from Katra, and passed Udhampur which is one of the famous army camp in the state. The roads were well built, at least till here and you won’t feel the nausea until you cross this small but developed town which have almost all popular eatery that you like. The hard time starts when you get into the twisted and turned roads of Jammu valley where you can’t keep your eyes off the scenic beauty. Beautiful, ice laden peaks are visible as soon as you take the highway. Stopping here for clicking the pictures isn’t the good idea as each scene is more beautiful than previous one.

Scrolling down the window pane isn’t a good idea as the snowy winds will make you shiver to the core. And I am sure you will not in the mood to catch cold as our body isn’t used to for such low temperature.

Going ups and then down again, crossing number of valleys and after a 3 hourlong drive on NH1A, we reached Patnitop.

Patnitop

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Patnitop is famous for ‘Naag temple’. Here people will try to sell you ‘Bul bul ka baccha’ and this you have to try by yourself whether to get one or not. (wink 😉 You can also place your visiting card here as people say that it brings good luck to your job. I also placed one, why to leave chance 🙂

 Naag TempleSince Patnitop saw snowfall back in December, the ice was dusty and not so scenic. We took just half an hour halt here, clicked some pictures and started again for Srinagar as there were nine more hours to go.

Note: There are several hill view hotels in Patnitop where you can stay but it would be a waste of time and most probably it won’t be counted in the package.

List of Hotels in Patnitop

Vardaan Resort PatniTop

Hotel Greentop

Hotel Patnitop

Hotel Subash Palace Patnitop

Hotel Jai Skahan

Post Patnitop, we took few breaks for clicking the amazing pictures on a newly constructed dam. There is just one single ‘dhaba’  that offers these awesome views. You can have ‘Rajma Chawal’ here, poured with ghee, costing just Rs 60 per plate.

Srinagar Highway

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It was already 6 in the evening and we weren’t anyway close of reaching to Srinagar. We took halt for peeing, eating, drinking and chatting our way to the driver, who was a Punjabi stud and created excitement with loads and loads of experiences he shared with us.  (Some were too hilarious while others are amazing well built, anyways we enjoyed our way J)

So, it was eight in the evening, pitch dark and there were some too dangerous valleys where one-sided traffic was operational. Actually, during peak winters, traffic remains one-sided. Like if Monday is opened for vehicles moving towards Srinagar, Tuesday, it would be operational for vehicles coming from Srinagar. This is the usual scene in the month of Jan, Feb, March. You need not worry about it as your tour operator will take care of this.

We passed through Shaitani Naala and Khooni Naala around 8.30 pm. These weren’t haunted but were damn scary. You cant just look down in the valley, else you will actually feel you are about to fall.

So, this was the time when we were about to enter valley of Kashmir. And you can easily make out this as there were CRPFs chowki dotted on every 100 meter, too many security checks and gazing stares. As soon as we will cross Jawahar tunnel, one of the longest tunnel roads in India, there is a sense of freshness in the air, snow all around, heavier than what we saw in Patnitop. So many army camp with rifles in hand will bring cheer down your spine but it’s the happiness which I felt the most. After all it was KASHMIR !

We took another three hours to reach Srinagar city. Till this time, all of us took a great sleep while the driver was focused enough to drive for more than 250 km on hilly terrain. We reached our hotel, which was in the main city of Srinagar at around 12 at night. It was sooo… chilling that you cant afford to live without a bed-warmer. My next post would include Gulmarg- the ice-clad town.! Keep watching this space.. and leave your comments in the box below.

Travelivista !