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Paradise on Earth Kashmir

Nothing in the world can compare the beauty of Kashmir

Jammu and Kashmir is a State in northern India. It is located mostly in the Himalayan Mountains, and shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani-controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Balistan in the west and northwest respectively. The state has special autonomy under Article 370 of the Constitution of India. Many historians and locals believe that Jammu was founded by Raja Jamboolochan in 14th century BCE. During one of his hunting campaigns he reached the Tawi River where he saw a goat and a lion drinking water at the same place. The king was impressed and decided to set up a town after his name, Jamboo. With the passage of time, the name was corrupted and became "Jammu". According to one "folk etymology", the name "Kashmir" means "desiccated land" (from the Sanskrit: Ka = water and shimeera = desiccate). According to another folk etymology, following Hindu mythology, the sage Kashyapa drained a lake to produce the land now known as Kashmir. With a fertile soil and temperate climate, the valley is rich in rice, vegetables and fruits of all kinds, and famous for the quality of its wool. Kashmir has been inhabited since prehistoric times, sometimes independent but at times subjugated by invaders from Bactria, Tartary, Tibet and other mountainous regions to the North, and from the Indus valley and the Ganges valley to the South. At different times the dominant religion has been Animist, Buddhist, Hindu and (after the period of the history) Muslim. Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions: Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and Ladakh. Srinagar is the summer capital, and Jammu is the winter capital. The Kashmir valley is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape, and Jammu's numerous shrines attract tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims every year. Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet", is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture. It is the only state in India with a Muslim-majority population.

Area222,236 sq km
CapitalJammu (Winter), Srinagar (Summer)
Population12,548,926 ( As on 2011 )
Official LanguagesUrdu, Kashmiri, Dogri, Hindi
Boundary

Western districts, now known as Azad Kashmir, and northern territories, now known as Gilgit-Baltistan, are administered by Pakistan.The Aksai Chin region in the east, bordering Tibet, has been under Chinese control since
1962.

Lohari :Celebrated to welcome the Spring with a special fervor in Jammu region, it is celebrated on 13th January, one day before Makar Sankranti. Thousands of devotees take a holy dip in the holy river. 'Havans' and 'Yagnas', the rites and rituals, are performed in nearly every house and temple in Jammu. In the rural areas, it is customary for the boys to go around asking for gifts from newly-weds and new parents. 'Chajja' dance is performed on this occasion and the boys along with their elaborately decorated 'chajjas' with colored paper and flowers, dance in a procession on the street accompanied by pulsating drumbeats

The cultural heritage of Kashmir valley is an amalgamation of sorts. The numerous civilizations that have inhabited the Kashmir valley from time to time have left their impression on the culture of Kashmir. The state of Kashmir abounds in ancient literature, language, religion, arts, crafts, dance, music, etc. Infact, the people of Kashmir have made significant contribution in the fields of story-telling, poetry, philosophy, sciences, etc. The handicrafts of Kashmir like Pashmina shawls, silk carpets, woodwork, etc are admired throughout the world. The renowned folk songs and dances are an integral part of the Kashmir culture. Music and dance is a way of celebrating festivities for the people of Kashmir. At one point of time in the past, Kashmir served as one of the highest learning centers of Sanskrit and Persian.

  • The food of Jammu and Kashmir differs from region to region with the Hindus Dogras of Jammu being predominantly vegetarian; eating a staple diet of rice, wheat and beans. The Ladakhis eat rice, wheat, millet, locally produced vegetables and fruits, goat meat and dairy products made from yak milk. Kashmiri food is characterised by its vast array of dishes cooked over a long period of time in exotic spices. The seasons and availability of fresh produce dictates the ingredients, some of which are dried and used in the winter months. The Kashmiri cuisine is essentially meat-based, while the eating habits of the Hindu and Muslim Kashmiris differ in its use of certain spices and the prohibition of beef for the Hindus.

    The highlight of Kashmiri cuisine is the formal banquet called "wazawan" that includes a spread of over 36 courses cooked all night long by a team of chefs called wazas under the supervision of a Vasta waza or master chef, descendants of the cooks from Samarkand. The food is characterised by thick gravies using liberal quantities of yoghurt, spices and dried fruits, and is usually cooked in ghee (clarified butter) or mustard oil. Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, is grown locally. It is used extensively to flavour the pulaos (rice dish) and sweets. The popular dishes include the starter yakhni, tabaq naat made of fried ribs, dum aloo (steam cooked potato curry), rogan josh made with mutton, gushtaba, a meatball curry and haleem made from meat and pounded wheat. A Kashmiri meal has to end with a cup of  Kahva, green tea flavoured with cardamom and almonds.

