The Ethereal Beauty of Heavenly Kashmir Valley

 

The image shows the lush green valley of Kashmir in summer 

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

What does a dream destination look like? Is it a gateway to transfer you to the most idyllic setting of lush green meadows, verdant valleys with grazing animals, and beautiful little streams flowing in the landscape with lakes surrounded by towering peaks? Or is it a snow land of sorts, complete with snowflakes falling, the picture in no way short of Jannat? Read on to know of a portal that will take you to everything you ever dreamed of in a location, and much much more! 

 

If there is heaven on earth, it most definitely is here! This is one paradisiacal land on earth that you need to visit once in a lifetime for sure! The beauty of this valley is timeless, the mountains high and the meadows will take your breath away! The paradise that Kashmir is will blow your mind and the culture will warm your soul. The postcard-perfect places of the Kashmiri landscape are so relaxing and inviting that any moment spent here is truly a unison with nature and its bounties. The authentic Kashmiri food, and the unique culture amidst the luring landscapes will leave you spellbound. Absorb as much as you can, the clean air, the mountains, the valleys, food, culture and so much more.  

The image shows a panoramic view of the Sonmarg valley in Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

All directions of the Kashmir valley have awe-inspiring views of the Pir Panjal and Karakoram ranges. For trekkers and mountaineers and even for nature enthusiasts, this 140 km long valley does more than just oblige!

 

There is so much to do in Kashmir in all seasons of the year. There is a unique charm almost all year round in Kashmir. Just like most of north India, Kashmir also experiences all the seasons in a year, namely, spring, summer, monsoon, autumn, and winter.

 

Seasons in Kashmir

 

Spring in Kashmir 

 

The Spring season in Kashmir commences in March and concludes at the end of April or early May. Some may say this is the best time to visit Kashmir and we’d say, yes, one of the best. It is the blooming season with flowers fragrant all around and the entire Kashmir valley looks like a color-splashed canvas. 

The image shows the beautifully colour splashed Tulip fields in Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

Spring in Kashmir is also synonymous with the Tulip festival which is a must-visit in April. These picture-perfect flowers are quite rare and only bloom for 30 days. More than 60 varieties of tulips are showcased at the tulip festival. The tulip garden is touted to be Asia’s most extensive tulip garden. It is spread over 30 hectares of land and the colours of this elegant flora will blow your mind!

Add the Tulip festival to the summer Kashmir itinerary to watch the tenderly beautiful tulips. 

 

Summer in Kashmir

Summer in Kashmir

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Mighty crowds are seen flocking the valley in the summer months from May through to August in Kashmir. The maximum temperature during the daytime goes up to 30 degrees Celsius and hence, it is a nice and sunny time to be here. This is a perfect time to witness small streams all along the topography as little rivulets are formed due to snow melting from higher ranges. The forests are dense with Chinar trees, apples are blooming in orchards and just everything is so beautiful and bountiful around.

Monsoon in Kashmir

This season goes on from June to September with temperatures ranging between 15 to 30 degrees Celsius. It is true that many people consider this season to be a shoulder or off-season, but behold, you are in for a surprise! 

The image shows stunning cloud play in the Kashmir valley during the Monsoon season

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

The clouds interplay with the mountains and the whole scenery looks surreal. Since Monsoon is considered a shoulder season to visit Kashmir, it’s rather best to be Offbeat and consider planning your trip at this time as it will not be crowded.  You can get some superbly amazing views with clouds spread like cotton all over the mountains. 

 

Autumn in Kashmir

A short season also called the ‘golden season’ lasting just about two months is the autumn in Kashmir, from September end to somewhere in the middle of November. They can also be called the ‘Golden months of Kashmir’ as the Chinar leaves welcome you wherever you set foot as they kiss the soil when the leaves fall.

The word ‘Chinar’ comes from the Persian word which means ‘like fire’. In the autumn season, the tree appears as if it is a ball of fire. 

The image shows a Chinar tree in the Nishat Bagh in Srinagar in the Autumn

Image courtesy: depositstockphotos.com

It is a photographer’s delight to witness the Mughal gardens situated in the heart of Srinagar city. It is heaven for those behind the lens as they have so much to capture. 

Book your Offbeat Kashmir itinerary for a unique and unparalleled experience in this paradise. 

 

Winter in Kashmir

The image shows Kashmir valley under the snow blanket

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Picture this: the vast expanse of mountains and meadows covered with a pristine white blanket of snow. It looks extraordinarily beautiful, somewhat like it’s touched by gods. The months from November to February in Kashmir are nothing short of white heaven. With the Pir Panjal range thoroughly covered under a white blanket, it indeed is a captivating scenery. 

