Kashmir was always on my Bucket list and when I got the chance, it didn’t disappoint me To understand why it is called HEAVEN ON EARTH you need to be there in person …
I planned a 5 day trip to Kashmir in Month of August and covered Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonmarg. The climate in Aug –Sept is apt as it’s not too HOT and not so cool .. My plan was to keep Srinagar as Central location and visit places from it ..I have covered the details in 2 blogs – one especially for Srinagar which I felt is the heart of the valley has a lot more to Offer if someone wants to explore local life and history and the other destinations which are more of beautiful natural beauty spots .
KASHMIR (PART 1) – Srinagar
As the 5*and 4 * hotels were quite expensive and most of the normal ones I didn’t find exciting, I researched and planned my 4 Days at Hotel Dar E Salaam which was a Nageen lake. It is a beautiful piece of old colonial Style Heritage property with one private entry from Nageen Lake itself .. My take – Nageen Lake is much cleaner and quieter than the famous DAL .. so go for it if you are looking for peace.
The first day I had with me to spare and I decided to take a private Shikara Ride and went to OLD KASHMIR via DAL lake and it was one of the most exciting boat trips – The Shikarawala took us through the lakes I could see beautiful water lilies in the lake and awesome mountains at the backdrop ,…
…small local house huts, local Kashmiri lifestyle, floating markets ..kids playing in water .. which was a treat to the eyes.
The first stop was at the Small Park at the centre of DAL from where I could see a beautiful view of the valley .. We had good pakoras ( Indian cheese balls ) and Local tea and took great pictures – it gives a 360-degree view of the Dal from the centre
The next couple of hours of the boat trip took us back in history and it was through the old, uninhabited broken houses and ruins of the bygone era and history of the valley. The place could very well have been Venice of India. The whole ride through these houses gives a different feel of Kashmir which I Cannot explain in words but maybe only by pictures below.
As the sun was setting, we head back home in the same shikhara ..
Next few days we spent time in PAHALGAM, SONMARG and GULMARG described in PART 2 of this blog.
I Last Day I took a Car tour to visit local Srinagar and it was indeed a wonderful day. I went to Shalimar Bagh to start with – fascinating Beautiful Gardens with Backdrop of mountains. Really mesmerizing view – Definitely get clicked dressed as a local ..
Nishat Bagh – Another piece of gem and this was the place where I felt I got the answer why It is called heaven – Beautiful terraced Gardens with Backdrop of snow-covered mountains on one side and scenic DAL lake .. This garden made me feel that I should visit Srinagar more often.
Chasme Shahi was another beautiful garden which has a water spring at the centre believed to have medicinal properties.
Next stop was a visit to Pari Mahal – Ancient ruins from where you can get the Panoramic view of Srinagar City. The place is under Archeological Survey of India so you might not get to each corner but still, the panoramic views of the town are amazing.
After lunch, we took off to have a feel of the famous religious places of Srinagar – The famous Jama Masjid – A calm and peaceful mosque at the centre of City and Hazratbal Shrine – another price of Marvel. Few pics describe the beauty of these two places.
The last stop before I was to head home was Shankaracharya temple – A beautiful Hindu temple at the Hill Top – Unfortunately, one is not allowed to take a camera or even the mobile phones inside the temple – Also, you need to climb a lot of stairs .. so make sure you have a good breakfast/lunch the day you visit this temple.
Best time to visit: Depends – June to September to see the summers and spring and Jan to March to witness the Winters. I would love to go once again in winters this time when it is totally covered under the snow.
STAY: I Stayed for 4 days in Dar – E – Salaam and will surely recommend for its location i.e . next to Nageen Lake. Hospitality wise also its quite good with the excellent and caring staff. I also stayed one night in Gurkha Houseboat which is run by ITC – it was an again a wonderful experience.