We were on the arduous journey to Gurez, a valley tucked deep in the Bandipore district of J&K, the turquoise blue waters of the Kishenganga river bisecting it between India and Pakistan. The inhabitants of the valley belong to the Shina-speaking Dard tribe, a mountainous people who have spent centuries in the Himalayas; a larger section of the tribe now living in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. The isolation has been a boon, which has preserved the cultural heritage of the place.
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327 Kms from Bandipora
Best time to visit - June to September
This beautiful town happens to be located in Jammu & Kashmir and is an abode for those who wish to pursue Buddhism. The place is surrounded by tall mountains, clear blue water, a white surrounding and many monasteries. The people here are warm and welcome tourists. Found midway between the Karakoram and Himalayan mountains, the beauty of Leh is beyond words, making it a hotspot with the tourists. Visiting the local markets here is a treat as one will get to browse through Tibetan jewelry, carpets, woolens and much more. Be sure to carry an extra bag to fit in all your purchases.
185 Kms from Bandipora
192 Kms from Bandipora
Best time to visit - January,February,March,October,November,December
Jammu is one of the fastest developing cities in northern India. Its Vaishno Devi Temple, which is one of the holiest places for Hindus, sees millions of devotees every year. The city also has many more Hindu temples that are believed to be of significant religious importance, such as Peer Kho Cave and Panchbhaktar temple to worship Lord Shiva. If you are fond of shopping, Jammu has a number of markets offering shoppers a variety of options. Bahu Fort is another must-visit for its magnificent architecture and overwhelming views of the mountains in the distance. The Bagh-e-Bahu Garden is beautiful at spring time, and even more so because the dazzling river Tawi surrounds it. The garden will take you back to the Mughal era with its lush green surroundings and historic aura. Don't forget to enjoy a meal of kalhadi kulcha at any of the popular dhabas in Jammu!
306 Kms from Bandipora
Best time to visit - February,March,April,May,June,October,November
Barely 4 km away from Dharamshala by foot, the hill station of McLeod Ganj is home to many majestic monasteries, delicious smelling kitchen cafes, video rental shops, western food cafes, trekking companies and wall to wall stores selling Tibetan souvenirs and many more goodies. Also known as Little Lhasa and the abode of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual influence and its mystical green hills mark McLeod Ganj as a significant tourist destination and a major traveller hang-out in the Kangra Valley. A 5-minute walk south of this town will take one to the Tsuglagkhang Complex, which comprises the official residence of the 14th Dalai Lama, vibrant monasteries with beautiful murals and even a bookshop cafe that goes by the name of Namgyal Gompa. Tourist activity after monsoon picks up, after October, with February March being pleasant months to visit the hill station to witness the Losar Festival or the Tibetan New Year being celebrated. This compact sized town is best explored and enjoyed by walking or trekking. Intriguing short walks around Mcleod Ganj include one that goes 2km east to Bhagsu which leads one to a waterfall and a temple. The most well-known trek, 8 km starting from the town, is to Triund, a snow-flanked and serene camping spot from which one can also travel 5 km ahead to reach a charming little forest rest house. With many many hipster eateries, the food here is some of the best you"ll find at any mountain destination.
265 Kms from Bandipora
Best time to visit - N/A
This is as valley as well as a town in the Dustrict of Chamba. Situated on the banks of the Ravi River, Chamba is a beautiful place and a popular tourist destination of Himachal Pradesh. The town was founded in 920 AD by Raja Sahil Verma, after he moved his capital from Bharmour till here. The temple of the Chamba valley are also famous for theire beautiful wood carvings. The main influence is of Hindus here unlike most of the other hill valleys of Himachal. The Raghuvira Temple is the most famous temple here. The blooming flowers all around is a blissful sight. The Chowgan Field is the place for the traditional Minjal Festival of Chamba Region.
