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Kashmir Travel Guide - Kashmir Tourist Attractions

Kashmir, India

Jammu and Kashmir is the northernmost state of India, lying mostly in the Himalayan mountains. Jammu and Kashmir shares a border with Himachal Pradesh to the south, Pakistan to the west and People's Republic of China to the north and the east. Jammu and Kashmir consists of three divisions: Jammu, the Vale of Kashmir and Ladakh.

Jammu. the Duggar land where the past still has a living presence. A land of grand ancient temples, and beautiful palaces. All nestling in the foothills of the Himalayas. Jammu is justly famous for its temples. Infact it is known as the city of temples and the every fame of its tends to overshadow its palaces, forts, forests and powerful ziarats. Jammu attracts tens of thousands of Hindu and Muslim pilgrims every year.

The Vale of Kashmir, also known as Kashmir Valley, is famous for its beautiful mountainous landscape. Set like a jewelled crown on the map of India, Kashmir is a many faceted diamond, changing character with the seasons always extravagantly beautiful. Three Himalayan ranges, Karakoram, Zanaskar and Pir Panjal snow capped, majestic, frame the landscape from northwest to northeast.

Ladakh, also known as "Little Tibet", is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and Buddhist culture which was established as early as the 2nd century.Known for centuries as the 'land of passes' (Lapass;Dakhland), Ladakh was described by Fahian, who travelled across its inhospitable terrain in 399 A.D., as 'The land where snow never melts and only corn ripens'.

In Jammu & Kashmir, the climatic conditions are marked with sudden change and a year can be roughly divided into six seasons of roughly 2 months each:
1. Spring From March 15 to May 15.
2. Summer From May 15 to July 15.
3. Rainy Season From July 15 to Sept. 15.
4. Autumn From Sept. 15 to Nov. 15.
5. Winter From Nov. 15 to Jan 15.
6. Ice Cold From Jan. 15 to March 15.

The Mughal king Jehangir, moved to such an ecstasy by the beauty of Kashmir exclaimed, "if there is a Paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here". Unlike the other Himalayan regions, Kashmir has been the tourists paradise and holiday resort for a long time, probably one of the oldest on the earth.

Places of Tourist Interest
Amarnath Yatra (Natural Ice Shiva Lingam) : Situated at a height of 3,880 metres in the Himalayas, the cave enshrines a naturally formed icelingam, symbol of Lord Shiva, which waxes and wanes with the moon, reaching its maximum dimensions on the day of pilgrimage. This is where, Hindus believe, Lord Shiva explained the secret of salvation to his consort Parvati on a full moon night. Every year in the month of Shravana (JulyAugust), when the moon is full, thousands of devout pilgrims gather before Amarnath Cave in the picturesque Lidder Valley in Kashmir to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.
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.

Pahalgam : 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. 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. One can indulge in Horse Riding, Golf, Fishing and Trekking.

Patnitop : 112 kms from Jammu, this famous hill resort is perched on a beautiful plateau, at an altitude of 2024 metres across which the JammuSrinagar Highway passes. Enveloped by thickly wooded forests, Patnitop offers beautiful picnic spots, peaceful walks and breathtaking views of the of the Chenab basin. In winter, the resort is generally covered with a thick mantle of snow thus providing opportunities for various snow games including skiing. It is the bestdeveloped tourist spot of Jammu and is second to none in its natural charm, climate, pine forests and lush green cover. The occupancy of the huts and Dak Bungalow is full in summer months.

Srinagar : Known as The Lake City, Srinagar is located in the heart of the Kashmir valley at an altitude of 1,730 m above sea level, spread on both sides of the river Jhelum. The Dal and Nagin lakes enhance its picturesque setting, while the changing play of the seasons and the salubrious climate ensures that the city is equally attractive to visitors around the year.

Sonamarg : 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 lakesVishansar, 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 SrinagarLeh Road passes.

When to Go
The best period to visit Jammu & Kashmir varies depending on the region as follows: Jammu October To February, Kashmir May To October & November To February, Ladakh Mid June To September.

Interesting Fact
During colonial times, the laws of Jammu & Kashmir State did not allow for acqusition of immovable property by nonstate subjects. To overcome this hurdle, house boats [which move] were devised to allow Europeans to acquire residential premiseses without breaking the law. The Kashmiris have refurbished the Britishinspired houseboats as private hotels, which are now tourist attractions.