Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term “Kashmir” denoted only the Kashmir Valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal Range. Modern usage of the term encompasses a larger area that includes the Indian-administered territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, the Pakistani-administered territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, and Chinese-administered territories of Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract.
In the first half of the first millennium, the Kashmir region became an important centre of Hinduism and later of Buddhism; later still, in the ninth century, Kashmir Shaivism arose. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Shah Mir dynasty. Kashmir was part of the Mughal Empire from 1586 to 1751, and thereafter, until 1820, of the Afghan Durrani Empire. That year, the Sikhs, under Ranjit Singh, annexed Kashmir. In 1846, after the Sikh defeat in the First Anglo-Sikh War, and upon the purchase of the region from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar, the Raja of Jammu, Gulab Singh, became the new ruler of Kashmir. The rule of his descendants, under the paramountcy (or tutelage) of the British Crown, lasted until the partition of India in 1947, when the former princely state of the British Indian Empire became the subject of the Kashmir conflict. The modern region is administered by three countries: India, Pakistan, and China.
How to go
By air: To fly into Kashmir, take the Srinagar Airport (15 km away), which is well connected to prime Indian cities. Air India, GoAir, IndiGo and Jet Airways operate regular flights for Delhi, Goa, Jammu, Leh Mumbai and Bangalore. After reaching the airport, visitors can hire taxis to reach various cities and towns of Kashmir.
By train: Jammu Tawi Railway Station, situated at a distance of about 330 km, is the nearest railhead serving the beautiful valley of Kashmir. New Delhi-Jammu Tawi Rajdhani Express, Jammu Mail and Jammu Tawi Express are some of the prominent trains operating from Delhi. From outside the railway station, one can hire private taxis or take state or private buses to reach various places in Kashmir.
By road: The state of Kashmir is well connected by a network of state and private buses with several nearby cities and towns. National Highway 1-A connects Srinagar with Jammu. Also, the popular Jawahar Tunnel connecting Jammu with the valley of Kashmir also falls on the way. A number of J&K State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC), luxury and private deluxe buses ply frequently to and from state. These buses are extremely comfy and cost-effective.
Srinagar: Srinagar is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and famous places to visit in Kashmir as well as in India. From boating to trekking, bird watching to water skiing, Srinagar place has it all. Locally this place is known as the mirror to the mountains, Srinagar is a first stopover for every traveler and there is a long list of places to visit in Srinagar, Kashmir. The largest city of Kashmir, this place is enclosed by the green mountains and the main highlight being the Dal Lake which is the gem of the city. This place gives a close outlook to the Kashmiri cuisine and the state’s culture.
Gulmarg: Famously known as the ‘Meadow of Flowers’, Gulmarg is a treat to the eyes with its spread of vibrant flowers against snow capped mountains as backgrounds. Gulmarg is considered to be one of the best places to visit in Kashmir for all right reasons. This region of Kashmir is also known as the adventurer’s paradise because of its vast options of skiing in the snow while enjoying the views around. The best time to visit Kashmir for snowfall is in winter season i.e. December-January.
Sonamarg: Sonamarg, as the name suggests, is famous as the ‘Meadow of Gold’. An endless stream of stunning flowers and undulated trekking routes are its attractions. Sonamarg has to be in every visitors’ list of places to visit in Kashmir for its mesmerizing aura and breathtaking views. The best season to visit Kashmir would be in summer i.e. May-June when the valley is blooming with variegated flowers.
Leh: Leh is one of the best and safe places to visit in Kashmir in summers. The lofty mountains, the alpine lakes, and the quaint settings enable Leh one of the best places to visit. This place is every biker’s dreamland. Clad in the beauty and love of nature, Leh offers breathtaking views, leaving no visitor disappointed. You must explore all the top places to visit in Leh when traveling to Kashmir.
Kupwara: Kupwara is a small district located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and situated at a distance of 90 kilometres from the state capital, Srinagar. Blessed with nature’s finest views, the thriving meadows, alpine mountains, and the gushing clear water make Kupwara a must-visit destination in Kashmir. This city epitomizes the beauty of Kashmir.
Why should you visit Kashmir?
Breathtaking landscapes: There would be not a single person on this planet who doesn’t love nature. We all admire nature, but no one sees it in chaotic cities. Kashmir has everything including mountains, dense forests, green meadows, grasslands, and water streams that together create wonderful scenery. From Aru Valley to Saffron fields, Zabarwan Mountain range to the Chashme Shahi, Badam Vari to Apple Garden, Almond trees to Chinar Tress, all these naturally beautiful locations make Kashmir a Heaven on Earth. Gulmarg, Pahalgam & Sonmarg are some such marvelous locations that everyone loves to visit repeatedly.
Wonderful climate: Plan your trip to Kashmir in the scorching heat of summers when the temperature rises up to 40 degrees. Kashmir is cool even in the harshest of summer and you can visit this valley between March and May to see the blooming flowers, green meadows, and Chinar trees. Overall you can experience the new phase of spring in the Valley of Kashmir. If you plan your trip in Winter Season then you will enjoy beautiful snowfall that would be an incredible experience. The snow-capped mountains fill the region with exquisite surroundings and the snow-capped trees look awesome while offering a serene feeling to everyone. Also, you can enjoy the most stunning views of sunrise and sunset at Dal Lake in Srinagar.
Pristine Lakes: Your Kashmir trip is not complete without taking a ride of Dal Lake and these lakes are the perfect reason to plan a Kashmir trip. It is one of the favorite destinations for the tourists where shutterbugs also love to capture the exquisite scenes. The houseboats and Shikaras are the most famous attraction of Dal Lake. Here, you can see the floating markets and gardens with the sweet smell of flowers and various other attractions. Apart from this, Wular Lake is also popular as the largest freshwater lake in Asia, Mansbal Lake is home to many aquatic birds and surrounded by lush greenery and mountains. Nagin Lake offers the utmost tranquil space to enjoy the serenity. The list doesn’t end here; the waterholes like Gadsar, Gangabal, Tso Moririm, Pangong and Mansar are the greatest attractions for the visitors. The different waterholes provide a perfect landscape in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.
Trekking points: Enclosed by the Great Himalaya and Pir Panjal mountain range, Kashmir Valley is the best place for camping, trekking, and mountaineering. While traveling to this gorgeous land, you will witness the most enchanting views of mountains, lakes, and meadows. Walking through the foothills, Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is popular among tourists where you will cover the lakes of Gangabal, Kishansar and Vishansar that are close to the Harnukh Peak. Aru-Valley, Kolahoi Glacier Trek and Yousmarg Trek are yet another challenge for trekkers. Kashmir is one of the best places for trekkers where fun is boundless.
Art and heritage: You can explore the past events and lifestyle of ancient Kashmiri people in the museums that hold the glory of the rich culture and heritage of the state. These museums include items like paintings, copper utensils, shawls, handicrafts, pottery, stones, arms, and metal substances that stand as proof of the rich sculptural execution of Kashmir. Some of the museums of Kashmir were palaces in old times, which got converted. You can see here some art galleries having old clothes and even a library with old books. Some famous museums of Jammu & Kashmir are Amar Mahal, Dogra Art, Sri Pratap Singh, Kanchenjunga, and Stok Palace Museum where you can check out amazing paintings, old utensils, books, musical instruments, and textiles.