55 Best Places to Visit in Jammu and Kashmir - 2020 With Photos

Recommendations for Jammu and Kashmir

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The state of Jammu and Kashmir, is the northernmost state of the country, it is a paradise for tourists and is known for its alluring scenery of the Himalayas; this is the reason visiting this land is always on the top list of any traveller heading to the country. The majority of the part of this state lies in the Himalayan range of mountains and the states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh act as its boundaries.

With scenic views to be cherished at every nook and corner, the state is full of natural grandeur, perfect for those who want to explore the truest form of nature. Apart from the scenic beauty, there are several endangered animals in this region such as the Kashmir stag, snow leopard, brown bear and musk deer. Wildlife sanctuaries were later established to protect and conserve these rare species of animals.

The Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary which is located in this state harbours the rarely seen wild animals such as brown bears, musk deers etc. The hilly region of this state provides a natural habitat to the amazing wilderness which is found in this region. The place is certainly a paradise for the bird watchers as well as for the wildlife enthusiasts.

The state is a home to many valleys namely the Tawi valley, Kashmir valley, Chenab valley, Sind valley, Lidder valley and Poonch valley, to name a few. Jhelum is the major river which marks its presence in the state of Kashmir. The prime cities of this state include Jammu, Srinagar, Anantnag, Gulmarg etc. Jammu is the summer capital of the region and Srinagar is the other capital city.

The major attractions of this state include Mughal Gardens, the famous Dal lake and the other hot shopping spots. The spectacular lakes in this region include the Nagina Lake and Dal Lake which also offers houseboat stay to the tourists and perfect for those looking for some peace and solitude amidst the charming mountains of the Himalayas.

 

Leh
Leh by sandeepachetan.com flickr.jpg

Leh is a dream destination for many travellers in India and even for those who are visiting from overseas. It is not just a destination for solo travelers but has so much to offer to young travellers, families and couples alike. Leh is famous for its high altitudes and numerous passes connecting various locations in this difficult terrain. To explore the best tourist places in Leh, one must visit this frozen paradise to explore its secrets and admire its breath-taking beauty.

 Despite its harsh weather and inaccessibility, it remains a popular tourist destination for people from all over the world. But make sure you are physically fit to endure the harsh weather and difficult terrains of Leh. You must be wondering why visit this place is perfect when the terrain is difficult to navigate. Well, you must visit this place because not only is it a pocket-friendly tourist destination, (provided you book in advance), it is sparsely crowded even during peak season and the local hosts are committed to ensuring you to have a terrific experience.

 Leh is a dream destination for many travellers and the holy grail for the adventure enthusiasts. If you are a photography enthusiast then Leh is the paradise you have been waiting for all your life. There isn’t much to offers in terms of nature or wildlife photography, but what you can capture instead is a vast empty canvas that you can paint. 

 The landscape here is unlike anywhere in India and worldwide and so much of it is still undiscovered and undocumented. In addition to the mesmerizing landscape, there are many turquoise blue lakes, beautifully constructed monasteries, snow-covered mountains and unimaginable sights that change every few kilometres. It’s safe, economical and you can travel here by yourself, or with your friends, families and even that someone special. Explore tourist places in Leh with the best Leh tour packages which will leave you mesmerized by its beauty.

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Pangong Lake

Rather, the most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which is filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colours quite a number of times a day.

The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favourite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The highly saline water does not accommodate any water species not even micro-organisms. But the banks of the lake give space for several birds and animals very rarely seen in the other parts of India. It is an important breeding ground for many migratory birds as well.

Height: The lake is located at an altitude of 4250 meters above sea level.

Location: Pangong Tso is easily accessible as it can be reached after a five-hour drive from Leh and the travel would be on a rough and dramatic mountain road. You will cross the villages of Shey and Gya during the tour and go through Chang La as well.

Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the ideal time to visit the lake as the other seasons may cause challenges due to the heavy snowfall.

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Khardung La

Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm.

