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Kashmir Diaries (a Travelogue)- Part II

Updated on July 12, 2019
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Blogger || Media professional || Art of Living teacher || Yoga Enthusiast || Avid reader || Spiritual || Loves to travel ||Loves to Cook ||

Dal Lake
Dal Lake

Last month I went for vacation to the beautiful Kashmir Valley. Kashmir is popularly called as 'Paradise on Earth' but sadly the valley has been facing violence and unrest since many years. Tourism forms an important part of Kashmiri economy but was badly affected with the rise in insurgency. However, I found Kashmir to be quite safe for the tourists.

In the previous hub Kashmir Diaries (A Travelogue): Part I, I talked about the famous Mughal Gardens in Srinagar and the scenic Sonamarg. Kashmir is so enchanting and wherever you look, you get a different spectacular view.

I've never seen anywhere in the world as beautiful as Kashmir. It has something to do with the fact that the valley is very small and the mountains are very big, so you have this miniature countryside surrounded by the Himalayas, and it's just spectacular. And it's true, the people are very beautiful too.

— Salman Rushdie
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pahalgam:
Pahalgam

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Baisaran
Baisaran
Betaab Valley
Betaab Valley
Enroute Aru Valley
Enroute Aru Valley

Day 3: Pahalgam

We had planned to go to Pahalgam on the third day which is a small hill station. It is about two hours drive from Srinagar. On our way, we stopped at Pampore which is famous for saffron fields.There are various fixed price shops on both sides of the highway from where you can buy authentic saffron. The drive to Pahalgam was quite pleasant with apple orchids on the way and the river Lidder flowing along.

After reaching Pahalgam, we hired ponies to go to Baisaran, known worldwide as the ‘Mini Switzerland’ owing to its long, dark meadows. Baisaran is just 5 km away from Pahalgam but it takes almost one hour to reach there through ponies. The track was quite off-beaten and rough but a real treat for the senses.The thick pine trees that lend the green-carpet look to the glade gives a differentiating hue to snow-topped crests of the encompassing mountains.

Pahalgam is also famous as the site of the annual Amarnath Yatra pilgrimage. Since the pilgrimage was due to start in four days, there was heavy army deployment and frequent security checks. The entry to Chandanwari (base camp for the pilgrimage) was closed during the day as the army was setting up base camp for the pilgrims who come from all over India. So we had to skip Chandanwari and hired a cab to visit Aru & Betaab Valley.

Aru Valley is just 15 kms away from Pahalgam but the drive up to Aru is a scenic one with amazing views of the Lidder Valley. The blue canopy over the head, surreal surroundings, whispering pines & conifers and wonderful green glades make Aru an idyllic destination. Many Bollywood movies have been shot here and the driver kept showing us all the locations.

Next we went to the beautiful Betaab Valley. The Lidder River runs through the scenic Betaab Valley. This valley ascribed its name to the hit Bollywood film Betaab, which was shot in its picturesque surroundings. Sprawling lush meadows with winding streams surrounded by snow-topped peaks form this amazing valley.

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gulmarg:
Gulmarg 193403

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Gulmarg
Gulmarg
Gulmarg
Gulmarg
Gulmarg Kongdoori Phase 1
Gulmarg Kongdoori Phase 1

Day 4: Gulmarg

Gulmarg literally means meadow of flowers. It is a popular skiing destination, situated around 52 kms from Srinagar. Gulmarg Gondola, one of the main attractions of Gulmarg is the second highest cable car in the world. The Gondola ride gives you the most extravagant views of Kashmir valley and snow-capped mountains. Gulmarg also has the world’s second highest golf course, which is situated at an altitude of 2650 m. It is an 18-hole golf course and is spread over an area of 7505 yards.

We set off early in the morning and on our way, we stopped at Tangamarg. One can hire wollen jackets, gloves and rubber boots from there. The uphill drive from Tangamarg to Gulmarg is beautiful. There are tall pine & deodar trees all around. It was drizzling and the weather was cold and foggy.

