Tour to Kashmir
Well, I will share our experience about visit to Kashmir (known as paradise on earth). We visted Kashmir in June 2012. I will write about mainly Srinagar, Gulmarg and Pahalgam as we visited these places during our tour to Kashmir.
I will also share some photographs of these places taken by me. I think writing day wise will be better.
We arrived at Srinagar airport at around 1pm. We asked our taxi guy to straight away take us to an eating point so that we can take our lunch. He took us to Krishna Dhabba at Srinagar. Initially we thought that this place may not that good to have our lunch there but let me tell you that this place turned out be the best eating point in Srinagar during our stay of 7 days. After lunch we took rest in our hotel "Green Acre".
In the evening at around 5pm we went to Dal lake for boating. Initially we had in our minds that boating in Lake will just be like another day boating in another lake at some other place. But boating in Dal Lake turned out to be a life time experience because we decide to go in the evening. In the evening you will have altogether different experience. The markets inside the Dal Lake (yes inside the Lake) will be in full flow. You can spot people taking their very small boats to buy their daily household items from the markets inside the Lake , some people visiting a small time doctor clinic etc. See video below.
Tip: Visit Dal Lake in evening time only and opt for complete round
On day two we decided to go for local sightseeing in Srinagar. There are many great gardens worth visiting. We visited Shalimar Garden, Chashme Shahi Garden, Nishat Garden.
Do not forgot to famous Shankaracharya Temple near Dal Lake. This temple is situated at a height from where you can view the whole Srinagar. Remember there are close to 200 stair steps.
Weather: In day time full sleeve shirts are more than sufficient.
On day 3 we planned to go to Gulmarg which is around 60-70 KM from Srinagar and it takes around 90 minutes to reach there by taxi. When we were about reach Gulmarg nearly 2-3 km before Gumlmarg we noticed some people standing on the road guiding all the other people/vehicles to take right turn (there are two ways one goes left and other goes right). We took right turn like most of the other vehicles but very soon we found that why those people were standing over there. Those people were the horse owners and were misguiding the vehicles take right turn instead of left.
Actually there are two taxi stands in Gulmarg one taxi stand is about 1km from the Gondola base point and other is about 2 km from Gondola base. So all those men standing on road were making vehicles to take right turns so that maximum tourists park their vehicles in the taxi stand which is 2 km from Gondola base because this gives the better opportunity to all the horse owners to convince you ( which is really very annoying , also they will be wrongly telling you that Gondola ride is closed for today and take horse for reaching the point where gondola takes you i.e. first phase) to get horse ride till gondola base because the distance is just double. So remember to take left turn when you spot all those men standing on the road near Gulmarg.
Now after reaching the Gondola base, we had to collect the boarding passes (thank God we had purchased tickets online earlier) for gondola ride. Then we passed through the long queue and took gondola ride to reach at first phase. When you reach at first phase officials there will be writing return time on your tickets don't bother much about that. There was no snow at first phase so not much to see there. So we decided to buy tickets for 2nd phase (you don't have option of buying tickets for 2nd phase online or at the main gondola office) where you get to see lot of snow. Buying tickets for 2nd phase is like a struggle for freedom, really there is a lot of rush. Even after buying tickets you will have to wait for approx 2 hours for finally taking gondola ride for 2nd phase. After that you can enjoy for some time. This time around of the year there is snow at 2nd phase but it is dirty as you can see in the photographs.
Tips: 1. If you have decide to go to 2nd phase then there is no need for taking shoes on rent at the gondola base itself as you can get them on rent once you reach at 2nd phase that too at same price, so no need for lifting extra weight all the way upto 2nd phase.
2. At gondola base there will be many guides asking you to hire them, actually there is a benefit of hiring them as they will buy tickets for you of 2nd phase and also help you to jump queue as they have some links with local officials. Otherwise may also oblige the officials to jump the queue. Yes everything happens there, after all you have come so long here to enjoy so won't like to waste 3-4 hours just standing in queues.
3. One woolen jacket is sufficient.
On day 4 we departed for Pahalgam in the morning and it took around 3 hours to reach Pahalgam by taxi. We stayed in Hotel Heevan at Pahalgam, beautiful location of the hotel.
After taking lunch around 2 pm we decided to go for a horse ride. There are actually many packages of horse ride depending on the places you want to visit. They have rates displayed on the board, per hour rate is also a option. Very important to remember is that if you bargain with them too much they will agree to lower rates too but they will take you to the places which are very near and wrongly tell you that this is the place as mentioned in the package when actually it is not.
So, just give them their rates as displayed over there and ask them strongly that the places they will take you should be real ones. We chose to visit Kashmir Valley, Biasaran and two other places I forgot the names. Let me tell you these 4 hours were the Highlight of the entire trip to Kashmir. It was full of excitement, adventure some amazing sightseeing places as you can see in photographs. That was all for day4.
On day 5 we had planned for Sonmarg but we decided to skip as other tourists told us that if you have visited Gulmarg then you can skip it as during this period of the year there is not much snow and its actually muddy out there.
So we decided while returning back from Pahalgam to do some water rafting which is available around 10 km from Pahalgam. It was another amazing experience as we did it for the first time. Then we decided to go to some more gardens like Acharabal, Verinaag in Anantnag district. You have to divert around 40-50 kms from the midway on Pahalgam to Srinagar highway.
These gardens are also very beautiful but you can skip them as these are more or less same like the gardens in Srinagar.
Day 6 and 7:
Day 6 was actually a spare day did some shopping. On day 7 we had our flight in the noon. So overall it was a memorable experience. Thank you and all the best guys.
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