The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with a happy news that a ten member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass through cycling in 2017.


Height: Khardung La is located at an altitude of 5359 meters. But there is an incorrect proclamation on the signboards appear here saying that the height of the pass is 18379 feet.

Location: The highest motorable pass in Ladakh is lying about 39 kms away from Leh. By road, one can reach the pass. The first 24 kms of the road are paved and from there to the North Pullu check post, the 15 kms of the road are filled with loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets formed after the melting of snow.

Best time to visit: The season between May to October is the best time to visit Khardung La.

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Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill is still a mystery yet a famed attraction that pulls the adventure lovers on a large scale toward it. A mystifying phenomenon which stunts the science and fiction together and exists as a magic to the normal people visiting here. Magnetic Hill is a trump card of every Ladakh tour because of the awe-struck moments it would promise the travelers. There is a sign board placed which says that the hill defies gravity completely and inviting everyone to experience the magical phenomenon.

 If you keep your vehicle in neutral at a position marked on the road and wait, you will be surprised to see the vehicle starts moving uphill at 10-20 km per hour. And this is the unexplainable feature of Magnetic Hill that confuses the world of science. It is located on Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway and on the east, the beautiful Sindhu River is flowing calmly. Near the hill there is a Sikh Gurudwara maintained by the Indian Army. Due to the natural attraction as well as the human architectural brilliance, the hill has gained popularity in a short term. 

Not just the vehicles hitting the road but the aircrafts and helicopters crossing the radius which Magnetic Hill comes in would feel the same magnetic effect. If the aircrafts are going on a slow pace, then it starts jerking while they are in the circumference of the hill. So the only solution to escape from the clutches of this phenomenon is that the crafts should move at a greater speed.

Height: Magnetic Hill is located at an elevation of 14000 feet above the sea level.

Location: To reach the hill, you can hit the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway and it is situated at a distance of just 30 kms from Leh town.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Magnetic Hill is from June to October.


Royal Leh Palace

A nine storey high building displays the influence of Potala Palace in Lhasa is the famed Royal Leh Palace that stands with its head high on a cliff top overlooking the ravishing Leh town. Leh Palace is a must visit during anyone’s tour of Ladakh region as it has been standing there as a symbol of the old glorious days of the royal family lived here. The top floors accommodated the members of the regal community and the low floors were occupied by stables and stores.

History

In the 17th century, King Sengge Namgyal led the construction of Leh Palace and it gained fame in a short span of time. Later, it was termed as an architectural icon and the symbol of pride and glory of Leh. The history says that during the time when Dogra forces took control of Ladakh, Leh Palace was abandoned and the members of the family were asked to move to Stok Palace. The Archeological Survey of India has restored the valuable ruins of the palace and opened to the public as a remarkable tourist attraction.

Structure of the palace

There is a monastery behind the palace which is a part of the palace and there you will find the statue of a seating Buddha in there in the monastery behind the palace. On the walls of the palace, you will see the old pictures and paintings including Tibetan thangka.

Timings: The palace is open to the public on all days from 07:00 am to 04:00 pm

Entry fee: For Indians: INR 20 and for Foreigners: INR 100

Location: Leh Palace is closely located to the town. Visitors can reach the palace by walking from Leh town as it is about 5 kms away from there.

Hemis National Park

Around 4400 sq.km is the area the prime attraction of Ladakh spreads into. We are talking about the renowned Hemis National Park named after the popular monastery in the region that is Hemis Monastery. The very rare species of wildlife is the reason behind its global recognition. Bharal and snow leopards are examples for the unseen animal collection found in Hemis National Park. The park is located on the west bank of the Indus River. 

