The capital city of Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Kashmir. Nestled on the picturesque banks of the Jhelum river, Srinagar is known fondly as the “Heaven on Earth”. The biggest city of Kashmir, Srinagar is known famously for its colorful Shikaras and houseboats floating on the postcard-perfect Dal Lake. Srinagar has also gained a lot of fame across the globe for its dreamy Mughal gardens, namely Nishat Bagh, Shalimar Bagh and Chashm-E-Shahi Garden.
Srinagar also makes for an excellent shopping destination in Kashmir, where you can shop for Kashmiri apples, dried fruits, fragrant local spices, and Kashmiri shawls.
Highlights: Stay in a boathouse, shikara ride, Mughal gardens
Nicknamed as the ‘Meadow of Flowers’, Gulmarg is one of the most romantic places to visit in Kashmir. Gulmarg lets you soak in the picturesque views of colourful flowers spread against majestic snow-clad mountains. Perched at an elevation of around 2,730 meters above sea level, Gulmarg is a famous skiing destination.
Packed with lush forested valleys, deep ravines, and breathtaking flowerbeds, Gulmarg also has the second-highest Gondola ride in the world. Gulmarg is also packed with a host of amazing attractions to visit such as the Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve, Gulmarg Golf Course, Alpather Lake, and Strawberry Valley.
Highlights: Trekking, Gondola rides, skiing, mountain biking
Lying 80 kilometers north-east of Srinagar, Sonamarg translates to "The Meadow of Gold '' in English. Nestled at an altitude of about 2,800 kilometers above sea level, this place is known popularly for its serene lakes, majestic glaciers, and snow-clad fields.
Packed with magnificent peaks like Sirbal Peak, Machoi Peak, Kolahoi Peak, and Amarnath Peak, Sonamarg makes for an excellent trekking destination. Sonamarg serves as the base camp for a number of scenic trekking routes that take you to picturesque mountain lakes, including Satsar, Kishansar, Gangabal, Vishansar, and Gadsar.
The Thajiwas range divides the Sonamarg Valley into two parts with one part housing the fir-clad Thajiwas and the other housing the Thajiwas glacier and cascading waterfalls.
Highlights: Nature walks, camping, trekking, waterfalls
In the year 1983, this little Kashmiri Valley formed the backdrop of the hit Bollywood flick Betaab. Since then, the former Hagan Valley has earned its name ‘Betaab’ Valley. With its backdrop dotted with coniferous forests, gushing streams and meadows, the beauty of Betaab beckons to all those looking to escape into the serenity of the natural world.
Although lacking in organized tourist spots, Betaab can be one of the best places to visit in Kashmir for day picnics or weekend getaways. One can also enjoy a number of trekking trails here.
Location: near Pahalgam, Baramulla, Hajan, Jammu and Kashmir 192126
Highlights: Photography, trekking, nature camping, ‘Bobby’ hut
Lying in the Anantnag district and perched at an elevation of around 2,740 meters above sea level, Pahalgam is a paradise on earth. Located at a distance of around 95 kilometers from Srinagar, Pahalgam boasts breathtaking flower-clad meadows, serene lakes, and lush dense forests. Sprawled on the calm banks of River Liddar, the town of Pahalgam is a hub for adrenaline enthusiasts, offering a range of adventure sports, such as trout fishing, trekking, and hiking.
The natives also offer thrilling sledge rides on the icy glaciers. Pahalgam also serves as the base camp for one of the most significant Hindu pilgrimages, the Amarnath yatra. The top attractions of Pahalgam include Aru Valley, Betaab Valley, and Kolahoi Glacier.
Highlights: Betab Valley, canoeing, horse riding
Known to be “The Jewel of Srinagar”, Dal Lake spreads across an area of around 26 square kilometers. Popular as one of the most spellbinding places to see in Srinagar, this hillside lake flaunts colorful Shikaras, traditional wooden houseboats, and floating markets. Tourists visiting Dal Lake love to take a ride in the beautiful Shikaras, which are basically wooden boats decorated beautifully with canopies overhead.
They also enjoy shopping authentic Kashmiri items from the floating market or lake market. These markets lay amidst the lake and sell a number of items like saffron and handicrafts. The houseboats on Dal Lake feature floral motifs and intricate carvings and offer breathtaking sights of the majestic lake. These boats are equipped with single rooms and luxury suites and offer comfortable accomodation to the visitors. During the winter season, the visitors also enjoy ice skating on the frozen lake.
Location: Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir.
Best Time to Visit: May to November.
