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Itinerary: 5 Days in Kashmir Valley

Trip details:

I'm planning a 5 day trip to Kashmir, sometime in June. I'll be travelling with my wife and parents (both over 65) so looking for something relaxing and not much physical activity. Would like to stay in semi-luxury places, houseboats, etc. Nothing too fancy though. Looking for a relaxed holiday taking in the natural beauty.

Overview:

For a 5 days trip, here is a possible itinerary with 2 nights in Pahalgam, 1 in Gulmarg and 1 in Srinagar. This can be changed to 2 nights in Pahalgam and 2 nights in Srinagar as well with a day visit to Gulmarg. However, this will increase the driving duration and might make the trip a bit more rushed.


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Day 1:

Fly into Srinagar and have the vehicle pick you up from the airport. From The airport, drive to Pahalgam. The distance is about 100 kms and the drive time is about 3 hours. 


You will reach there by late afternoon/ evening. The Liddar river flows through Pahalgam and the entire village is very pretty. You can head out for a short walk in Pahalgam in the evening.


Liddar River, Pahalgam

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Day 2:

Spend the full day in Pahalgam. You can head out for a horse ride to the higher reaches of Pahalgam and enjoy the views there. Please note, that vehicles will not be able to go up to some places in Pahalgam and horse riding may be a little uncomfortable for your parents.


You can start from your hotel after breakfast, ask them to give you a packed picnic lunch and spend the rest of the day outdoors. Come back to the hotel by about 4 PM and relax in the hotel.

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Day 3:

After breakfast, start from the hotel and drive to Gulmarg. The distance is about 150 kms and the drive time is about 4-5 hours depending on the traffic. The route goes via Srinagar.


If you enjoy non-veg food, there are good restaurants at Tanmarg, which is about 15 kms short of Gulmarg. You can stop over for a delightful Kashmiri Wazwan lunch.


Late afternoon and evening, visit the Shiva Temple, Mosque and St Mary's Church in Gulmarg. Evening, relax at the hotel.


Gulmarg

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Day 4:

After an early breakfast, check out of the hotel and take the Gondola up to Mt. Aphrawat. The view from the peak at 14,000 ft are simply spectacular and they give you a bird eye view of the Kashmir valley and Gulmarg village. On cloudy days, you will be above the cloud cover at the peak. Spend some time at the peak and take the Gondola back to base station.


After the Gondola visit, you can drive for a little distance and visit the Baba Reshi shrine. The shrine is a sacred place and is entwined with Kashiri culture.


After the visit, drive back to Srinagar. The distance is about 50 kms and will take about 2 hours. Check into a house boat on the Dal lake and enjoy the serenity of the lake.


If you're keen on Kashmiri Wazwaan again, you should head to Ahdoos at Residence road in Srinagar. The food is simply lip smacking deliciouos.

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1   2  
Where should we go By Nikhil Joshi
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Nikhil Joshi wrote:  

Hi Saurabh,

It would be great if you can help us with figuring out where to go to make the most of our 5 days in the valley. We'll be flying in and out of Srinagar and are mostly interested in natural beauty and experiencing some of the culture.

Nikhil

Saurabh Kapur wrote:  

Hi Nikhil,

Kashmir is full of natural beauty. You will love the verdant green meadows of Pahalgam and Gulmarg and the beautiful rivers/ streams flowing through these villages.

For a 5 days trip, here is a possible itinerary with 2 nights in Pahalgam, 1 in Gulmarg and 1 in Srinagar. This can be changed to 2 nights in Pahalgam and 2 nights in Srinagar as well with a day visit to Gulmarg. However, this will increase the driving duration and might make the trip a bit more rushed.

Here is a possible itinerary you can follow.

Day 1 - Fly into Srinagar and have the vehicle pick you up from the airport. From The airport, drive to Pahalgam. The distance is about 100 kms and the drive time is about 3 hours. 

You will reach there by late afternoon/ evening. The Liddar river flows through Pahalgam and the entire village is very pretty. You can head out for a short walk in Pahalgam in the evening.

Day 2 - Spend the full day in Pahalgam. You can head out for a horse ride to the higher reaches of Pahalgam and enjoy the views there. Please note, that vehicles will not be able to go up to some places in Pahalgam and horse riding may be a little uncomfortable for your parents.

You can start from your hotel after breakfast, ask them to give you a packed picnic lunch and spend the rest of the day outdoors. Come back to the hotel by about 4 PM and relax in the hotel.

Day 3 - After breakfast, start from the hotel and drive to Gulmarg. The distance is about 150 kms and the drive time is about 4-5 hours depending on the traffic. The route goes via Srinagar.

If you enjoy non-veg food, there are good restaurants at Tanmarg, which is about 15 kms short of Gulmarg. You can stop over for a delightful Kashmiri Wazwan lunch.

Late afternoon and evening, visit the Shiva Temple, Mosque and St Mary's Church in Gulmarg. Evening, relax at the hotel.

Day 4 - After an early breakfast, check out of the hotel and take the Gondola up to Mt. Aphrawat. The view from the peak at 14,000 ft are simply spectacular and they give you a bird eye view of the Kashmir valley and Gulmarg village. On cloudy days, you will be above the cloud cover at the peak. Spend some time at the peak and take the Gondola back to base station.

After the Gondola visit, you can drive for a little distance and visit the Baba Reshi shrine. The shrine is a sacred place and is entwined with Kashiri culture.

