A Week in Paradise - Kashmir (07 Days; # 290)
On visiting the Valley of Kashmir, Jehangir, one of the Mughal emperors, is said to have exclaimed: “If there is paradise anywhere on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.”
The beautiful Kashmir valley is now considered safe again for tourism. This tour is the perfect opportunity to visit and soak in the unforgettable natural beauty and culture of this unique state.
The trip starts as we board a flight from Delhi to Srinagar, the summer capital of Kashmir and then carry on to Pahalgam (2130m). We check into a comfortable hotel and have three days at leisure to soak in the natural beauty of this scenic town. Situated at the confluence of the streams flowing from Sheshnag Lake and the Lidder River, Pahalgam was once a humble shepherd’s village with breathtaking views. Now it is Kashmir’s premier resort, cool even during the height of summer. Explore the beautiful woodlands alongside the meandering Lidder River. You may carry your fishing rod and tackle for great fly fishing. You can find abundant brown and rainbow trout in the Lidder River. This sleepy town is perfect for walks or pony rides to one of the many beautiful spots around Pahalgam. Hikes to the many lakes and meadows scattered in the hills seems like a perfect way to enjoy enchanting Himalayan views, maybe spot some birds and connect with nature.
After spending three nights at Pahalgam, we drive to Gulmarg. This scenic drive will take 5 hours with short photo ops and tea-stops en route. Gulmarg means ‘meadow of flowers’. It is a huge cup-shaped meadow, from where you can get fabulous views of great expanses and its undulating mountainous slopes. Lush and green, the silence on the slopes is broken only by the tinkle of cowbells.
Gulmarg looks like a fantasy set in a film. With snow-capped mountains all around, on a clear day you can see all the way to Nanga Parbat. Gulmarg is the ultimate beginners ski resort in winter. Known for its cable car, which takes skiers up to the slopes for skiing, it’s as popular and thrilling for non-skiers. You can spend the days at leisure exploring the town at your own pace.
Its breathtaking beauty and refreshing crisp mountain air is perfect for walks, hikes and bird watching too. Gulmarg also boasts of one of the world’s highest golf courses. You can enjoy a pony ride or a cable car ride to Khilanmarg for fabulous views of Nanga Parbat peak. Just sitting on a grassy slope, dreaming or reading a book and relaxing, doing nothing is also a tempting option.The next day we’re back on the beautiful roads leading us to Srinagar (2½ hr.). Houseboats, another unique and unforgettable experience of Kashmir awaits us there. We check into a lovely houseboat on the quieter Nagin Lake, which is far more pristine and calm than the more popular and busier Dal Lake. Staying in these houseboats, which are like townships floating on water, is an unforgettable exotic experience. Each houseboat anchored yet floating on the water is a traditionally decorated cosy apartment in itself with bedrooms, toilets, kitchen and even a drawing room.
You can spend the afternoon exploring tourist attractions like the Mughal gardens, Chashmi-e-Shahi (the royal spring), Nishat (the garden of pleasure) and Shalimar Bagh (abode of love). You must taste the traditional Kashmiri wazwan meal at one of the authentic eateries. In the evening do take a shikara ride and watch the sun go down on Dal Lake. Shikara ride is one of the most relaxing and romantic aspects of a holiday in Kashmir. An hour-long ride to see the sights of the lake provides a perfect end to the day.
The last day is spent exploring Srinagar more. We start the day with one of the most beautiful visuals of life in Kashmir. An early morning visit in a shikara to the floating vegetable and flower market on the lake. After Breakfast one can go on an old city tour that includes Zainul-Aabideen Tomb, Jamia Masjid, Shahi-Hamdaan Shrine and Hazratbal Shrine. The rest of the day is again at leisure to indulge in last bout of sightseeing, shopping for various wooden carved artifacts, carpets, shawls, embroidered clothing and other specialties of Kashmir. You must also taste their special saffron tea called Kahwa along with their special dishes like gushtaba, rista, yakhni and sheermal bread. Sleeping in your houseboats for the last time, with gentle waves lapping around you, savour the memories, peace and relaxation this trip has brought you.
The morning will take you back to the airport for your flight to Delhi. You will be met in Delhi and transferred to your hotel. The tour will end once you reach your hotel.