The animals, the flora, the birds and the nature in the park and its vicinity are coming under the highly protected areas and this is the only place in India where the protected snow leopards are seen in abundance. The Rumbak and Markha catchments were found to be protected with the discovery of the park in 1981 and it grew into 4400 sq.km in 1990 and becomes the largest national park in South Asia. Argali or the Great Tibetan Sheep, Shapu etc are the supporters of the prey base for the predators in Hemis. Asiatic Ibex, the Tibetan Wolf, the Eurasian brown bear and red fox are some of the endangered species found before and some are still present in the park. The crucial problem faced by the park is the regular animal-human conflicts because over 1600 people are living inside the park boundaries, mainly pastoralists living with poultry farming, goats and sheep.

Height: The elevation at which the park exists is 3000-6000 meters above the sea level.

Location: The park is located about 5 kms from Leh and Leh Airport is the closest airport to the park.

Best time to visit: To reach the park there are a number of trekking routes opened from Mid-June to Mid-October. But the best season to spot snow leopards is of course, in late winter.


Ladakh
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Ladakh, the erstwhile Buddhist kingdom is spectacularly jagged. Arid mountains, dramatically crowned rocky outcrops, picturesque gompas, meditational mani walls and multi hued flags are few of the many sites that exemplify the beauty of Ladakh. The well balanced traditional society of Ladakh has much to offer the West in terms of ecological awareness.

Ladakh is a magnificent and an unexplored wonderland of the Himalayas. It is one place that is considered as a heaven by everyone who is on a lookout to satiate their indomitable love for adventure. Besides trekking in Ladakh, you can indulge in a series of adventure sports such as biking, water rafting, safaris, etc. Also known as the ‘Land of Passes, Ladakh forms an alluring part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.  

Situated at an elevation of 2750 - 7672 meters above sea level, Ladakh is indeed blessed with incredible topography that comprises of hilly terrains, high altitude peaks and the lush green grasslands. Adventure fanatics from across the globe visit Ladakh as there are plethora of trek trails and trekking options available here.

Set amidst snow capped hills, Ladakh is the center of Tibetan Buddhist culture. It is dotted with a number of colorful monasteries. Some of the popular tourist hotspots in Ladakh include Alchi and Nubra Valley. Apart from this, Ladakh is also a land that is popular for the rich heritage and culture. It is home to the rare wildlife including the Tibetan antelope, ibex and yak.

Still unadulterated by modernity, Ladakh is where you’ll experience life coming to a standstill when you directly communicate with the nature and serenity around.


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Pangong Lake

Rather, the most sought after tourist destination is Pangong Tso in Ladakh region. It is the highest among the high altitude lakes in India which is filled with saline water but provides some awe-struck moments to the visitors with the unbelievable phenomenon of changing colours quite a number of times a day.

The reflections of the towering Himalayan peaks in the water add more charm to the lake. Currently, Pangong Tso is the favourite location for tourists as the banks of the lake give soothing bed to relax and the nearby places are enhanced by the beauty of this particular lake. The quiet lake is 134 km in length and 5 km in width is situated at an altitude of 14270 meters. But the major share of the lake lies in the area of China. Now, its recognition is spread everywhere in the world because it is termed as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention.

The highly saline water does not accommodate any water species not even micro-organisms. But the banks of the lake give space for several birds and animals very rarely seen in the other parts of India. It is an important breeding ground for many migratory birds as well.

Height: The lake is located at an altitude of 4250 meters above sea level.

Location: Pangong Tso is easily accessible as it can be reached after a five-hour drive from Leh and the travel would be on a rough and dramatic mountain road. You will cross the villages of Shey and Gya during the tour and go through Chang La as well.

Best time to visit: The months from May to September are the ideal time to visit the lake as the other seasons may cause challenges due to the heavy snowfall.

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Nubra Valley

Something divine makes Nubra Valley close to heart and it is not an exaggeration but a fact that experienced and shared by the countless tourists visited the paradisiacal location in Jammu and Kashmir. Without touching the spectacular roads of Nubra Valley, a Ladakh tour will not be complete. The tri-armed valley has Diskit Village as its capital. Ldumra, a magnificent name is the original name of the valley as the local scholars insist. Ldumra means Valley of Flowers. The large valley is formed after the merging of Shyok River with Nubra or Siachen River causing the separation of the Ladakh and the Karakoram Ranges. The valley is located 10000 feet that is 3048 meters above mean sea level and those who cross the Khardung La Pass can easily come to Nubra Valley from Leh.

