The 30-minute flight from Jammu to Srinagar flew us by breathtaking mountains covered in snow, leaving me speechless. I realised right then that these five days in Kashmir would be unlike any other journey I had ever taken.
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However, the reality is that not even THAT adequately prepared me for Kashmir’s magnificent, breathtaking, and stunning terrain and its wonderful residents, who welcome you with open arms and treat you like one of their own (I have a thing for partial alliterations, apparently, if that even is a thing). Nope. Nowhere near.
You’ve probably seen a lot of my images from Kashmir if you’ve been following along with my Instagram stories. I believe I can state with confidence that I am THRILLED that there are SO MANY of us that want to visit Kashmir, and I hope this piece can assist you in organising the trip of a lifetime, based on the response to them.
Fly into the airport in Srinagar. However, plan ahead because airfares might be pricey.
Therefore, I’d highly suggest hiring a guide to show you around. I had a single. He was Amazing; he handled everything for us, including transportation, local tours, permits, and accommodations for which he negotiated favourable rates. He’s also among the friendliest persons I’ve ever met. Even better, he introduced me to his family and even took me to his house.
What to Do
2 day in Srinagar
Take a Shikara ride on Dal Lake like all the other tourists. at dusk.
A lovely tiny shikara glides across the mirror-like dal lake. Sit back and enjoy the views of the houseboats on the other side and the mountains all around you. Observe the world’s magnificent reflection in the sea. Watch as the light is absorbed by the water, turning the globe a vivid orange.
Be the traveller who gets up at five in the morning to see Dal Lake’s sunrise as well.
You are the first shikara on the lake and have it to yourself if you get up that early. Visit the vegetable market where local merchants are using shikaras to sell their goods.
Shalimar Garden. The Nishat Bagh. The Garden of Tulips (mid March to mid April only). Throughout the entire Spring, the gardens are bursting with beautiful blooms.
The dargahs in Srinagar have beautiful architecture that makes a visit worthwhile. The one that draws both locals and visitors is by far Hazratbal Dargah. You could go to Dastgeer Sahib as well. Enter for a brief period of reflection. It’s a visual delight thanks to the stained-glass windows and beautiful interiors.
Eat kebabs close to Dal Lake. They taste AMAZING. Pick any one of the following—lamb, chicken, fish, or all—and watch them sizzle and pop on the grill right in front of you. Grab a big roti and some of those AMAZING chutneys, and dig in. Yum.
Day excursion from Srinagar to Sonamarg
From Gulmarg, return to Srinagar and spend the night. The following morning, at 8, depart for Sonamarg. You can find the BEST snowscapes ever right here.
The problem is this. Your car can only move up to a specific height. You will then need to change to a local taxi with a native guide. If you’re travelling in the winter, you’ll also need to convert to rubber boots, and believe me, you’ll need them.
These people will demand outrageous prices for the sightseeing. Avoid falling for that. Negotiate, please, you can easily get it down to 60% of what it was originally going to cost!
Day tour from Srinagar to Pahalgam
An early start is advised because Pahalgam is 3–4 hours away by car from Srinagar. All of them, people!) will be beneficial. Pahalgam is a valley-rich region, therefore in order to explore the best ones, I hired a pony and an AMAZING guide.
If you only have a day, focus on the two most well-known valleys, Aru and Betaab.
You need a pony to bring you there because the roads aren’t accessible by car and aren’t really practical places to rapidly climb up and down from because some of the best views of the valleys and mountains can only be seen from lovely locations across the mountains.
This is the location where Bajrangi Bhaijaan was filmed, Bollywood enthusiasts. Beautiful trees fan out across the vast field, which has mountains looming over it. Imagine the perfect picnic location. Bring some board games, a picnic basket, and a blanket if you want to spend the entire day here resting!
This runs through Pahalgam, and I suggest it because the sight of the river gurgling over valley rocks is breathtaking.
At Dal Lake, the locals will make a VAST effort to sell you their goods and services. Avoid falling for that. On your journey back from Sonamarg is the best time to pick up anything genuine. There is ALWAYS room for bargaining, because the first price is ALWAYS the highest price. Employ your skills! Keep AMS medication on hand. I rarely get sick, but I get headaches easily at high elevations. I always take Diamox as a pill. Pack layers if you’re travelling in the winter since it WILL become cold.