How to Travel to Kashmir, Switzerland of India? Kashmir, the land of pure beauty and nature, is one of the most desired tourist destinations in India. Kashmir is popularly called the Switzerland of India as it has some awesome sightseeing places that are worth a visit.
The land of lakes, rivers, mountains and valleys is spread over an area of 140,000 sq. km and is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, pine forests and apple orchards. It’s a paradise on earth!
PAP and details:
Some parts of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir fall under protected areas. Though the most popular attractions like Sonmarg, Gulmarg, Dal Lake, and Nubra Valley are open to all foreign tourists, some off-beat places that fall on the borders and protected areas require permission from the district magistrates to visit. According to the Indian Government’s restricted area permit regime, here’s what you need to know:
- The most popular tourist attractions in Kashmir don’t require any permits.
- Any foreign national can’t stay in the protected areas but can visit it with a local tour company associated with the authorities with a pre-drawn itinerary.
- The permits expire within 7 days for the respective areas.
- The areas and subdivisions requiring the permits are Khaltse, Nyoma, and Nubra Sub-divisions, turtuk valley area, chitkan and batalik area in Kargil, and some particular roads in Pangong.
How to travel to Kashmir?
The best way to travel to Kashmir is to land at any major cities’ airports, preferably Delhi, and take a domestic flight to the Srinagar airport. Srinagar is well-connected to all the major cities of India and.
If you are flying from anywhere in Asia like Kuala Lumpur or Doha, you will find flights of Air Asia, Qatar Airways, Emirates etc. Before you travel to there you may need a travel insurance in advance. If you don’t know how to choose a travel insurance, you can read out How to Buy The Best Travel Insurance: A beginners’ guide here
Places to Visit In Kashmir:
Kashmir has a long list of spectacular places s it attracts tourists multiple times in their like Dal lake, Shankaracharya Hill, Gulmarg Gondola, Sonmarg, Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, Nubra Valley, Aru Valley, Nishat Garden, Zojila Pass. However, it also beholds unpopular small places spread through Jammu and Kashmir. Most people start their journey from Srinagar.
The jewel of the crown of Srinagar Dal lake is probably one of the most splendid wonders you will see in your life. With the picturesque view of the mountains, you will see the floating market in this high-altitude freshwater lake. The lake’s fresh water is sourced from the Jhelum river.
You can hire any shikhara or manual boat to roam around and in the floating market, and they generally cost around 550 INR per hour, but the accumulated cost will go down if you ride the shikara for a longer duration.
You will see flowers, vegetables and jewellery and souvenir shops in the market to explore. If you want a unique stay experience, you can pre-book houseboats in dal lake for the whole stay or just one night. The costs are generally higher than regular hotels and starts from around 3000 INR per night.
Sightseeing in Srinagar:
- Dals Lake and early morning floating market
- Houseboats & Shikara ride
- Old Srinagar Masjids & Markets
- Local food tasting
The next spectacular tourist spot of Kashmir is Sonmarg in the Ganderbal district, 80 km northeast of Srinagar. This beautiful valley through Zozilla pass is a must-stop on your way to Leh. This tourist spot is only open in the Spring after the snow is cleared and the roads are safe to travel.
If you want to visit this picturesque valley, make plan your visit between March and early April.
Landmarks to visit in Sonamarg: Thajiwas park to visit beautiful scenery and glaciers, adventurous Srinagar to Sonamarg Road and the Sonamarg Market to experience the locality.
Among the four wonders of Kashmir, the Gulmarg is one of the most amazeballs ones. Most renowned as a skiing destination Gulmarg is essentially a valley with thick snowfall during the winter, making it one of the most attractive skiing locations.
The cost of Gulmarg is higher than other places. The skiing places have two levels, and they all cost around ₹1200 for level 1 and ₹1900 for level 2. Gondola rides are another attraction of Gulmarg for those who want to be amazed by the views. In the Spring, the Gulmarg is a sight for sore eyes with beautiful meadows, green valleys.
Landmarks to visit in Gulmarg: Baba Rishi Temple and Rani temple with the scenic view on the way, the architectural structure of Imambara goom, and the St. Mary church are some beautiful landmarks in Gulmarg. If you are visiting Kashmir in winter or early Spring, you can also hit Draang to see beautiful ice structures.
