The Meadow Of Flowers
Thirty two miles from Srinagar situated amidst the snow capped mountains of pirpanjal at 8,500 feet, Gulmarg has a excellent motor road, as we as 18 hole golf course, the highest in the world . The Place has charming walks, pleasant pony rides though the picturesque Scenery of the surrounding woods. It commands a Panoramic view of the valley and snow peaks of Nanga parbath, 26652 feet. Gulmarg also offers a winter play ground with some of the finest ski_slopes and hali Sking. Gulmarg looks li ke a fantasy set in a film and not surprisingly have been the venue of several films. The valley of Gulmarg, a large meadow about 3-sq-kms in area, stands at 2,730 metres, 56-km south west of Srinagar . The name means 'Meadow Of Flowers' and in the spring it's just that, a rolling meadow dotted with countless colourful Bluebells, Daisies, Forget Me Not's and Buttercups. The valley itself is about 3-km long and up to a km wide.
This smaller valley is about a 6-km walk from the Gulmarg bus stop and car park. The meadow, carpeted with flowers in the spring, is the site for Gulmarg's winter ski runs and offers a fine view of the surrounding peaks and over the Kashmir Valley. It's a 600-metre ascent from Gulmarg to Khilanmarg and during the early spring, as the snow melts, it can be a very muddy hour's climb up the hill. The effort is rewarded, if it's clear, with a sweeping view of the great Himalayas from Nanga Parbat to the twin 7,100-metre peaks of Nun and Kun to the southeast.
Beyond Khilanmarg, 13-km from Gulmarg at the foot of the twin 4, 511 metre Apharwat peaks, this lake is frozen until mid-June and even later in the year one can see lumps of ice floating in its cold waters. The walk from Gulmarg follows a well-graded Pony track over the 3, 810 metre Apharwat ridge, separating it from Khilanmarg, and then up the valley to the lake at 3,843 metres. The more adventurous trekkers can climb straight up the boulder-strewn slope of the ridge and descend the other side to the path. For horse riding aficionados, Alpather Lake makes an exciting day's excursion, starting early morning and returning late evening.
The Ningli Nallah:
Flowing from the melting snow and ice on Apharwat and the Alpather Lake, this pretty mountain stream is 8-km from Gulmarg. The stream continues down into the valley below and joins the Jhelum River near Sopur. This long, grassy valley is a popular picnic spot and the walking path carries on, crossing the Ningli (also spelt as Ningle) Nallah by a bridge and continues on to the Khilenmarg, another grassy meadow and a good spot for camping. In early summer one will probably share the campsites with Gujars moving their herds up to the high meadows.
On reaching Srinagar, the capit al of Kashmir from Delhi in an hour flight you are received at the airport and Conducted to your reserved accommodation. Thence your programme starts, beginning with visit to the old city.
The old city huddles with houses, with narrow streets as suited the past when no conveyances worth the name plied,. here you find the grand mosques, the fort and the hillock of hariparbath with shrines of the religious atop, The shrine at Hagratbal the repository of the sacred relic of the hair of the prophet, the shankracharya hill commanding the view of entire city. The four Mughal gardens laid superbly by the Mughal emperors around the Dal Lake Namely
The Cheshmashahi (Royal Spring)
The Nishat ( Garden of Pleasure)
The Shalimar (abode of Love)
The Pari Mahal ( an observatory in ruens alongside the cheshma shahi garden) City Of Lakes
Srinagar's lakes are the reason why the city receives so many tourists. Not just expanse of water, the lakes are filled with houseboats, villages, narrow water canals, lotus and vegetable gardens and houses and shops.
Life on the lakes, as witnessed from the confines of a Shikara, is unique. It is possible to book a Shikara for the whole day and sightsee Nishat Garden, Nasim Bagh, Hazratbal Mosque, Pathar Masjid and Shah Hamdan's Shrine, having a picnic lunch in the boat.
The Dal is famous not only for its beauty, but for its vibrance, because it sustains within its periphery, a life that is unique anywhere in the world. The houseboat and Shikara communities have lived for centuries on the Dal, and so complete is their infrastructure on the lake, that they never have to step on land! Doctors, tailors, bakers- one can see them all in tiny wooden shops on the lake, near picturesque vegetable gardens and acres of lotus gardens. The most confusing parts of Srinagar for it's not really one lake at all, but three. Further more much of it is hardly what one would expect a lake to be like - it's a maze of intricate waterways and channels, floating islands of vegetation, houseboats that look so firmly moored they could almost be islands and hotels on islands which look like they could simply float away.