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One of the most popular religious places to visit in Jammu and Kashmir, Vaishno Devi draws in millions of devotees. Vaishno Devi is believed to be a trio of three Goddesses: Mahalaxmi, Mahasaraswati, and Mahakali, in Hindu mythology.
The shrine is dedicated to Goddess Durga and has a holy cave where people come to pay their respects. It is a famous site to undertake a religious trek which involves an uphill climb of about 13 kms. The trek can be completed on foot in 6-9 hours or one can use helicopter services/ ride on a horse to reach the shrine on the top. The trail is filled with a number of shops that sell a variety of snacks and refreshments along with religious souvenirs here.
Highlights: Religious site, trekking, scenic views, photography etc.
Perched at an altitude of around 1,577 meters above sea level, Kupwara boasts dense trees, rugged mountains, rolling meadows, deep valleys, gushing streams, and shimmering lakes. Spread across an area of around 2,379 square kilometers, the town of Kupwara is also known for its bountiful wildlife.
Lying at an approximate distance of around 90 kilometers from the capital of Srinagar, Kupwara offers astounding views of nearby mountain ranges including Dajalongun, Bulbeer, and Feshiltong. Offering a number of amazing trekking routes, this place lets you enjoy excellent trekking opportunities.
Famous primarily for its valleys, Kupwara attracts tourists with its Bangus Valley, Lolab Valley, and Seemab Valley. Other top attractions of Kupwara town include Kheer Bhawani Temple, Badra Kali Temple, Jamia Masjid Handwara, and Gazi Masjid.
Highlights: Valleys, religious places, trekking, boating
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Lying at a small distance of around 40 kilometers from Srinagar, Pulwama is known fondly as the “Rice Bowl of Kashmir”. This quaint scenic town is known famously for its aromatic saffron fields, pleasant weather, and picturesque apple orchards. Flaunting majestic waterfalls, verdant valleys, and mesmerizing natural springs,
Pulwama is also nicknamed as the “Anand of Kashmir”. Pulwama also offers a host of adrenaline-pumping options for the adventure junkies. During the summers, Pulwama becomes an excellent trekking and mountaineering destination, while in the winters it offers amazing snowboarding and skiing opportunities.
Highlights: Natural Springs, Apple Orchards, saffron fields, Mountaineering, trekking, skiing, snowboarding
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Set around 53 kilometers from Srinagar, Anantnag happens to be the financial and commercial capital of Kashmir. Packed with mesmerizing freshwater springs, gushing streams, and breathtaking lush gardens, Anantnag is one of the most divine places to see in Kashmir. Right near Anantnag lies the meeting point of three streams, namely Brengi, Sandran, and Arapath.
Anantnag is packed with a number of religious destinations, such as Martand Sun Temple, Kheer Bhawani Asthapan, Ishmuqam Shrine, Ziarat Baba Hyder Reshi, and Masjid Baba Dawood Khaki. Other attractions of Anantnag include Kishtwar National Park, Verinag, and Achabal.
Highlights: Religious places, sightseeing, nature walks
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Established by the elder brother of Nur Jahan, Asif Khan in 1633, Nishat Garden happens to be the second largest Mughal garden. Nicknamed as "Garden of Bliss", the Nishant Garden is a spectacular 12 terraced garden encompassed by lofty Chinar trees. The garden is home to a central water channel and a number of beautiful fountains.
While the design of the Nishat Garden is based on Persian architecture, the landscaping is based of Kashmiri water patterns and terrain. The Nishant Garden also offers breathtaking panoramic views of the stunning Dal Lake, with the magnificent Zabarwan Mountains serving as the perfect backdrop.
Location: Bagh Hussain, Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir, India
Highlights: Watching flowers, nature walks, chinar trees, water fountains
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The beautifully laid Shalimar Bagh happens to be the largest amongst the three iconic Mughal gardens in Srinagar. The Shalimar Garden was constructed back in 1619 under the orders of Mughal Emperor Jahangir, who dedicated it to his wife Nur Jahan. Nicknamed as the “Crown of Srinagar”, this public park is set overlooking the shimmering waters of the picturesque Dal Lake.
The very term ‘Shalimar’ translates to ‘Abode of Love’ in Sanskrit and is also referred to as Farah Baksh and Faiz Baksh. The exquisite Shalimar Garden offers an amazing amalgamation of stunning man-made structures, brilliant architecture, natural allure, and well-manicured gardens.
Location: Chinar chowk, Shalimar, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 191121
Highlights: Picnicking, bird watching, chinar trees
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Among its many attractions, the city’s Mughal Gardens stand out as some of the most beautiful places to visit in Kashmir. And the Chashma Shahi Gardens are only one of them. Dating back to the early 17th century, this historic garden was built under the command of Emperor Shah Jahan for his elder son, Prince Dara Shikoh. At the centre of the garden is a freshwater spring which flows in terraces.
