Heaven on earth, Switzerland of India, Kashmir has earned numerous such monikers. Whatever you may wish to call it, the lush hill valley is so extravagantly charming that none of the names can do justice to its beauty. It is a multi-faceted diamond and come any season, it keeps enthralling you with its charm. It lies on the foothills of not one, but two magnificent Himalayan ranges – the Great Himalayan Range and the Pir Panjal. So, wherever you are in Kashmir, the mighty Himalayas are always in the background or foreground, depending on where you stand.
Protected by the Himalayan Mountains and boasting of the picturesque Dal Lake, Srinagar is the crowning jewel of Kashmir. The city is widely renowned for its resplendent Dal Lake that is sprinkled with traditional shikaras. Enjoy mesmerising views of the lake against the mountainous background on your memorable Kashmir tour. And Dal Lake is not the only scenic lake in Srinagar, Nagin Lake is another fascinating lake that captivates you with its charm. The landscape of Srinagar is simply awe-inspiring, no matter which part of it you are strolling in. Besides the lakes, the lush Mughal Gardens and imposing Shankaracharya Hill along with some really impressive Old City monuments like Jama Masjid, Dastgir Sahib, Khanqah and Rozabal Shrine are popular attractions of the city. A shikara ride on the lake is very romantic and gives you the opportunity to revel in the city views from the idyllic ambiance on your honeymoon in Kashmir. Better still, make sure you stay on houseboat during your entire trip.
Lying picturesquely on the Srinagar-Ladakh Highway, Sonamarg, translates to Meadow of Gold, is renowned for its fetching environs. It takes about two and half hours to drive up to Sonamarg from Srinagar. Thajiwas Glacier is the most prominent tourist attraction in Sonamarg and it can be easily accessed by hiking from this town – it is a two-hour trek amid the stunning landscape, in which routes wind up and down the mountains. You can reach the glacier and be back within five hours from Sonamarg. You can even take a taxi up to around halfway and trek the rest of the route. And if you are short on time, ride a pony up to the glacier to make the most of your Kashmir holiday. No matter how you reach here, but when you do, everything else will be forgotten and you will be bewildered by the beauty of the area.
The most popular ski resort in India, Gulmarg is beautiful town lying about less than two hours’ drive from Srinagar. The ski season runs from mid-December to mid-March, when the entire town is covered with ample fluffy snow. And if you are not up for skiing, visit anyways for the views of pristine white snow that cloaks the entire town and its surroundings. The views are breathtaking from the gondola that takes you about 3,950 metres (around 13,000 feet) up to the top of the Mount Apharwat. It is the highest cable car in the world and quite popular. Therefore, you must buy your tickets beforehand over the Internet to avoid long queues or sold-out counters. It is also superb in summers, when the snow has melted and the towering mountains are covered in lush greenery while the vast meadows are sprinkled by flowers everywhere. While being in Gulmarg is a true delight, the journey to reach here is in itself impressive. The roads are lined by towering poplars, large expanses of rice paddies, and quaint villages that make the scenery very beautiful. En-route, there is a place known as View Point, where tourists stop for a while to be awed by a spectacle of white mountains of the Himalayas.
Pahalgam is another one of the fascinating towns that must be explored on your Kashmir family vacation. The name Pahalgam translates to Valley of Shepherds and can be reached from Srinagar after a three hour drive. The stunning landscape of this town has captured the hearts of many. Beautiful meadows, rolling hills and verdant beauty is set against the backdrop of the massive Himalayas that add to the charisma of this town. Pahalgam is quite popular for adventure sports like whitewater rafting, ziplining, golfing and fishing. The popular attraction for many tourists here is the Betaab Valley, which was the prime location for the Bollywood movie Betaab. The valley looks mesmeric with the gigantic snow-capped mountains and the beautiful Lidder River gushing through it. To retain the natural appeal of this valley, tourists are not allowed to take their cars and have to leave their vehicles behind, from where they can either hike to the valley or take a local taxi.
So pack your woolies and get on your Kashmir holiday tour for an eventful vacation.