Carved tectonically, the valley of Kashmir is a longitudinal depression in the great north-western Himalayan range, situated at an altitude of 1590 mtrs (5209) feet having latitude between 23-4' and 37-6 'North and longitude between 72-31' and 77-30' East. A typical oval shaped valley, its length has a parallel axis to the general direction of the bordering mountains – The Shivaliks, The Middle Mountains, The Pir Panjal, The Himalayas, The Zanaskar, The Ladakh and The Korakaram.
Srinagar is located in the heart of the Kashmir valley at an altitude of 1,730 m(1530 feet) 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.
Famous valleys of Kashmir include: Lidder Valley, Sindh Valley, Lolab Valley, Bangus Valley, Dachigam Valley, Gulmarg Valley, Gurez Valley, Yousmarg Valley etc.
Most Famous Place of Srinagar
Mughal Gardens : These gardens have their own magical charm in the sparkling ripples of cascading streams and fountains, limpid pools and airy pavilions. Laid out for the pleasure of the Mughal Emperors, they are ablaze with multi hued flowers and they astound the senses with their scents. Nishat borders the Dal Lake and was laid out by Asaf Khan, Empress Nur Jahan's brother. Chasma Shahi, the Royal Spring, with an illuminated garden, is the smallest. The spring from which it derives its name is credited with medicinal properties. Shalimar, the Abode of Love, was laid by Emperor Jahangir for his beloved Queen Nur Jahan and is the most famous of the three.
Tulip Garden : Tulip garden previously named as Model Floriculture Centre, Sirajbagh, Cheshmashahi Srinagar, is spread over an area of about 30 ha situated On the foothills of Zabarwan Hills with an overview of picturesque world famous Dal Lake. This garden was conceived, conceptualized and created by Mr. Gh. Nabi Azad, the then Chief Minister, J&K in the year 2006-07. Main aim of this garden is to boost floriculture and advance tourism in Kashmir Valley. Over 12 Lakh tulip bulbs of 68 varieties of different colours sown during Nov-Dec, 2007 presented a breathtaking view.
Hazratbal : This mosque on the shores of the Dal Lake, houses one of the most sacred Muslim relics, a hair of Prophet Muhammad, brought here in 1700 AD by Khawaja Noor-ud-Din from Bijapur. On specific days in the year, it is shown to the faithful who gather in the courtyard.
Dal Lake : is one of the most beautiful lakes of India and the second largest in the J&K state. Its three sides are surrounded by majestic mountains and a large number of gardens and orchards have been laid along the shores. The campus of University of Kashmir is also located along the shores of the lake. DalLake is unique in having hundreds of houseboats, which afford an opportunity for tourists to reside on the lake in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
Hari Parbat : According to legend, the hill grew out of a pebble dropped by the goddess Parvati when she wanted to crush a demon. The ruins of a fort, an imposing evidence of a historic past, crown it.
Shankaracharya Hill : A historic temple atop the hill on the site of the Takht-I-Suleiman, or throne of Solomon, provides a panoramic view of Srinagar's busy thoroughfares and shimmering blue lakes.
Khir Bhawani : A marble temple with a gold plated dome stands here in the midst of a pool formed by spring waters.
Achhabal : Jahanara Begum, daughter of Shah Jahan, designed the Mughal Garden with its cascading fountains and pavilions. Nearby is a trout farm for seed fish. There is a tourist bungalow and huts along with a cafeteria.
Wular Lake : The largest fresh-water lake in India is 60 km from Srinagar. Spreading over a 125 km area, the lake, by drawing off excess water from the Jhelum, acts as a natural flood reservoir. Interesting ruins in the centre of the lake are the remains of an island created by King Zain-ul-abidin. With its turbulent wateres perpetually wind ruffled, its exciting variety of avian life and the sheer beauty of its setting, Wular represents Nature at her most untamed.
Nagin Lake : A paradise for an aquatic holiday, its waters are otherwise calm and peaceful. On the banks are a club, a bar and a tea pavilion.
Manasbal Lake : This small clear blue water lake is a bird watcher's paradise. Chirping birds amidst blooming lotuses. There is a small rest house, two huts and a cafeteria.
Gulmarg reinforces its position as a Prime Winter Destination( 2,730 m/56 km) from srinagar. Gulmarg's legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of Asia's premier hill resorts. Originally called 'Gaurimarg' by shepherds, Gulmarg was discovered in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. It was also a favourite resort of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir.
The skiing season usually commences just before Christmas (mid December) and continues till ending March. During 1998, Gulmarg hosted the first National Winter Games of India, for which the facilities were enormously improved and upgraded. Modern equipment like Kasse Bohrer Snow Beating Machines (for preparing skiing slopes) and snowmobiles were imported, as also the first phase of the Gulmarg Gondola Cable Car was commissioned.
Gulmarg also offers a host of other snow sports at this time of the year. The most popular among the tourists is riding a sledge and being pulled along the snow covered roads or gentler slopes. Tobogganing also does not require any skill - a flat wooden board is taken up the hill and then allowed to slide downhill. Snowboarding, another exciting winter sport is also being introduced and promoted here.