255 Kms from Bandipora
Best time to visit - March,April,May
Himachal is the throne of a number of 'mini-Switzerlands' and Dalhousie is widely known to be one of them. Named after the British Governor-General of India (1848), Lord Dalhousie, this place remains a popular summer retreat mainly for the charming walks it offers around the pine-sheathed valleys with views of distant mountains. There are a few British-era architectural sights here worth visiting. For instance, St. John's Church, or the Rang Mahal, an 18th century monument of British and Mughal style architecture with paintings dating back to the very same era with a souvenir shop. One can delve into Dalhousie's Deodar-enveloped natural habitat in the Kalatop Wildlife Sanctuary, home to many animal species such as the leopard, deer, bear, serow, barking goral and jackal and many streams flowing into the river Ravi. Nature and adventure enthusiasts should also try boating in the calm waters of Chamera lake or try the easy-level Dainkund trek. Tourists must visit the Tibetan Market to buy exquisite Himalayan handloom. Some popular restaurants for North Indian, Mughlai, Chinese and other multi-cuisine dishes are Moti Mahal, Kwality Restaurant and Hotel Mount View. Dalhousie is well connected by road and train, the nearest station being Pathankot, which is 80km away.
308 Kms from Bandipora
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June,September,October
According to traditional etymology, Dharamshala translates to 'spiritual dwelling'. The calm expanse of the Dhauladhar Ranges enveloping this city grants it a rich history of spirituality and attracts thousands of travellers from around the globe, looking for that very bliss. Homestead of the Dalai Lama and innumerable other Tibetans, Dharamshala boasts of beautiful monasteries all around, such as those within the Tsuglagkhang Complex, which also houses the Tibetan Leader's official residence. Other attractions include the Kalachakra Temple, which houses some hypnotisingly beautiful murals, the Tibet Museum and the Namgyal Gompa, where monks can be seen engaged in animated debates in the afternoon. Apart from the spirituality, this charming little city also hosts International Film festivals, local fairs, Shoton Spring Festival and the vibrant Tibetan Opera- 'Lhamo. The city is usually dormant with regard to adventurous activities, but for those thrill seekers and nature lovers around, an adrenaline rush always awaits them. Some resorts provide opportunities for paragliding, flying fox, rock climbing, zip lining, rappelling and even night camping. Treks through the magical hills and forests are always invaluable, the most cherished one being, the trek to the snowy peaks of Triund. Dharamshala's vast Tibetan population gives way to charming little kitchen cafes serving the most lip smacking Tibetan dishes, that too at very affordable prices (below Rs 500 for two). Dishes such as thenthuk, thukpa, chocolate and meat medallions are a huge hit with most travellers that have visited and sought refuge in this city's mystical spread.
315 Kms from Bandipora
Best time to visit - March,April,May,June
Barely 18 kms from Dharamshala, Kangra is the perfect weekend getaway for tourists and explorers alike. This small bustling city hides away quite a few marvels within its Dhauladhar Ranges. Those looking to nestle amidst its simplistic beauty must make it a priority to visit Pragpur village, which is India's only heritage village, a place with an allure that can only be compared with those colourful little European hamlets one has only seen on TV or in children's books. Another not so well known gem in this city is the Masroor Monolith Rock temple, which is an 8th century archeological wonder made of a group of 15 temples carved out of rock, with a pond in the foreground. A location that remains a favourite with tourists is the Kangra Fort, with ramparts over a 4 km stretch protecting it, atop a hill at the conflux of Patal Ganga and Banganga river. A 200 metre walk up the road from the Kangra Fort is all that is needed for those wanting to delve more into the city's history, where they shall reach the Maharaja Sansar Chand Museum, which provides an insight into the luxurious lifestyle once led by the Katochs, the erstwhile Kangra Royal family. Adventure seekers will love the various treks that go through the Dhauladhar Ranges usually ending near the Chamba valley, providing picturesque views. The city houses some of the most charming little cafes that to every book worm's delight have a shelf full of books and cook everything from Himachali, Italian and Tibetan cuisines on the menu. Some renowned cafes and restaurants are Moonpeak, Peace Cafe, Nechung Cafe, Snow Lion Cafe, Jimmy's Italian Cafe and Indique, wherein one can also enjoy live music nights.