Captivating Kashmir enchants you in whichever direction you turn. Look up and into the distance, majestic snow clad mountains greet your eye. Look down from a height verdant valleys smiling with the warmth of spring invite you with a carpet of blooms. Turn your head and you look at tall fir and pine trees waving lazily in the cool breeze. Lakes and rivers beckon you with their silvery waters. Not for nothing has Kashmir been called the paradise on earth. This is where conquering hordes arrived and were conquered by the beauteous charms of Kashmir. There is no other place like it.
Of course the best way to enjoy Kashmir would be to totally immerse yourself in the countryside and life by taking a leisurely trip that could last for months. Not all of us have this leisure. Besides, it may be expensive and full of hassles as you have to consider travel, accommodation and food wherever you go. A far better way is to join a packaged tour that lets you sample the exquisite delights Kashmir has to offer such as romantic Shikara rides on the Dal. Then you have Pahalgam, Sonmarg, Gulmarg and a dozen other destinations to keep you enthralled. Your tour operator knows the best places, routes and things to do so leave it to them to make travel, food and accommodation arrangements for a wholly satisfying trip.
A typical affordable Kashmir tour would start at Srinagar and includePahalgam, Sonmarg and Gulmarg in the itinerary. Here is what a typical itinerary would look like:
Day 1: ARRIVE SRINAGAR
You fly into Srinagar, meet the tour operator and mix with the group and get into a houseboat on the Dal. That done you proceed for a leisurely Shikara ride during which you come across markets working entirely off boats. You can buy some wood carvings and handicrafts from sellers on the lake. You have the day free to explore Srinagar and return for a night on the Houseboat, lulled into sleep by the rocking motion of the boat.
Day 2: SRINAGAR – SONAMARG – SRINAGAR
It is early breakfast and then off you go to Sonmarg at a distance of about 84 kilometers. Sonmarg is a lovely, lush meadow located at a height of 9000 feet. Just walking around is a delight. You have options to proceed on ponies to Thajiwas Glacier or spend the day fishing for trout in the SindhRiver. As the Sun lowers down, you return to Shrinagar. It’s been a wondrous day.
Day 3: SRINAGAR – PAHALGAM
Like the previous day you breakfast and board the coach to Pahalgam. The group checks into a pre-arranged hotel and then you set out to explore the valley of Shepherds, take a walk alongside the LidderRiver and lose yourself in the beauties of nature here.
Day 4: PAHALGAM – SRINAGAR
It is return to Srinagar early in the morning, taking time off to stop at the Awantipura Ruins and the Mattan Temple Complex. On arrival at Srinagar it is lunch time and thereafter you proceed to the Mogul Gardens Nishat and Shalimar. You may linger here till sunset or take time to go shopping on boulevards alongside the Dal, buy carpets or shawls and visit the Shankaracharya temple before retiring to your hotel room for the night.
Day 5: SRINAGAR – GULMARG – SRINAGAR
This is a special day as you will be visiting Gulmarg, the meadow of flowers at a height of about 8700 feet. Gulmarg has a golf course and other attractions such as a cable car ride to let you enjoy the scenery from high above. If you like skiing, there are facilities to let you indulge yourself here. After an eventful day you return to Srinagar for a well earned repose.
Day 6: DEPARTURE
Your tour ends and you are transferred to the airport to catch a connecting flight or, if you like, proceed on your own to other places.
As always tour operators have their defined policy of including you in a group if there is room, taxes, cancellations and accommodation with escape clauses so make sure you make the effort to get to know each tiny detail of the exact tour price, accommodation provided, foods included and surface transport. You avoid unpleasantness and can also make your own plans on how to spend your leisure time at each place you visit and get the most out of your Kashmir Tour Package.