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Dal Lake: The Heart of Srinagar

Dal Lake: The Heart of Srinagar

Kashmir’s beauty is unmatched and the place is called ‘Paradise on Earth’. Making this place so beautiful are nature’s many blessings- mountains, lakes, lush green trees that wonderfully come together and form the beautiful place that Kashmir is.

And one such wonder is this scenic lake. One of the many reasons why tourists are drawn to Srinagar is due to what is often referred to as ‘Jewel of Srinagar’- the Dal lake. Considered to be the most beautiful lake, Dal jheel or lake is the second largest lake in the state. It covers an area of about 15 kilometers. 

Interestingly, this lake has five basins and numerous intricate waterways and canals that beautifully interconnect with each other. It is a shallow lake with a minimum depth of 5 ft. and maximum depth of 20 ft.

Any time one thinks of Srinagar, the first thing that comes to is this gorgeous lake. It is as if this lake has almost become a symbol of tourism in Srinagar and Kashmir. There is so much more to the lake than its pristine water. In this article, we take you along to explore its magnificence and tell you what makes it so incredibly special.

The Beauty of Dal Lake

Just imagine a scene that goes like this- A large lake with snow-capped mountains surrounding three of its sides, signature Kashmiri style houseboats and colorful shikaras that afloat the lake and the stunning Mughal gardens and orchards lined on its banks. Overlooking the lake are two hillocks that house the Shankaracharya and Hari Parbat temples. Yes, that is just how picturesque the Dal lake is. And the Dal lake images are a testimony to this fact.

Moreover, the floating gardens on the Dal have a magic of their own. They are an ecological system in the lake. Farmers residing here are dedicated to growing crops and vegetables on this lake. Over 6,000 families depend on these floating gardens for their livelihood. The produce obtained is then sold in local markets throughout Srinagar.

Its beauty hasn’t just attracted tourists all over the world but quite a lot of filmmakers as well. As many as 20 films have been shot in and around this area. Some of the most popular ones include Kashmir ki Kali, Lamhaa, Kabhi Kabhi and Dil se- among many others.

The temperature here varies between 12 to 30 degrees celsius during the summer and about 1 to 11 degrees celsius during the winters. If the temperatures fall down extremely low during severe winter, Srinagar witnesses a frozen Dal lake.

The History and Origin of Dal Lake Srinagar

There are basically two theories that suggest how the lake originated. One historical theory backed by geologists suggests that the lake is actually a post-glacial lake that formed after the Pleistocene period. While another theory suggests that the Dal lake simply formed from flood spillage.

During their reign in India, the Mughal rulers designated Srinagar as their summer resort. They defined the boundaries of the lake by building Mughal-style gardens as resorts to experience Srinagar’s splendid beauty during the months of summer.

Several years later, during the rule of the British in India, the Britishers also designated Srinagar as their summer resort. The Britishers weren’t allowed to buy land and build houses in the Kashmir valley. Although, they found a legal loophole in this rule- that there was no restriction on living on water. As a result, they built houseboats. Even though the houseboats in the Dal lake are made in the traditional Kashmiri style, they still have a hint of colonial feel to them even today.

The beauty of Dal lake Kashmir has stood the test of time and has carved a place for itself in its beholders’ hearts through the years.

Dal Lake Kashmir and Floating Markets

Yet another fascinating thing that makes the Dal jheel stand apart is its floating markets. There are many wonderful stories that surround the Dal lake and one such story is that of its floating markets. It is one of the most famous markets of its kind in the world.

Wake up at the crack of dawn and head to the Dal lake to witness its beauty from a different perspective. It is quite an adventure in itself- watching the local farmers wearing the traditional pherans making their way through the lake on their respective shikaras, selling the fresh produce that they obtain from their floating gardens. There are as many as hundred boats that gather here every morning.

All of these farmers gather in the middle of the lake.with their boats laden with a variety of vegetables and start calling out to the buyers in the local dialect. The business is at its peak during this hour and everything is wrapped up by the time the sunlight just begins to hit the water. 

The exchange lasts for hardly an hour. After this, everyone makes their way back to their respective homes; making it seem as though the market never existed. This wonderful scenario also portrays the life of local Kashmiris residing here, giving you an insight into the Kashmiri way of life.

