This winter, get handcuffed in the mystifying beauty and mouthwatering cuisines of Kashmir The beauty, the serenity and the calmness are the not the only factors which make Kashmir the most desired vacation destination by those who love to live out of their back-packs. This epitome of natural beauty, which is also considered as the most scenic summer getaway across Asia and has left several poets trapped in between their poetic lines (describing Kashmir’s beauty). Also this hilly region boasts not one, but of having at least 10 beautiful holiday destinations within it which makes it the most preferred summer destination for travellers.
The most visited locals in the district are Shrinagar, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Yousmarg, Patnitop, Leh, Zangla, Zanskar, Ladakh and Pahalgam. What makes Shrinagar a must visit for all the Kashmir bound travellers is its connectivity to the rest of the nation and not to overlook, its breathtaking beauty. It’s beauty is considered undisputable as the famous Dal and Nagin lakes landscape it and enhance its picturesque settings. While the changing play of the seasons and the nourishing climate ensures that the city is equally attractive to visitors around the year.
What to do
Apart from doing the regular skiing and skating activities, Kashmir offers a unique opportunity to play golf in invigorating surroundings, where the wind whispers through enormous trees of chinar and stately pine. In the verdant golf courses at Srinagar and Gulmarg, you will be able to play for longer hours than in the plains because of the lower temperatures.
And delightfully, even during winters, the courses in Srinagar not closed until the city is snowbound. Also staying in the houseboats in the lakes of Kashmir is another attraction for many tourists and is sure to be a memorable experience for you to cherish. The other tourist attractions in the surrounding areas include the Bahu Fort, Hazrat Bal Shrine, Amar Mahal Palace, wildlife sanctuaries, fishing, bungee jumping and safaris. Shopping can be another attraction as people purchase the hand woven carpets and shawls to take back with them.
The Kashmiri food can be the simple meal of a family, or a 36-course wedding banquet called wazawan. Made with rich and redolent flavour of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and saffron, the cuisine is a foodies delight. What is most commonly available here, even in the distant dhabas is steamed rice. When in Kashmir, try the authentic kahwa (Persian tea), which is served after a lavish meal.
Also while eating the traditional Kashmiri murg, opt for the traditional breads like tsot, tshochwar and bakerkhani. In terms of Kashmiri cuisine mutton, chicken or fish are of prime importance. However, the vegetarians too have a share to relish. The Kashmiri dum-aloo is the best one has ever had in the country.
Places to visit
The city best known for its lush gardens, serene lakes, and chameleonic landscape, Srinagar is best visited during the summer season. Relish a shikhara ride on Dal or Nagin Lake, or snap to your heart’s delight with the snow-clad Hari parbat hill in the backdrop. Things to see and do : Dal & Nageen Lakes, Mughal Gardens, Shankaracharya Hill, Old City monumnents (Dastgir Sahib, Jama Masjid, Khanqah, and Rozabal Shrine).
The undulated hilly area of Pahalgam is famous for its fertile region and rich vegetation, of which conifer forests make for a large part. Engage in various adventure sports like horseback riding, trekking, canoeing, water rafting, etc. The placid surrounding of Pahalgam with its breathtaking meadows and natural landscape is the perfect tourist destination for anyone looking to get away from the bustles of the city. Things to see and do : Baisarn & Tulian lakes, Betab & Aru valleys.
Literally translated ‘Meadow of Flowers’, Gulmarg is a picturesque hill station with vibrant flowers contrasted against the backdrop of snow-capped mountain peaks. A popular picnic spot, Gulmarg has much to offer in terms of beautiful natural beauty, and is also renowned for the highest and longest cable car system in the entire Asian continent. Things to see and do : Gondola rides up the mountain, leisure walks through the meadows, and skiing.
Sonmarg or ‘Meadow of Gold’ is situated a few kms before the Zoji La pass, and is also a popular route to traverse to Ladakh. Abundant with beautiful flowers in an array of colors, Sonmarg is famous for its undulated and far-reaching trekking routes, which pass through many other tourist spots such as Vishansar and Gangabal lakes. A number of lakes and rivers have their confluence at Sonmarg, Nilagard where a small stream meets with River Sind is another major attraction.
Vishansar Lake, located at an altitude of 4048 meters above sea level is the most popular of all the lakes in Sonmarg, and is one of the breathtaking views from the very top of the meadow. Things to see and do : Thajiwas glacier, leisure walks through the meadows, trekking.