The Origin Of Hand Knotted Carpets Locally Known As "kal Baffi" Dates Back To 15th Century After Which It Progressively Attained The High Degree Of Perfection. It Is Said That Sultan Zain-ul-abidin Brought Carpet Weavers From Persia And Central Asia In To Kashmir To Train The Local Inhabitants. Carpets From 200 Knots To 900 Knots/sq. Inch Both In Wool & Silk Yarn Have Attained Such Excellence That They Rank Amongst The Finest In The World. The Loom Used In Kashmir Carpet Weaving Is Composed Of Two Horizontal Wooden Beams Between Which The Wrap Threads Are Stretched, One Beam In Front Of The Weaver And The Second Behind The First. The Difference Between A Carpet And Other Hand Woven Rugs Lies In The Fact That Short Lengths Of The Thread Or Yarn Are Tied To Wrap Chains To Form The Pile Of The Carpet. These Are Commonly Called Knots Though It Is A Loop Rather Than An Actual Knot.

General Information
 
Area  - 105 sq kms
Altitude - 1,730 m.
Temperature 
Summer - 29.5 C to 10.6 C
Winter - 7.3 C to 1.9 C
Rainfall - 52.9 cms

Best Season Throughout the year, though the winter months can be quite cold.
 
Clothing  - Spring and autumn Light woollens. Summer Cotton/tropical, Winter Heavy woollens

Languages - Kashmiri, Urdu, Hindi, English.
 
Shrinagar"s distinctive feature is the great body of water, the Dal Lake, which forms its focal point. The Dal has, within its area, two enormous sheet-like expanses of water-Lokut-dal and Bod-dal, the rest of its surface being broken up alternatively by man-made strips of land inhabited by whole colonies of people and vegetation. Thus the lake is not a flat, unbroken mass of water, but a labyrinth of waterways, awash with a lifestyle not found elsewhere in the world.
 
The Lakes - Leading from the Dal is the smaller Nagin Lake. Here too, the waters are edged by trees of willow and poplar whose reflection is mirrored in the lake. "Bathing boats" here, as well as on the Dal, hire out water-skis and motor launches. The waters of the lakes are pleasantly cool from mid-May to mid-September. Shikaras can be hired from any of the steps called "ghats" (jetties) leading to the lake. Some rides are fixed and their rates are posted at each ghat as well as opposite the Tourist Reception Centre. Shikaras are a refreshingly novel way of seeing Shrinagar by day and at twilight, the gentle soothing motion of the boat, as it glides along the water, is unbelievably romantic. Nagin Lake lies to the east of the city at the foot of the Zabarwan Mountain. The Shankaracharya hill (Takht-i-Sulaiman) is to the south and Hari Parbat on its west. The lake is 6x3 km and is divided by causeways into four parts. Gagribal, Lakut-dal, Bod-dal and Nagin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal each have an island in the centre, called Rup Lank or Char Chinari and Sona Lank, respectively.
 
The Mughal Gardens - With terraced lawns, cascading fountains, paint-box-bright flowerbeds with the panorama of the Dal in front of them - the three Mughal Gardens of Chesmashahi, Nishat and Shalimar are the Mughal Emperors" concept of paradise and are today very popular places for picnics and excursions.
 
 
Shalimar Bagh - Built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jehan, Shalimar, 15 kms from the TRC, is a beautiful garden with sweeping vistas over gardens and lakes, and shallow terraces. The garden is 539 m by 182 m and has four terraces, rising one above the other. A canal lined with polished stones and supplied with water from Harwan runs through the middle of the garden. The fourth terrace, by far the best, was once reserved for royal ladies.
 
Nishat Bagh - Situated on the banks of the Dal Lake, with the Zabarwan Mountains as its backdrop, (11 km. from TRC), this "garden of bliss" commands a magnificent view of the lake and the snow capped Pir Panjal mountain range which stands far away to the west of the valley. Nishat was designed in 1633 AD by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jehan.
 
Chashma Shahi - At Chashmashahi, is a tastefully laid garden in terraces, which commands a magnificent view of the Dal Lake below and surrounding mountain ranges. The cool water of the spring is highly refreshing and digestive. The original garden was laid out by Shah Jehan in 1632 AD. TRC Shrinagar free of cost to visit the permits can be had from the information Counter Chashma Shahi Garden. Permits can be had from the information counter.
 