Whenever you find yourself in Srinagar, make sure to visit the Dal lake early in the morning. We guarantee you that it is an experience that you’ll remember and cherish forever!

Wow, just the thought of this makes us want to be transported here immediately. Doesn’t it make you feel the same way too?

The Shikaras and Houseboats of Dal lake Kashmir

Shikaras

A shikara is nothing but a small carved wooden boat. This is one of the top attractions of the lake and the city. The shikaras are often compared to the ‘Gondolas’ of Venice. These boats are an integral part of the day-to-day life of Kashmiris residing in Srinagar. It is as if, with these shikaras, there is a whole another world in the Dal lake. Right from vegetables and baked goods to doctors and tailors- you will find everything on these tiny wood boats!

These boats are also used for transportation of people. There is nothing quite like a shikara ride along the Dal lake. Refresh your mind and relax your body as you prepare to set out on this epic adventure. The ride offers breathtaking panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings. When visiting Srinagar, a shikara ride is high up on the travellers’ must-do list. An extremely joyous ride, every minute spent on the boat is worthwhile. Come equipped with a fully charged camera as every portion of the lake shows an altogether different picture of the gorgeous city and it’s hard to decide which sight is prettier- the one you just saw or the one that you’re about to see next.

Houseboats

Your trip to Kashmir is incomplete without a stay at the houseboats in Dal lake. Unlike many houseboats in other parts of India, the Kashmiri houseboats are stationary. A houseboat, as the name goes is nothing but a house made inside a boat. It has all the amenities that a traveller would need. Houseboats typically have 5 to 6 rooms.

A houseboat is the perfect example of ‘comfort meets luxury’; but, at an affordable price. The houseboats are designed in an antique style that give you the feel  of nothing short of a royalty. These houseboats are also examples of what a typical Kashmiri home looks like, with every inch of the boat carefully decorated with classic Kashmiri-style decor.

Once in, the caretakers will spoil you with their warm hospitality- something you aren’t bound to forget anytime soon. 

Aboard these wonderful houseboats to have an experience of a lifetime. Wake up to a picturesque setting of the mountains. Relax on the deck and watch the mesmerizing sunrise and sunsets.

Take a shikara ride to and fro from your houseboat and enjoy the scenic beauty of the Dal lake and maybe buy some flowers and other goodies to bring back to your houseboat. Just relax and take this time to rejuvenate your mind and soul and let the pristine waters calm and soothe you down. 

While many boats offer food on request, you can relish the lip-smacking authentic Kashmiri delicacies. Right from basic to royal and exquisite, there are houseboats to suit every traveller’s budget.

When residing on these houseboats, you can also take shikara rides to the famous tourist destinations like the Mughal Gardens and the Hazrat Bal.

What is the best time to visit the Dal jheel?

The best time would be to visit from May to November.

Right from providing a means of livelihood to the locals to providing a once in a lifetime experience to its tourists, the Dal lake’s splendour is unmatched. Come here once and experience its charm for yourself; and we are sure you’d want to come back again, and again.

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23 Famous Mughal Monuments That You MUST Know

23 Famous Mughal Monuments That You MUST Know

The Mughals have made a very significant contribution to not just the history but to the Indian architecture as well. When we think of famous Indian monuments, monuments like the Taj Mahal, Red Fort and Agra Fort are the first ones that come to mind. And rightly so.

Their brilliant architecture, grandeur and stunningly beautiful structures have made these monuments major crowd pullers. Several Mughal monuments were built in India during the almost 300 years that they ruled in India.

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In this article, we share 23 famous Mughal monuments with you that you must know about.

23 Mughal Monuments that You Must Know

Now, without further ado, let’s begin with our list.

Mughal Monuments in India

#1 Taj Mahal, Agra

Of course, how can we possibly begin the list without this majestic monument at the top. Believed to be the epitome of eternal love, the Taj Mahal in Agra was built by Shah Jahan in the memory of his third wife, Mumtaz. Millions of people every year, not just from India but from all over the world travel to Agra to witness its majestic beauty. It took almost 22 years and 20,000 workers to build this masterpiece.

