Often, when you visit a new destination, there’s too much to do, and simply too little time. Our investigations into the beautiful land of Kashmir, however, ensure that you don’t have the same dilemma. From cafes to visit to adventurous activities to undertake, these are experience worth chalking out space for in your itinerary.
Visit the cafes in Srinagar
Regardless of season, the Winterfell Café in Srinagar is always bustling. This Game of Thrones-inspired café sits next to Dal Lake, and is the haunt for many younger Kashmiris and tourists to spend their evenings in whether it is to read a borrowed book from their shelf, attend a gig or even watch some light-hearted stand-up comedy. Another must-visit is the Books & Bricks Café, which guarantees a good read, and in turn, a great time.
Shop on the lake
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again. The floating market on the Dal Lake is an experience like none other. Curious to know more about the heart of a city? No better place than to observe its local markets. Hop onto a shikara in the early morning light and observe the hustle and bustle of the floating vegetable market as sellers, shikaras and even customers haggle over fresh vegetables, bunch of flowers, spices and often even jewellery.
Have a wazwan meal
Kashmir puts up an impressive show when it comes to their culinary skills, and a wazwan is the best testament to that statement. It is a traditional multi-course feast, with a spread consisting anywhere between fifteen to thirty-six dishes, which are heavily mutton-based and use a variety of spices grown in Kashmir – red chillies, saffron, cardamom sticks, and cinnamon and fennel seeds being some of them. Although such an elaborate affair is prepared for weddings, one can have a taste of the dishes cooked in a wazwan at local restaurants.
Read: Kashmir in Autumn
Pahalgam is a lovely small town only an hour from Srinagar surrounded by snow-capped mountains and coniferous trees. You could play golf at the Pahalgam golf course by the Lidder valley, go fishing for local fish (especially trout) or even take a horseback ride into the mountains for beautiful scenic views.
Spend time outdoors
When you’re in Srinagar, the gardens are calling. The integration of the Mughal Empire into Kashmiri life changed the landscape of Kashmir, quite literally. Today, we are blessed with beautiful Persian-inspired gardens filled with fresh blooms, reflecting pools and a gush of greenery. Do visit Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, Verinag, among other gardens in Srinagar on a quiet morning.
Browse at Gulshan Bookstore
Blessed with an evening to spare in Srinagar? There’s a bookstore on a lake you might like to visit. Gulshan Bookstore, only a shikara-ride away, is a beautiful stop for everyone passing by. Lovers of literature will be taken aback by the stock of fiction and poetry here, and even those with a mild interest in Kashmir will love the big photography books and coffee table books on the state here. To top it off, there’s an open-air reading room overlooking the lake for some quiet time. Did anyone say ‘heavenly’?
Ski in Gulmarg
You may be a novice to skiing but you can’t pass up the opportunity of skiing on the snow-capped mountains in Gulmarg. A relatively lesser-known skiing destination, Gulmarg also has one of the highest altitudes among skiing destinations. The ski season usually lasts from January to March, and offers gorgeous views of the Himalayas, even if you do come tumbling down.
Visit the Hazratbal Shrine
The Hazratbal Shrine, located on the banks of Dal Lake, is a gleaming white mosque built in 17th century. The shrine, which is dedicated to the prophet Muhammad, is said to contain the the Moi-e-Muqqadas, which is the sacred hair from Prophet Muhammad's beard. This is on display on very few special occasions in a year. The mosque itself is a place of calm and beauty and is open to all visitors, irrespective of religion.
To know more, visit J&K Tourism