Pari Mahal - Once the royal observatory, Pari Mahal has a charmingly laid out garden and is a five-minute drive from Cheshmashahi. A Buddhist monastery at one time, it was converted into a school of astrology by Dara Shikoh, Mughal Emperor Shah Jehan"s eldest son. Situated on the spur of a mountain overlooking the Dal, the ancient monument, with a well-laid spacious garden in front, is connected to Cheshmashahi by road. It is illuminated at night.
 
Harwan - On the hillside, south of the village of Harwan (19 kms from the TRC)), remarkable remains of ancient ornamented tile pavements of the Buddhist period have come to light. The tiles depict the dresses of the people, such as loose trousers, Turkoman caps or close fitting turbans and large ear-rings which reveal Central Asian influence.
 
Hazratbal Mosque - Hazratbal Mosque is located in a village of the same name on the banks of the Dal. Its pristine white marble elegance is reflected in the waters of the lake. Hazratbal"s special significance is derived from the fact that it houses a hair of the prophet Muhammad. This is displayed to the public on religious occasions, usually accompanied by fairs. Apart from these occasions, Friday prayers are offered at Hazratbal and attended by throngs of people. Hazratbal is remarkable for being the only domed mosque in Shrinagar; the others having distinct pagoda like roofs. The shrine - mosque complex is situated on the western shore of the Dal Lake opposite Nishat Bagh and commands a grand view of the lake and the mountain beyond.
 
 
Jama Masjid - The Jama Masjid at Nowhatta, in the heart of the old city, is the other important mosque in Shrinagar at which thousands of people congregate for the Friday prayers. Of imposing proportions, the mosque is built around a courtyard and is supported by 370 wooden pillars. The hushed quiet of the mosque counterpoints the bustle of the old bazaars surrounding it. Originally built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD, and enlarged by his son, Zain-ul- Abidin, it is a typical example of Indo-Saracenic architecture. Destroyed thrice by fire and rebuilt each time, the mosque, as it now stands, was repaired during the reign of Maharaja Pratap Singh.
 
Shankaracharya Temple - The sacred temple of Shankaracharya occupies the top of the hills known as Takht-I-Sulaiman in the southeast of Shrinagar. The site dates back to 250BC. The philosopher Shankaracharya stayed at this place when he visited Kashmir ten centuries ago to revive Sanatan Dharma. Before this date, the temple was known as Gopadri, as an earlier edifice on the same site was built by king Lalitaditya in the 6th century AD. In fact, the road below the hill, with residences of high- ranking State Government officials, is still known as Gupkar road. Built on a high octagonal plinth and approached by a flight of steps with sidewalls that once bore inscriptions, the main surviving shrine consists of a circular cell. It overlooks the Valley and can be approached by a motorable road. A modern ceiling covers the inner sanctum and an inscription in Persian traces its origin to the reign of Emperor Shah Jehan. The original ceiling was dome- shaped and the brick roof, it appears, is not more than a century old.
 
Khanqah of Sha Hamadan - Situated on the banks of the river Jhelum, between the third and fourth bridge, it is the first mosque ever built in Shrinagar. The original one was built in 1395. Shah Hamadan"s full name was Mir Sayed Ali Hamadni, the surname being derived from the city of Hamadan in Persia. Shah-i-Hamdan, who came from Persia in the 13th century, was responsible for the spread of Islam in Kashmir. Khanqah-i-Mualla, on the banks of the Jhelum, was the very spot where Shah-i-Hamdan used to offer prayers. After staying in Kashmir for many years, he left for Central Asia via Ladakh. A mosque established by him at Shey (near Leh) attracts devotees from far and wide. The Khanqah is a wooden structure whose chief aesthetic feature is its beautifully carved eaves and hanging bells. The interiors are richly carved and painted, and the antique chandeliers give it an air of opulence.
 
 
Hari Parbat Fort - The Mughal emperor"s fort crowns the top of Hari Parbat hill. There is little left of its former glory, but the ramparts are still impressive and the old apartments within the fort, even though in a state of ruin, still convey at least a little of the grandeur of the Mughals" summer retreat in "paradise". An Afghan governor, Ata Mohammad Khan, later developed the fort in 18th century. The hill is considered sacred to the Hindus due to the presence of temple of Sharika, which is believed to be a form of goddess Durga or Shakti. The wall around the hill was built by Akbar in 1592-98 AD. The hill is surrounded by almond orchards, which make a lovely sight during April when the trees blossom, heralding the advent of spring in Kashmir.
 