#2. Red Fort, Delhi

What served as the main residence for the Mughal Emperors for a long time, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site today. This monument, too, was built by Shah Jahan. The fort gets its name from the fact that it was made with the use of fine red sandstones. The Hall of Public Audience or ‘Diwan-i-Am’ and the Hall of Private Audience or ‘Diwan-i-Khas’ are two very famous structures within the Red Fort. Today, the Red Fort that is popularly known as the ‘Lal Qila’ is one of the top Mughal monuments in Delhi.

#3. Buland Darwaza, Fatehpur Sikri

This massive structure whose name when translated in English means ‘the door of victory’ was built by the great Emperor Akbar in the year 1601. This monument was built to celebrate his victory over Gujarat. This monument, which is the highest gateway in the world is located in Fatehpur Sikri near Agra.

#4. Jama Masjid, Delhi

The Jama Masjid in Delhi is yet another example of brilliant Mughal architecture. It is also known as Masjid-e-Jahan Numa. This mosque was built by Emperor Shah Jahan between the years 1650 and 1656. Some 5,000 workers helped build this mosque and today, it is one of the largest mosques in the world.

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#5. Agra Fort, Agra

This is yet another historic monument that displays the splendid architecture of the Mughal era. The Agra Fort was the main residence of the Mughal Emperors until 1638, after which their capital was shifted from Agra to Delhi. The fort also houses some amazing structures such as Diwan-i-Am, Diwan-i-Khas, Moti Masjid and Jahangir Mahal. It is also known for its very rich history. Today, the Agra fort is one of the top visited places by tourists in the city. The Agra Fort was also declared as a world heritage site.

#6. Humayun’s Tomb, Delhi

The impressive structure of the Humayun’s Tomb leaves all its visitors in sheer awe of its beauty and splendour. It was built in the memory of the second Mughal ruler to ascend the throne, Humayun. This monument was built in the year 1565 and was commissioned by Humayun’s wife. Mirak Mirza Ghiyat from Persia was the architect of this monument. The Humayun’s tomb is built greatly with the use of red sandstone. This monument, among many others built during the Mughal era, was declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Humayun’s tomb is one of the best Mughal monuments in Delhi.

#7. Akbar’s Tomb, Agra

The construction of Akbar;s tomb began while he was still alive; but it was later completed by his son Jehangir. Sandstone and white marble were utilized for its construction. The tomb can be found in Sikandra, on the outskirts of Agra. A beautiful garden surrounds the main tomb. Akbar’s tomb has been created using various architectural styles, making it a must-visit for those intrigued by architecture. 

#8. Tomb of Itimad-ud-Daulah, Agra

Situated in the city of Agra, this mausoleum is often referred to as ‘Bachcha Taj’ or ‘Baby Taj’ as it seeks inspiration from Taj Mahal. Even though it is believed to have similarities with the Taj Mahal, the artwork of this tomb is more intricate. This is one of the finest examples of tombs created during the Mughal era. When in Agra, the Itimad-ud-Daulah tomb is a must visit. This tomb was actually built for Mirza Ghiyas Beg who was the father of Nur Jahan and the father-in-law of Jahangir. 

#9. Bibi Ka Maqbara, Aurangabad

This monument, too, sought inspiration from the Taj Mahal and has a very striking resemblance to it. Due to this strong resemblance, this Mughal monument is also often referred to as ‘Dakkhani Taj’ (Taj of the Deccan). It was commissioned by Aurangzeb in his first wife, Dilras Banu Begum’s memory. Bibi Ka Maqbara, with its intricate design and artwork is one of the prime and most-visited spots in Aurangabad.

#10. Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar

One of the best Mughal monuments in Kashmir is the Shalimar Bagh in Srinagar. It was built by Emperor Jahangir in 1619.  Through a channel, the garden is linked to the  northeast of Dal lake. Shalimar Garden, Farah Baksh and Faiz Baksh are some other names that it is known by.

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#11. Pari Mahal, Srinagar

Pari Mahal is yet another one of the top Mughal monuments in Kashmir. When translated, its name means ‘Palace of Fairies’. This seven terraced garden was built by Prince Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s son. The garden overlooks the city of Srinagar and a portion of the Dal Lake, giving its beholder a breathtaking view. This is one of the must-visit Mughal monuments in Kashmir.

