Heaven on Earth Jammu and Kashmir
Location & description
Jammu and Kashmir is the northern-most State of India bounded by the Himalayas in the North, West and the East. Because of unrivaled beauty, Kashmir has long since been called the “Heaven on Earth” and has been the favourite location of Indian Hindi filmmakers till militancy started in 1980s.
In recent years, due to lessening of militancy, tourism started picking up from 2009 and Kashmir is now one of the top tourist destinations in India again.
Valleys and mountain rivers surrounded by Himalayan snow peaks
The average altitude of the main Kashmir valley from sea-level is about 6000 ft but the Pir Panjal range that surrounds it has an average elevation of 16000 ft from sea level. Nearby snow peaks, very long soft grassy glades with river flowing through and tall conifer-clad hillsides rising towards the snow together turn Kashmir valley into a place of dreams.
Jammu and Kashmir consists of three regions, Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. Jammu is the seat of the winter capital for six month when Srinagar in Kashmir valley remains snow bound whereas Srinagar is the summer capital for six months, the prime time for tourists.
Major tourist attractions
Jammu is the main city in Jammu region which has Patnitop as its own hill-station, paragliding at beautiful Sanasar lake and Vaishno Devi temple in Katra which draws nearly 1 Crore (10 million) devotees each year making it the most visited part in the whole of Jammu and Kashmir.
Leh at an altitude above 11000 ft is the capital of Ladakh region which some call as the worst place in the world for altitude sickness. The whole of Ladakh region is starkly beautiful and attracts many adventurous tourists nowadays.
Summer capital Srinagar is set around the famous Dal lake in which houseboats in Shikaras float dream like. Srinagar has around it a clutch of famous tourist attractions Mughal gardens, Verinag spring, Pari Mahal, Shankaracharya temple the ancient temple of Lord Shiva, Hari Parbat, the ancient temple of Goddess Sharika Bhagwati, Kheer Bhawani temple among others.
Gulmarg continue to be the pick of the scenic spots in Kashmir. Not only is it the home to the world’s highest green golf course, it is also one of the most popular ski resort destinations in India during winter when the gently rolling green glades get covered with deep snow.
Khilanmarg is a small valley nearly 2000 ft from Gulmarg that gets covered with flowers in spring and snow in winter to be transformed to the favourite skiing run in Kashmir.
Pahalgam is a popular hill-station with great scenic views and usually included in any Kashmir tour.
Sonmarg valley, the Meadow of the gold at an altitude of more than 9000 ft has snow mountains as its backdrop and can be reached from the Sindh Valley. It is a stand-alone hill-station with standard accommodations for tourists.
Amarnath temple is one of the major pilgrimage destinations for Hindu devotees of Lord Shiva in this country. Amarnath Yatra is a great event in itself.
There are many beautiful trekking routes are open in Jammu and Kashmir with varying degree of difficulties. Chadar trek or Zanskar trek is for the discerning trekkers and is one of the best trekking destinations around the world.
Together Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh region hold enough spellbinding beauty and variety to attract travelers of all colors and tastes for all time to come.
How to reach Kashmir
Kashmir has its own International airport at Srinagar. Jammu airport is connected to most major flight destinations in India, either directly or via New Delhi.
Usual route to access Kashmir is to get down at Udhampur railway station and take buses or hire cabs for the rest of the journey along roads. An alternative approach is via Jammu which can be reached in many ways and then cabs can be hired for Kashmir access.
When the Jammu-Baramulla railway route spanning major earthquake zones, extreme temperatures and rough terrains, is completed it will take the traveller directly to Baramulla on the North-Western edge of Kashmir valley via Udhampur.
Leh in Ladakh can also be accessed by bus or cab by road from Manali in Himachal Pradesh.
Our travel stories on Jammu and Kashmir are set on location Patnitop.