Makhdoom Sahib - On the southern side of the Hari Parbat hill is the historic shrine of Makhdoom Sahib, which is visited by people of all faiths.
 
Chhatti Padshahi Gurudwara - The sixth Sikh guru travelled through Kashmir, stopping to preach occasionally. A Gurudwara has been built at the exact site of each of these halts. The most important one among these is Chhatti Padshahi Gurudwara, situated near the Kathi Darwaza, in Rainawari, Shrinagar, which is held in great reverence by devotees of all faiths.
 
Martand - Martand, located atop a plateau, close to the township of Anantnag, has a temple dedicated to Surya, the "Sun God". Built by king Laitaditya Muktapida (7th to 8th century AD), it is a medieval temple with a colonnaded courtyard and the shrine in its centre. The temple complex has 84 columns and offers a commanding view of the valley of Kashmir.
 
Kheer Bhawani Temple - The Goddess Ragnya Devi is symbolised as a sacred spring at Tula Mula village, 27 kms from Shrinagar. Within the spring is a small marble temple. The devotees of the goddess fast and gather here on the eighth day of the full moon in the month of May when, according to belief, the goddess changes the colour of the spring"s waters. The temple-spring complex is affectionately known as Kheer Bhawani because of the thousands of devotees who offer milk and "kheer" to the sacred spring, which magically turns black to warn of disaster.
 
The Awantipur ruins - Founded by Avantivarman who ruled Kashmir in the 9th century, this ancient township is 29 kms from Shrinagar. The site has two imposing temples, huge walls mark the larger one of Siva - Avantisvara, some half a mile beneath the town on the outskirts of village Jaubror. The subsidiary shrines are to the rear corner of the courtyard. The complex has, over the years, lost its grandeur and been reduced to ruins, though it is still visited by the devout. Half a mile up is Avantisvami - Vishnu, a better preserved, though smaller temple.
 
Wular Lake - It is difficult to describe in mere words the beguiling beauty of Wular Lake. For one, its formidable size - this is one of Asia"s largest fresh water lakes - for another, it changes character with every few miles.
 
Manasbal Lake - The drive from Shrinagar will take you to the calm waters of Manasbal Lake, where there is no other sound but birdsong. Manasbal has often been described as the bird watcher"s paradise, and as your shikara glides through this mirror of tranquillity, you will experience yet another facet of Kashmir. Driving through the town of Bandipora, which has a delightfully laid out Mughal Garden, the Wular will always be to your left. Here and there, you will hear women chanting some age-old ditty as they pick water chestnuts, deftly navigating the weeds in flat-bottomed skiffs.
 
Watlab - Gradually, the panoply of the "real Kashmir", miles away from well-traversed areas, will unfold before you, and you will reach Watlab. Here, high on a hilltop is the shrine of a Muslim mystic, Baba Shukurddin. From here, the Wular Lake stretches away as far as the eye can see, edged by picturesque villages around terraced breeze-rippled fields of paddy, in a riotous burst of colour. At Watlab there is a Forest Rest House amidst sprawling apple orchards. You can rest here to enjoy the sheer grandeur of the spectacular countryside at leisure.
 
Achabal - Once the pleasure retreat of Empress Nur Jehan, Achabal (1,677 m) has a fine garden in the Mughal style, with its own special charm and character. It was in Kashmir that the Mughal Garden was brought to perfection, and Achabal is one such masterpiece. Situated at the foot of a hill with a row of majestic chinars framing it, the Mughal garden is a visual delight with their stepped terraces, formal elegance, ornamental shrubs, sparkling fountains and falling water. Achabal is 58 kms from Shrinagar, via Anantnag.
 
Daksum - Past the Mughal Gardens of Achabal, with their tinkling fountains, through the breathtaking splendour of the springs at Kokarnag, lies Daksum. Tucked away in a densely forested gorge at an altitude of 2438 m, Daksum would be completely silent but for the Bringhi River which gushes through it. Daksum is a walker"s paradise. Up the hills which are swathed in coniferous trees, past gurgling brooks, the simple, haunting notes of a flute will waft down to you from where an unseen shepherd tends his flock. For in the hills surrounding Daksum, suddenly you will find yourself in grassy meadows where sheep are taken to pasture. Daksum is a reviving experience -the bracing mountain air, the solitude, the densely clad hills, and beyond them, snow covered mountains, all contribute to Daksum"s mystique, making it the perfect retreat.
 