#12. Akbari Fort & Museum, Ajmer

This historic monument is a beautiful blend of the Mughal and Rajputana styles. The fort was commissioned by Emperor Akbar in 1570 and it was once the residence of his son, Prince Salim. Today, it functions as a museum.

#13. Kabuli Bagh Mosque, Panipat

Emperor Babur built this mosque in 1527 in Panipat to commemorate his victory in the first battle of Panipat over Sultan Ibrahim Lodhi. The Mosque was named after Babur’s wife, Kabuli Begum.

#14. Shah Begum’s Tomb, Prayagraj

After the death of his wife Shah Begum, Emperor Jahangir commissioned this tomb. This three-storied structure is made entirely of sandstone. 

 #15. Safdarjung Tomb, Delhi

This stunning mausoleum is yet another testimony to the Mughal era’s impressive architecture. An elegant mausoleum, it is entirely made of marble and sandstone. The Safdarjung tomb was built in 1754 for Nawab Safdarjung. Today, this place draws many tourists from all over the world.

#16. Sheikh Salim Chishti Tomb, Fatehpur Sikri

The Sheikh Salim Chishti Tomb in Fatehpur Sikri is an example of the finest of Mughal monuments ever built. It was built during 1580-81. It is the burial place of the Sufi Saint Salim Chishti and was built by Emperor Akbar in his honor.

#17. Jodha Bai’s Palace, Fatehpur Sikri

The Jodha Bai’s palace is an integra part of the royal harem. It was a gift to EMperor Akbar’s Rajput wife/ When you step into Fatehpur Sikri, the beauty of this red sandstone monument will charm you. Various motifs such as lotus flowers, elephants and swans adorn its interiors.

#18. Allahabad Fort, Prayagraj

This is one of the lesser known yet a very beautiful monument built by Emperor Akbar. It is situated in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh and is one of the top destinations there. It is situated at the confluence of rivers and has huge walls, towers, a temple and a large palace.

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#19. Taj-ul-Masjid, Bhopal

The Taj-ul-Masjid is the largest mosque in India. It is also one of the largest in Asia. This mosque is situated at a lake called Motia Talab in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar’s wife Sultan Shah Jahan Begum founded this beautiful mosque.

Mughal Monuments in Pakistan

Now, let us take a look at some iconic Mughal monuments in Pakistan.

#20. Lahore Fort, Lahore

The Lahore Fort is also referred as the ‘Royal Fort’ or the Shahi Qila. It is one of the most notable Mughal monuments dating to the reign of Emperor Akbar. 

#21. Badshahi Mosque, Lahore

This mosque was built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 and is an example of one of the finest architectural works of the Mughal era. Currently, it is the fifth largest mosque in the world. The Badshahi mosque is believed to be the crown jewel of Lahore.

#22. Shalamar Bagh, Lahore

The Shalamar Bagh was built during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan in Lahore in 1642. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Pakistan. In 1981, the Shalamar Bagh was declared to be a world heritage site by UNESCO.

#23. Naulakha Pavilion, Lahore

The Naulakha Pavilion in Lahore is also one of the top Mughal monuments in Pakistan. The monument, with its beautiful structure, is made out of marble. It was built in 1633. The monument, at the time, cost 900,000 rupees and that is what gave the monument its name.

Over to You

In this article, we discussed some iconic Mughal monuments of all time. These monuments truly are timeless works of architecture having a rich history and exude beauty and elegance in every sense.

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All You Need to Know About the Majestic Chinar Tree

All You Need to Know About the Majestic Chinar Tree

The Chinar tree is a magnificent, vibrant tree whose leaves change colors to red, yellow and amber during the autumn season. This tree predominantly grows in the Kashmir region in India. The tree not only is a rare sight but is a form of majestic beauty.

One of the many tourist attractions in Kashmir, chinar grows to a height of about 25 meters or sometimes, even more, depending upon the growing conditions. Its botanical name is platanus orientalis and is called ‘Booyn’ or ‘Buen’ in the local language.

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The Chinar tree is a pride of Kashmir! Its leaves look a lot like the leaves of the famous Maple tree. This tree is known for its longevity and can be found throughout Kashmir.

One of the unique characteristics of this tree is that its leaves change colors. During the summer season, the chinar tree’s leaves are deep green. But, as the autumn season sets in, the leaves change color to a beautiful blood-red, amber and yellow.