Except for the river beds, every other place in the valley shows scant vegetation and low precipitation levels. Most of the villages in the valley are occupied by Nubra skat speakers and in the villages, one can find lush greenery and farming which happen through the regular irrigation. Diskit is the place where native people are seen in abundance and Diskit Monastery is the centre of attraction as well. The Shyok River flowing on one side of Diskit has a captivating effect on the visitors. Nubra Valley unwinds a lot of surprising sights when you visit it and an unbelievable fact is that the valley was open to the public till Hunder until 2010. Beyond Hunder, it was the greener region in the lower altitude where the Turtuk village exists. Till 2010, the Government did not allow tourists to mesmerize themselves in the magnificent beauty of Turtuk where numerous apricot trees and other vegetation along with the tribal community were preserved as a virgin.

Height: 3048 meters above the sea level

Location: The paradisiacal Nubra Valley is located at a distance of 140 km from Leh and the main road access to the valley is through Khardung La pass where you have to show the photocopies of your travel permit to the soldiers camping.

Best time to visit: The months from June to September is the perfect period to visit Nubra Valley

To see the pure, rugged face of nature, One must visit Ladakh once in their lifetime.

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Khardung La

Controversies regarding the proclamation that Khardung La is the highest motorable pass in the world is not yet diminished but Ladakh travelers still believe that it is the highest and most adventurous pass in the world. Despite the controversies, Khardung La keeps on attracting hundreds of adventure seekers every year, be it bikers, trekkers or visitors. Nestled amidst the most reverberating surrounding, the ‘Pass of Lower Castle’ is located at an altitude of 17582 feet. Near to the pass, the collection of awesome valleys will lure you and along with the natural extravaganzas, the Tibetan prayer flags are an additional charm.

The pass was constructed in the year of 1976 and later in 1988, it was opened to public and from then on, the pass was inviting uncountable bikers, trekkers and tourists. It is maintained by the Border roads Organization as the pass is highly significant and important to India because it was once used to carry supplies to the Siachen Glacier. Recently, Khardung La became the hot potato of the town with a happy news that a ten member team of visually impaired people is going to conquer the pass through cycling in 2017.


Height: Khardung La is located at an altitude of 5359 meters. But there is an incorrect proclamation on the signboards appear here saying that the height of the pass is 18379 feet.

Location: The highest motorable pass in Ladakh is lying about 39 kms away from Leh. By road, one can reach the pass. The first 24 kms of the road are paved and from there to the North Pullu check post, the 15 kms of the road are filled with loose rock, dirt and occasional rivulets formed after the melting of snow.

Best time to visit: The season between May to October is the best time to visit Khardung La.

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Tso Moriri Lake

It won’t be exceeding at all how much you describe the beauty of Tso Moriri in Ladakh, a highly protected lake in Changthang Region and a significant portion of Tso Moriri Wetland Conservation Reserve.  It is the largest of all high altitude lakes in India especially in Ladakh and is located at an altitude of 4522 meters above the sea level. The length comes to 26 km north to south and 3 to 5 km is the width and the water is wholly brackish. 

The water to feed the lake comes from the springs and melted snow from the nearby mountains. There are two major stream systems to lead the water to the lake. One in the north part of the lake and the other comes in the southwest part. Huge, extensive marshes are seen at both the entrances of the lake. Rupshu Valley, a breathtaking area is the guardian of Tso Moriri along with an array of the lofty Himalayan Mountains in the surrounding.

