Most tourists to Kashmir fly into Srinagar. This is the fastest and most direct way to reach Kashmir.
Roads are in excellent condition and smooth. This can sometimes lead to reckless driving. Twisted roads wind their way to the Jawahar tunnel from Jammu. If you are susceptible to motion sickness, take a pill.
Many people need to learn about an alternative route to Kashmir.
- It is the national highway (yes!). NH-1B connects Kishtwar, Jammu region, to Anantnag, on the Kashmir side. This road is only accessible during the summer, adding to its virginity.
- Sinthan Pass takes you to the top of the highway. You can see the snow in Kashmir from the Sinthan Top without the crowds. You might be the only one who finds the snow mountains. Take a break from all the snow play and enjoy a bowl of steaming hot noodles.
- The well-maintained roads lead you to the base at Daksum. This village has endless trails, glacier-fed streams, and a wildlife sanctuary. Flat roads lead to Anantnag via Vailoo or Kokernag.
Before Kashmir: Sanasar (a “hill station”) on Jammu’s Jammu side
Jammu can be too hot to take a leisurely walk in summer, but many places on Jammu’s side are incredible. To explore. Sanasar is a village on a hill 20 km from Patnitop. The Jammu – Srinagar highway (NH-1D) used to cross Patnitop before the Chenani-Nashri tunnel was opened. Two buses ply daily from Patnitop to Sanasar. These buses are full of locals, including many Gujjars who return from the Udhampur marketplace after selling their milk.
The local youth run the cozy wooden cabins. JKTDC also offers a hotel in the Sanasar meadows.
What are you able to do in Sanasar,
- The Sanasar hill station has a lot of things to see. The meadows, which span an entire mountain peak, are enormous.
- There are also springs and golf courses.
- You can ride a horse. You can also relax in the meadows.
- If you want to experience something truly unique in Sanasar, you can choose a trail and follow it. Sanasar village is different from the touristy version. All along the mountain slope, people live in cubicle-mud homes. The hill is not motorable, so they must climb up and down many kilometers to access basic amenities.
- You’ll pass small settlements, farms, and streams. The local school can be reached from the top of a mountain.
- You will walk alongside tiny shepherd children and their large flocks.
- If you are as lucky as us, you will be invited to tea that transforms into lunch at a farmer’s house. There isn’t anywhere else to eat on the journey!
Mud houses at Sanasar on the Jammu side, a hill station
Accommodation in Kashmir: Forget the hotels and crowds of the streets. Live on the meadows!
- Each tourist destination has its own number of streets. These are the main streets in Kashmir and are where most hotels are found.
- Just a few lanes away from the tourist-oriented streets is the natural look of the city/town/village.
- Although it doesn’t have all the tourist amenities, this is charming. Here, you’ll find more locals than tourists. Here you will see people living their daily lives with their families and friends.
- These places are essential to remember when traveling to Kashmir as you plan your accommodation.
Women picking vegetables or firewood from the forest, children having fun, and men returning from work.
Imagine going back to your bedroom in the evening and seeing everything. You can even get involved! If you show enough interest, we assure you that you will be bombarded with invitations to “come over for tea” or “stay over with our family; why bother with a resort?” This is something we heard during our trip to Kashmir.
First, you must avoid the temptation of the markets that make you feel like a tourist. This is a way for them to make a living. When that happens, you will realize that you are no longer a tourist. This is the best thing about your trip to Kashmir.
- We lived on the meadows of Yusmarg and watched the sunrise, turning the snow peak pink. There was not one person around. (You can contact the Yusmarg Development Authority to ask about this accommodation at 01951-2442666/9419000272)
- Chatpal was where we lived in open spaces with the stream and forest to our sides. ( To inquire about accommodation in Chatpal, Kokernag, or Achabal, contact the Kokernag Development Authority at 01932-244155.
- We chose a hotel in the middle forest, even in the busy Pahalgam. It took us 45 minutes to climb a steep road. Once we tried to find a shortcut, we got lost in the forest. This was a scary and embarrassing experience that drew the ire of the Indian Army. It was worth it, as the forest home surrounded us with many Pahalgam shepherds.
- We lived in Srinagar and were far from the Srinagar we all know. We were able to return to Srinagar with a real family.
- Each popular tourist spot has a less-famous (read: more affordable) counterpart. A less popular (read: cheaper) peer is a few minutes away. An Aru valley is available for each Pahalgam and a Tangmarg to accommodate every Gulmarg. These, slightly away from the main town, are the places you should choose as a base during your travel to Kashmir.
Trekking in Kashmir: Do not ride horses everywhere
You can fall in love and even be awed by the Himalayas when you travel to Kashmir. You must feel, smell, and be one with the Himalayas. Walking through the Himalayas is the best way to see them (even if you can’t stay there forever).
Check into a hotel.
Hire a horse rider with his horse.
Check out the “points” section.
There are better ways to view Kashmir.
One-day trek to the Dragdolan meadows, Yusmarg
There are many trekking opportunities in Kashmir.
- There are multi-day treks available in Kashmir, from the famous Great Lakes Trek to trekking to Kolahoi Glacier.
- Even the super-luxury (foodwise, at least) is available—the Amarnath yatra trek.
- You don’t have to do multi-day treks. There are many day trek options available during your trip to Kashmir. A tour is possible in most parts of Kashmir, with a walk lasting less than an hour.
- You might be in the middle or near the top of a forest. Simply walk around. You can climb up a hill. Cross a stream. Run along the meadow. Wander through the woods.
