Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

Jammu and Kashmir (Travel Guide)

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 5, 2009

Jammu and Kashmir

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : India : Himalayan North : Jammu and Kashmir

View from the plains of Baisaran, near Pahalgam

View from the plains of Baisaran, near Pahalgam

Jammu and Kashmir [1] is the northernmost state in India. It forms a part of British Imperial India’s historic princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, a former state that is now divided between India and Pakistan. India claims the entire area of the former state, whereas Pakistan regards the same area as “territory in dispute” awaiting a plebiscite. While some Kashmiris hope for an independent and unified Kashmir, the majority seem to simply want peace. It is a mountainous region of great beauty and diversity offering much in the way of outdoor activities and sights for the tourist. The unrest had pretty much completely shut down what was once a thriving tourist industry in Kashmir, and it’s now only starting to make a slow comeback. As a rule of thumb, the western area remains unsafe, while the eastern area (Ladakh) is fine – see “Stay safe” below.

Regions

  • Jammu – most will only stop here to change from train to bus en route to Kashmir. Jammu is the winter capital of state. It is famous for its temples
  • Kashmir – Some say it’s Heaven on Earth; friendly people, beautiful gardens, vast lakes and pristine streams and stunning landscapes: it’s all that but please see “Stay safe” below.
  • Ladakh – Truly amazing landscapes high up in the Himalayas, popular for trekking and with those on a search for the most serene place in the world.

Cities

  • Gulmarg – decent skiing and the World’s highest A boat in Dal lake, Srinagargondola.
  • Jammu – The winter capital of the state
  • Leh – The jumping off point for treks and adventures around Ladakh.
  • Nubra
  • Pahalgam – A calm and serene place offering multiple trekking routes. Starting point of Amarnath Yatra
  • Patnitop – A small hill station in Jammu
  • Srinagar – The summer capital of the state, set around famous Dal Lake, with its floating houseboats.
  • Udhampur

Understand

The inhabitants of J&K belong to three religions, with Kashmir being mainly Muslim, Jammu being mainly Hindu and the Ladakhis divided almost equally between Buddhists and Muslims.

Talk

The main languages spoken are Kashmiri, Ladakhi and Dogri. Most people speak at least a little Hindi/Urdu and you may even hear Punjabi.

As elsewhere in India, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.

Get inGulmarg

By air

Flights operate to Srinagar and Leh. Try Indian Airlines [2], Jet Airways [3] and Air Deccan [4].

By train

The last stop on the railway line north is Udhampur, where you can catch onward buses and hire sumos. However it is better to get down in Jammu and catch a taxi from there as these are more readily available.

By bus

There are two ways to get in by land – via Jammu and up to Srinagar or via Manali in Himachal Pradesh and up to Leh.

Get around

  • Buses are operated by J&K SRTC to most points around the state.
  • 4wd jeeps are quicker, a little more expensive and reach more locations. Private hire jeeps are also available.

See

Dal Lake , Srinagar [5] is unique in having hundreds of houseboats, which afford an opportunity to tourists to inhabit by the lake in an troposphere of peace and tranquility. Areas of the Dal Lake [6] are grouped with slanting roofed houses on islands, while other parts seems lush green like well-planned gardens.

Khilanmarg, Gulmarg[7] A 40-minute travel through valleys of wild flowers from Gulmarg to Khilanmarg offers a breathtaking view of the majestic peaks with their reflections in Wular and other lakes.

Alpather Lake Streaks of floating ice in this triangular lake, nestled in a hollow under the shadow of Apharwat Mountain are a visual delight. A well-graded pony track joins Apharwat Ridge with Gulmarg[8].

For more informations. Visit http://www.tripkashmir.com[9].

Eat

  • Pawan Fruit Ice cream near bakshi nagar in Jammu.
  • Kaladi(Special milk product like paneer) Kulcha in moti bazaar.
  • Phahalwan di hatti famous Sweet shop in Gandhi Nagar.
  • Eat kachalu at girdhari shop near pacca danga.
  • Good Non-Veg at Pape de hatti and pape the great- residency road,Paras raam de hatti at panjthirthi.

Drink

Kahwah is a traditional green tea recipe from Kashmir. The tea is made from green tea leaves with saffron strands, cinnamon bark and cardamom pods.Some varieties are made as a herbal infusion only, without the green tea leaves. Generally, it is served with sugar or honey, and crushed nuts, usually almonds or walnuts. There is another form of tea that is quite famous amongst the locals, its called ‘Namkeen Chai’ or ‘Nun Chai’. It is pink in color and is also called Pink Tea. It is made from black tea, cardamom, various spices, salt and bicarbonate of soda. Also people like nune toath and dum toath which are very famous among sufis. Nunetoath is nunechai without milk and Dumtoath is strong form of Kahwa.

Stay safePatnitop

While the situation in the Jammu and Kashmir regions of the state has steadily improved over the last 10 years, much of the Kashmir area still remains unsafe for travel. Kashmiri separatists still occasionally carry out attacks, but generally against the Indian Army and Indian interests, and aren’t usually targeting foreigners.

While you are very unlikely to be directly affected by the unrest, the security measures in place (roadblocks, random ID checks) will take away from visitors’ enjoyment in a place that was once known for its calm and beauty. The cities and major roads are probably safer than the countryside, considering the massive army presence – at least 1 soldier is stationed every 10 meters or so, and the roads are clogged with army convoys.

Much of the Kashmiri countryside remains unsafe, and trekking in this area would be unwise.

You will encounter Kashmiris all over India in the tourist areas, usually shop owners, who will encourage you to go to Kashmir and insist that it is completely safe. They aren’t the best source of information, and have an obvious interest in reviving the tourist industry in their homeland. Instead, check with your embassy and read the local papers for current information on the ever-changing situation.

Ladakh is far removed from the tension and can be considered totally safe.

A British government travel advisory indicates there have been a number of fatal incidents in Srinigar in 2006, some including overseas travelers. Foreigners are not being specifically targeted in this long running dispute, and those that were killed were in mixed crowds. However, with heightened tensions it becomes more difficult to avoid areas of conflict. Travelers planning to visit Srinagar should, therefore, maintain awareness at all times and regularly check travel advisories.

Trekking

There are marvelous trekking opportunities in Kashmir. On the Lake’s Trek for example the descent to Kishensar Lake shows a landscape similar to the Swiss alps – glacial peaks and lakes and valleys adorned with alpine flowers. Treks can be arranged in Srinagar – but best to consult with the Tourist Information office (located near the bus station). Many tourists end up practically trapped on house-boats which will try to organise trips and trekking for their guests, at a premium and without professional skill. (website for trekking in kashmir) has long professional experience and is an enthusiastic hiker.

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