My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon
I will return again
Sure as the dust that floats high in June
Whenmovin’ through Kashmir
And sure as dusts, we do return to the valley of gods again and gain. To the quaint charms of a lazed out valley, houseboats painted on a picture perfect background. In the same song, Led Zeppeling sings about rust brown Kashmir with sand in their eyes. Kashmir is Srinagar, but Kashmir is also country side with field of tulips and valleys of rocks and sand.
So, if you want to take detour while you are on one of yours Kashmir Tours this time, you can visit some other tourist destinations. If you can arrange it, hire a car. Having a talkative cabbie around you in exotic places has its own charm and benefits. Or, you can take the state bus service; tickets can be booked from tourist reception centre in Srinagar. You may have to go through security checks or other formalities. Kashmir is safe for tourists than ever and these are only precautionary measures.
Located on the Srinagar-Ladakh Highway, around two and a half hours drive northeast of Srinagar; scenic Sonamarg (“Meadow of Gold”) is famous for its Thajiwas Glacier. Now do not let the glacier word diminish your spirits, our friend here is very much accessible. You can trek up and back in five hours from the highway. You can also take a pony. And, you have to bargain hard with the pony owners. It brings out miraculous results.
Once a popular Bollywood destination, Thajiwas has a touch of romance to it. There are a number of options for eating and staying at Sonamarg. Ahsan Mount Resort has fabulous Swiss tents for glamping. Hotel Snowland is conveniently located but could be managed better. Or you can book a resort for stay over, from various Srinagar tour packages.
Gulmarg (“Meadow of Flowers”), India’s version of a ski resort, is situated less than two hours drive east of Srinagar. The season runs from mid December to mid March. If you’re not into skiing, you may still want to let the gondola whisk you more than 13,000 feet up Mount Apharwat for outstanding views.
Apart from having the distinction of being world’s highest cable car, our homeboy gondola is really popular, equally among girls and boys. So, use the internet and buy your tickets online. Cable car rides are also included in tourist packages. If you want to stay, ski and ride a gondola over thee, check out tourist packages.
The city bred protagonist, in the movie Highway, makes her dream home for one day in the valley of shepherds. This idyllic, self absorbed valley is alive with tourists and yet asleep, lost in time. It is near the departure point for amaranth yatra, and remains really packed in july.
Visitors commonly head to Pahalgam’s Betaab Valley (the Bollywood movie “Betaab” was shot there), with its fresh flowing Lidder River and surrounding snow-capped hills. However, what you need to be aware of is that you’ll only be allowed to take your vehicle up to a certain point to reach the Valley. After that, you’ll need to hire a prepaid vehicle provided by the local transport association, or walk. Entrance to the Valley is regulated and costs 10 rupees. You can indulge in finer things like golfing and trout fishing in and around resorts or be one for the road and have some adventure. Pahalgam is also a popular destination for river rafting.
Or, if you want to make a home for few days, Pahalgam is ideal for a romantic vacation or a honeymoon. You can find resorts services and honeymoon packages in abundance.
4. Charar-i-Sharief and Yousmarg
Yousmarg, a sprawling meadow around two hour’s drive southwest of Srinagar, is refreshingly old world. The highlight is the Doodh Ganga River, which is reached by a picturesque 30 minute walk along a forested trail down a hill. Alternatively, it’s possible to take a pony. On the way you will find apple orchards and town of Charar-i-shareef, one of the holiest sufi shrines in the world.
‘A road that goes on and on, and you and the road are one. When I rode through Ladakh I felt like a man again.’ This was how a bike trip to Ladakh was described to me by a friend, later confirmed personally. This plateau, where colors are splashed all round and women are head of the family, is too beautiful to be described. It is 408 km from Srinagar. You can take a bus or rent a car or fly to Ladakh. Or, you can man up and ride. And, women who are riding to Ladakh, please show yourself we have been looking for you!
You can visit Leh and The Bazaar. If you are more adventurous, you can try and become one of the few to watch a real snow leopard. Tourist packages offer hotel deals, visits to tourist places, markets and monasteries. You can also get bike trip packages and ride with other bikers all the way from Manali to Ladakh.
So while you have already selected any of the Srinagar or Kashmir Tour packages, do consider trying something new this time! Kashmir is a place which is full of surprises, all you need to do is explore!
‘Besudh, Betarteeb, Benazeer chale aye
Logo ki bekhudi se dil bhar aya to
Khud se baate karne Kashmir chale aye’