Kashmir Trip Planner: All You Need to Know
The Heaven on the Earth, Kashmir is a splendid holiday destination for every type of traveler – nature lovers, adventure seekers, couples, families, and even isolation pursuers.
The Crown of India has everything from green meadows, fertile valleys, lofty mountains, and sparkling lakes to thick forests and grand temples. Here, you can indulge in various activities, including trekking, skiing, mountain biking, camping, horse riding, gondola, and shikara riding.
Kashmir Travel Guide
How to Reach
I highly recommend you reach this place using GoAir, Air India, and Jet Airways at Srinagar Airport. If you are coming by train, drop at Jammu Tawi railway station. Traveling by car requires you to take NH 1 or NH 44 – they link to all the big cities of India.
However, I strongly advise you to pick the suitable Kashmir tour package to make the most of your trip and save time planning.
Best Time to Visit
You have the liberty to visit Kashmir anytime in the year. However, summer is the period when most people hit this scenic place to enjoy its pleasant weather and landscape. Similar to the rest of India, Kashmir receives monsoon rains in July and August, while the winter starts in November and ends in February.
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The summer (May till August) temperature in Kashmir valley ranges between 14C to 30C. However, in the monsoon season (July to September), the temperature remains between 13C and 17C. The winter is the best time to experience snowfall and skiing, with temperatures dropping to -2C. Plan your trip depending on what you like to witness in Kashmir.
Places to Visit
Kashmir is a land of lush meadows, snow-covered Himalayan Peaks, splashing rivers filled with trout, stunning high-altitude lakes, and a variety of mystical getaways. The most stunning places you should see include Srinagar, Sonmarg, Gulmarg, and Pahalgam. These locations are not only an ideal getaway for exploration but also offer different adventures and fun activities such as horse riding, skiing, trekking, and fishing & angling, confirming a complete vacation for all.
Whenever you visit the top destinations in Kashmir, do not forget to explore and experience Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, Mughal Gardens, Lakes, Shikara, Gondola rides, Skiing, Golfing, and a houseboat stay.
Here’s a list of places you must visit, divided into categories like Hills Stations, Honeymoon, Lakes, Gardens, Wildlife, Adventure, etc.
Hill Stations: Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg, Srinagar, Patnitop, Kishtwar, Aru Valley, and Sanasar are the top hill stations in the valley, allowing you to enjoy the best of nature and take part in various sightseeing and adventurous activities.
Check my guide to Dharamshala Hill station
Honeymooners: Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg, Srinagar, and Patnitop are perfect places for honeymooners and couples, as well. At Gulmarg, couples can relish romance amongst the splendor of snow-covered tops and flourishing meadows as well as perform exploration activities.
Lakes: For boating, fishing, boat stay, and savoring the scenic views, visit Dal Lake, Tarsar Lake, Nageen Lake, Mansar Lake, Krishansar Lake, Gadsar Lake, Nilnag Lake, and Tullian Lake.
Gardens: If you love to explore stunning structures, picturesque vistas, a variety of flowers and trees, and lush views, I highly recommend you check out Nishat Garden (the second-largest Mughal orchard). Other gardens you should visit include Shalimar Garden, Harwan Garden, Badamwari Garden, Parimahal Garden, Tulip Garden (featuring 48 tulip types), Chashme Shahi Garden, and Botanical Garden (boasting thousands of ornamental plants).
Wildlife: Tourists who love to discover the rich flora and fauna should visit Dachigam National Park, Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, and Overa Aru Wildlife Sanctuary.
Adventure: Just as you find in Ladakh tour packages, you can participate in various adventurous activities in Kashmir. Enjoy the thrill of river rafting, experience power skiing, trek the most dreamlike lakes, meadows, and streams, savor the entertaining activity of trout fishing, relish climbing the high-rise and tough Himalayan Peaks, undertake a bold motorbike journey, and do so much more in Kashmir.
Things to Do
The good thing about visiting Kashmir is the variety of activities in every destination you can throw yourself into. Here are the top things you can do in Kashmir.
Shikara Ride: Embark on a Shakara ride at Dal and Nagin Lakes to capture the magnificence of Srinagar. The vibrant houseboats and shikaras standing on the lakes create unforgettable scenery.
Trekking: Perhaps, the most challenging activity for adventure seekers in Kashmir is trekking through Kashmir Great Lakes, Vishansar Naranag, Naranag Gangabal, and Pahalgam Tarsar Marsar.
Golfing: If trekking and hiking aren’t your things, then golfing at the top-class courses in Kashmir is ideal for spending your leisure time. Gulmarg is at the highest point amongst four world-class golf courses here, offering magnificent scenes of snow-covered mountains.
Skiing: Adventure enthusiasts should not miss skiing in Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Thajiwas, with inclines of the Himalaya Mountain Range in the setting.
Mountain Biking: Similar to the rugged terrains of Ladakh, Kashmir valley gives you a chance to explore all the magnificent attractions here.
Paragliding: Paragliding should be on the top of your list if you want to experience the best of Kashmir from a bird’s eye view. Indulge in the aero sport activity at Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Baderwah, Sanasar, and Harwan to witness the lush meadows, lakes, and gardens.
Mountaineering: Climbing Harmukh, Tattakutti, Sunset, and Kolahoi peaks is something you should not postpone on your trip to Kashmir if you fancy epic mountaineering.
Angling and Fishing: With a number of rivers, lakes, and streams situated in this Union Territory, you will not have trouble finding a perfect spot for angling and fishing. While most anglers prefer fishing at Dal Lake, I suggest you try it at Lidder River. You would be able to catch brown and rainbow trout here, but only if you have taken permission from the authorities.
Bird Watching: Bird watching in Kashmir would be an experience like no other. The place is a natural habitat of around 500 bird species across 24 wetlands. If you love to watch birds, then it is something you shouldn’t miss.
Camping: Do you want to stay close to nature? Camp in a suitable place around Pahalgam, Aru Valley, Yusmarg, Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley, Gulmarg, and Sonamarg. You can go camping in both summers and winters, but hot months are preferable to witness the natural charm in full bloom.
Snowboarding: In case you are a fan of winter sports, Kashmir should be at the top of your destinations list. Besides skiing and heli-skiing, snowboarding is another activity you want to take part in. Once here in winter, hit Gulmarg to witness one of the world’s top sloping hills.
Horse Riding: Visit Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgam to explore every inch of this sacred valley.
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Kashmir observes lots of festivals around the year, giving you a good idea of its culture and rituals. Apart from the most famous festivals of India like Eid, Diwali, and Holi, the place has its exclusive events. These festivals include various rituals portraying the state’s culture and heritage.
A few of the most popular events in Kashmir valley include:
- Pahalgam Festival – take part in tonga rides, village walks, kid zones, stand-up comedy, musical events, art exhibitions, etc.
- Shikara Festival – revel in the Dal Lake.
- Saffron Festival – the event shows the sowing and harvesting method of saffron and its benefits.
- Kheer Bhawani Mela – it starts on the eight-day of the full moon in May in Srinagar.
From economical to lavish hotels, houseboats, camps, and homestays, you won’t find any issue finding a place to stay here. Although locals do not require a permit/visa, foreigners must fill out an application before visiting Kashmir.
It is a perfectly safe place to travel with family, but I highly suggest you plan this tour through a popular Kashmir tour operator in India.