Kokernag - Situated in the heart of Bringhi valley, Kokernag (2,020 m, 70 kms from Shrinagar), is set amidst sprawling gardens fragrant with the bloom of thousands of flowers. The Kokernag spring bubbles at seven places at the foot of the forested mountain. The water of the spring is famous for its medicinal and digestive properties.
 
Yusmarg - A two-hour drive from Shrinagar ( 47 kms ) will take you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow clad mountains. Here are walks of every sort - a leisurely amble along flower-strewn meadows or away to where a mighty river froths and crashes its way over rocks, its mild white foam earning it the name of Dudh Ganga. Further away, a captivating lake, Nilnag, is cradled by hills. Nearby are several peaks-Tatta Kutti and Sang Safed to name a couple of them. About 13 kms from Yusmarg, a short detour away from the Shrinagar road, is Charari- Sharief, the Shrine of Kashmir"s patron saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din or Nund Reshi.
 
Aharbal - Gradually, the distant rumble becomes a roar as one approach the waterfall of Aharbal, which crashes down a narrow gorge. Aharbal is more than just a waterfall. There are several places to picnic in the surrounding areas, as well as delightful walks of varying lengths all over the hillsides. Interesting treks-one of them to the high altitude lake of Kounsernag at 13,500 ft above sea level-takes off from Aharbal.
 
Verinag - Located 80 kms from Shrinagar at an altitude of 1,876 m, the spring of Verinag is believed to be the chief source of the river Jhelum. Construction of the octagonal base of the spring and the arcade around it was undertaken by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan. Down the stream to the east lie the remains of a Mughal pavilion and baths. Verinag can be approached through the link road, which turns off, from the national highway at Lower Munda.
 
General Information
Area : 20.36 Sq km
Altitude : 305 mtrs
Rainfall : 107 cms (July to September)
Languages : Dogri, Hindi, English, Urdu, Kashmiri, Punjabi
Best Season : October to April
Temperatures :26.2 to 4.3 degrees cent in winter. Temperatures in summer 43.0 to 23.4
Clothing: Heavy / Medium woollens in winters to light cottons in summers
 
Food : Every sort of vegetarian and non-vegetarian food is available in multiple cuisines to suit every budget. Restaurants of all hues and shades are available all along the busy roads and other major spots.
 
Travels : Registered travel/tour operators are available.
Others : Tariffs are subject to change without notice and Cheques are not accepted.
 
Important Road Distances :
 
Amritsar: 243 Kms Shrinagar: 305 Kms
 
Chandigarh: 436 Kms Manali: 428 Kms
 
Delhi: 586 Kms Patnitop: 112 Kms
 
Katra: 48 Kms Mansar: 60 Kms
 
Amongst the temples in Jammu, the Raghunath Mandir takes pride of place being situated right in the heart of the city. It consists of a cluster of temples and is the largest temple complex in northern India. Its inner sanctums contain gigantic statues of deities and numerous "lingams". It contains representatives of almost the entire Hindu pantheon, which make it a rare site to behold.
 
Bawey Wali Mata Temple - The famous temple of Bawey Wali Mata is inside the Bahu Fort where, every Tuesday and Sunday, pilgrims throng to worship the goddess. A little further away, on a spur opposite the Bahu Fort, overlooking the river Tawi, stands a temple dedicated to Mahamaya, a Dogra heroine who lost her life fourteen centuries ago fighting foreign invaders.
 
The Peer Kho cave temple overlooking the Tawi River, the Panchbakhtar temple and the Ranbireshwar temple are the other well-known Shiva temples in Jammu.
 
Each has its own legend, its devotees and specific days of worship. In Ranbireshwar Temple, there are twelve Shiva "lingams" of crystal measuring 12" to 18" and galleries with thousands of "saligrams" fixed on stone slabs. Other important temples in Jammu are the Lakshmi Narayan temple, Duda Dhari temple and the Panj Mandir in Gandhi Nagar.
 
It is said that if the Bawey Wali Mata is the presiding deity of Jammu, the "durgah" of Peer Budhan Ali Shah or Peer Baba as it is known, is the shrine that protects the people of this city from mishaps and evil spirits.
 
A friend of Guru Gobind Singh, Peer Baba is said to have lived his entire life on milk alone and lived to the age of five hundred. On Thursdays, Hindu and Sikh devotees vastly outnumber their Muslim brethren at this shrine; such is the faith of the people in Peer Baba. Most VIPs make it a point to visit this "durgah" when they come to Jammu.
 