"The Valley of Shepherds" 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 25 deg C. A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious hotels to unpretentious trekkers' lodges, including J&K TDC huts.
Amarnathji Yatra - a journey into faith
Every Year Shri Amarnathji Yatra will commence from both the routes, of Pahalgam and Baltal. The Antm Darshan will held on Raksha Bhandhan.
WHAT TO DO
Horse Riding: Ponies can be hired directly or through the Tourist Office. Tariff boards are displayed at all important locations.
Golf: Pahalgam has a 18-hole Golf Course, which is presently under upgradation.
Fishing: The LidderRiver has excellent fishing beats for brown trout. The fishing season stretches from April to September. Permits are issued, for a maximum of three days at a time, on a first-come - first-served basis and are charged on a per day per rod basis. Fishing equipment can be hired in Srinagar. Live baits and spinning are not allowed. For permits contact the Directorate of Fisheries, Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar.
Trekking: The environs of Pahalgam offer exciting trekking opportunities, the best known being: Pahalgam - Chandanwari- Sheshnag- Panchtarni- Amarnath Cave Temple- Sonamarg. Equipment is available on hire from Tourism Department ; besides Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering also facilitates the Trekkers.Sonmarg
Sonamarg is situated at a distance of 84 kms from Srinagar, on the Srinagar-Ladakh Road. The route passes through the picturesque town of Ganderbal (21 kms), Kangan (40 kms) and Gund of the SindhValley, before reaching the resort. Spectacular views of the Harmukh range dominate the horizon. 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) has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh River that meanders through the valley abounds with trout. 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 lakes –Vishansar, 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 GreatHimalayanRange, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes. Sonamarg is also a base for undertaking the yatra to the holy Amarnath cave,
By far the most popular of Jammu’s hill resorts, 87 kms from Katra, Patnitop (2024 meters) is perched on a beautiful plateau across which the Jammu-Srinagar highway passes. It comprises several meadows enveloped by thick forests of Deodar(Cedar) and Kail(Blue Pine) trees, and affords peaceful walks amidst conifer groves, beautiful spots for enjoyable picnics and breath taking views of the Chenab basin and the Pir Panjal range beyond. For solace one can visit the beautifully located Nag Mandir at Karlah village.
Situated at the western edge of the Tibetan plateau, Ladakh is bound by the mighty Karokaram mountain range in the north and the Great Himalayas in the South. Landscape of Ladakh has been modified and sculpted into the spectacular shape by the wind and the erosion over the centuries. Its altitude ranges from 9000 to 25000 feet. And is traversed by other mountain chains, the Ladakh range and Zanaskar range. It is rightly called “the broken moonland” and “land of endless discovery”.
Dras, Zanskar and the Suru Valley on the Himalaya's northern flanks receive heavy snow in winter, this feeds the glaciers from which melt water, carried down by streams, irrigates the fields in summer. For the rest of the region, the snow on the peaks is virtually the only source of water. As the crops grow, the villagers pray not for rain, but for sun to melt the glaciers and liberate their water.
Set against the backdrop of the snow-capped Pir Panjal range, Jammu marks the transition between the Himalayas in the north and the dusty plains of the Punjab in the south, bridging these two extremities by a series of scrub covered hills, forested mountain ranges and deep river valleys. The southernmost unit of the state of Jammu & Kashmir, Jammu region is traversed by the Shivalik hills and quenched by the rivers Ravi, Tawi and Chenab.
Jammu is dotted with some historical temples like the Raghunath Temple, Ranbireshwar Temple, Peer Kho Temple, Panjbakhtar Temple which are over a hundred years old. It is the winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir.
Snugled cozily in the foot of the picturesque Trikuta Mountains at an altitude of 2500ft above sea level, Katra a small town which is 48kms from Jammu enjoys its reputation for being the starting point or the base camp for undertaking the auspicious trip to the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi, the one of most revered Hindu pilgrimages which is reached after an ordeal of trodding along a 13km long footpath.
This small town is well decked with numerous eating outlets, small shops and several hotels providing excellent accommodation facilities which make a divine trip to the the shrine of Ma Vaishno Devi hassle free. Because of large number of devotees frequenting the place throughout the year from every nook and corner of the world, this tiny town remains vibrant and acts as a perfect host while taking care of both national and international tourists.
Kargil town (2,704 m), situated midway between Srinagar (204 Kms) and Leh, (234 kms) on the Srinagar-Leh highway, is the second largest urban centre (approx. 8,000 inhabitants) of Ladakh and headquarters of Kargil district. A quiet town now, in the past it served as an important trade and transit centre for the Central-Asian merchants due to its unique equidistant location (about 200-230 kms) from Srinagar, Leh and Skardo, all well known trading outposts on the old trade route network. Numerous caravans carrying exotic merchandise transited in the town on their way to and from China, Tibet, Yarkand, Kashmir and Baltistan. Since 1975, travellers of various nationalities have replaced traders of the past and Kargil has regained its importance as a centre of travel-related activities.
Being located in lap of the Himalayas, Kargil serves as an important base for undertaking adventure tourism and trips to the exotic Zanskar Valley and other Himalayan regions. Visitors travelling between Srinagar and Leh have to make a night halt here before starting the second leg of their journey.