The garden also has a number of little springs discovered by the saint Rupa Bahini, who was also known as Sahibi, thus giving the garden its name. The lush flowering lawns exhibit a striking display of Iranian designs, and stand testament to the architectural brilliance of the erstwhile Kashmir, making it one of the most sought after of historical Kashmir places.
Location: 7, Boulevard Rd, Chashma Shahi, Rainawari, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190001
Highlights: Freshwater spring, traditional Persian architecture, Chinar orchards
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Nestled in Downtown Kashmir, Jama Masjid is the biggest mosque in the city and one of the most important of Kashmir tourist places. Renowned for its historic importance, the inception of the Masjid dates back to the early 15th century, when it was constructed by Emperor Sultan Sukder.
Since then, the Masjid has suffered several fire breakouts and undergone several reconstructions, with its existing construction taking place under the reign of Aurangzeb in 1672. The grandiose Masjid stands out in its Indo-Saronic style of architecture.
A vast courtyard flanks its entrance, and is dotted by 370 wooden pillars. The expansive halls here can accommodate up to 33,333 people at once, and is thronged by devotees on each Friday of the week.
Location: Nowhatta Kathi Darwaza Road, Nowhatta, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir 190003
Highlights: Deodar pillars, black marble mehrab, Chaar-Bagh style courtyard
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A short drive outside Srinagar Main, the ethereal beauty of Yusmarg has earned it the title of the ‘Meadow of Jesus’. With its long stretches of vast green pastures stretched across the horizon, Yusmarg is a little paradise of its own, and is one of the most sought after Kashmir places for weekend getaways.
The Meadow is home to some of Pir Panjal’s highest peaks, such as Tattakutti and Sunset Point, which command unparalleled views of the valleys below. A few Hindu shrines and temples can be found scattered across the meadow as well. During winters, Yusmarg remains covered in unbroken blankets of snow, and can be a great place for snow sports like skiing.
Highlights: River sports, snow sports, temples, trekking trails
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One of the most underrated places to visit in Kashmir, Aru Valley stands out in its quiet beauty. Riddled with pristine lakes and scenic meadows, the untrodden valley can be a great place for a weekend escapade or a day picnic. The many lakes here offer several scenic picnic spots, although one can spend a happening time trout fishing in their waters as well.
Horse riding and trekking are also popular tourist spots in Aru, with several hiking trails making their way through the hills here. Aru Valley is a popular Kashmir tourist places for snow sports as well, with Heli skiing and skiing being some of the most sought after winter adventures here.
Highlights: trout fishing, winter sports, horse riding, trekking
One of the most priceless of Kashmir tourist places, the Amarnath Shrine is among the most popular of Hindu shrines across the world. Perched at an altitude of over 3,800 feet above ground, reaching Amarnath requires a fair bit of trekking. On the way, one can witness the confluence of the river Amaravati with Pantjarni, and can also take a quick dip in the former.
Owing to its height, the cave remains sealed shut with snow through a major part of the year, and is open to devotees only for a few short months. The biggest highlight of the Amarnath Cave shrine is the naturally occurring Shiva Lingam housed within its womb, formed out of water drops that collect and freeze inside the cave.
Location: Baltal Amarnath Trek, Forest Block, Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir 192230
Highlights: Amaravati snaan, naturally occurring Shiva Lingam, stunning views
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One of the least visited of Kashmir places, Sanasar is a little cup shaped meadow in the Jammu region. Named after the two villages of Sana and Sar, the meadow is known for its Gulmarg-like beauty. Sanasar is one among the most popular of places to visit in Kashmir for trekking and camping; several hiking trails of moderate difficulty snake their way through the hills here, making it an ideal place for amateurs as well as experts in the sport.
A 5-hour long trek leads to the Shank Pal Temple here, a famed 400-year-old Temple dedicated to the snake-God Naga. The town is also home to one of the highest 9-hole golf courses in the country.
Highlights: Trekking, camping, Naga temple, snow sports
Dachigam National Park
Popular as the only home to the now endangered Kashmir stag, Dachigam National Park nestles a little outside main Srinagar. Formerly a game reserve for the Emperor of Kashmir, the National Park has been a protected area since 1910. Brimming with carpets of grassland that bloom in spring and freeze in winter, Dachigam is among the most beautiful places to visit in Kashmir.
Apart from the Kashmir stag, herds of musk deer, langurs, black bears and much more. The sheer strength of its bird population makes it one of the best Kashmir famous places for birdwatchers as well.