 
Mubarak Mandi Palace, Jammu
Peer Mitha is another famous Muslim shrine in Jammu. Peer Mitha was a contemporary of Ajaib Dev and Ghareeb Nath - both saints were famous for their prophecies and miracles. "Mitha" means "the sweet one", for the Peer would accept nothing more than a pinch of sugar in offering from his devotees.
 
Forts and Palaces
 
On the opposite bank of the Tawi river, on an upland plateau, is situated the majestic Bahu Fort, the oldest edifice extant in the region. Looking at this fort one can imagine the wars fought, invasions prevented, and yes, even the grandeur the royal family must have enjoyed at the time. Today it is surrounded by a lush green terraced garden, with waterfalls and flowers of just about every kind and colour. It is a favourite picnic spot for the city folk.
 
The Amar Mahal Palace, a sight to behold, is on an eyrie overlooking the Tawi river. This grand palace, with sloping roofs and tall towers, so characteristic of continental castles, reminds one of France. The palace has been converted into a museum, which also houses the city"s finest library of antique books and paintings. An entire series of miniatures on the epic Nal-Damayanti can be seen in the museum.
 
 
Old Bazaars and Designer boutiques
 
There are two charmingly contradictory aspects to the city of Jammu which one can see while shopping. For instance, in the crowded streets of Raghunath Bazaar, among the age-old dry fruit shops, you"ll find designer boutiques that display the very latest in fashion and fashion accessories.
 
Here the main bazaars - Vir Marg, Raghunath Bazaar and Hari Market - are famous for Kashmiri handicrafts, traditional Dogra jewellery and various dry fruits, chiefly walnuts ("akhrot") and almonds. Jammu is also known for the superlative quality of its "basmati" rice, "rajma" (red beans), "ampapar" (dried and candied mango peel), "anardana" (dried pomegranate seeds) and "barfi" (milk sweets).For purchasing authentic Kashmiri handicrafts, one can visit the J&K Government Arts Emporium near the Tourist Reception Centre on Residency Road. The emporium displays and sells a wide variety of handicrafts, including Pashmina shawls and exquisite hand-knotted carpets of silk and woo
 
Katra
50 kms from Jammu. This small town serves as the base camp for visiting the famous shrine of Vaishnodeviji in the Trikuta Hills. The shrine is approachable on foot along a 12 kms long well laid footpath. Every year, nearly 4 million pilgrims pass through Katra on their way to Vaishnodeviji. 
The Valley of Shepherds - Situated at the confluence of the streams flowing from Sheshnag Lake and the Lidder river, Pahalgam (2,130 m) was once a humble shepherd"s village with breathtaking views. Now it is Kashmir"s premier resort, cool even during the height of summer when the maximum temperature does not exceed 25Deg C. A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious hotels to unpretentious trekkers" lodges, including J&K TDC"s huts.
 
Around Pahalgam are many places of interest, and because the resort is set between fairly steep hills, it is worth hiring a pony rather than walking. Pony fares are posted at prominent locations. 
 
The most beautiful of these is the huge, undulating meadow of Baisaran, surrounded by thickly wooded forests of pine. Hajan, on the way to Chandanwari, is an idyllic spot for a picnic. Filmgoers will recognize it instantly as it has been the location of several movie scenes.
 
Pahalgam has within it no fewer than eight tiny villages, one of which is Mamal. There is a Shiva temple here, generally considered to be Kashmir"s oldest existing temple, dating to the 5th century.
 
Gulmarg"s legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Shrinagar naturally make it one of the premier hill resorts in the country. Originally called "Gaurimarg" by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favourite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here. Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty- it also has the highest green golf course in the world, at an altitude of 2,650 m, and is the country"s premier ski resort in the winter.
The journey to Gulmarg is almost nearly as enchanting as reaching there-- roads bordered by rigid avenues of poplar give over to flat expanses of rice fields interspersed with picturesque villages. Depending on the season, nature"s colours could be the translucent green of spring, summer"s rich emerald, or autumn"s golden hues, when scarlet chillies festoon windows of village homes. After Tangmarg, the climb to Gulmarg begins through fir-covered hillsides. At one point, known simply as View Point, travellers generally stop their vehicles for a few minutes and look out a spectacle of snow-covered mountains, almost within touching distance.
 
General Information
Area : 3.5 km long; 1km wide Altitude 2,650 m
Best season : Throughout the year.
Clothing: Summer : Light woollens; winter: Heavy woollens
 

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