Talking about the etymology of the word, ‘chinar’ is word of Persian origin which when translated means ‘What a fire!’. The reason it got this name is for the fact that during the month of November, the tree looks as though it has caught fire. It is a deciduous tree and sheds its leaves once a year.

This tree is also found in Greece, Iran, Kashmir as well as some other countries.

The History of Chinar Tree in Kashmir

It is said that the tree originated in Greece. The Chinar trees of India have been an important part of Kashmir for centuries now and have a lot of historical significance. In fact, the oldest Chinar in Kashmir is 600+ years old and is thought to have been planted in 1374. It is located in the Badgam district in Kashmir and stands tall at 14.78 m.

There is a Chinar in almost every village of Kashmir. The tree is also super popular amongst the locals; for they love to sit under its shadow and enjoy the cool breeze.

It is believed that the Chinar trees of India were brought here from Persia. Mughal Emperors like Akbar, Nur-ud-din Muhammad Jahangir and even Aurangzeb were very fond of the tree. It was even declared as the ‘royal tree’. The great Emperor Akbar is said to have planted around 1,200 trees after he took over Kashmir in 1586.

A Small Chinar Island on Dal Lake

‘Char Chinar’ is a beautiful island on the Dal Lake in Srinagar. The island gets its name from the fact that there are four Chinar trees planted on this island.

These four trees were planted by Emperor Jahangir in such a way that the island will always have a shadow from these trees. They are one of the main tourist attractions in Kashmir.

Kashmiri Literature and the Chinar

The significance of this tree is also predominant in Kashmiri literature, politics, religion and romance. The tree isn’t just an integral part of Kashmir’s heritage but it also has a very special place in every Kashmiri’s heart.

Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the former Prime Minister of Jammu & Kashmir has named his autobiography ‘Aatish-i-Chinar’, meaning ‘Flames of Chinar’. Makhan Lal Fotedar, a prominent leader of the Indian National Congress who also belonged to Kashmir named his memoir ‘The Chinar Leaves’.

Not just politicians but the first fashion designer from Kashmir has named his brand ‘Bounipan’, also meaning leaves of Chinnar. The mention of this mighty tree is also there in various books like ‘A Dictionary of Kashmiri Proverbs and Sayings’ by James Hilton Knowles and ‘The Valley of Kashmir’ by Sir Walter Lawrence.

Several poets, too, have dedicated their poems to this majestic tree. This shows how everyone fortunate enough to behold the beauty of this majestic tree gets captivated by it. 

The Chinar Trees of Kashmir

The Chinar trees of Kashmir can be found throughout Kashmir’s landscape. Valley, cities, villages, hills; the trees are planted everywhere. A symbol for religion, the Chinar trees can be found in the Khir Bhavani temple as well as other Goddess Bhavani temples across Kashmir. These beautiful trees also adorn Kashmir’s popular mosques and shrines, including Sultan-ul-Arifeen and Hazratbal. 

Not just in mosques and temples but there are also over 100 Chinars planted at the Naseem Bagh garden in Srinagar. This makes the garden a picturesque and must-visit spot for tourists and locals alike. 

It takes a Chinar tree around 30 to 50 years to reach their mature height and around 150 years to grow to their full size! Just imagine the splendor they will bring.

The season of autumn celebrates the Chinar like no other! The Chinar tree of Kashmir, during this season, is at the peak of its beauty. The radiant red leaves that make the whole tree appear red, their rustling sound and a gust of wind in the air make everything look magical. One cannot just not fall in love with this scenery and marvel at the beauty that nature has blessed us with.

The Importance of the Chinar 

The Chinnar tree doesn’t just amplify the beauty of Kashmir but also has a lot of other things to offer. On a summer day, it provides shade in parks as well as on roads. Its wood can also be sawn easily. After sawing, it can be used in making decorative items such as trays, small boxes as well as some furniture items. Kashmir decor is famous for walnut art.

It holds various medicinal properties as well. The bark of the chinar has antirheumatic and antiscorbutic values. The bark when boiled in vinegar is a great remedy for dysentery and diarrhoea. The fresh leaves of the tree can be applied for the inflammation of the eye and also in conjunctivitis. 