The number of people come to witness the beauty of this splendid lake is lesser when compared to that of Pangong Lake. It is because of the secluded location of the lake. Hence, it is a favorite home town for many migratory birds. They come to breed here especially birds like great- crested grebe, the brown-headed gull and the Brahmin duck. The rare Himalayan hares are also abundantly seen near the lake. Thus, the declaration of the lake as a reserved area is a right option to protect these species from extinction. Less human interference would keep their lives strong.

Height: The lake is situated at an altitude of 4522 meters.

Location: You can reach Tso Moriri via road from Leh. It is 150 kms away from Leh Airport. Kalka Railway station is the nearest one to the lake. You will get buses and taxis from the station as well.

Best time to visit: May, June, July and August are the peak season when tourists come to Tso Moriri in large numbers and other months will be filled with snow and have extreme cold conditions.

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Magnetic Hill

Magnetic Hill is still a mystery yet a famed attraction that pulls the adventure lovers on a large scale toward it. A mystifying phenomenon which stunts the science and fiction together and exists as a magic to the normal people visiting here. Magnetic Hill is a trump card of every Ladakh tour because of the awe-struck moments it would promise the travelers. There is a sign board placed which says that the hill defies gravity completely and inviting everyone to experience the magical phenomenon.

 If you keep your vehicle in neutral at a position marked on the road and wait, you will be surprised to see the vehicle starts moving uphill at 10-20 km per hour. And this is the unexplainable feature of Magnetic Hill that confuses the world of science. It is located on Leh-Kargil-Baltic Highway and on the east, the beautiful Sindhu River is flowing calmly. Near the hill there is a Sikh Gurudwara maintained by the Indian Army. Due to the natural attraction as well as the human architectural brilliance, the hill has gained popularity in a short term. 

Not just the vehicles hitting the road but the aircrafts and helicopters crossing the radius which Magnetic Hill comes in would feel the same magnetic effect. If the aircrafts are going on a slow pace, then it starts jerking while they are in the circumference of the hill. So the only solution to escape from the clutches of this phenomenon is that the crafts should move at a greater speed.

Height: Magnetic Hill is located at an elevation of 14000 feet above the sea level.

Location: To reach the hill, you can hit the Leh-Kargil-Baltic National Highway and it is situated at a distance of just 30 kms from Leh town.

Best time to visit: The best time to visit the Magnetic Hill is from June to October.


Srinagar
Srinagar.jpg

Silk-sunset, certain shades of white, tar on the roads, gloom beyond the oil lamp floating over the lake, ripples in the water, fog on the mirror, garden of the spring, the palace of the fairies, subject of the poems, emptiness in the eyes, absence of words, forever in ordinary things and the old roses on a breeze, where love arrives in memories of forever to liberate us into life – Srinagar! The tourist places in Srinagar offer breathtaking views and mesmerising locations to die for.

 

Srinagar wakes up with Fajr (pre –dawn prayers) and zikr where life sings winter melodies on nine bridges, connecting the city that smells of heaven on both sides of Jhelum River, a river that passes through the city, meanders through the valley, deepening into the traveler’s paradise – Dal Lake.

 

The city takes on the morning light mirroring the mountains, when the moon still hangs pale over the tranquil Dal Lake, which ornaments an array of alluring houseboats where the lovers’ find home watching a promise of the snow filling up the woods. The lake’s less urbanized eastern shore is decorated with the Mughal gardens that speaks of history strung out for several kilometers. The subdued fortress and the familiar wooden mosques of the old times makes a mark at the center of the city in this era of remembering all that once existed. Easy wind, downy flake and the promises to keep between the woods and frozen lake, Srinagar awaits for you, to dream within a dream. So, come and explore the best tourist places in Srinagar.

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Kargil
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The beautiful city of Kargil is the second largest in Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir after Leh. Known for its rich cultural, historical and political importance, this city sits at 2676 meters above sea level, along the banks of the Suru or Indus River. The location of Kargil makes for an extreme climate, with temperatures dropping to as low as -45 degree Celsius in winters!

