Planning to visit Kashmir? Check out our Kashmir Travel Guide and see topmost attractions in Kashmir. Best Places to visit in Kashmir.
“Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.”
They say this of Kashmir, valley of valleys, that most beautiful of India’s lands. In English, it reads:
“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.”
Paradise On Earth
Spectacular, lush green valleys. Snowfall when winter arrives. Is it any wonder that Kashmir is one of the most visited places in India? People from every corner of the world come to see Kashmir’s beautiful places. You won’t see nature at its finest elsewhere, not when Kashmir can present its gorgeous gardens, massive lakes, pristine streams, alpine forests, spectacular mountains, and all its other offerings. Whether it’s the waters or the mountains, there will always be the best places to visit in Kashmir.
Srinagar, City of the Sun
The capital of Kashmir is the first stop for most travelers, thanks to the presence of Srinagar International Airport. Most tours start from the airport and will continue to the destinations below.
You can’t go to Srinagar and not mention Dal. The lake, at the very center of the city, is most notable for its houseboats, and stay in them should not be missed. These floating palaces have as much amenities as hotels and are graded in a similar fashion, from the luxury to the ones better fitting the traveller on a budget. Not staying for that long? Visit the floating gardens, and see fruits and vegetables being grown on fields on the water.
Men have always liked giving gifts to their wives, but when you’re an emperor, you can start gifting things like thirty acres of gardens. Emperor Jahangir built the Shalimar Bagh for his wife Noor Jahan, and nowadays we can see the wondrous, verdant vista of the gardens that once pleased an empress. Walk amongst sycamore and willow, gaze out at the water before you, and find joy as Noor Jahan once did.
Dachigam National Park
Twenty-two kilometers away from Srinagar is Dachigam, which has been a wildlife preserve since 1910. It is notable for being the last home of the endangered Kashmir stag, among other examples of both flora and fauna found in Kashmir. With over five hundred different species of various plants, and animal and bird species unique to the Himalayas, anyone wanting to see new twists on familiar animals would do well to visit Dachigam. Birdwatchers especially; the natural music is beauty beyond compare.
Even if you’re not Muslim, try a visit to the Jamia Masjid. After all, cathedrals are perfectly valid tourist destinations, and if you’re up for seeing Notre Dame, why not the largest mosque in Srinagar? Absent its religious significance, it’s still a magnificent edifice of brick and wood, a shining example of devotion wrought in architecture.
On the western bank of Dal Lake is Hazratbal Shrine, a fascinating contrast of modern construction supporting an ancient story. The shrine holds a relic, a hair of the Prophet Muhammad, brought to Kashmir in 1700, and kept in the same location ever since, but the modern marble building housing it began construction in 1968, and was finished in 1979. It’s notable for being the only domed mosque in Srinagar.
If you’re visiting in autumn, a side trip to Pampore is in order. It’s half an hour’s drive south of Srinagar, and its claim to fame is its saffron fields. Pampore grows 80% of Kashmir’s saffron crop, and the sight of the purple flowers in bloom is an attraction all to itself. Don’t miss it if you’re there in October.
Gulmarg, Meadow of Flowers
They may call it ‘Meadow of Flowers’, but that’s not what we go to Gulmarg for. No, when it comes to India’s first and best place for winter sports, what you do is pack your skis and your warm clothing, and get ready for snow. It’s been a skiing destination since 1927. Of course, if skiing at 2,600 meters isn’t enough for you, you can take the Gulmarg Gondola, the second-highest cable car in the world, up to destinations at 3,080 meters or Apharway Peak at 4,200 meters. Not up for skiing, but still like the mountains? Bring your golf clubs, as Gulmarg boasts the highest golf course in the world.
Sonamarg, Meadow of Gold
If you’ve ever wanted to return to what nature really is, then Sonamarg is the place for you. The highway gets a great deal of snow and may make Sonamarg inaccessible, but get to it in April or early May, and you’ll see just why people flock to the place. Make sure to pack everything you need, not just warm clothes but also food; there’s not much infrastructure in Sonamarg. And bring your fishing gear; there’s trout waiting in the water.
Verinag, Birthplace of the Jhelum
If you’re travelling by road into Kashmir, Verinag will be your first destination in the Valley after you exit Jawahar Tunnel. It’s a magnificent first impression, as Verinag Spring is the source of the Jhelum River. For this service to India, it was honoured by Emperor Jahangir, the original shapeless pond being transformed into a stone tank to collect the water, and expansive gardens all round. His son Shah Jahan expanded on the gardens, and thus we can now walk amongst a blend of nature tamed by the human touch.
Which destination do you consider the best place to visit in Kashmir? Tell us in the comment section.