Why One Should Visit Kashmir
Planning on visiting Srinagar in Kashmir, one of the top hill stations in India.
1. Kashmir
Jammu and Kashmir is a state in Northern India, granted autonomy under article 370 of Indian constitution.It is located mostly in the Himalayan mountains and shares a border with the states of Himachal Pradesh and Punjab to the south. Jammu and Kashmir has an international border with China in the north and east, and the Line of Control separates it from the Pakistani controlled territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan in the west and northwest respectively.Formerly a part of the erstwhile Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu, which governed the larger historic region of Kashmir, the region is the subject of a territorial conflict among China, India and Pakistan. Pakistan, which claims the territory as disputed,refers to it alternatively as Indian occupied Kashmir or Indian held Kashmir, whereas some international agencies such as the United Nations, call it Indian administered Kashmir.The regions under the control of Pakistan are referred to as Pakistan occupied Kashmir within India, as Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan, and as Pakistan administered Kashmir or Pakistan controlled Kashmir generally.
2. Ladakh
Ladakh is a mountainous region in the disputed northwest Jammu and Kashmir area in north India and in the area known as the Trans Himalaya, (the lands beyond the Himalaya Tibet, Xinjiang and northern Pakistan). It is slightly smaller than Scotland, the settled population live between 2700m and 4500m, and nomadic encampments even higher, and it is the largest and the least populated region of Jammu and Kashmir. The people are a mixture of Buddhist and Muslim 50% of each. Buddhists are the majority in the east close to the Chinese border and a slight majority overall while Muslims have the majority in the north and west. Travellers are likely to see more of the Buddhists as the majority of the tourist attractions are in the east and directly related to Tibetan Buddhist culture.
3. Sonamarg
Located on the Srinagar Ladakh Highway, around two and a half hours drive northeast of Srinagar, scenic Sonamarg (Meadow of Gold) is famous for its Thajiwas Glacier. What is remarkable about this glacier is how accessible it is. From the highway, you can hike up to the glacier and back in around five hours. If you do not have so much time to spare, it is possible to ride a pony instead, or take a taxi part of the way there and walk. It is costly though. Pony owners will charge at least 600 rupees per person for a return trip. Do bargain hard. Scenes of many Bollywood movies have been filmed in the area, and you wo not have to try very hard to feel like youare in one! There are a number of options for eating and staying at Sonamarg. Ahsan Mount Resort has fabulous Swiss tents for glamping. Hotel Snowland is conveniently located but could be managed better.
4. Gulmarg
Gulmarg (Meadow of Flowers), India is version of a ski resort, is situated less than two hours drive east of Srinagar. The season runs from mid December to mid March. If youare not into skiing, you may still want to let the gondola whisk you more than 13,000 feet up Mount Apharwat for outstanding views. Apparently, it is the world is highest cable car. And, it is very popular, so you should buy your tickets online to avoid a long queues. Unfortunately, you will still have to wait to board it though. Ubiquitous pony rides are also available in Gulmarg, and their owners are particularly aggressive in pestering tourists for business. If you feel like splashing some cash, treat yourself to a couple of nights at the Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa, one of the 10 Top Himalayan Spa Resorts.
5. Pahalgam
Pahalgam, the Valley of Shepherds, is around three hours drive from Srinagar and is near the departure point for pilgrims going on the Amarnath Yatra (avoid visiting during July as it will be very busy then). Visitors commonly head to Pahalgam is Betaab Valley (the Bollywood movie Betaab was shot there), with its fresh flowing Lidder River and surrounding snow capped hills. However, what you need to be aware of, is that you will only be allowed to take your vehicle up to a certain point to reach the Valley. After that, you will need to hire a prepaid vehicle provided by the local transport association, or walk. Entrance to the Valley is regulated and costs 10 rupees. Other possible activities around Pahalgam include golfing, trout fishing, and river rafting. It is a popular destination for adventure tourism.

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