Places to visit.

GULMARG.

Gulmarg’s legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar 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 half the enchantment of 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

Gulmarg Gondola in GulmargJammu and Kashmir is the world’s second highest operating cable car since the closure in 2008 of the Mérida cable car in Venezuela.

Gulmarg Gondola – The New Cable Car of Gulmarg

Gulmarg boasts Asia’s highest and longest cable car project, the Gulmarg Gondola. The two-stage ropeway ferries about 600 people per hour to and from Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Afarwat Peak (4,200 m (13,780 ft)). The ropeway project is a joint venture of the Jammu and Kashmir government and French firm Pomagalski. The first stage transfers from the Gulmarg resort at 2,600 m (8,530 ft) to Kongdoori Station in the bowl-shaped Kongdori valley. The second stage of the ropeway, which has 36 cabins and 18 towers, takes skiers to a height of 3,747 m (12,293 ft) on Kongdoori Mountain, a shoulder of nearby Afarwat Peak (4,200 m (13,780 ft)).

The timing of the gondola is 10 AM (IST) to 5 PM (It’s highly dependent upon the weather at both stages). A gondola can carry six people at a time. The price is 400 Indian Rupees(10 US$) for the first stage and 600 Indian Rupees (6 US$) for the second stage.

Sonamarg – The Meadow of Gold.The drive to Sonamarg is through the Sindh Valley which presents yet another spectacular facet of countryside in Kashmir. Situated at an altitude of 2730 m, Sonamarg (‘The meadow of gold’) has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh River that meanders through the valley abounds with trout and mahaseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, which is a major local attraction during the summer months.
Sonamarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several mountain lakes –Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. Sonamarg is also the take off station for the drive to Ladakh across the Zojila, a major pass in the Great Himalayan Range, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes.

PAHALGAM – The Valley of Shepherds.

Situated at the confluence of the streams flowing from Sheshnag Lake and the Lidderriver, 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 250C. A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious hotels to unpretentious trekkers.

Kashmir - Pahalgam

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

YOUSMARG.

Yusmarg is approximately 47 km from the Srinagar and lies in the Badgam district of Jammu and Kashmir. The two-hour drive to the place is an enjoyment in itself. Grassy pastures stretching to acres of land, the dense forests full of pine trees, with the backdrop of splendid snow capped mountains leave you almost speechless. Within commutable distance from Srinagar, the capital of Kashmir, Yusmarg is the perfect place to go for a picnic. It is possible that after reaching this place, you may want to even stay for a few days. Specially, for the lovers of long walks in picturesque locales, Yusmarg is the place to be.

NISHAT GARDEN

Is the largest one of the Mughal gardens in Kashmir. It is situated on the banks of the picturesque Dal Lake. Also known as “the garden of bliss”, the Nishat gardens have the Zabarwan Mountains forming its backdrop. Asaf Khan, the brother of Nur Jahan, designed the Kashmir Nishat Bagh in 1633 AD. Within the garden are ruins of some of the buildings dating back to the Mughal period. One of them is a double story pavilion enclosed on two sides with latticed windows. There is also a small spring behind the garden, known as Gopi Tirth. It is a source of supply of crystal clear water to the garden.

SHALIMAR GARDEN.

Emperor Jehangir got the Shalimar Garden built for his wife Nur Jahan in 1616. A second garden Faiz Baksh, (The Bountiful) was added to it later during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan (1628-1658). Covering an area of approximately 539 m by 182 m, the Shalimar garden offers an amazing view over the other gardens, lakes and shallow terraces. Also known as the “garden of love”, the Shalimar Mughal Gardens has four terraces, rising one above the other. The fourth terrace of the garden was, at one point of time, reserved for royal ladies. There is also a canal lined with polished stones running through the center of the Shalimar Bagh. The canal is responsible for supplying water to the garden from Harwan.

CHASMASHAI.

This the smallest of the Mughal gardens of Kashmir. Meaning Royal Spring, this garden measures 108 m by 38 m and is above the Nehru Memorial Park. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan set up the Kashmir Chashma Shahi Mughal Gardens in 1632 AD. The garden is quite famous for spring of energizing digestive mineral water inside it. Chasma Shahi Garden of Kashmir, India, offers a striking view of the scenic Dal Lake and the neighboring mountains. The garden has a number of terraces, with several fountains built right through its center.

SHANKERACHARIYA TEMPLE.

Shankaracharya Mandir. is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva on a hilltop. It can be reached by a car or taxi. For security reasons, no cameras or cellphones are allowed within the temple and you are supposed to leave them in the vehicle before entering the temple premises. Cigarrates, liquor are to be deposited with the police personnel before the ascent of the hill as these items are against Hindu religion.

DAL LAKE.

The Dal Lake is unique for its beauty that lies in its pulsating surroundings, since it sustains a life on waters not found anywhere else in the world. The houseboat and Shikara communities have survived on the Dal lake for centuries and every thing is found on and nearby the houseboats including doctors, tailors and bakers in tiny wooden shops on the lake.

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