The leaves of the tree are still useful even after they have fallen off. They are used to make charcoal to be used for a Kashmiri pot named ‘Kangri’, to keep warm on a cold winter day.

The Chinar trees of Kashmir: A Dying Legacy?

The number of chinar trees that have declined in Kashmir in the past few years is truly a matter of concern. The population of the trees has dwindled down from around 42,000 in the 1970s to about 17,000 in 2004 and the number has dwindled down even more now.

The trees are now nearing extinction. People and the administration cut down the trees for construction and for widening the roads.

Despite the laws imposed by the government on the ban of cutting down these trees, it is heartbreaking to know that illegal felling of the trees still continues.

There are various reasons why the chinar tree population is decreasing, but it is mainly due to:

  • The illegal felling of trees
  • Plant diseases
  • Not planting enough trees as they were being planted before

However, various efforts are being taken by the state to revive the heritage of Kashmir and more trees are being planted.

Over to You

The beauty of the Chinar tree is truly unfathomable. It is an integral part of Kashmir’s rich history and Kashmir is incomplete without its beautiful Chinar. We really hope that this legacy of the Chinar trees of Kashmir never dies and that the trees always stand tall in all their magnificent glory.

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Kashmir Tourism: 21 Places You Can’t Miss Visiting

Kashmir Tourism: 21 Places You Can’t Miss Visiting

Are you looking to know more about Kashmir Tourism? Wonderful! You are at the perfect place.

I will deal with everything that you need to know in order to make you next vacations in Kashmir, exciting and fulfilling. 

Kashmir, a valley, a scenic marvel, a sacred land with a sinful history, and yet considered as a heaven on the earth. Kashmir is known for its tourism, its pashmina, its carpets, its paper mache and the chaos.

It was not just mere chance due to which Amir Khusrau wrote his famous couplet about Kashmir in the  Persian language;

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast, Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast.

(Translation: If there is a paradise on earth, It is this, it is this, it is this)

The great poet Khusrau had known the Kashmir valley intimately well before writing this. It is not only him, but everyone who lands in Kashmir has an ultimate level of praise for this stunning valley.

 

 

Kashmir is filled with a montage of several different cultures and religions which make it the epic grandeur that it is today. But interestingly, the most exuberating characteristic of this land is the majestic treasure of the beauty it holds in every nook and corner.

 

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Like other tourist destinations, Kashmir doesn’t just have a couple of places that are stunning, but it is a destination where every place visited has a story to tell, and has a charm of its own. Whether it be the snow clad mountains, the dense forests, the marvelous lakes, the enigmatic houseboats, the massive glaciers, Kashmir tourism has always been a brand of a different league. 

Honestly, what is promoted by the Kashmir tourism department is just the tip of an iceberg. Much of the beauty of the famous or maybe the infamous valley is reserved for the locals to cherish.  Generally when you search for Kashmir tourism packages on the internet, you get a list of 5-6 places to visit and possibly get in touch to a tour operator. But those are not the places that we are going to speak about.

 

Kashmir Tourism

 

We are here to unveil the unknown mysteries about Kashmir tourism, so the next time you visit Kashmir, you are ready to roll and unwind. 

I certainly believe, the  the small and far away districts hold some of the best sceneries, ironically they are not present in the ‘Kashmir tourism packages’. Having traveled my valley far and wide, I want to share about every nook and corner of it, from the narrow lanes of down town, to the food streets of khayam. 

But, in this post, I will be easy on the traveler. I am going to talk about the major places of the valley, places that you must visit in order to explore real Kashmir tourism. Honestly, if you visit Kashmir this well, you will be bragging about it.

Without further ado, let’s get talking about the hidden mysteries of Kashmir tourism.  

 

Unveiling Kashmir Tourism, 21 Must Visit Places for a Tourist 

 

Sopore – The Mini London  

 

Sopore - Kashmir Tourism

 

Sopore is called ‘mini London’ by locals because of the massive wealth and all the business transactions that take place here. Filled with rich lush green apple orchids, Sopore is truly a sight for sore eyes. The infrastructure is still traditional with old customs like Tonga Rides (horse carts) still prevalent. The taste of the food is as exotic as the accent of the people.

