One of the most memorable trip I have ever had in my life- a visit to the heaven on Earth-The valley– as Kashmir is commonly known – conjures paradisiacal images with postcard perfect landscapes. Kashmir undoubtedly is one of the most picturesque locations in the country.
Best time to visit: June to October, December and January
We packed up and started early morning to Gulmarg and Sonmarg from Srinagar. We hired an Innova to reach the Himalayan lap which was enveloped with green fields and meadows interrupted by wooden houses.
Gulmarg: Our excitement levels pumped high as we made our way up towards Gulmarg- it was all white! The whole path covered with snow capped mountains.
After reaching Gulmarg, you will find number of sledge cart helpers attired traditionally, in firan with kangdi within firan, few of them puffing away hookah/sheesha to keep them warm inside. Instead of taking guides we decided to explore the place snow-trekking, climbing the mountains all by ourselves.
Gondola ride was also one of most memorable experience of my life giving you a perfect view of the snow capped mountains and its surroundings once the cable car advances to the top of the summit. The one at Gulmarg is the highest Gondola ride in the whole of Asia (12000 feet) and second highest in the world.
It has the World’s highest (8700 feet) Golf Course. The skiing slopes known as Marry Shoulder is supposed to be one of the best in the world.
The first phase Khilanmarg (Kungdoori) of the Gondola ride hypnotized us to a magical valley of snow w/blue clear sky on top. The bright blue sky and the pristine white snow was reflecting intense light; enough to make us blind.
We geared up for the second phase Apharwat further up to the top of the mountain, moving endlessly along a sharp inclination. It was heaven-beautiful and serene- pure and white, on top of the world with dark bellied clouds hovering all over the mighty Himalayas. By this time we were all red w/cold.
Nature’s beauty was at its peak on this pristine land when it started to drizzle.
Online booking facility (E-Tickets) for Gondola tickets for both the stages is available at:
Sonmarg: Blessed with exceptional Himalayan beauty, we then geared up towards Sonmarg- also known as ‘Golden Meadow’. It is home to Thajiwas Glacier that connects Kashmir to Ladakh region and is renowned for high altitude trekking too.
Our driver forecasted the possibility of snowfall as it had already started raining. Finally we arrive at a point from where tourist vehicles were not allowed to enter. It is also a base point for Amarnath Yatra.
We were amidst most spectacular snow-clad mountains from where we headed straight to explore on foot- the untained beauty of the place.
It was growing dark, we wrapped up fast and headed back to Srinagar on time. We were freezing, as soon as we were at Tangmarg on our way back to Srinagar we stopped for Qahwah (a Kashmiri green tea and flavoured with cardamom that keeps one warm).
We returned to Srinagar around 8-30 pm, went for a delicious dinner and then headed towards Lal Chowk market for some shawls, firan and handicrafts shopping.
A paradise indeed; with melodies sugar and sweet, the place left me with a very fitting trail of exuberant landscapes, art, craft and the rich culture of a complete new world.