The people of Kargil were mostly Tibetan-Buddhist until the 18th and 19th century after which most converted to Islam. They are of mixed Dard and Tibetan descent, and most are Baltis. Kargil is known as the battleground for the Kargil War which was fought in 1999 when Pakistani soldiers, disguised as Kashmiri military insurgents, infiltrated the area in and around Kargil. Ever since several movies and documentaries have been made about the War, the most famous of them being the multi-starrer J P Dutta movie, LOC Kargil.

Kargil is now a peaceful and immensely beautiful city, which serves as a famous spot for tourists year after year. Nestled right in the middle of the massive, naked mountains of the Himalayas, with the pristine waters of the Indus flowing right beside it, Kargil is nothing short of a piece of heaven.

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Chadar Trek

For some years, adventure seekers all around the world have been talking about Chadar Trek in the Zanskar Region. Until this year, hundreds of people have experienced the thrill hidden and the mind blowing sights around Chadar frozen river. In fact, Chadar Trek is the most sought after and one of the breathtaking treks in the Himalayas. The winter trek is so special for those who are ready to have adventure at the maximum level. 

The river trek starts from Chilling where the river begins to freeze and mostly, travelers choose February as the best time to cross the frozen river as the ice sheets will be comparatively stable. The precarious snow-flakes would pose severe threats during the trek but in some other time, the challenges would be kind to the trekker. The surrounding of the river are completely vertical cliffs tall up to 600 meters. The Zanskar River is a tributary of the Indus and is 5 meters long. 

A trekker would have to cover 16 kms per day to complete the Chadar Trek. Usually, people opt for 10-15 days of trek depending on the climatic conditions persisting here. The temperature at Chadar will come to the lowest at -35 degree Celsius during winter and thus Chadar Trek becomes more intimidating. Approximate trekking distance one would have to cover in total is 75 kms.

Maximum altitude: 11123 feet is the height at which Chadar Trek would lead you to.

Location: To take part in Chadar Trek, one should arrive in Leh and from Leh, the journey starts and goes to Chilling, the beginning of the Zanskar River in the frozen state. From Leh it would take about 65-70 kms to reach Tilad via Chilling, the base camp of the trek.

Best time to visit: January end to February is the best time suitable for trekking in the frozen river of Chadar. Quality and safe trekking gears and highly warm clothes are required.


Mulbekh Monastery

The two major sects of Buddhism, Drukpa and Gelugpa had two gompas in Mulbekh Monastery. The location is 45 kms away from Kargil and 260 km from Leh town. The nine meter statue of Maitreya Buddha placed in the premise catches the eyes of every visitor. Also, the two gompas are closely connected to the palace of Rajah Kalon of Mulbekh located nearby. To reach the gompa, there is a steep footpath arranged behind the building.

History

There are different opinions about the establishment of the gompa but the idol of Buddha placed here dates back to the 8th century and some others believe that it was built in the period of Kushan. The sculptor is the contribution of the missionaries but there is a saying that the artwork present in the sculptor shows that the missionaries were not Tibetans but mostly Ladakhis. Kharoshti scripts were also found in the main sculptor.

Structure of the monastery

Apart from the limestone idol of Buddha carved in the rock face, there are other relics of statues and frescoes. The entire monastery is made charming with the very valuable paintings and some relics of the prized items of the ancient period. As Maitreya is famous as Chamba among the Buddhist sets, the monastery has gained the name Mulbekh Chamba later.

Location: Mulbekh gompa is located in Kashmir, 45 Km from the town and 260 km from Leh in Ladakh region. You can reach the gompa by bus or jeep.

Timings: It is open on all days from 08:00 am to 06:00 pm

Entry fee: Entry to the gompa is free

Highlight: The gompa is 3504 meters above the foothills which gives a mesmerizing view of the valleys down.

Phuktal Monastery

Phugtal or Phuktal gompa or monastery, a significant Buddhist monastery located in the Lungnak Valley that too very remotely from the main town and this one is reachable only by walking. The essential things for the monastery will be carried by animals during summer days and during winter they will be transported through the frozen Zanskar River.