Bandipora – The Home to Wular 

 

Bandipora - Kashmir Tourism

 

Bandipora is amazing, that’s what I would say. It has lush green sceneries all around. It appears green as far as eyes can see. The crystal clear waters of the famous wular give you a reflection of your soul. The town of bandipora should be on every tourist’s list.

Uri – The Electricity Chamber 

 

Uri - Kashmir Tourism    

Uri on end shares its border with Muzzafarabad, making it the highlight of the place. Uri is the home to a massive Hydro Power Project. That makes it simple, its a land full of fast moving streams. Streams there are in plentiful. It is one of the places that the Kashmir tourism department must cater to and showcase to the world.

I am pushed to say this, if you are really looking to come to Kashmir, a google search on ‘kashmir tourism packages’ is not the solution. You need to come over and get lost in the valley, like a real lost traveler.

Handwara – The Oft-Changing 

 

 

Handwara is a small district in Kashmir with lovely people, amazing food and spots. Come here and forget that the rest of the world even exists.

If you are craving for some solace and ‘me-time’, Handwara is the place for you.

Gulmarg – The Meadow of Paradise

 

 

This place doesn’t even need any introduction, it has been advertised and marketed automatically in every movie since the 1960s. In a way, its Bollywood’s go to destination. A small Kashmir within Kashmir would be the perfect definition of this place. Whenever someone thinks of picnics, Gulmarg is the first name that pops in the mind. With the thrilling Gondola rides along with the ones on a horse back, be sure to be on top of the world.

Gulmarg is a destination for adventure sports lovers. Known for its skiing and ice hockey competitions, tourists from all over the globe throng it during winters. It is probably the only place that the Kashmir tourism industry has been able to market properly. 

Preng – The Mystery 

 

 

Preng is a small village located in the Kangan Block in the Ganderbal District. A very popular picnic spot in Kashmir, it is known for the beautiful gardens and the never ending landscapes.

Pahalgham – The Betab Land

 

 

The place that has been giving Gulmarg tough competition for the top spot of the best tourist destination in Kashmir. Gulmarg and Pahalgham are like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of tourist destinations.  You can never really decide which one is better.

Pahalgham has abundant water bodies and the famous Betaab and Aaru Valleys.  Just naming these two is enough to make someone lose interest in city life. A person can easily picture himself giving up all the temptations of the world just to enjoy the mountains and water of Pahalgham.

Shopian – The Apple Town 

 

Shopian - Kashmir Tourism

You might know that Kashmir is not just known for its tourism, but for its apples as well. And Shopian is the apple capital of the valley. Shopian gives tough competition to Sopore in producing mouth-watering juicy apples but the apples are not the only thing to look forward to in Shopian.

Shopian is an enigmatic place to say the least. It should have been on Kashmir Tourism map, but somehow it has missed the attention. 

Baramula – The Cherished Place 

A very popular district of Kashmir known for many things like the lifestyle of the rich people living there, the local accent, the confectionery and also for sharing a border with Pakistan. Mughal Emperors like Akbar and Jahangir used to stay in Baramula during their visits.

Aharbal – The Waterfall Place 

 

 

Aharbal is known to have the Niagara Falls of Kashmir. It is a beautiful captivating waterfall which has an abundant amount of water encompassing a large area. The trek leading up to the waterfall is worth the effort. Apart from that the exciting trek to the Kungwatan meadows, you will be led to the mesmerizing Konsernag Lake.

Dhara – The Home of Gujurs 

 

Gujjar - Kashmir Tourism

 

Home of the Gujjar and Pathan population of the valley and an ideal place for trekkers, Theed and Dhara are best places to visit in Kashmir if adventure, treks, love for heights and unlimited skies run in your veins.

Gujurs are the ethnic Kashmiri nomadic community which is always on the move and mainly work as shepherds. Missing it on the Kashmiri tourism map is real bad, especially since it is just 20 kms away from the capital, Srinagar. 

Gurez – The Paradise Valley 

 

 

Located among the high Himalayan ranges, Gurez valley is nothing less than a piece of paradise created by the Almighty. Rich in a diverse range of landscapes and animals like the Himalayan Brown Bear and the Snow Leopard, Gurez has just so much to offer to everyone who visits.

