Offbeat Experiences in Kashmir: In Conversation with Tripoto Creator, Nargis Farheena


Kashmir, hailed as the "Heaven on Earth," holds a place in every traveler's wanderlust-filled bucket list.

Counting myself fortunate, I had the privilege of exploring this enchanting land with Nargis, a solo traveler hailing from the valley. Join us on this journey as we delve into Nargis's extraordinary tales and uncover the hidden gems of Kashmir that lie beyond the beaten path.

In conversation with Nargis Farheena:

What motivated you to explore Kashmir extensively, despite being a native of the region? How did you as a local see traveling within Kashmir?

"My extensive exploration of Kashmir is mostly driven by is its endless beauty, diverse local cultures, and the joy of connecting with new people.

Kashmir truly embraces a tapestry of enchanting landscapes, from the pristine Gurez to the serene alpine lakes of Tarsar Marsar, untouched meadows of Gulmarg, majestic mountains, and cascading waterfalls of Aharbal.

Photo of Offbeat Experiences in Kashmir: In Conversation with Tripoto Creator, Nargis Farheena by Riyanka Roy

Even as a native, I find myself continuously captivated by the magic of my homeland, knowing that a single lifetime is simply too short to uncover all its wonders.

While non-native travelers have long been a common sight in the valley, the concept of a native female traveler roaming freely is still relatively new and not well accepted. However, the growing trend of locals embracing travel and exploration has started to gain prominence. As a native woman venturing into the realms of discovery, I aspire to break the barriers and inspire others to embrace the spirit of exploration, fostering a sense of unity and appreciation for our cherished Kashmiri heritage."

As a female traveler, what were some unique challenges you faced in Kashmir, and how did you overcome them?

Photo of Offbeat Experiences in Kashmir: In Conversation with Tripoto Creator, Nargis Farheena by Riyanka Roy

"Being a female traveler, one of the initial hurdles I faced was convincing my parents to allow me to embark on my journeys. Fortunately, I have been blessed with a supportive father, who have always appreciated my dreams and passions. However, societal norms dictate that women cannot travel alone in the valley.

When I began my solo adventures in 2020, I had to be accompanied by my father or brother, as the concept of a woman traveling alone was not widely accepted. Despite my parents gradually adapting to my nomadic lifestyle, my relatives and others still consider it to be a taboo, leading to endless gossips and judgment. Even educated and well-known individuals perpetuate these negative opinions.

Another challenge I face is the lack of recognition for my achievements and the misconception that traveling requires no hard work, viewed merely as aimless wandering! Nevertheless, over time, I have learned to disregard these criticisms, as I cannot change people's opinions."

Can you share any memorable encounters or experiences with the local people in parts of Kashmir during your travels?

Photo of Offbeat Experiences in Kashmir: In Conversation with Tripoto Creator, Nargis Farheena by Riyanka Roy

"Among the many cherished moments I've shared with the locals while traveling in Kashmir, one experience stands out vividly. During a winter trip to Aharbal waterfall, my goal was to capture its mesmerizing beauty adorned in snow. Accompanied by a local named Adil, we embarked on this picturesque adventure.

Upon reaching the fenced area surrounding the waterfall, I yearned to capture shots that required crossing the fence. I turned to Adil, inquiring if it was possible to navigate through and return safely. We cautiously crossed a portion of the fence, capturing the desired shots. However, when the time came to return, the intense cold of -7 degrees made it nearly impossible for me to climb back over the fence without support. In a moment of extraordinary kindness, Adil extended his leg through the small gap in the fence, offering it as a foothold for me to leverage and cross over. Initially hesitant, fearing for his well-being, I eventually relented, acknowledging our limited options and the bitter cold that enveloped us. With Adil's leg serving as my anchor, I successfully crossed the fence, forever etching his selfless act of warmth in my heart.

The people of Kashmir, in general, are known for their inherent kindness and helpful nature, but this particular gesture stood out as truly exceptional. Even amidst freezing temperatures, Adil's unwavering compassion demonstrated the remarkable spirit of the locals. This unforgettable encounter serves as a testament to the remarkable bonds that can form between travelers and the people they meet on their journeys."