History

The etymology of the name Phutkal is interesting and the name means the cave of liberation or leisure as per the information given by scholars. The birth of Phutkal Monastery was 2500 years ago and it was built around a cave with the aim of inviting any number of sages or saints to come and meditate. But the current status of Phutkal Gompa is because of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism. It was established in the early 15th century by Jangsem Sherap Zangpo.

Structure of the monastery

The honeycomb structure of the monastery surprises every one. Given the increased number of tourists, the monastery is popular now as a favorite trekking point. The cliff side structure houses a temple, prayer rooms, apartments, quarters, library with sacred manuscripts, teaching facilities and the original cave and a spring. Around 70 monks who are residing in the monastery are always seen chanting or meditating.

Location: The location of the monastery is Lungnak Valley in south-eastern Zanskar.

Timings: It is open on all days of the week from 06:00 pm to 04:00 pm.

Entry fee: To enter the monastery no entry fee is required. But cameras and food from outside are not allowed.

Highlights: There are a number of festivals happen everywhere at the monastery which are celebrated for different reasons. Every year the dates of the festivals change depending on the lunisolar calendar. Smonlam Chenmo is the most important one as it signifies the entry of the New Year.


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Kargil

Kargil

Kargil, the second largest town after Leh in Kashmir has multiple images in the mindsets of Indians. The spot where India’s patriotism won, the spot where India’s soldiers lost their lives, the spot where a dramatic tug of war between two countries happened and the spot which makes India proud always; hundreds of reasons are there to recognize Kargil as one of the primary locations of India. Politically, Kargil has gained so much importance because of the renowned Kargil War but now it is termed as one of the most visited tourist destinations as well in Kashmir. Visitors are curious to visit the sensitive zone in India where history was turned topsy-turvy.

There are a lot to see in Kargil in the form of monasteries, lush greenery, river basins, trekking points and so on. Mulbekh Monastery, located 36 Kms from Kargil is the most famous gompa in Kargil district which is featured because of the 9 meter tall idol of Maitreya Buddha. Near to Kargil is yet another attraction that is Suru Basin. When the Panzella glacier starts to melt, Suru Basin becomes the richest fertile land in the dry Ladakh region. The fields of wheat, barley and grapes are rich in greenery and thus give a splendid sight to the tourists. If you keep patriotism inside you on a dramatic level, then never miss to visit the Drass War Memorial where the photos, things used during the Kargil war and the hardships during the war are displayed along with the 100 feet high flagpoles. For trekking, the surroundings hill tops are perfect and a visit to Lamayuru Monastery located on Leh-Srinagar Highway will be concluding your tour of Kargil in presumably perfect way.

Height: 2676 meters above sea level

Location: Kargil is located 60 km from Drass and 204 km from Srinagar to the west and 234 km from Leh to the east. One can reach Kargil from Padum by covering a distance of 240 km and a drive from Delhi will take around 1047 kms to be covered.

Best time to visit: June to September is the ideal time to visit Kargil as per the information given by the experts and experienced travelers.


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Drass Valley

Drass Valley in Kargil District in Jammu and Kashmir is popularly called as the gateway of Ladakh. In the infamous Kargil War, Drass has played a significant role. The Pakistani Army in 1999 started dropping shells in Drass and in the surrounding villages and thus the war broke out between India and Pakistan. In the end, India recaptured Drass and other parts in the premises and then on Drass has been recognized as the memorial of the Kargil War

Drass is nestled amidst the snow-clad peaks on the Leh- Kargil National Highway at a height of 3230 meters above the sea level. Zojila Pass is the beginning of Drass Valley. Even when the harshest climatic conditions of winter hit the inhabitants here, the people kept guarding the valley intact and thus they are called the guardians of Ladakh’s gateway. The residents of the valley is known to be the saviours of stranded travelers who try to cross the pass along the snow covered trails and also they have stayed back in the valley to transport trading merchandise in the extreme cold. Drass is recognized as the base for the three day long Suru valley trek.