Dal Lake lies immediately to the east and north of Srinagar and stretches over 5-km. The lake is divided into Gagribal, Lokut Dal and Bod Dal by a series of causeways The main causeway across the lake carries the water pipeline for Srinagar's main water supply. Dal gate, at the city end of Dal Lake, controls the flow of the lake into the Jhelum river canal. It's the steady flow of water through the lake, combined with its relatively cold temperature, which keeps it so clear looking.
Nagin is generally held to be the most beautiful of the Dal lakes. Its name comes from the many trees, which encircle the small, deep blue lake. Nagin is only separated from the Larer Dal lakes by a narrow causeway and it also has a number of houseboats moored around its perimeter.Nagin Lake, which is usually thought of as a separate lake, is also divided from Dal Lake only by a causeway. The causeways are mostly suitable for walkers and bicycles only so they make a very pleasant way of seeing the lake without having to worry about traffic or Shikaras.
A Nice Getaway.If one wats to really get away from the chaotic city life all then Nagin is a good place to find a house boat and do it the surroundings are much more serene and isolated than on Dal Lake. One can rent rowboats from the camping site here - either to simply row around the lake or to look around for a houseboat.
Kashmir was a favourite of the Mughal emperors who visited it as often as they could. Cool and refreshing after the plains of North India where the business of governance kept them, they planted gardens with stepped terraces and flowing watercourses. When they rested in their gardens, they dreamt they were in paradise.The next garden along the road that encircles the Dal is the Nishat, built by empress Nur Jahan's brother Asaf Khan. The largest of the gardens, Nishat has several terraces, a central watercourse and a majestic site between the Dal and the Zabarwan hills.The third Mughal garden - the Shalimar - was planted by Jehangir, the Mughal emperor, whose love for Kashmir was legendary. Shaded by magnificent Chinar trees, the Shalimar is a series of stone pavilions and flowing water with paint box bright flowerbeds.
The Shalimar were built by Emperor Jehangir for his wife Nur Jahan, 'light of the world' in 1616. Although it is known today as the 'garden of love' it was originally named the Farah Bakhsh or 'delightful garden'.The garden is built in four terraces with traditional water channel running down the middle. The gardens measure 540 by 183 metres. During the Mughal period the top terraces used be reserved for the emperor and the ladies of the court and was the most magnificent. It included a pavilion made of black stone in the middle of the tank. Black Marble fluted pillars supported the pavilion, which was used as a banquet hall.Shalimar Bagh has an air of seclusion and repose, and its rows of fountains and shaded trees seem to recede towards the snowcapped mountains. A Son Et Lumeiere or sound and light show is put on here every evening during the May to October tourist season.
The old Sufi college of Pari Mahal, the 'palace of the fairies', is only a short distance above the Chasma Shahi gardens. One can easily walk from the gardens up to the Pari Mahal then follow a footpath directly down the hill to the road that runs by the Oberoi Palace Hotel. The Pari Mahal consists of a series of arched terraces. Recently it has been turned into a very pleasant and well-kept garden with fine views over Dal Lake. It's attractively sited on a spur of the Zabarwan Mountains. The gardens are beautifully kept even today and a Son Et Lumiere show is put on here every evening during the May to October tourist season.
The Nishat Bagh is another lovely garden with its 12 terraces representing the 12 signs of the zodiac, which descend gradually and seem to almost merge into the lake. It is situated on the banks of world famous Dal Lake in the backdrop of Zabarwan hills. With its flowerbeds, trees, fountains, the Nishat presents a dramatic sight. The gardens were designed in 1633 by Asaf Khan, brother of Nur Jahan, and follow the same pattern as the Shalimar gardens with a polished stone channel running down the centre and a series of terraces.
It's the largest of the Mughal gardens measuring 548 metres by 338 metres, and often the most crowed. The walks beside the channel are bordered with lines of cypresses and Chinars. Also found within its vicinity are some remains of Mughal period buildings including a double storey pavilion enclosed on two sides latticed windows.
Directly behind the garden is the Gopi Tirth, a small spring gushing forth crystal clear water, which feeds the garden water.
