Kashmir - the "Paradise on Earth", is known for its captivating beauty. It is encircled by three mountain ranges of the Himalayas- Karakoram, Zanaskar and Pir Panjal, running from northwest to northeast. Forming the backdrop of Kashmir, these snow-capped ranges make Kashmir look like a picture straight out of a fairytale. Dazzling rivers, serene lakes, splendid gardens, flowering meadows, etc are some other features of the landscape of the Kashmir valley. The breathtaking beauty of Kashmir has earned it the name of the "Switzerland of the East". Nothing describes the beauty of Kashmir better than the following words of a Mughal emperor: "Gar Bar-ru-e-Zamin Ast; Hamin Ast, Hamin Ast Hamin Ast." It means that if there is paradise on this earth, this is it, this is it, and this is it. It is impossible to overstate the beauty of Kashmir. The gushing rivers, sparkling waterfalls, scenic surrounding and the lush green forests of Kashmir add to its splendor. Kashmir tourism is also famous for the exotic flora and fauna found in the region. The sanctuaries and parks in Kashmir abound in some of the rare and endangered species of birds and animals. Then, there are countless species of luxuriant vegetation too, attracting a number of botanists.
Srinagar, the state's winter capital, is the first stop for most travellers to Kashmir; and with its great lake and meandering river, its exquisite pleasure gardens and romantic shikara rides, the old-world charm of its houseboats and the ageless grace of its architecture, the city is a fitting introduction to the many enchantments of the valley. The vast Dal lake is, of course, Srinagar's emblematic feature, and its deep waters carry the most popular of Srinagar's attractions: houseboats and shikaras. Many visitors are content to spend a great part of their holiday aboard these waterborne hotels, watching the lake's traffic float by from cushioned balconies, venturing into the houseboat's walnut-wood interiors for delicious, fragrant Kashmiri cuisine.Main Tourist Spots In Srinagar Are:
- Dal Lake
- Nageen Lake
- Shalimar Bagh
- Nishat Bagh
- Chashma Shahi
Gulmarg's legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of Asia's premier hill resorts. Originally called 'Gaurimarg' by shepherds, Gulmarg was discovered in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. It was also a favourite resort of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir. Today, Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty but also the country's premier ski resort in winter when it is covered in snow and takes on the appearance of a picture postcard.Gulmarg was first established as a ski resort by the British who had set up the Ski Club of India here in 1927. Skiing at Gulmarg had become very popular during the pre-independence years. The resort used to host two major skiing events, one each during Christmas and Easter. In 1938-39, about 500 skiers are said to have participated in Christmas and Easter ski races. Gulmarg's atmosphere was identified with European ski resorts of the 1940's and 50's - the 'Alps of good old days'. It has good sunshine as well as good snow.
Around Pahalgam are many places of interest, and the most beautiful of these is the huge, undulating meadow of Baisaran, surrounded by thickly wooded forests of pine. "Betaab Valley", on the way to Chandanwari, is an idyllic spot for a picnic. Filmgoers will recognize it instantly as it has been the location of several movie scenes. Aru, 12 kms from Pahalgam, is a picturesque meadow and base point for trekking to Kolhai glacier, Katar Nag, Lidder Watt and Trasar & Marsar Lakes.
"Sonamarg in the Kashmir valley is the gateway to Ladakh and situated just before the Zojii La pass. Located at 87 km from Srinagar, the place is renowned for trekking and hiking trails. The snow clad peaks in the Himalaya and the undulated hilly mountainous regions are perfectly suitable for all types of trekking expeditions. Sonamarg is the base camp for many trekking expeditions. The major treks passing through various mountain lakes such as Gangabal, Vishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Kishansar has its base at Sonamarg. The trekking routes offer all types of challenges, from mild to most hard. The pleasant climate with mild summer and cold winter make this place an ideal location for trekkers to explore the natural beauty and challenging treks.
Yousmarg (a meadow), mesmerizes tourists with its scenic beauty and mountains comparable to European Alps. Situated amidst Sang Safed valley, Yousmarg is reputed for having some unique spring flowers. It also has some of the highest peaks in PirPanjal range like Tatakoti 4725 mtrs and Sunset Peak 4746 mtrs. The mighty river Doodh Ganga makes this destination more thrilling. The natural slopes of Yousmarg offer skiing opportunities to experts. Last few years of large inflow of tourists into Kashmir valley has seen the diversification of tourism to this wonderful destination.
Verinag is situated at a distance of approximately 80 km from Srinagar. Reached through the link road, it is located at a height of 1,876 m. It is believed that the Verinag spring in Kashmir is the chief source of the river Jhelum. There is an octagonal base at the spring, surrounded by a covered passage. The Mughal Emperor Jehangir started the construction work on both the base as well as the arcade. It was during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan that the work got completed. There are remains of Mughal pavilion and baths in Verinag , down the stream to the east. The Verinag Spring, named after Nila Nag, the son of the famous Hindu sage Kashyap Rishi, to whom, goes the credit of establishing the territory of Jammu and Kashmir is one of the principle tourist attractions of a tour to Verinag .
Kokernag is a town and a notified area committee in Anantnag district in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Koker means 'fowl' and nag means 'serpent'. The spring gushes out of the base of a thickly wooded hill from where it divides into channels, which resembles to the claw-foot of a hen, hence its name. Kokernag is at the height of(approx.)2000 mts from sea level. Place is famous for gardens, largest fresh water springs in Kashmir and for its trout streams. Towns and village situated around Kokernag are Wangam, Hangalgund, Sagam, Zalergam, Dacksum, etc. Kokernag has been mentioned in Ain Akbari, where in it has been mentioned that the water of Kokernag satisfies both hunger and thirst and its is also a remedy for indigestion.
Dodhpather is a bow- shaped valley about 42 kms form Srinagar. It is a recent discovery in the valley covered with green carpeted meadows. An adjoining river resounds the soft wind passing through pine trees of the surrounding forests. It is said that the cattle grazing in the meadows of Dodhpather, produces rich milk in large quantity, and for this reason it is also called the "valley of milk". Shepherds from different areas travel to this place along with their cattle's and stay there for days together. This area also connected to Gurez valley on its north. A cup of tea with snack at tea stalls run by local people during the season at the main meadows could become your most pleasurable drink. A full day tour to Dodhpather with some packed lunch will definitely be a bonus to your visit to Kashmir.
Gurez is a valley located in the high Himalayas, about 86 kms from Bandipore and 123 kms from Srinagar in northern Jammu and Kashmir, India. At about 8,000 feet (2,400 m) above sea level, the valley is surrounded by snow capped mountains. It has diverse fauna and wildlife including the Himalayan brown bear and the snow leopard. The Kishanganga River flows through the valley. The road to Gilgit runs through Gurez. Gurez is divided into three regions. The area from Toabat to Sharda Peeth is administered by Pakistan as Neelum District, that between Kamri and Minimarg is part of the Astore District, Northern Areas, Pakistan, and that from Toabat to Abdullae Tulail is known as Tehsil Gurez, and is part of Bandipore district. People of Gurez valley are Dards, they speak Sheena language and have their ancestral connection with Gilgit valley now in Pakistan. The feature and attire of the Dards are similar to Kashmiri people of mountain region.
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