After the visit, drive back to Srinagar. The distance is about 50 kms and will take about 2 hours. Check into a house boat on the Dal lake and enjoy the serenity of the lake.

If you're keen on Kashmiri Wazwaan again, you should head to Ahdoos at Residence road in Srinagar. The food is simply lip smacking deliciouos.

Day 5 - Early morning, take a Shikara ride on the Dal lake. The sunrise from the lake is a surreal experience.

Time permitting, you can visit Shankracharya temple, Hazratbal Mosque and Shalimar Bagh and then get dropped to the airport for your flight back home.

Tell me what you think of this itinerary and we can discuss this further.

Regards,

Saurabh

Nikhil Joshi wrote:  

Hi Saurabh,

This sounds wonderful. The other plan with a day visit to Gulmarg does seem a bit rushed. Lets go with the plan you suggested. Let me know which hotels you suggest so I can book them right away.

Thanks,

Nikhil

Saurabh Kapur wrote:  

hi Nikhil,

In Srinagar check out Dar es salam which is a delightful place to stay.

It is at the banks of Nageen Lake. If you prefer a house boat, check out Wangnoo sheraton house boats on the nageen Lake. The Nageen Lake is cut off and is away from the crowds.If you prefer the hustle bustle then check out Sukoon house boat on the Dal Lake. I have not personally stayed there, but I've received good feedback.staying at dal Lake also means you can do the shikara ride early morning. In Gulmarg check out Heevan Retreat. It is my personal favorite and I love the food and hospitality there. For something more budget see Alpine Ridge and Pine Palace. Pine Palace has two properties heritage and Platinum. Platinum is more expensive and better than heritage. However Platinum is a little more difficult to access as you need to walk a bit too get there. Vehicles go right up to Heevan, Alpine Ridge and Pine Palace Heritage. All these 3 are away from the market and very close to the gondola. 

In Pahalgam check out Senator Pine-n-Peak. It is close to the river and I've received good feedback. 

Gondola tickets can be booked online in advance. Just search for Gulmarg gondola and you'll get to the website. 

If possible extend your stay by a day so that you can have an extra night in Srinagar and can explore Srinagar city as well. 

Negotiate with the house boats for the best rates.

Let me know what else you need help with. 

Regards, Saurabh


Car rental By Nikhil Joshi
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Nikhil Joshi wrote:  

Hi Saurabh, Thanks for the hotel recommendations. Will definitely go with the ones you suggested.

One last thing - is it possible to rent a self-driven car in Srinagar? Or if it has to be with a driver, are there drivers who can double up as good local guides - or is that expecting too much :) ? Please let me know of a reputable car rental firm for this.

Thanks,

Nikhil

Saurabh Kapur wrote:  

As far as I know, self drive is not possible in Kashmir. The guys I usually take for my trips have sumos and they are used specifically for my skiing trips. For a longer trip,  sumo will not be comfortable.
Drivers are local and they usually have decent knowledge about the place but I won't expect too much either.

If you're booking Dar es salam, ask them for the name of the person who provides them cars. They recommended a really good guy who had a xylo.  I don't have his number right now.  I'll check with my guys if they can get you a xylo or innova and give you their number.

Regards,
Saurabh


Trip Update By Saurabh Kapur
Replies (+)

Saurabh Kapur wrote:  

Hi Nikhil,

I haven't heard from you in a while. I'm wondering if you've already done the trip or are planning to do it in the future?

Let me know if you need any more help.

Regards,

Saurabh

Nikhil Joshi wrote:  

Hi Saurabh,

Thanks for checking. We had a wonderful trip. Your advice was really helpful in planning out our time in Kashmir. I'm adding a review as well.

Nikhil


Getting around:

As far as I know, self drive is not possible in Kashmir. The guys I usually take for my trips have sumos and they are used specifically for my skiing trips. For a longer trip,  sumo will not be comfortable. 
Drivers are local and they usually have decent knowledge about the place but I won't expect too much either.


If you're booking Dar es salam, ask them for the name of the person who provides them cars. They recommended a really good guy who had a xylo.  I don't have his number right now.  I'll check with my guys if they can get you a xylo or innova and give you their number.

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Hotel picks in the Kashmir Valley:

In Srinagar check out Dar es salam which is a delightful place to stay.


It is at the banks of Nageen Lake. If you prefer a house boat, check out Wangnoo sheraton house boats on the nageen Lake. The Nageen Lake is cut off and is away from the crowds.If you prefer the hustle bustle then check out Sukoon house boat on the Dal Lake. I have not personally stayed there, but I've received good feedback.staying at dal Lake also means you can do the shikara ride early morning. In Gulmarg check out Heevan Retreat. It is my personal favorite and I love the food and hospitality there. For something more budget see Alpine Ridge and Pine Palace. Pine Palace has two properties heritage and Platinum. Platinum is more expensive and better than heritage. However Platinum is a little more difficult to access as you need to walk a bit too get there. Vehicles go right up to Heevan, Alpine Ridge and Pine Palace Heritage. All these 3 are away from the market and very close to the gondola. 


In Pahalgam check out Senator Pine-n-Peak. It is close to the river and I've received good feedback.


Negotiate with the houseboats to get the best rates.

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Great local insight and helped us maximize our time

Saurabh helped us make good use of our limited time in Kashmir and offered really useful help with his local knowledge of the region.