Cheshma Shahi is the first Mughal garden one will pass after Nehru Park. Built at a height above the city, its views are as stupendous as its layout. The smallest of Srinagar's Mughal gardens, Cheshma Shahi has only three terraces in addition to a natural spring of water enclosed in a stone pavilion.
Smallest of the Srinagar Mughal gardens, measuring just 108 metres by 38 metres, the Chasma Shahi, or 'Royal Spring', are well up the hillside, above the Nehru Memorial Park. The fresh water spring in these pleasant, quieter gardens is reputed to have medicinal properties.
The gardens were laid out in 1632 by Ali Mardan Khan and include three terraces, an aqueduct, waterfalls and fountains. The water from the spring supplies the fountains and then goes through the floor of the pavilion and falls to the lower terrace in a fine cascade of five metres, over a polished black stone chute.
Some extensions have recently been made to the gardens. Like all the gardens the Chasma Shahi is open from sunrise to sunset but unlike the other gardens this is the only one, which charges admission. There is a small shrine, the Chasma Sahibi, near the gardens, which also has a fresh water spring.
Sonamarg (Meadow of gold) is a trekker's heaven and has adventurous routes with beatiful green water and frozen lakes around. The vale is believed to be bestowed with mystical water which turns everything into enternal riches. High altitude makes it cold even during summers. It is advisable to always carry warm clothes and rain proofs.The everlasting Thajiwas glacier, 3km from Sonamarg, provides a chance to enjoy sledge ride on the snow even in mid Summer. Ponies are available up to the glacier from Sonamarg. Superb campsites in Thajiwas area makes ita a prime location for school camps and trekkers during the Summer. Sind River is a natural hatchery of Trout, where angling is great fun provied the permission is obtained from the fisheries department. Ascending river makes Sonamarg ideal for River Rafting, which is done in full swing by youths, corporate executives and even old members with their familes at different levels in the Sind River Arrangements can be done through travel agents in Srinagar or Sonamarg Development Authority. More adventure sports like Paragliding is getting lots of takers during the Summer. Assistance is available at the tourist office at Sonamarg.The rugged countryside market makes one feel the thrill of adventure . Island retreat a park amidst river Sind enroute to Sonamarg. is a real treat as a short stopover. The roaring Sind created a constant cool breeze , it is hard to get off from such heavenly environs.
Sonamarg road passed trhough the village of Ganderbal, which also leads to manasbal lake. This lake serves as home to many aquatic birds makig it a bird watchers paradise.
5 km from Ganderbal is the village of Tulmul where the shrine of Khir Bhawani is situated. The sacred spring symbolizes goddess Ragnya Devi. An annual festival, Jesth Ashtami is held during May June, when according to beliefs, the goddess changes the colour of the spring water. A trip to this temple will be worthwhile.
The famous Gangabal trek starts from Sonamarg across the Sind river with the steep Nichnai Pass at 4080 m. Rough trek of 15 km from Sonamarg will certainly make you stop at the first visible compsite in the area. Passing via Vihansar Lake at 3680 m and further to Krishansar lake at 3819 m a marvelous campsite urges you to stop overnight.
A 23 km trek to Gadsar lake, 3900 m , passes through steep climbs followed by a rapid descent, whereafter the magical gadsar lake appears, mostly full of broken glacier masses. A trek of 17 km via Satsar lake, 3600 m passes through Gangabal valley, where the view of Harmukh Peak is breathtaking. Few kilometers walk will take you to gangabal Lake 3570 m at the foot of Harmukh. A plain compsite amidst the valey is an unforgettable experience.
From Gangabal , a 17 km tough descend leads to Naranag, where ruins of Buddhist temples, built by Jauka , son of Ashoka and also by King Lalitadatya are still present. 5 km fruther down is Wangat 2050 m, from where a metal road leads back to Sonamarg via Kangan and to Srinagar.
Pahalgam is located in the western part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is located at an altitude of 2130 m above sea level amidst the great Himalayan range. It is positioned beside the Liddar River, in the Liddar valley. Pahalgam is 95 km east of Srinagar. The weather in Pahalgam is alpine. Summers (April-June) are mild while winters (November-February) are cold. It experiences rains between July and September. It experiences heavy snowfall from December to February.
The origin of Pahalgam is obscure. Mughal rulers ruled this region in the medieval period. It was later a part of the Kingdom of Kashmir, which was ruled by local Hindu rulers. This princely state remained independent even during the British period and later on merged into independent India.
