Jammu & Kashmir

Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is the northernmost state of India, blessed with serene natural beauty. Two major Himalayan mountain ranges surround the landscape and source great rivers that flow down into the valleys, forested with orchards and decorated by lily-laden lakes.

Historically Kashmir was known as a ‘Paradise on Earth’ where various royal regimes journeyed across the hot plains of India to the valley’s cool environs in summer. Here came into being Srinagar’s beautiful waterfront gardens, now called the Mughal Gardens. The heritage of exquisite artisanship in art and craft among the Kashmiri families makes the handicrafts prized gifts all over the world examples being Kashmiri stoles, embroidered and woolen clothing, wooden carving, pottery and carpets. The USP of Kashmir is the houseboat or shikara. While parts of the region are targeted by separatists indulging in violence, J&K is largely safe and a must-visit destination, atleast once in a lifetime, purely for its beauty and rich culture!

Places to See:

Jammu is a land of ancient temples and beautiful palaces. Nestled against the backdrop of the snow-capped Pir Panjal mountains, it forms part of the transition between the Himalayan range in the north and the dusty plains of Punjab in the south. Between these two extremities lies a series of scrub-covered hills, forested mountain ranges and river valleys. The famous rivers Ravi, Tawi and Chenab cut their way through this region.

Attractions: The Amar Mahal and Mubarak Mandi palaces, Mansar lake with boating facilities, famous temples dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva and his consort, Shrines of the Muslim saints (peer baba) and Salal dam are famous tourist destinations. Very famous for the Hindu devout is the Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra. Pilgrims undertake the ardous trek to the Holy Shrine only upon a ‘call or bulawa’ from the Mother, without which it is believed that no one can visit the Shrine or have Her blessings! City walks, nature walks and bazaar hopping is also a favourite pastime. Indulge in rich, traditional food and cups of Arabic Kahwa tea, made from green tea, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom, Kashmiri roses, honey, almonds and walnuts.

Shopping: Jammu offers a complete visual shopping treat. Unique local shops and designer boutiques sell specialties of the region like silks, traditional jewelry, dry fruits, woolen garments, papier mache handicrafts, exquisite carved items like wooden photo frames, bowls, vases and portraits. You could also pick up traditional, embroidered clothing with the essence of Himalayan beauty and the famous pashmina shawls. The carpet industry here, one of the major industrial sectors of state, is acclaimed around the world for its royal, intricately designed, colourful carpets. Don’t forget to bargain as it works very well in these markets.

Accessibility: Numerous domestic airlines fly to Jammu. Frequent buses and share jeeps provide connections as well as train services to Jammu. Private cabs could also be booked for your visit.

Best time to visit: October to April, when the climate is cool and pleasant.

Kashmir is a land where myriad holiday ideas are realized. In winter, the snow carpeted mountains offer skiing, tobogganing and sledge-riding. In spring and summer, the honey-dewed orchards, rippling lakes and blue skies beckon every soul to sample the many delights the mountains and valleys have to offer. Golfing at 2,700 m above the sea, water-skiing in the lakes and angling for prized rainbow trout, or simply drifting down the willow fringed alleys of lakes in shikaras and living in gorgeous houseboats are some of the most favored holiday activities.

Attractions:Srinagar is the summer capital of the state, widely acclaimed for its houseboats. The charm of staying on a houseboat, sometimes bang in the middle of a lake, in a cedar-panelled elegant bedroom, with all the personalized service and conveniences of a luxury hotel is an unparalleled experience. Srinagar’s thousand plus houseboats are moored along sections of the Dal and Nagin Lakes and river Jhelum, each decorated fancifully. Like hotels, houseboats vary in degree of luxury and have been accordingly graded by the Department of Tourism. The cost per day of hiring a houseboat includes all meals and free rides from the houseboat to the nearest jetty and back as no houseboat is directly accessible from the banks.