 Get in touch for a fun and exciting ice skating experience with us!

 

How to reach Kashmir

 

By Air

The fastest way to reach Srinagar is to fly to the Sheikh-ul- Alam Airport in Srinagar which is an international airport. It is connected by direct flights from most cities in North India like Delhi, Chandigarh, Amritsar, and Jammu. 

By Train

To reach Srinagar, take a train either to Jammu Tawi or Udhampur Railway Station. From there you can hire a taxi or use the state transport to reach Srinagar. 

By Road

The capital city of Jammu and Kashmir is Srinagar which is connected to all the major cities in India like Delhi, Chandigarh, Leh, and Jammu. There is local bus transport and also cab services available. 

 

Places to visit in Kashmir

 

For the sake of convenience, we are dividing the places you ought to visit in Kashmir into ones that are in Srinagar and those that are around the capital city. 

 

Places to visit in Srinagar

  1. Dal lake

The very popular shikara ride in Dal Lake in Srinagar

Image courtesy: depositstockphotos.com

 

Of course, a visit to Kashmir will never be complete without a ride in the beautiful shikaras of the Dal lake. The enchanting lake, reflecting the Pir Panjal mountain range has all shikaras floating around. When in Kashmir, this houseboat and shikara ride is a most-definite must! Touristy? Yes, very, but worth the hype. It is a kind experience. 

 

Get in touch with us for a Shikara ride to visit Chinar island and enjoy a piping hot Kahwa and kebabs with a view!

 

2. Shankaracharya Hill

The image shows the Shankaracharya Shrine atop the Shankaracharya Hill

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

The Shankaracharya Hill houses the Shankaracharya Temple. It is one of the oldest shrines in Kashmir devoted to Lord Shiva and lends stunning views of the snow-capped Pir Panjal ranges and the entire Srinagar city. 

 

 

3. Indira Gandhi Mughal Gardens

 

Touted to be the largest Tulip garden in Asia, the Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden is set overlooking Dal Lake which makes for stunning scenery. Tourists from around the world flock to these gardens in April for the famous Tulip Festival. 

Mughal Gardens

The image shows Mughal Gardens in Srinagar

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

Out of all the Mughal gardens, the most popular and the largest one is the Shalimar Bagh. It is known as the crown of Srinagar and is famous for its breathtaking waterfalls.  

Nishat Bagh in Srinagar

Image courtesy: depositstockphotos.com

 

Nishat Bagh, on the other hand, is an architectural marvel having a 12 terraced garden that has beautiful fountains and chinar trees all over. 

 

These gardens were planned by Jahangir, the Mughal Emperor. The other popular gardens are Achabal Garden, Chashme Shahi, and Verinag Garden. The enchanting fountains and stunning views attract many visitors, especially during the spring/summer months. 

 

 

4. Nigeen Lake

 

 

Nigeen Lake in Srinagar

Image courtesy: timesofindia.indiatimes.com

 

The word Nigeen means nagina or jewel in the local Kashmiri dialect. The calm charm of this lake sets a beautiful ambiance. It is situated adjacent to Dal Lake but is much smaller. The landscape is so beautiful with willow and poplar trees. The sun rays at the time of sunrise and sunset play hide and seek with trees and make for an unbelievable sight to watch.

 

Stay with us at a beautiful property overlooking the Nigeen lake and soak in the beauty and serenity all around.

 

6.Hazratbal

 

 

The Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar

Image courtesy: istockphoto.com

 

The holiest shrine of Muslims in Kashmir is the Hazratbal shrine located on the banks of the Dal Lake. It is known to have a relic called Moi-e-Muqqadas which has a sacred hair believed to belong to Prophet Muhammad. The views of the surrounding mountain range and the lake are one to behold. 

 

7. Wular Lake

The image shows Wular Lake in Kashmir

Image courtesy: shutterstock.com

Wular lake flaunts to be the largest freshwater lake in India. It is a bird watcher’s paradise as it houses many rare species of birds and migratory birds too. You can also indulge in water activities like boating, water skiing, and other water sports. 

 

 

Add Bird watching at Wular lake to your Kashmir itinerary for an unparalleled birding experience. 

