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Plan A Safe Trip To Kashmir

    : 2280     :  September 1, 2022, 10:00 am     : countrysidekashmir

When I declared to my friends that I was heading to Kashmir for a vacation, everyone pretty much had the same question: is it safe?

Unfortunately, many people still view the Kashmir region as being perilous for one reason or another. Though safety may have once been a concern for visitors, today, the region has shed its insurgent past and is blossoming in many ways.

Having heard a lot about the abounding beauty of Kashmir, I was on my way to discover it myself. My itinerary encompassed Srinagar, Pahalgam and Gulmarg as I was told that these are the safest places to visit in Kashmir, and also spellbindingly beautiful.

Srinagar

srinagar

The extra security outside the Srinagar airport was prominent, but not daunting. The drive to my hotel, which was in the heart of Srinagar took me through congested parts of the city, where life was business as usual as it would be in any other city with everyone jostling for the right of way!

The Mughal Gardens—namely Chashme Shahi, Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh—was the first stop on my list. With their signature canals, delicate fountains and blooming flower beds, the gardens are resplendent and have rightfully earned accolades as being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Leaving Srinagar without visiting the pulse of the city, the Dal Lake is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower! I hopped in to a shikara and got a grand tour of a portion of the 18 square-kilometre waterbody. Gliding through a maze of lotus flowers, my boatman took me to the island of Char Chinar, named after the four chinar trees that stand tall at the four corners of the island.

I also took a stroll on Boulevard Road that seemingly winds around the Dal Lake. The main road in the city, this is where you can find hotels, restaurants, shops and all things commercial. Again, extra security is visible but nothing that seems out of the ordinary for a tourist destination. 

Read more: Recreate These Fun Bollywood Moments in Kashmir!

Gulmarg

gulmarg

Madam, yaha Bobby ki shooting hui thiâ, said my driver guide as we drove to Gulmarg. About 55 kilometres from Srinagar, he regaled me with anecdotes about Bollywood’s love affair with Kashmir along the way. Known as the ‘meadow of flowers, Gulmarg needs to be experienced to truly understand its beauty. Enveloped by powdery peaks of the Pir Panjal Range, as expected, Gulmarg was teeming with visitors from far and near. For a bird's-eye view, I highly recommend taking the famous Gulmarg gondola cable car ride. With two levels, the first is Kongdoori at 3,100 metres above sea level and the second is Apharwat at almost 4,000 metres above sea level. At such altitudes, I was surprised to see food stalls selling snacks including Maggi and parathas! Over a cup of hot tea, I was told by my driver that there are days when the second level is off limits owing to adverse weather conditions, so I was lucky!

Pahalgam

Just when I thought I had seen it all in Gulmarg, I was treated to some more magnificent vistas in Pahalgam. Amidst the Lidder Valley at an altitude of over 2,700 metres above sea level, the sight of the Lidder River flanked by aromatic conifers was a refreshing change from my view of high-rises from my window back home! In Pahalgam, the Kolahoi Glacier, which is the source of water for the Anantnag district, is quite the attraction. I did notice heightened army personnel presence here owing to illegal border infiltration. Of course, I succumbed to being a typical tourist by taking a pony ride to Baisaran or 'mini Switzerland' as locals call it. Also worth visiting are the pristine Sheshnag Lake and the ancient Mamaleshwar Temple. 

pahalgam

Read more: Best Places to Visit in Kashmir: Truly Heaven on Earth

Safety Tips

Whether travelling in Kashmir or anywhere in the world, being attentive to your surroundings is necessary. Throughout my to Kashmir trip, I felt very comfortable wherever I was, despite being a solo female traveller. I was warmly welcomed wherever I went and sure, there were touts trying to sell me souvenirs and shawls but a firm  on my part got the message across loud and clear.

When planning your holiday to Kashmir, I would highly recommend making all bookings in advance including a local taxi and guide. Arrive prepared because leaving things to chance in Kashmir especially during peak tourist season may leave you disappointed. Everything here books up early on.  

After spending the night in Gulmarg, head to Srinagar airport for your onward flight, taking with you precious memories of your trip to Kashmir. countryside Kashmir