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Why One Should Visit Kashmir
Planning on visiting Srinagar in Kashmir, one of the top hill stations in India.
Jammu and Kashmir is a state in Northern India, granted autonomy under article 370 of Indian constitution.It is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains and shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively.Formerly a part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, which governed the larger historic region of Kashmir, the region is the subject of a territorial conflict among China, India and Pakistan. Pakistan, which claims the territory as disputed,refers to it alternatively as Indian occupied Kashmir or Indian held Kashmir, whereas some international agencies such as the United Nations, call it Indian administered Kashmir.The regions under the control of Pakistan are referred to as Pakistan occupied Kashmir within India, as Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan, and as Pakistan administered Kashmir or Pakistan controlled Kashmir generally.
Ladakh is a mountainous region in the disputed northwest Jammu and Kashmir area in north India and in the area known as the Trans Himalaya, (the lands beyond the Himalaya Tibet, Xinjiang and northern Pakistan). It is slightly smaller than Scotland, the settled population live between 2700m and 4500m, and nomadic encampments even higher, and it is the largest and the least populated region of Jammu and Kashmir. The people are a mixture of Buddhist and Muslim 50% of each. Buddhists are the majority in the east close to the Chinese border and a slight majority overall while Muslims have the majority in the north and west. Travellers are likely to see more of the Buddhists as the majority of the tourist attractions are in the east and directly related to Tibetan Buddhist culture.
Located on the Srinagar Ladakh Highway, around two and a half hours drive northeast of Srinagar, scenic Sonamarg (Meadow of Gold) is famous for its Thajiwas Glacier. What is remarkable about this glacier is how accessible it is. From the highway, you can hike up to the glacier and back in around five hours. If you do not have so much time to spare, it is possible to ride a pony instead, or take a taxi part of the way there and walk. It is costly though. Pony owners will charge at least 600 rupees per person for a return trip. Do bargain hard. Scenes of many Bollywood movies have been filmed in the area, and you wo not have to try very hard to feel like youare in one! There are a number of options for eating and staying at Sonamarg. Ahsan Mount Resort has fabulous Swiss tents for glamping. Hotel Snowland is conveniently located but could be managed better.
Gulmarg (Meadow of Flowers), India is version of a ski resort, is situated less than two hours drive east of Srinagar. The season runs from mid December to mid March. If youare not into skiing, you may still want to let the gondola whisk you more than 13,000 feet up Mount Apharwat for outstanding views. Apparently, it is the world is highest cable car. And, it is very popular, so you should buy your tickets online to avoid a long queues. Unfortunately, you will still have to wait to board it though. Ubiquitous pony rides are also available in Gulmarg, and their owners are particularly aggressive in pestering tourists for business. If you feel like splashing some cash, treat yourself to a couple of nights at the Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, one of the 10 Top Himalayan Spa Resorts.
Pahalgam, the Valley of Shepherds, is around three hours drive from Srinagar and is near the departure point for pilgrims going on the Amarnath Yatra (avoid visiting during July as it will be very busy then). Visitors commonly head to Pahalgam is Betaab Valley (the Bollywood movie Betaab was shot there), with its fresh flowing Lidder River and surrounding snow capped hills. However, what you need to be aware of, is that you will only be allowed to take your vehicle up to a certain point to reach the Valley. After that, you will need to hire a prepaid vehicle provided by the local transport association, or walk. Entrance to the Valley is regulated and costs 10 rupees. Other possible activities around Pahalgam include golfing, trout fishing, and river rafting. It is a popular destination for adventure tourism.
6. Sinthan Top
Sinthan Top is becoming a sought after alternative to the other, often crowded, tourist places in Kashmir. Interest in it has grown since construction of the Kokernag Sinthan Top Kishtwar Road, connecting Kashmir with Jammu, began. It is yet to be developed though, so there is an absence of facilities for tourists. Hence, it is a good idea to stop in Daksum on the way. The drive from Srinagar to Sinthan Top takes around two and a half hours. It is possible to stay in Daksum, or Kokernag where there are more options. These are excellent places to go trekking and exploring the great outdoors.
7. Dal Lake
Dal lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in India, is the second largest lake of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Encircled by mountains on three sides, the banks of this lake are adorned by several blooming gardens and orchards. Dal Lake has rightfully become an icon of the Kashmir tourism industry. A Himalayan urban lake, it has five basins and a number of channels that are well linked with each other. There are plenty of fishes in Dal Lake and fishery is the second largest industry of the region centered on the lake. The sparkling quiet waters of Dal surrounded by snow capped mountains on its three sides, undoubtedly mark it as one of the most beautiful lakes of India. It is also the second largest lake in the State of Jammu and Kashmir with numerous gardens and orchards all along its shores. Houseboats form an indelible part of the scenery of the Dal Lake that are always ready to take tourists to a romantic and peaceful ride of the lake and soothe their nerves as the houseboat floats over the slightly rippling waters. They also OFFER some of the most exotic views of the splendid scenery of the Dal Lake.
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 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).
9. Shalimar Garden
Emperor Jehangir got the Shalimar Garden built for his wife Nur Jahan in 1616. A second garden Faiz Baksh, was added to it later during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628 1658). Covering an area of approximately 539 m by 182 m, the Shalimar garden offer an amazing view over the other gardens, lakes and shallow terraces. Also known as the garden of love, the Shalimar Mughal Gardens has four terraces, rising one above the other. The fourth terrace of the garden was, at one point of time, reserved for royal ladies. There is also a canal lined with polished stones running through the center of the Shalimar Bagh. The canal is responsible for supplying water to the garden from Harwan.The top terrace of the Shalimar garden was reserved for the Mughal Emperor and the royal ladies of the court. In fact, the top terrace was the most wonderful one out of all the terraces. The terrace has a tank with a black stone pavilion in its middle. The pavilion, which once served as a banquet hall, is supported by fluted pillars made up of black marble. Other attractions of the Shalimar Bagh of Kashmir include a number of fountains, shaded trees and innumerable varieties of flowers that blossom in spring and autumn. Last but not the least, a light and sound show organized in the garden every evening, during the period of May to October, is simply superb.
10. Betab Valley
It is surrounded by snow covered mountain peaks and dense pine and deodar forests. Emperor Jehangir got the Shalimar Garden built for his wife Nur Jahan in 1616. A second garden Faiz Baksh, (The Bountiful) was added to it later during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628 1658). Covering an area of approximately 539 m by 182 m, the Shalimar garden offer an amazing view over the other gardens, lakes and shallow terraces. Also known as the garden of love, the Shalimar Mughal Gardens has four terraces, rising one above the other. The fourth terrace of the garden was, at one point of time, reserved for royal ladies. There is also a canal lined with polished stones running through the center of the Shalimar Bagh. The canal is responsible for supplying water to the garden from Harwan.
The top terrace of the Shalimar garden was reserved for the Mughal Emperor and the royal ladies of the court. In fact, the top terrace was the most wonderful one out of all the terraces. Betab valley has earned its name from the popular Bollywood film Betab which was the debut film for the actress Amrita Singh and actor Sunny Deol. Betab valley is located fifteen km from Pahalgam in the Anantnag district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India. Betab valley falls on the way to the popular cave temple Amarnath between Chandanwari and Pahalgam.The picturesque location of Betab valley contains numerous lakes, green grazing lands, snow covered mountains and thick vegetation.
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