Tell us about some hidden gems in Kashmir that you know of, that you would recommend to other travelers.

Photo of Offbeat Experiences in Kashmir: In Conversation with Tripoto Creator, Nargis Farheena by Riyanka Roy

"Here are some hidden gems in Kashmir that I highly recommend to fellow travelers:

- Gool (Ramban)

- Warwan Valley (Kishtwar)

- Daksum (Anantnag)

- Yusmarg and Neel Nag (Budgam)

- Aharbal Falls (Kulgam)

- Hirpora and Dubjan (Shopian)

- Ishmarg (Gurez)

- Margan Valley (Anantnag)

These stunning locations hold absolute beauty and are definitely worth a visit at least once in your lifetime. Explore these hidden gems and immerse yourself in the enchanting landscapes of Kashmir."

Are there specific destinations that left a lasting impression on you?

"Yeah! Warwan Valley has left an everlasting imprint on my heart. Every time I visit, I am captivated by its unparalleled tranquility and incomparable beauty. There is an indescribable calmness that envelops the valley, making it a truly unique and enchanting destination. No matter where I go, I can never find a place as serene and captivating as Warwan Valley. Its beauty is etched in my memory for eternity."

Photo of Offbeat Experiences in Kashmir: In Conversation with Tripoto Creator, Nargis Farheena by Riyanka Roy

Are there any language barriers while interacting with locals in parts of Kashmir?

"No, everyone in Kashmir - even in the remotest areas can understand Hindi and speak a bit as well. So if you can speak Hindi, you are good to go. I have never found any language barrier in the region to be honest."

Do you find any significant variations between traveling within Kashmir and other parts of India? What precautions do you usually take as a female traveler in different regions?

"When I travel to other parts of India, I personally experience a difference in my feelings of safety. Here in Kashmir, I don't feel scared, but in other places, I often find myself feeling afraid when I'm alone. I understand that it's mostly in my mind, but perhaps it's because those places are unfamiliar to me, and everything seems more challenging.

To ensure my safety, I follow some precautions. Firstly, I make it a habit to share my location with someone I trust. Additionally, I request the hotel to arrange a taxi for me when I need transportation. If I decide to rent a scooter, I always check its oil and condition thoroughly to avoid any unexpected issues on the road. I avoid riding on isolated and unsettling routes and try not to wander alone after dark. I also carry some safety measures in my bag, just in case.😊"

Photo of Offbeat Experiences in Kashmir: In Conversation with Tripoto Creator, Nargis Farheena by Riyanka Roy

Finally, give us some tips that would come in handy while traveling in Kashmir.

"Not saying this because I'm from here, but Kashmir truly is a paradise that everyone needs to explore! Here are some tips that'll come handy when you're here:

Carry Sufficient Cash: Keep an ample amount of cash with you as ATMs and online banking services may not be available everywhere. Having cash on hand will ensure you can make necessary transactions.

Use Postpaid SIM Connection: If you're visiting Kashmir from outside Jammu and Kashmir, make sure to obtain a postpaid SIM connection. Prepaid connections from outside the region do not work here.

Hone Your Negotiation Skills: Brush up on your negotiation skills as they will come in handy to save yourself from unnecessary spending. Negotiate whenever possible, as it can help you secure better deals and prices.

Conduct Research and Seek Local Advice: Prior to your trip, conduct thorough research or consult locals to discover not only the popular tourist destinations but also the offbeat gems that are equally, if not more, breathtaking. This will ensure you don't miss out on hidden treasures.

Embrace the Beauty and Find Peace: Above all, when you're in Kashmir, let go of all your worries and allow the enchanting beauty of this heavenly place to heal your unhealed wounds and bring you lasting peace. Take in the serene surroundings and cherish the moments of tranquility.

By following these tips, you can enhance your travel experience in Kashmir and make the most of your time in this mesmerizing destination."

Over the last one year, I've had the privilege to work closely with Nargis, and it has been a pleasure to see her grow as a travel content creator.

All images used in this article were shared by Nargis Farheena.