Pahalgam is one of the most diverse and rich locations and sightseeing places in Kashmir. Pahalgam in Anantnag district is approximately 90 km from Srinagar and is full of beautiful valleys, meadows, and adventurous trails. Pahalgam is on the way to another famous location, Amarnath temple, one of the most visited places by Hindus.
Landmarks to visit in Pahalgam: Aru Valley and Betab Valley with beautiful streams of water and moments of quiet and peace to fill your mind. Sheshnag lake and Danyang valley for scenic beauty. Another two places that should be on your bucket list are and Lidder river. Staying at least one day in Pahalgam will give enough time to praise and love its beauty.
Temples & Mosques In Kashmir
Jamia Masjid is one of the most prime attractions and where the biggest ensemble for prayers take place. Built in 1400AD, Jamia Masjid is a must-visit place for seeing its Indo-Saracenic architecture. You will find a resemblance to pagodas as well as Persian influence in its turrets.
Jamia Masjid Entry Fee: Jamia Masjid is free to enter for everyone, but cameras are charged 2.72USD.
Tips: If you are a Muslim, you already know, but for the non-muslims, you have to dress modestly, cover your hands, feet and hair before entering the Masjid.
Situated in the old city of Srinagar Khanqah-e-moula or Shahan-e-Hamadan is the oldest mosque in Srinagar. It was built in 1314CE on the right bank of Jhelum to dedicate to the preacher Sayyid Ali Hamdani.
You will see heavy British influence in its gothic structure and history stories bound to this place. While visiting, you will feel the love for Islam and the community in Kashmir and will get drenched in the beauty of the backdrop of mountains and rivers.
Entry fee: No entry fee
Restrictions: Religions other than Muslims are not allowed in the Masjid, and hence you may need permission if you want to enter.
Amarnath caves are located in the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, a sacred and sought-after destination for Hindus. This is a Hindu shrine of Lord Shiva within a cave at an altitude of 5,486 km from sea level.
The paved path of the cave leads to the frozen lingam of Lord Shiva. The road to Amarnath is one of the most beautifully adventurous treks through Pahalgam and the best time to visit the Amarnath is the summer months as the paths are clear and free of snow.
For Amarnath yatra, you have to sign up for the registration as only 7500 deities are only allowed every day in the walking route exclusive of anyone under 13 or above the age of 75 and 6-week pregnant women. Amarnath yatra registration will cost you INR 100.
Vaishno Devi is one of the most enchanting and sought-after Hindu shrines that every deity wishes to visit once in a lifetime. It’s located in the Trikuta Mountains in Jammu & Kashmir. To reach the destination, you have to reach Katra. You can reach there either by any passenger train or by road while booking cars.
Katra is just 50 km outside Jammu and is the base camp for starting the journey to visit Vaishno Devi Ji. It’s a 12km climb to Vaishno Devi Bhawan Area. The alternate track that is now used for the pilgrimage is safe and provides stunning scenery from Indraprastha viewpoints and a unique experience for hike enthusiasts.
Spices: Kashmir is the land of few exotic and flavourful spices like mawal flower, Kashmiri saffron, Himalayan rock salt are probably the best souvenir you can purchase to take the scent of Kashmir back with you.
The exceptional food of Kashmir: To endeavour the culture of Kashmir, you must try few mandatory dishes while on the visit. Some prominent Kashmiri cuisine dishes are Mutton Rogan Josh, Gostava, Nadru Yakhni, Kashmiri Pulao, Yakhni Lamb Curry, Lyodur Tsachaman, Kashmiri Saag are a few of the local recommendations and are the exquisites that you can’t leave without tasting.
Kashmiri Kehva: This is something you will find probably everywhere in Kashmir in tea stalls. Kehva is essentially green tea brewed with spices such as saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, and dried rose petals and is served with sliced almonds.
Shawls, fabrics and Jewels: Kashmiri Pashmina work on Shawls, blankets and this traditional handwork of Kashmir is a great gift and souvenir for any of your friends, family or yourself. Some of the other things that are traditional of Kashmir are its pieces of jewellery and silk which you can find in the Srinagar market.
How to travel to Kashmir: The District of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most spectacular places in India for tourists. Jannat-e-Kashmir has a lot to offer and a lot to endeavour, and once you get immersed in its beauty and culture, you will never forget it.
The list of visiting places are not restricted to the only ones mentioned here but more masjids in Srinagar city, beautiful rivers and viewpoints, treks and trails in different districts of Kashmir. But the mentioned ones are the ones you should never ever miss.