Its main tourist attractions are the culture itself, the Habba Khatoon Mountain named after the famous poetess of Kashmir, and the ethereal Kishanganga River.

Yusmarg – Did Jesus Really Know This?

 

 

In Kashmiri Yusmarg means “Meadow of Jesus”. This is because it was believed by some people that Jesus had come to Kashmir for a brief period.

Yusmarg is covered with snow kissed mountains and large amount of meadows. Located in the Pir Panjal range, the famous peaks of Yusmarg are the Sunset Peak and the Tatakooti Peak. After a small trek the road leads to a frozen lake in the Sang-e-Safed valley which is known to be covered in snow even in the summer.

Doodhpathri – The Next Big Thing! 

If Gulmarg and Pahalgham were a human couple, then Doodhpathri would definitely be their child. Having majestic sceneries of Gulmarg and noise cancelling, soul touching water falls of Pahalgham, Doodhpathri is an upcoming tourist destination giving full competition to big guns like Gulmarg and Pahalgham.

Sonamarg – Ah My Favorite

 

 

Did the title recommend it enough?

When you are excited to go to Ladakh and want the journey to begin a little sooner, Sonamarg enhances the experience for you by showing you the beauty it holds and the treasure of adventure you will encompass when you hit the Zojila road from Sonamarg.

Kupwara – The Captivator

Known now a days for all the wrong reasons Kupwara still tries to regain its status and change its popularity for a better reason. Like I mentioned before every corner of Kashmir is a tourist destination even if it is not as popular as others. Kupwara is the best example of this statement. Not only the District but also the people of Kupwara are known for their captivating beauty.

Leh/Ladakh/Kargil The Marijuana :p 

 

 

No explanation needed, the names itself mean Eat, Pray, Love. “One will teach you love, one will teach you, patience and the other will teach you, pain.”

For those who haven’t visited these places yet this sums the places up in the best possible way.

Kokernag/Verinag/ Achabal – Three Musketeers 

 

 

Situated in Anantnag, Kokernag, Achbal and Verinag are three mystical Mughal gardens which are the living examples of Mughal architecture at its best. Designed in the typical grand Mughal styled garden with its main attraction being the “naag” or the spring. The geometrical designs of the colourful gardens with running water on one side and rainbow like different variety of flowers on the other side is a treat to watch.

Kishtwar – The Small Valley 

Kishtwar is a little far from a conventional tourist destinations. It is mostly the kind of place enjoyed by the bizarre travelers who seek much more than just a selfie. It is not just a place to go to for ticking it off the bucket list.

Another masterpiece missed by the Kashmir tourism department. People who visit induce themselves with the aura of the bewitching landscapes here with its mighty proud hills, lush green forests riddled with pine and deodar forests.

The national park in Kishtwar is a dream come true place for all the wildlife and nature enthusiasts who want to become one with nature. 

Pulwama – The Crops Town 

The infamous “Rice Bowl of Kashmir”. Pulwama is a small marvel in Kashmir and is an ideal place to see Kashmir’s beauty glow at its best. This place has a massive range of tourist destinations too eager to be explored especially if you are a first time traveler. The weather, pleasant odor saffron fields, and malleable citizens. One cannot have enough of the saffron fields and the rich culture in Pulwama.

I am sure that google searches like ‘Kashmir tourism photos’ and ‘Kashmir tourism packages’ won’t be an option that you’ll consider from now on.

Come here and visit us.

Get lost to be discovered. 

Anantnag – The History Mystery Town 

Call it Anantnag or Islamabad, this land has been the home of every soul living there no matter what their religion. It consists of Masjid Baba Dawood Khaki, the Martand Temple, the Ashmuqam Shrine. History hasn’t really captured what all this spiritual place entailed. 

Final Thoughts 

There are many more honorable mentions which I would like to have in this list. They are places such as Drang, Dras, Poonch, Tangmarg, Manasbal, and even the city of Srinagar. Srinagar itself has some enchanting places like the Zabarwan Range, Badamwari, Tulip Garden, Hari Parbat, Tral and the Mughal Gardens to quench your adventurous thirst.

Are you excited to come over to Kashmir? Is it safe to visit Kashmir? Let me know in the comments below. My team will try to be your online guide 🙂 

Author: Rohwa Kitab

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