 

8. Manasbal Lake

The image shows beautiful scenery at the Manasbal Lake in Kashmir

Image courtesy: shutterstock.com

Manasbal Lake is said to be one of the most beautiful lakes in Kashmir. But it is still less known to tourists, therefore, an Offbeat place that must be visited! The view of the lake seems to be just like a picture postcard. It is known as the ‘Supreme Gem of all lakes in Kashmir’. However, the most beautiful thing about this lake is the lotuses that grow at its periphery during July and August. It is located in the hill town of Safapora in the Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir and is only about 32 km from Srinagar city. The lake can be reached on the way towards Wular Lake and you can take a trip to these two lakes together.

 

 

9. Apple orchards

The image shows apple orchards in Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositstockphotos.com

 

 

Kashmir apples are known not only all over our country but all over the world. Almost 80% of the apple production comes from Kashmir and the valley is home to 113 varieties of fruit! How cool is that! A visit to the apple orchard is a must, especially during the apple ripening months from June to September. The valley is lush with red apples dotting all along the landscape. The orchards are mostly found in Srinagar, Kupwara, Anantnag, Baramullah, and Budgam.

 

Enjoy an apple picking tour with us on your next trip to Kashmir!

 

 

 

10. Dachigam National Park

 

The image shows the very elusive snow leopard 

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

The Dachigam National park is located about 20 km from main Srinagar. One can spot the red deer which is a rare species and found only in Kashmir. Other rare animals found here are Pygmy Owlets, Himalayan brown bears, and the elusive but sought-after snow leopards.

 

 

 

Places to visit around Srinagar

 

1. Sinthan top

This is the place where there is snow even in the summer. An offbeat mountain pass located on the Kokernag-Sinthan Top-Kishtwar Road, the Sinthan Top connects Jammu and Kashmir. It is a great sight for some mountaineering, skiing, and trekking. The mesmerising views and picturesque setting make it a popular spot. 

 

2. Daksum Valley

The Pir Panjal range overlooking a verdant Daksum valley makes for an idyllic setting. Daksum is located along the  Anantnag-Semthan-Kishtwar highway at a distance of around 80 km from Srinagar. From nomadic shepherd cottages to beautiful meadows to the meandering Bhringi river, this is one destination that is sure to take your breath away! The summertime sees the valley lush green and is a trekker’s paradise. On the other hand, during the monsoon season, the Bhringhi river is in all its might. The winter witnesses this land transform into a winter wonderland blanketed with snow. 

 

3. Kokernag

Another offbeat place that you must include in your Kashmir visit is Kokernag. It falls in the Anantnag district, about 70 km off Srinagar. The serenity of this place is bound to astound you. There are myriad varieties of flora( plants and flowers) found here. 

The name Kokernag comes from ‘koker’ which means chicken and ‘nag’ which means serpent. In Kashmiri language, ‘nag’ also means sulfurous water springs. There are many beliefs about why this name came about. The various springs that originate from this place are shaped in the form of a chicken claw, hence the name. 

The Papa-shudan Nag is the most important one here as it is known to have healing properties. The water is also good for digestion and it has other medical importance too. 

Fishing is another activity one can indulge in here as the trout fish are found in the waters here. They are believed to be of superior quality. 

4. Aru Valley

The untouched and charming Aru Valley in Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

An unparalleled charm and almost virgin territory is the famous Aru valley located in the Anantnag district. The valley has a plethora of things to offer and this is the reason it is among the most famous tourist places in Kashmir. Adventure enthusiasts, you’re in for a treat as the valley has many thrilling adventure activities like camping, horse riding, fishing and even skiing in the winter. 

Aru valley also serves as the base for the famous Sonmarg trek and trek to the Kolahoi Glacier. All trekkers, whatever level are facilitated from here.  

5. Lolab Valley

An untouched and least visited place is the pristine Lolab valley. It falls in the northern Kupwara district and therefore, is majorly untouched. The place is known for the warm hospitality of the locals and you know what the best part is? There are hardly any tourists which add to its charm and beauty. Enjoy the real charisma of the valley, the virgin Kashmir in all its beauty minus the crowds and chaos. 

 

6. Betaab valley

 

The Betaab Valley in Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

Would you ever guess there is a valley in India that is named after a famous movie? Well, this valley located near Pahalgam, Baramulla is the one called the Betaab valley. It is inspired by the Sunny Deol movie Betaab as it was shot here. Of course, it goes without saying that the valley has a romantic air, is picturesque with beautiful streams, and is an awesome location. Surrounded by mighty mountains interspersed with deodar and pine trees, the valley is fed by the Lidder river which adds to its mesmerizing charm. Camping, birdwatching, and horse riding are some of the activities that make this valley even more popular. 

