The charm of Kashmir lies in a litany of the little things – the balmy sweetness of kahwa, a curtain of mist draping an endless stretch of saffron fields, first bite of the flaky-fluffy barkhani bread, the hypnotic rendition of oars cutting through the waters of Dal Lake, the haunting silence following Hazratbal Mosque's sunset azaan and the kebab seller's softly narrated shayari.
This week-long itinerary will take you to rivers studded with houseboats, have you picking apricots right off the trees, meeting artisans at the papier-mâché and carpet-making workshops and sampling the superlative cuisine of roghan josh, rajma-chawal and one too many extravagant wazwaan delicacies.
Catch the sunrise at Dal Lake's floating market and get a glimpse into the Kashmiri way of life; grab a shikara and after admiring and clicking pictures aplenty of the walnut wood carvings, soak in the magic of local canals and riverside villages; hop from one garden to the next as you navigate through chinar trees and cross off the ancient Mughal lawns of Chashme Shahi, Shalimar and Nishat Bagh from your list.
Upon reaching Pahalgam, visit a cricket bat factory and watch willow bats being made; keep aside a few hours to go fishing for trout or white-water rafting at the choppy Lidder River; walk up to one of the town's many orchards and take back some apples and apricots to your hotel; hike up the grassy slopes to reach the quaint Aru Valley and later, take a taxi down to Baisaran for lunch.
Embark on another fishing trip or else, try to capture the flock of exotic birds that can be seen lounging by the Sheshnag river; head to the sacred pilgrimage site of Amarnath Cave for an hour of spiritual enlightenment; at the undulating Betaab Valley, engage in a snow fight or two; if you're seeking adventure, trek up to the almond-shaped Tarsar Lake and in the early hours of the morning you might even chance upon the elusive hangul (Kashmir stag).
Delight yourself a gondola ride that will take you across the length of Gulmarg or 'Meadow of Flowers', that's quite literally carpeted with buttercups, forget-me-nots and daisies to name a few; take a walk up to one of the world's highest golf courses; stop by the neighbouring St. Mary Church and stand in awe of the 100-year-old Victorian wonder; if visiting in the winter months, skiing enthusiasts can take a bus up to the nearby district of Khilanmarg.
After you head back to Srinagar, start exploring the popular sights starting with Pari Mahal, that perched on the Zabarwan mountain range offers an otherworldly view of the entire city; sitting on Gopadari Hill, visit the Shankaracharya Temple that worships Lord Shiva and majestically fans out over the city; though flocked by tourists, the exquisite Jamia Masjid is still worth exploring; early risers should venture out to the Dachigam National Park and if you're fortunate, you might end up spotting a leopard or two.
Keep an hour or two aside for a walk across one of the town's walnut orchards; embark on a rafting expedition that will take you from the Baltal Lake up to Shutkari Bridge; pack a picnic lunch and drive up to Yusmarg and later visit the nearby Baltic colony of Nilagrad – the confluence of a red mountain river and the mighty Indus; at a towering 16,400ft, trek up to the frozen wonder of Gadsar Lake.