Chandanwari (16km: 2,923m)
It is famous for its snow bridge.
Baisaran (5 km: 2,438m)
Pine forests dot this meadow which presents a picturesque view of the snow-clad mountains. The snow covered Tulian lake at an altitude of 3353 m is 11kms from Baisaran.
Sheshnag Lake (27 km: 3,658m)
The waters of this greenish blue lake are covered with ice till June.
Panchtarni (40 km)
It is the confluence of five streams and gives Panchtarni its name. A good camping site.
Pahalgam is Base Camp of Amarnathji yatra which stands at 3952 mtrs, 46.7 km from Pahalgam. The Holy Cave is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The ice lingam formed by water droplets, symblises Lord Shiva . People visit the Holy Cave during the scheduled Yatra period. Yatris can hire a pony of Dandy from Pahalgam.
Distances of stopovers from Pahalgam are : Chandanwari 16 km Pissu top 19.6 km Sheeshnag 25.6 km, Holy Cave 46 . 7 km.
All stopovers have facilities from tents to medical comps and langars, The trek is covered in 2 to 3 days. This Hindu pilgrimage is believed to be the discovery of a Muslim shepherd nomad Butta Malik who’s descendant still receive a percentage of the donations made by pilgrims. The Yatra Generally during June to August depending upon the Hindu calendar (Sawan Purnima)
Bahu Fort (4km)
The majestic Bahu Fort, the oldest edifice extant in the region is situated in the banks of River Tawi. It is surrounded by a lush green terraced garden full of waterfalls and flowers, popular as Bagh-e-Bahu, a favorite picnic spot for the city folks.
Amar Mahal Palace (3km)
Overlooking the River Tawi, the Amar Mahal Palace has characteristics similar to European castle. A portion of the palace has been converted into a museum, which also houses the city’s finest library of antique books and paintings. Another part of the palace has been converted into a heritage hotel that offers breathtaking views and royal service.
Mubarak Mandi / Dogra Art Gallery (5km)
Built in AD 1824, the palace is full of Mughal and Rajasthani architecture. The complex houses an art gallery where paintings and miniatures of different periods from Basohli, Jammu and Kangra are displayed. The gallery also has Shahnama and Sikandernama, handwritten manuscripts in Persian. The art gallery is closed on Monday and government holydays.
(Some of the articles have been shifted due to a recent fore).
Mata Vaishnodeviji Shrine
Alt 5,200ft. Km: 45
Katra, a small town in the foothills of Trikuta, serves as the base camp to the Vaishodevi Yatris. The shrine is approach on foot along a 12km path from Katra. Every year, nearly 5million pilgrims visit Mata Vaishodevi. The shrine has been a beacon of faith and fulfillment to millions of devotees. Popular belief holds that anybody who walks the trail to the goddess’ abode rarely goes back disappointed. The holy shrine contains the holiest of holy Pindis, manifesting the Mata in three forms –Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Sarasawati. It is believed that the Yatra is not complete unless the pilgrim visits Bhairon ka Mandir as well (2.6 km from the main shrine).
Yatris on reaching katra need to get a Parch (registration sleep) from Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB) counters near the Bus Stand. Counter No 1for 9 persons & No2 for 10 person and above. Counters are open from 6am to 11pm.
Pithus, palkwalas and ponywalas registered with the authorities are available from Katra to Banganga. The rates from Katra to the shrine and back are fixed as per the weight of luggage and yatri. Yatris are advised to check the identities of hired pithu, Palkiwala, ponywala and note their card numbers / names in case of any kind of eventuality.
After darshan, one must not miss trying maalish (Body Massage) at Katra. The maalishwala will loosen your muscles using different massage methods and a variety of oils.
For your food taste, Katra is no less than a metro city. The modern Fast Food restaurants fulfil the needs of every yatri – be it Punjabi, Gujrati, Marathi, Bengali, NRI’s or foreigners. The food at Dhabas and Restaurants is equally tasteful and reasonable. In obeisance to Mata, the entire Katra town and nearby Katra areas are declared vegetarian and alcohol free.
Katra main bazaar is full of Kashmiri handicraft items, all types of dry fruits, bhaints, gift items and other specialties from the region.
Helicopter service: -
The helicopter service from Katra to the shrine and back can be availed at a fixed price. The chopper makes many sorties during the day subject to weather conditions. The helipad at katra is just 11/2 kms away from the main market in the Kashmir road.