7. Chatpal

The image shows a quaint village in Kashmir- Chatpal

Image courtesy: indiatoday.in

Close to 90 km from Srinagar is a place with unique and unparalleled beauty. Chatpal flaunts its scenic peaks, lovely woods, and meandering streams. This place is also sans tourists, you’ll just see the local people going about their day-to-day business, interacting with their families, neighbors, and friends. An offbeat locale, this place will make you feel the real Kashmir. 

8. Yusmarg

Another lesser travelled place, as compared to all the ‘-margs’ like Sonmarg, Gulmarg, etc, is Yusmarg. The best part is that there are no cars here (no vehicles are allowed in Yusmarg), only meadows dotted with the most beautiful golden flowers. 

Coniferous trees in the mesmerising Yusmarg Valley in Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

If you ever picture an image of Kashmir, complete with meadows, streams, rivulets, and forests, open your eyes to Yusmarg and you’ll see it all coming true in front of your eyes. Revel in solitude teamed with a stay at a beautiful quaint cottage in the woods. Nighttime will treat you to the most exquisite stargazing experience!

Be starstruck with us! Add the stargazing experience to your Kashmir itinerary. 

9. Pahalgam

The Pahalgam Valley in the Winter season

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

Betaab Valley and the Lidder lake surround the Pahalgam valley, another famous mini-paradise of Kashmir. The clear river waters and deep valleys make for sights to behold! 

The Lidder river in the Pahalgam area of Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphoto.com

You can indulge in many activities like golfing, and river rafting in the Lidder river and also shop for some traditional Kashmir souvenirs. 

 

10. Gulmarg

The pristine Gulmarg valley in the winter

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

Think snow in Kashmir and the image of Gulmarg pops into the head. And rightly so, since Gulmarg is the snow paradise of Kashmir. It  is known all over the world to have one of the biggest and highest ropeways at an aerial distance of 5 km. The top of the Gondola ride which goes on to Mount Apharwat has a jaw-dropping view of the mountains and the valley together. Even in the summer there is a fair chance that you may experience the light snowflakes kissing the ground

 

The famous gondola ride in Gulmarg

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Gondola ride in Kashmir may be a touristy thing but we sure recommend it. Get in touch for an all-inclusive offbeat itinerary. 

 

11. Sonmarg

The stunningly scenic Sonmarg valley in Kashmir

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Sonmarg translates into ‘son’ meaning gold and ‘marg’ meaning meadow. It is most certainly a meadow of gold and boasts of stunning views. ‘Jannat’ is the name given to this place that is surrounded by now-capped peaks, green fields, and grazing ponies. It is the base point for the Amarnath Yatra trek as well. 

There are many activities that you can indulge in like zorbing, trekking and river rafting. It is almost impossible to reach Sonmarg in the winter months owing to the frequent avalanches and heavy snowfall. 

 

12. Kargil

The Kargil city in Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

We all remember the infamous 1999 Kargil War. But it must be noted that Kargil is now a peaceful destination and tourists are more than welcome to visit it. From Kashmir, to travel towards Leh, one has to cross Kargil and this is another reason the place is famous. Many monasteries and the Kargil War Memorial are worth a visit here. 

The image shows a war memorial in Kargil

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

13.  Pulwama 

Saffron is extracted from the flowers 

Image courtesy: gettyimages.com

Rich culture and saffron fields along with a luring landscape are what best describe Pulwama. The saffron fields are mostly found in Pamore which falls in the Pulwama district. Kashmir is the only place in India that boasts of saffron and it is of the highest quality as well. 

At a distance of about 40 km from Srinagar, Pulwama is also known for its high milk production. There are also several treks into the Kashmir valley that can be undertaken from Pulwama. 

14. Kupwara

 

Gorgeous grasslands, verdant mountain peaks, and fresh gushing waters will greet you as you step your foot in Kupwara. Also called the ‘Crown of Kashmir’, Kupwara is another popular destination that attracts tourists from all over. Revel in the serene surroundings of birdsong melody making music with the water of the nearby flowing stream ; ‘Jannat’ revisited!

Culture and Language of Kashmir

 

The rich and appealing culture of Kashmir is known all over the world. The Kashmir culture is said to have a great influence from Persian and Central Asian culture. Kashmir is identified by its music, dance, cuisine as well as carpet weaving. This culture is observed by people of the Kashmir valley and those in the Chenab and Dodab areas. Kashmir is also known all over the world for its traditional houseboats, poetry and handicrafts. 