Location: Near Harwan, Dachigam Rd, Jammu and Kashmir 191202
Highlights: Jeep safaris, birdwatching tours, trekking, Valley of Flowers
A short walk from the Gulmarg Bus stop, Khailnmarg is breathtaking in summers. One can reach this little valley via a short trek across the meadow, or even take a pony ride to it. One of the most underrated of Kashmir tourist places, Khilanmarg offers the perfect getaway from the busy city life. During spring, the meadow remains virtually covered in a blanket of flowers, and offers quite a spectacle.
During winters, Khilanmarg transforms into a thriving winter sports destination, with its slopes giving way to ski trails. The valley is also well known for commanding panoramic views of the Himalayan peaks. On a clear day, one can also catch a glimpse of the Nanga Parbat from here.
Highlights: Picnic areas, Himalaya views, snow sports
Baltal is best known as the base camp for Amarnath Yatra. The little valley, however, is blessed with enchanting sites of its own, and is among the most picturesque of Kashmir tourist places in its own right. A plethora of waterfalls, glaciers and mountain peaks dot the landscape here, making it an ideal visit for photographers and all those looking for a quiet retreat in the heart of nature.
The Sindh River flows happily through Baltan, and is a great place for trout fishing or white river rafting. Trekking is a popular activity here as well. Owing to its altitude, however, Baltan remains open to tourists for only six months a year- between April and September.
Highlights: Trekking, camping, snow sports, river rafting
Doodhpathri Gurez Valley
Nestled in the Budgam district of Kashmir, Doodhpathri is a meadow closely attached to local myth. According to legend, the Kashmiri saint Sheikh ul Aalam Sheikh Noor din Noorani had arrived here in search of water, and found milk instead. Thus, the meadow earned its name Doodhpathri.
Now one of the quietest places to visit in Kashmir, Doodhpatri is frequented by picnickers and trekkers. Not only is the meadow home to some of the most scenic picnic spots in the hill station, but several hiking trails of moderate difficulty snake their way through it as well.
Highlights: Trekking, picnic, river fishing
Nestled in the laps of the Pir Panjal mountains, this natural spring stands out in its stunning blue hue. A beautiful Mughal Garden and arcade sprawls around the spring, built by the 17th century Emperors who were bewitched by Verinag’s beauty. The Jhelum River, which flows through Kashmir, is also said to originate at the Verinag spring.
The flowers in the garden change color with every season, making it one of the most picturesque places to visit in Kashmir. The tank at Verinag is usually teeming with a variety of colorful fish, and can be a great place to enjoy a casual evening stroll as well.
Location: Anantnag, Jammu and Kashmir
Highlights: Guided tours, spring, gardens and picnic areas
The Great Lakes Trek
A route often followed by trekkers here, the Great Lakes Trek takes you across some of the most beautiful places to see in Kashmir. Riddled by steep ascents and descents, the trek is a fairly difficult one, and is best suited to seasoned trekkers only. The long 6-day effort, however, is quite worth it- travelling across 7 of Kashmir’s most beautiful valleys, the Great Lakes trek validates the hill station’s status as ‘heaven on earth’.
Patches of snow, alpine leaks and vast stretches of flowering meadows cut their way through the serrated mountains here, with each new valley offering an adventure of its own.
Highlights: High altitude lake views, trekking across 7 valleys, panoramic Himalaya views
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Also known as the Niagara Falls of Kashmir, Aharbal flows in seclusion. Among the least known of Kashmir's famous places, the beauty of Aharbal is largely untouched. Here, the thunderous river Vishav tumbles down over 25 feet to create the mighty waterfall. Although the height is not much, the sheer volume of Aharbal’s water creates a roar so majestic that it can be heard from quite some distance.
Reaching Aharbal is quite easy; one can trek right till the edge of the ridge here and enjoy the view without any interruptions. One can also try fishing in its waters, although they’d need a permit for the same.
Location: Jammu and Kashmir, Sedew - Aharbal Rd, Aharbal, 192303
Highlights: Photography, fishing, trekking
One of the best tourist places in Kashmir, this unique waterfall attracts tourists to Drung throughout the year. During summers, the gushing waters of the waterfall merges seamlessly with the green river below, and is quite a sight to behold in winters, however, when the land is steeped in snow, the Drung Waterfall too, freezes over- like a moment stuck in time, the water here clings to the rocks in massive pieces of ice.
The lake below remains crystal blue and clear, adding an ethereal charm to the place.
Location: Drung, Jammu and Kashmir 193402]
Highlights: Frozen waterfall, refreshment shops