Gulmarg, a premier hill resort that was a favorite of the Mughal kings for its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Enjoy enchanting views of snow clad mountains, rice fields, village homes and fir clad hills on the way. Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty. It also has the highest green golf course in the world at an altitude of 2,650 meters and is the country’s premier ski resort in winter.

Situated at the confluence of streams flowing from the Sheshnag Lake and Lidder river, Pahalgam (2,130 meters) was once a humble shepherd’s village with breathtaking views. Now it is Kashmir’s premier resort, cool even during the height of summer when the maximum temperature does not exceed 25 degrees C. A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious hotels to unpretentious trekkers’ lodges. Several Bollywood movies have been filmed here. The Shiva temple is considered to be Kashmir’s oldest existing temple, dating to the 5th century.

Sonamarg, the meadow of gold is another spectacular facet of the Kashmir countryside. Situated at an altitude of 2730 meters, Sonamarg has in the backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh River that meanders through the valley abounds with trout and mahaseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, which is a major local attraction during the summer months. Sonamarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several mountain lakes –Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. Sonamarg is also the take off station for the drive to Ladakh across the Zojila, a major pass in the Great Himalayan Range, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes.

Amarnathji Yatra – The Himalayan pilgrimages are the oldest organized travel system, embodying the spirit of wander, adventure and spirituality. One of the holy trinity, Shiva is believed to be a living god. He is known to have made his home in the Himalayas. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in the Amarnathji cave. Unknown to them, a pair of mating pigeons eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the pigeon pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva.) The trek is a gigantic exercise organized by the State Government. Pilgrims are required to book months in advance and approval is subject to checks and security conditions.

Shopping: Intricate carpet art handed over generations, dry fruits, woolen and embroidered garments, papier mache souvenirs and handicrafts, exquisite wooden carved items like wooden photo frames, bowls, vases and portraits.

Accessibility: Daily flights from all major Indian cities to Srinagar; Trains connect 305 km away to Jammu station. During holiday season, additional trains operate to support the heavy influx of tourists. State government buses and private cabs are also available. This is one of the most adventurous and strenuous travel tracks in India.

Best time to visit: Kashmir is all-season destination but still the best time to visit Kashmir is during the months of March to October. December – early March is the winter season when the entire valley wears a white blanket of snow and skiing season. For the spiritual pilgrimages, it is best to visit the Yatra websites and check on the best time to visit.

Get in touch with our travel advisors to plan a customised, wallet-friendly vacation to this destination.

Leh is one of the two districts of the region of Ladakh which is situated in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, north India. Almost the size of Scotland, it was a trading town in olden days. Buddhism is the main religion of this region. Beautiful high mountains, traditional architecture, adventurous trek routes, sharp blue rivers and lakes and the spirituality are the main attraction for the travelers. Its serene and untouched beauty has made it a perfect destination for honeymooners & adventure explorers.

Driving through the region is a lifetime experience; one could see many waterfalls with water trickling away under sheets of snow, valleys capped with ice, rocky mountains painted green by wild grass and pretty flowers. Pangong Lake, the breathtaking tourist site, has become world renowned by providing surreal cinematographic backdrop for Bollywood movies like 3 Idiots, Dil Se and Waqt.

Attractions: Beautiful Buddhist temples, Old town – traditional settlement excellent for photography, The Palace of the King of Ladakh, Pangong Tso – the beautiful high altitude lake, monasteries in Ladakh, Donkey Sanctuary, War Museum, Nubra Valley Lake camps etc.

Activities: Trekking, White-water rafting, Photography, Camp, 2-humped Bactrian camel and yak safari, art collection, exploring and learning about Buddhism, shopping for Pashmina shawls, Jolly ride in Royal Enfield bike

Accessibility: Well connected by road from Srinagar and Manali, Daily flights operate from Delhi to Leh. Air India flies on daily basis from Srinagar and Jammu. Trains are operate from Chandigarh and Udhampur to Jammu

Best time to visit: Ladakh is open for tourist throughout the year, but surely the best period for tours and treks are from June to October.

Get in touch with our travel advisors to plan a customised, wallet-friendly vacation to this destination.

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