On reaching Gulmarg, we went to the Gondola ticket counter to book our tickets. Unfortunately, the Gondola ride was available only till phase 1 as phase 2 was closed due to bad weather. We were a bit disappointed but booked the tickets. The gondola ride to phase 1 Kongdoori station took approximately ten minutes. The weather up there was quite pleasant and the beautiful meadows were enchanting. The local vendors up there told us that there was no chance of Gondola phase 2 that day due to bad weather and suggested that we hire ponies to go up to Khilanmarg. It took us half an hour to reach there and the vast stretch of snow made the ride worth it. Activities like sledging, snow-biking, skiing are available there. The snow all around and a beautiful waterfall amidst it made for a picturesque view.Though we missed on Gondola phase 2 ride, but Gulmarg trip was still memorable.


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srinagar:
Srinagar

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Pari Mahal
Pari Mahal
Hazratbal Mosque
Hazratbal Mosque

Day 5: Srinagar

It was our last day in Srinagar. We had already visited the Mughal Gardens on the first day. We started the day with a visit to the Shankaracharya temple. Believed to be the oldest shrine in the Kashmir valley, Shankaracharya Temple is situated on a hill peak, 1100 feet above the sea level and is a beautiful place to catch the majestic nature at its best. The view from the top is truly enchanting.

Our next stop was the Pari Mahal which is a stunning historical monument situated right next to the Chashme Shahi Gardens. Built in the classic Islamic style architecture, this palace is also known as the home of fairies courtesy the six well-maintained terraced gardens it boasts of right on top of the Zabarwan Hills. This place also attracts a number of nature lovers owing to the beautiful views and the lovely gardens.

Afterwards we took a shikara ride in the pristine Dal lake.It is a delight to witness an absolutely splendid view here with lush green mountains in the backdrop and a crystal clear reflection of the sky falling upon the surface of the lake.

Our last stop for the day was Hazratbal Mosque. Standing on the left bank of Dal Lake, Hazratbal is a popular tourist attraction. The mosque sculpted out of white marbles is definitely a captivating watch. The immaculate design and huge dome of the mosque makes it an architectural marvel. It also contains a relic, the Moi-e-Muqqadas, believed to be Muhammad's hair.

Our vacation came to an end and we boarded our flight the next day. It is advisable for the tourists to reach the airport at least two hours before the flight due to the heavy security checkups at the airport. We reached home with memories to last a lifetime. Kashmir is undoubtedly the most beautiful place I have ever been to and I surely want to visit it again. Probably I will visit it during winters sometime as I am sure it will look all the more beautiful with snow all around.

Dal Lake Srinagar Shikara Boat Ride Early Morning Kashmir India

© 2019 Shaloo Walia

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    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      3 weeks ago from India

      Thanks Billie.

    • raucciwrites profile image

      Billie Raucci 

      3 weeks ago from Illinois

      Great read!

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Thank you Chitraganda. Kashmir is a heavenly place. It is a pity that the place is battling terrorism since years.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 weeks ago from New Delhi, India

      Great article and a wonderful travel guide for those who want to visit this awesome place—Kashmir.

      Your pictures are wonderful along with your son. Totally a delight to see both of you having a great time.

      Thank you for sharing the details.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      My pleasure, Eric!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      5 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I love to float away with you. Thanks. What a great journey you just gave me.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Thank you Venkatchari ji for reading and commenting. I am glad that you enjoyed the hub

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      5 weeks ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting journey with beautiful photos. Enjoyed it very much. Thanks for sharing your experiences of this wonderful journey.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Thanks Linda! Kashmir is very beautiful and worth visiting.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing the information about your journey. I'd love to see the scenery and sights in the area that you explored.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      My pleasure, Peggy. Kashmir is indeed an enchanting place. The market at Dal lake is incredible. I bought items made of traditional kashmiri handicrafts Papermeche from there.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Thank you, Lorna!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and writing about your experiences of visiting Kashmir. It was interesting to see all of the homes and businesses as well as lotus farming on Dal Lake in that video at the end. I really enjoyed this!

    • Lorna Lamon profile image

      Lorna Lamon 

      5 weeks ago

      Wonderful article about a truly beautiful place. Lovely pictures.

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Thank you Bill! Kashmir is amazingly beautiful for sure.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      It's beautiful country for sure. Thank you for taking me along on your journey. Stunning photography!

    • swalia profile imageAUTHOR

      Shaloo Walia 

      5 weeks ago from India

      Thanks Hari!

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 

      5 weeks ago from Bangalore

      Great travellogue shaloo. Would refer this when I plan to visit Kashmir.

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