- If you enjoy riding horses, it is possible to do so. Take your time and allow yourself to fall in love with the mountains, nature, and yourself.
The Mahagunas Top is the highest point on the Amarnath Trek.
A short walk along a flowing river is required to visit the Aharbal waterfalls.
These kids were my friends in Sonmarg. We didn’t have enough time to visit Thajiwas glacier because of our conversations and playtime with them. We have no regrets.
Our most memorable encounters were when we walked to places within Kashmir.
- After the Amarnath Yatra, we spent the day in Sonmarg before we decided to walk to Thajiwas glacier. These little guys kept us from getting there. These two hours with these children, laughing, dancing, and singing along the Thajiwas path, are priceless memories.
- While trekking in the mountains around chappal, a nomadic woman offered her tea.
- Or being told by the Bakarwals not to worry about accommodation arrangements when we went for an impromptu hike near the Aharbal falls – encounters we had while trekking around – hospitality is possible in Kashmir when you’re just “doing the sightseeing points.”
While trekking through the forest of Chatpal, Kashmir, you can enjoy tea in a Gujjar’s house.
In Kashmir, you will find caves and archaeological ruins.
Although Kashmir isn’t known for its architectural wonders, it does have its share of ruins. They are beautiful and mysterious!
- Similar to the Southern caves of Kalaroos in the Lolab Valley. They have yet to learn where they lead nor who made them. The caves are a thrilling adventure; a short climb can reach the top of a hillock. You can also enjoy the views of the rice fields and lush greenery.
- The Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department owns several beautiful tourist bungalows in the Lolab Valley. For more information, contact the Lolab Bangus Development Authority at 9419017791.
- Martin will take you to the most visited sun temple. Although most of the structure is now in disrepair, you can still see the sun temple against the backdrop of snow-covered mountains. It is worth noticing the wooden houses of Kashmir. You won’t find any other wood structures with heavy decorative features.
Martin’s sun temple remains.
These markets in Kashmir are not touristy.
- It is a unique place with beautiful embroidery and woodwork.
- Kashmir is the only Indian region where saffron can be grown. Shopping for saffron is a popular activity in Kashmir.
- These local delights should be enjoyed and brought home. However, it would help if you didn’t forget to check out the Kashmiri markets. Many markets in Srinagar will satisfy your desire to indulge.
- A walk-around market in Anantnag can give you a more local experience. It’s like going back in time when you walk through these markets.
- These local markets have different grocery or vegetable shops than you might find in other cities. Bakers and tailors run them.
A group of men met up at the Verinag market for morning Jukka
If he’s not busy, strike up a conversation. Ask the shopkeeper about the Samovar, and listen to the stories he tells about them. Bake some bread or biscuits right out of the oven. Watch the way the elderly choose tobacco for their sukkah. What a horseman is looking for in a saddle.
While pashminas are beautiful and walnut wood objects are also acceptable, who knows what other memorabilia might be found in these local markets while you travel to Kashmir?
Yusmarg or Gulmarg?
Gulmarg’s gondola rides steal the thunder from Yusmarg. At least, that was our impression during our trip to Kashmir. It was not justified.
The Yusmarg meadows are covered with golden flowers. There are no cars!
Yusmarg can be a great place to take your kids to Kashmir.
- Yusmarg prohibits vehicular traffic. Yusmarg’s meadows are safe for children to run wild.
- Yusmarg is home to streams, forests, meadows, and lakes. Yusmarg has everything you need to create the ideal image of Kashmir. You can even walk to these places!
- On our return trip, we took a day hike to Nilnag lake. We walked through the forest and passed some charming villages. We were even stopped at a family’s house for an afternoon siesta!
- We took a guided hike (the tourism officer insists on having a guide, “You are our guests.” We don’t want you to get lost in these forests. You should bring a companion.”) Through the higher meadows and villages of Dragdolan far from those with no nomadic settlements.
- The cottage was a beautiful wooden structure. We lived on the right of the meadows. We could lie on the fields at night and gaze at the star-streaked sky. We are surrounded by silence.
After a short walk through the forest from Yusmarg, you will reach Nilnag lake.
Beautiful gardens without the crowds
Mughal gardens are a must-see on your trip to Kashmir. Srinagar is home to the most famous Mughal gardens in Kashmir, with Nishant, Shalimar, and Chashme Shahi being the most popular. We don’t have any photos from our visit to these gardens. The gardens were so crowded that we could only walk in and out of them in the summer.
We had seen better ones. In Achabal, Verinag in South Kashmir. It has the same tiered structure, cascading waterfalls, springs, and colorful flowers. It doesn’t feel as though you’re in a crowd.
The botanical garden in Kokernag is worth a visit, for its variety of landscape designs.
Talk to the people, not the TV.
This is a delicate question that everyone thinks about when planning their trip to Kashmir. Is it safe for me to travel to Kashmir? What about the people? What will their reactions be to tourists visiting?
We can only form our opinions by looking outside, far from the world. The media lens makes the world look scary.
These are our recommendations for how to travel to Kashmir.
- Visit Kashmir.
- You can see it all with your own eyes.
- Talk to the people.
- The horsemen, the vendors. Ask them about their dreams.
- Ask the tourism officers about their visions of Kashmir’s development.
- Ask women about their challenges in managing the household. Please find out how difficult or easy it is for them to step out of the home and work.
- The children – have fun. Ask them what subjects they enjoy and if they like school.
- Ask the army officers and jawans about their courage to leave home for so many years.
- Engage in conversations. Get to know people. Then, and only then, form your opinion.