 

The rich history adds to the cultural charm of this beautiful valley. The diverse religions, namely Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism blend in the most beautiful way for its culture to take a unique shape. The cultural heritage is also showcased in a colourful way during the festivals in the region. Lohri, the Tulip festival, Holi, Eid-ul-Fitr, Gurez festival and Sindhu Darshan are among the few festivals celebrated with complete pomp and show!  There are some other festivals as well like Bahu Mela, Jhiri Mela, etc that depict the beauty of the local culture. 

Embroidered carpet- one of the many handicrafts of Kashmir

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

Handicrafts from Kashmir are rather sought after and exemplary. Whether it is the royal pashmina shawls or the hand-knotted and woolen rugs or the paper mache souvenirs the walnut wood carved furniture, and even silver, they all are embodiments of perfect craftsmanship and beautiful designs. 

The image shows a woman dressed in traditional Kashmiri attire 

Image courtesy: dreamstime.com

A special mention for the Kashmiri attires worn by the local people. The traditional dresses of the women are very colourful and attractive and teamed with extraordinary jewelry like bangles, nose rings, necklaces, etc. In the summer, women wear loose-fitted salwar kameez and men wear kurta pajamas, shalwars, and skullcaps. Winters bring about Pherans which are worn by both men and women. 

 

Food of Kashmir

The extremely flavorful and refreshing Kashmiri Kahwa

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

 

Hospitality is one thing Kashmiris are known for and their welcome is always with the most aromatic and flavourful Kahwa tea. 

The image shows all the delectable dishes in Kashmiri Wazwan

Image courtesy: hindustantimes.com

 

The delectable and famous Kashmiri cuisine has a lot of delicious options both for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. There is Pasanda, Yakhni, Kashmiri Kebabs, Syun Alu, and Methi Keema which are non-vegetarian delicacies. There are many options for the vegetarian palate as well-  Rajmah, Kashmiri Dum aloo, Nadir Yakhin, Shree Pulao, and Lady Tsaman. These dishes are made of paneer and many other vegetables.  

 

Relish an authentic and very delectable Kashmiri Wazwan for a unique culinary experience. 

 

For those with a sweet tooth, Kashmir certainly has many options like the phirni, barfi, and sevaiyaan. 

 

Offbeat Experiences

 

The true appeal of any destination lies in the myriad off-the-beaten-path experiences that act as memories for a lifetime. Something different is what everyone is looking for and we cater to just that. Read on to know the offbeat experiences that we take pride to offer in an otherwise touristy place like Kashmir. 

 

  1. Kashmir is known all over for its handicrafts and other forms of art and craft. We have the most creative experience for you. Participate in the art and craft tour with us in Srinagar for an enriching experience. 

2. We understand that tourist places aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. For a unique and offbeat experience, we take you to the unexplored Gurez valley. It is a hidden gem of Kashmir and will leave you mesmerised with its beauty. 

3. Jhelum river flows through most parts of the Kashmir valley. A glamping experience on the banks of the river will undoubtedly be an addition to your bucket list. 

The image shows the Jhelum River in all its mighty glory

Image courtesy: depositphotos.com

Get in touch with us for a thrilling Glamping experience at the Jhelum river. 

 

How We Impact

 

At Offbeat Tracks, we take pride in the fact that the experiences that we provide to our guests are carefully crafted, immersive, unforgettable, and much more while also keeping in mind the impact on the environment. This is where responsible tourism at Offbeat Tracks comes in. Not only are we creating more employment opportunities by boosting village tourism but also partnering with local communities at homestays and service providers to create a self-sufficient ecosystem. 

 

We completely support local, whether it is food, homestays, experiences, artisans or the communities. We are in total cognisance of the United Nations Sustainable Development goals 7, 8 and 12 to work on clean and affordable energy, economic growth and responsible consumption-production in all our travels.   

 

Whether it is sipping hot kahwa while on a shikara ride or exploring a lesser known village of Kashmir, this heavenly destination will make you experience all that is beautifully unique. Absorb in the culture, the fresh air and the spectacularly scenic valleys. Let this be a portal for a dream come true vacation for you. Come, let’s revel in the bountiful bliss and the emotion called Kashmir.

 

Author

  • A traveller and a dreamer, Apra is an avid reader and has an inherent passion for writing. She likes to travel to new places and appreciates the company of people wherever she is. A happy-go-lucky person, her mantra is to take life as it comes and believes in going with the flow. She enjoys knitting and swimming too! She joined Offbeat Tracks as a Content Writer in May 2022 and has immense love for her job.

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