How to Plan a Trip to Kashmir – Ultimate Itinerary for 8 Days
Kashmir is arguably India’s prettiest state, visually! Beautiful locations, decked up shikaras, thousands of stars in the night sky, pretty valleys, skiing destinations, lush greenery, Himalayan mountains, scenic meadows, kahwa tea, incredibly gorgeous panoramas, bristling rivers, peace and tranquility of nature, hospitality and the niceness of the Kashmiri people are some of the things a traveler will experience in his/her Kashmir trip!
In this post, we shall lay down a relaxed Kashmir Itinerary for 8 Days which will help you plan your trip well.
Day 1: Fly into Srinagar; Overnight at Srinagar
Begin your trip by flying to Srinagar in the morning. The moment you step out of the plane, the pleasant weather greets you and you can see the mountains everywhere in the background.
Today, you can head to the beautiful Nishat Bagh Mughal Gardens. A terraced garden, Nishat Bagh was built in the 17 century. It is the second largest Mughal garden in Kashmir after the Shalimar Bagh but is more beautiful than Shalimar. Also known as “The Garden of Bliss”, it has the Zabarwan Mountains forming an imposing majestic background.
Usually, there is a tulip festival in Srinagar at the beginning of April, and you can visit the Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden where the tulip festival is taking place!
In the evening, you can go on a shikara ride on the lovely Dal lake. You can even convince the boatman to let you ride the shikara under his guidance. 🙂
Boating in the Dal is a fun experience with the majestic Himalayan mountains flanking the lake in the background and the Mughal gardens and the markets overlooking the lake with pride. Watch how life goes on in the dal, as local kids ply small shikaras and go to school, adults ferry between the town and their houses, boatmen come closer to you and offer to take photographs, offer to sell saffron and much more.
Take a look at the names of the houseboats and it will make you smile – colonial English sounding names (eg. Buckingham Palace), wannabe American names, and more dominate the many houseboats standing in the very middle of the Dal.
You can head for dinner to Mughar Durbar and have some delicious Kashmiri food.
Stay Recommendation: New Manhattan Houseboat, Dal Lake
Day 2: Day Trip to Sonamarg; Overnight at Srinagar
Your trip should not be about madly rushing everywhere, or waking up early and hurrying to checklist twenty things.
It should be about sipping Kahwa and taking in the morning sun, having a nice breakfast and then setting off to explore the beautiful countryside, stopping wherever you find something pretty, taking photographs, getting closer to the mountains, besides sitting with the people you have met on the group and getting to know them, striking up conversations with the locals, or just soaking in and losing yourself to the surroundings!
Today after breakfast, you can head to Sonamarg. The drive, just like to anywhere in Kashmir, is beautiful. In this sixty kilometer journey, you will cross orchards, fields, meadows, mountains covered in snow and the brisling Sindh river.
When you reach Sonamarg, you can either go for a hike somewhere in the hills and have your own mini adventure.
If the weather is good, you can even go up the Thajiwas glacier. While the lower hills are half brown, as you go higher, everything becomes whiter.
There are locals offering snowboarding in the hills. Slide down the snow and have a ball! It is a beautiful place, cliffs so high, their faces so jagged and snow all over.
Return to Srinagar in the evening.
Day 3: Transfer to Pahalgam; Overnight at Pahalgam
Next morning, after breakfast, leave for Pahalgam. A lot of chinar trees and woolly dogs later, you shall see the first of the saffron fields just before Pampore village.
Pampore is a bat’s village. As the name suggests, the entire village is engaged in making cricket bats, and you can stop at one of these bat factories to see how these bats are manufactured!
Later, continue your journey through the mountains, meadows on both sides, and soon the Lidder river will join you, running parallel to the road, bristling and cold, all the way to Pahalgam.
Check into the hotel by late afternoon. Later, you can head out to this beautiful town. Get lost in nature in Kashmir!
Stay Recommendation: Forest Hill Resorts, Laripora, Pahalgam
Day 4: Day trip to Chandanwadi; Overnight at Pahalgam
Today, after breakfast, you can head to the snow covered mountains of Chandanwadi. The place is famous because it is the last motorable point for the Amarnath trek.
The scenic Sheshnag lake is here. Chandanwadi has sports like snowboarding. There are also pony rides offered here to see some sightseeing points.
You could also just sit in the snow and watch the magnificent mountain. Peace and tranquility are what every trip should offer you. Walk until the Sheshnag lake, and absorb the beauty of nature. Afterall, you are on a holiday!
Day 5: Hike to Betaab Valley; Overnight at Pahalgam
Today is going to be the best day of your trip! You will do a small hike to the beautiful Betaab valley.
As you keep walking, with Lidder river flowing merrily, a little government school will come on your way. You can stop to play with the innocent and shy kids and create memories for life. Continue walking, and there is a beautiful viewpoint looking over the Lidder river.
After a bit, you will reach Betaab Valley. In summers, this place is extremely beautiful. Walk along the pathway, click pictures at the many movie locations, stand at the bridge and watch the stream gush by, run into the meadows and play all you want!
It will be late evening by the time you return to the resort!
Day 6: Pahalgam to Gulmarg; Overnight at Gulmarg
Today, you can visit Gulmarg.
All of Kashmir is beautiful, but Gulmarg, not just the place, but even the route to it, will make your heart sing. The route is full of pine trees, Deodars, Chinars, Amaltas and Kikar trees flanking the mountainside and render the tall hills an even greater beauty.
Gulmarg is probably one of the most scenic places in all of India. Gulmarg is the top destination to ski in India, and one among the top ten in all of Asia.
In winters, in December and January, a lot of western tourists come to Gulmarg, just to ski. The drive takes a few hours, and you will reach Gulmarg by afternoon. You can go for a walk, and head to the golf course, and the Church.
Stay Recommendation: Apple Tree Resorts, Gulmarg
Day 7: World’s Highest Gondola Ride; Overnight at Gulmarg
You can take the Gondola ride on the world’s highest cable car, all the way up Apharwat Peak. The slopes here are good for skiing, and you can try your hand at this adventure sport!
There are two levels of the Gondola. More than 4000 meters high, the second level is not very far from the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. The second (higher) level is accessible only if there are no snow storms at the upper reaches of the peak.
Based on the weather that day, you can choose to go to level two or stay at level one.
Day 8: Drive back to Srinagar Airport
After breakfast, head for Srinagar airport. Book your departures back to your cities in the afternoon. Bid farewell to the mountains and this beautiful land.
Few more extensive travel guides are as follows:
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