 The coldest region of India is Drass where -12 degree Celsius is the average temperature during winter and it falls onto as low as -17 degree Celsius during the peak time of winter. The tours of Drass compulsorily include a visit to the famous Drass War Memorial which is built to pay tribute to those who lost their lives in the India-Pakistan War in 1999. There is a Brigade War Valley that also turned to be the space to commemorate the lives and dedication of Indian soldiers during Kargil War.

Height: Drass Valley is located at an average height of 3820 meters.

Location: It is located 60 kms away from Ladakh and starts from the foot of the famous Zojila Pass.

Best time to visit: The season between the months of May and September are the suitable time to visit Drass.


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Gulmarg
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The nearest India can make to being a ski resort is via its pine-fringed Gulmarg. Situated at an elevation of 2730 meters above sea level, it well justifies the Meadow of Flowers tag that it has received. The meadow is given a visual highlight by the 1890s Anglican Church of St Mary’s that sits on a lonely hillock which can be accessed off the dead-end road that links the 1965 neo-colonial style Hotel Highlands Park to the historic Gulmarg Golf Club. However, the key reason to visit Gulmarg is just not the same. You must visit Gulmarg to explore the backing stands of the splendid mature pines traversing you to the elevation of bald Mt Afarwat. To make it to mountain, you can either trek on foot or take help from ponies at a meagre amount of INR 300 per hour. However, the easiest way out is using the two-stage gondola cable car that flutters you to 3747m. The impressive clear day views from the top are worth the ride. During this ride, you’ll encompass Nanga Parbat which is the world’s ninth highest mountain peak located across Pakistan. Booking for this online can help save you from the long queues especially in the peak season of May and June. This service can however be cancelled either due to civil unrest or during bad weather and getting a refund from the organizers can get really annoying then. Base station of Gandola is situated about 1 km west of the bus stand.       

Gulmarg endeavors you with more than 40 choices of accommodation each of them beautiful in their own very way. In the months of July, an average room fare (for a night) will be around INR 2000 for the old looking stays and INR 5000 for newer stays. Prices of the hotels see a drop of 20% in the winter season and a further dramatic drop when there is civil unrest in Srinagar or during the less popular months like September.  


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Sonamarg
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Jammu
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Situated on the banks of River Tawi, Jammu is a land of serene and beautiful valleys, lakes, and meadows surrounded by majestic snow-clad Himalayas. The Shivalik hill cuts across the area while rivers Tawi, Chenab, and Ravi, flow through this region.

Solitude is served here in its true sense for the urban dwellers. Due to the impeccable beauty of Jammu, it is often referred to as the Gateway to Heaven. You can soak in the tranquil environment in Jammu as you gaze up at the mighty Himalayas shimmering in the downing sun. 

Jammu takes pride in its history full of valor and glory and is home to some of the most magnificent temples. Jammu is thronged by thousands of devotees going to the holy cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi, which has been a beacon of faith and fulfillment to millions of devotees.

Besides fulfilling the spiritual needs of its visitors, Jammu caters to their shopping requirements as well. The city’s markets are famous for Kashmiri handicrafts, traditional jewelry, and dry fruits. Though the city is known for temples, its cultural and architectural heritage in the form of palaces and forts is equally worth a mention. There are many places to visit in Jammu and Kashmir that recite the tales of its rich culture, history, and traditions.

Jammu is also home to some of the most beautiful Mughal gardens with vivid floras, fountains, and springs. It is the crowning jewel of the north, which must be visited at least once in your lifetime. Visitors can choose to go on a nature trail to encounter rare avian species or take part in adventure activities like rappelling, trekking or camping.

From the clothes that people wear to the homes they live in, art in Jammu is a way of life. The visit to Jammu is all about the pleasure of five senses, and it opens a window of the Himalayan lifestyle of the discerning traveler. 

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Pahalgam
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