Why You Should Visit Kashmir This Summer

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A lot has been said about Kashmir’s beauty and hospitality through the cinema, literature, the media, etc. Here’s adding more to that pool, while also coming up with pragmatic reasons why you should visit the valley that has not lost its charm all these years.

Before going on any further, click on this link and see for yourself what Kashmir has to offer to a tourist: Aerial View of Gulmarg

Being a Kashmiri, and writing about Kashmir, it becomes impossible to not bring the conflict perspective into the narrative. In all honesty, if you are worried about shutdowns or curfews, I won’t blame you. Although slight, there are chances that you might witness a brief spell of disorder, but I can guarantee, you won’t be affected by it. The narrative that is propagated in this case is that the Kashmiris are extremely hospitable – it stands in all tests of verity for me, yes. But I also understand that this may not necessarily be enough substance for assurance. What we also need to understand is that tourism is the main industry of the valley, and the people won’t harm their ‘customers’ as opposed to the vague term ‘guests’.

The Dal Lake
The Dal Lake

• Trigger warnings and suggestions:

1. If an exceeding amount of military presence daunts you, don’t visit.

2. If you need uninterrupted internet, make sure you make arrangements beforehand.

3. Kashmir is mostly a dry region, so if alcohol is important to you, it might be just a little difficult to find.

• Reasons why you should visit:

1. The geography of Kashmir allows it limitless royalties for being a top tourist destination. It is almost like a bowl surrounded by the most majestic of mountains; you feel disconnected from the rest of the world.


2. The food of Kashmir can be compared to the likes of Persian, Afghan, and Mughal cuisines. Although primarily non-vegetarian, there are options for vegetarian food as well. Besides these, drinks like kahwa and noon-chai (salted tea) are some things you must try.


3. The history of houseboats dates back to British times. Because of the infamous article, non-inhabitants could not buy land in the valley. As a solution to it, the British decided to live on the water, in these uniquely styled boats – which came to be known, quite simply, as houseboats. The interior is a beautiful amalgamation of Kashmiri and British decor. The ones at Dal Lake are the most famous. Perhaps the best thing about houseboats is that every morning there will be vendors on small boats or shikaras, selling everything from fresh produce to flowers to imitation Kashmiri shawls.


4. Kashmir is a great shopping destination, with souvenirs like the Kashmiri Shawls, carpets, saffron, honey, papier mâché, wood-carved decoration pieces, among many others.


5. I have mentioned this before, but the people of Kashmir are extremely hospitable.


6. The weather of Kashmir is a pleasant 20 degree these days, less than half of that of the capital. This should be enough reason to make you visit.


7. Kashmiri slopes are world famous from their powder snow and skiing, a summer alternative for that is water-skiing. Many companies provide the service at Dal Lake, and it is a safe, guided and extremely fun experience.


8. We all know of the cultural and religious diversity that exists or existed in Kashmir. This gives a rich architectural history to the place, and the valley is littered with shrines of various gods, goddesses, monks, and saints.


Pather Masjid - A Shrine in Kashmir's Downtown area.
Pather Masjid – A Shrine in Kashmir’s Downtown area.

• How to get to Kashmir:

  1. Either a short 1 hour 25 – 1 hour 45-minute trip, depending on the airline, will get you to the valley. Although many hotels or guesthouses are not where the airport is, the city centre is just a 15-20 minutes’ drive away. Srinagar airport is an army airport, therefore make sure not to take any pictures there, in addition to this, you might also be asked to lower the window sheets. This is all security protocol, and you need not panic. This mode will gain you a plethora of Instagram-worthy pictures of flying over the snow-capped mountains, much above the clouds. The skies are cleaner, bluer, and better.
    Airport Authority Contact Number: 0194-2303311
  2. The train to the valley only goes till Banihal, after which you have to take a cab, or a bus – both of which are fairly cheap. The best part about this journey is that right after you cross the Jawahar Tunnel, which is a 2.5 km long tunnel, the entire scenery will change! It will feel almost as if the tunnel teleported you to a different, beautiful land. The journey after this will be your quintessential Old Bollywood Romance setting. The bus or cab will drop you at the Tourist Reception Centre, which is in the heart of Srinagar, and 2 minutes from the Dal Lake.

    View From the Airplane.
  • Places to visit:

Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Dal Lake, and the Mughal Gardens are all some places you have to check off of your list. But besides these, here are some off-beat places you could visit:

  1. Doodhpathri: A rather new tourist spot, this place is quickly gaining more attraction, and for good reason. Doodhpathri is a specimen of what a Kashmiri vacation spot should look like, minus the crowd. In Pahalgam and Sonmarg, you can still spot more than a few other groups of tourists. Doodhpahri is comparatively quieter and more solemn. (Don’t miss on Pahalgam and other famous places, though. They are famous for a reason!)
  2. Downtown: The Kashmiri downtown is absolute heaven for photographers, historians, or generally anyone who is interested in the culture of a place. The locals are the most polite and helpful people, and will readily serve you noon-chai if you ask them (or even if you don’t). Make sure to visit the rose water vendors, the spice vendors, the houses, if you are allowed, and just sit on the banks of the river Jehlum. Downtown is also famous for all the shrines that were mentioned earlier.

    Dargah of Khanqah-e-Moula in Downtown, Srinagar.
    Dargah of Khanqah-e-Moula in Downtown, Srinagar.
  3. Shankaracharya is a hill located in Gupkar, and a short hike to the top gives you a view spanning the Dal Lake, the main city, and the adjacent mountains. There is the temple, as the namesake, at the top of the hill.
  4. Kishtwar is a place famous for its ruby and sapphire mines. Another attraction is the natural hot spring, Tatta Pani. With numerous health benefits, there is hardly a reason why you wouldn’t take a dip.
  5. Dachigam National Park has numerous species of birds and wildlife animals, but the most majestic of these is that Kashmiri Stag, or Hangul as it is locally called. Make sure you say hello to the Hangul before you return.
    Dachigan National Park Contact Number: 0194-2462327
  6. If you are feeling particularly fancy, do visit the Khyber Resort, Gulmarg, even if just for a lunch. This 5-star has the most picturesque landscapes and the most beautiful of views.
Khyber Spa Resort tucked in the hills of Gulmarg.
Khyber Spa Resort tucked in the hills of Gulmarg.

Link to Khyber Resort’s website: Here


Important Contacts: 
Director Tourism, Kashmir: 0194-2502279
Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar: 9596098882
J&K Tourism Helpline Number: 1-800-103-1070
J&K Tourism Official Website: Here
Police District Headquarter, Srinagar 0194-2455047


Kashmir exists above and beyond its conflict. If you are thinking of taking a trip to the valley – you must go now!


Feature Image Credits: Pinterest

Maumil Mehraj

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