I traveled to Pahalgam on 3rd day of my itinerary from Srinagar. Located 95 km from Srinagar at a height of 7200 ft, it is known as the Valley of Shepherds. At the confluence of River Lidder and Sheshnag Lake, Pahalgam is surrounded by thickly wooden pine forests and snow-clad Himalayan mountains.
We passed through Pahalgam - Chandanwati - Amarnath route, which serves as a base camp during Amarnath Yatra. Read COVID formalities for Kashmir here.
Srinagar to Pahalgam Route
What to do around Pahalgam Valley?
The car will drop you at Pahalgam Valley and from there pony rides have to be taken for different points. The pony owners have a chart with different point rates. We chose Point 1 - Baisaran Valley. Most of the other points can be seen on the way to Baisaran Valley so no need to opt for them
Horse Ride experience and cost for Baisaran Valley
They charged around 1600 per horse and 250 Rs for Gum boots. We tried hard to bargain but no luck. However you can always try bargaining, because this was the higher price we paid.
Being a first-timer, horse ride was really scary for me. Some routes were too dangerous due to snow. It all went fine, as horses were trained to walk onto that route and they were well aware, at which point to stop.
TIP- At some points, you may be scared, the route is muddy and slippery. But do not panic and hold tight to the horse. They are trained and are well aware of the best route to follow :)
What all points will be covered?
The first point we stopped at was the Kashmir valley view. Next was Dabyan Valley and last was Baisaran or Mini Switzerland. The entire route of 1 hour was wonderful. Breathtaking views of snow-covered meadows and snow-clad mountains are all, you witness.
Final Verdict- What to visit and What can be skipped
If opting for pony rides in Pahalgam, chose Point 1- Baisaran Valley view. This will be more than sufficient, rather than paying for other points as well.
Overall Pahalgam Valley is a nice place to visit. But if you have limited days and snow is all you want to experience, then skip Pahalgam and Sonmarg. Head to Gulmarg directly and spend 2 to 3 days there. Gulmarg had the best views in my entire 6 days trip to Kashmir.
Rather than paying for pony rides in Sonmarg and Pahalgam which costs at least 1500 bucks, opt for Gulmarg and spend on Gandola phase 1, phase 2 rides, and other snow activities in Gulmarg. You will witness some of the breathtaking views of your life. Gandola Ride is a must to do attraction in Gulmarg.