It's a Kashmir
convenient for the honey-mooners, challenging for the adventurers raring
to go, heavenly for the pilgrims impatiently waiting to unload the sins
of a life-time and it is for nature-lovers a paradise of bewitching
beauty at bountiful heights.
It beckons you
to a four-fold bonanza: Srinagar with its well-known lakes, Gulmarg
known for its finest skiing resort, Pahalgam where the mysterious streams
meander through and Sonamarg providing a glimpse of the glacier.
Capital of Jammu & Kashmir, it is situated at an altitude of 1730
metres above sea level. Dal, Nagin and Anchar are some of the well-known
lakes here. River Jhelum also runs through Srinagar. Dal is a very large
lake requiring `shikara' ride to reach houseboats. a couple may like
a houseboat in the interior of the lake, needing half-an-hour shikara
ride, to reach far enough from glare.
Rafting: A recent
sport in Kashmir
A houseboat has
two to four bedrooms, attached bathroom and common sitting/dining room.
Nishat, Cheshmashahi, Shalimar Gardens and Hazratbal are accessible
directly by shikara. Mughal Gardens, with stepped terraces, were built
by Mughal emperors who liked Kashmir. Hazratbal is said to have preserved
the hair of Prophet Mohammed. It was damaged about 10 years ago in violence
involving militants. Perching at the top in srinagar is the Shankaracharya
temple, a Lord Shiva temple rebuilt about a 1000 years ago by the patriarch
of all godmen, Adi Shankara. The site itself dates back to 2500 BC.
It is said the philosopher visited Kashmir as part of his pursuit of
propagating Sanatan Dharma.
Earlier the temple
was known as Gopadri in the 8th century as it was rebuilt then by King
Gopaditya. Kheer Bhavani is a beautiful temple-spring complex 25 km away.
Devotees offer milk and gheer at this Durga mata temple, to the sacred
spring that is said to change colour, if black, a premonition of bad things
Sankaracharya temple on hill-top in Srinagar
How to reach: There are direct flights
to Srinagar from Delhi via Jammu. Road links Srinagar with Jammu. The
nearest railhead for Srinagar is also Jammu. For Gulmarg, Pahalgam and
Sonamarg you have to travel from Srinagar by road only. You have to
return to Srinagar from one resort to go to other. That is, there are
no interconnecting routes for the three resorts. Gulmarg is 87 km from
Srinagar, Pahalgam is 96 km and Sonamarg 87 km.
Climate: The temperature in June-August
summer is 25 deg to 35 deg C. It plummets to 7 deg C in spring ( March-May)
and autumn (Oct - Nov). In winter (Dec-Feb) temperature drops to minus
10 deg C. Heavy woollens are required in winter and light ones at other
times, though one can move without woollens in summer in Srinagar. Winter
is peak season only for Gulmarg. In all the four resorts there is snowfall
in winter and rainfall in spring.
Shopping: Pure woollen shawls are a good
buy. A pure Pashmina shawl costs thousands of rupees.