Jammu and Kashmir embodies a feeling that only a few get to experience. Dubbed as, “Paradise on Earth”, this region carries with it places that have been extensively travelled and many unexplored. But the ones who truly understand the beauty of Kashmir are the ones who live in it. An exploration of this region will have you reeling at the sight of beautiful vast valleys, green rolling meadows, lofty white mountain peaks, and the clear blue sky under which they thrive. However the Kashmir known to many is not entirely Kashmir. It is when you deviate from the most recommended activities and places to marvel at the local life in idyllic places that you might know Kashmir and its beauteous charm. With the lockdown nearing its end here, we have gathered a list of things to do here!
Untouched by modern settlement, the region inhabits a beautiful ethnicity that carries forth a rich culture and a heavy history. Moreover, one can’t help but miss the feeling of sipping pink coloured namkheen chai while drinking in the beautiful landscape before us. As the unrest settles and the state gears up to reopen itself, we can’t wait to go back into this paradise.
UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO IN JAMMU AND KASHMIR
The article lists activities that are offbeat. We have selected with careful consideration of factors such as time and budget. Most activities are accessible to people with busy schedules who can set a day or weekend aside for each activity.
Water ski in Dal Lake
The adventurous spirit inside you can be honed with the activity of Water Skiing in Jammu and Kashmir. It will definitely well match the deep restless energy within you. It is a sport that will allow the enthusiast to experience the water body with dramatic splashes! In Jammu, you can opt to do Water Skiing at the Water Skiing facility available at Dal Lake. The wide basin of Dal Lake, Bod-Dal, has privately owned bathing boats that hire water skies and professional instructors.
Furthermore, the beautiful atmosphere of the Dal Lake with shimmering water surrounded by lofty brown mountains makes the sight quite aesthetic. To exercise your talent and skill through water sports, head over to Dal Lake in Srinagar for a fun experience.
Stay in huts in the Doodhpathri meadows
Doodhpathri is one of the many beautiful meadows that Kashmir has to offer! It is a hill station located in the Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir which is a 1-hour drive from Srinagar. Doodhpathri translates to Valley of Milk. The name comes from the river that appears to look as misty and white as milk from afar as it flows through the valley. This river is also attached to a legend revolving around the famous saint of Kashmir Sheikh ul Aalam Sheikh Noor din Noorani who has prayed here and pricked the ground for water but instead, found milk.
The expansive meadows of the valley are carpeted with lush green grass with shimmering water streaming amidst it. The place lies in a bowl-shaped valley that does not have a permanent settlement. The idyllic place is dotted with cattle grazing on the green grass across the meadows. Moreover, the local government has made efforts to make the place accessible by establishing government-owned huts for accommodation. You can even pop into the huts of the friendly locals who would be happy to host you for a day.
However, mind you that you may not get proper internet here so it is the perfect site to unwind far away from the world.
Eat your fill of meat mixed with Mawal Flowers
An experience of Jammu and Kashmir is incomplete without the taste of the Kashmiri Wazwan dishes that dominated the traditional banquet. One of the most popular dishes in Kashmiri cuisine is the Rogan Josh. It is well known that the Kashmiri as heavy meat eaters given the perpetual climate conditions of the state. But the scrumptious twist they put to meat is something best understood by experiencing it. It is of Persian origin and is quite aromatic. However, one of the traditional Wazwan way of cooking the Rogan Josh is to mix it with Mawal ka Phool or Mawal Flower. The Mawal ka Phool is a fiery red flower or dried cockscomb flower that is indigenous to the valley.
Further on, the Wazwan cuisine is a multi-course meal served in a banquet or Traem/Trammi therefore, it is not something you’ll find easily. We recommend Ahdoo’s Hotel’s restaurant for a great and authentic experience of Wazwan dishes especially the Rogan Josh. The other dishes worth trying out are Gushtaba, Tabak Maz, Rista which are popular mutton dishes.
Mountain biking through the hills
Another exciting activity that Kashmir fosters is the thrilling rush of mountain biking through its hills. The topography of Jammu and Kashmir effectively suits the activity of mountain biking which gives adventure seekers a key to exploring this place in a unique fashion. Beating the sunshine and breathing in the fresh sharp air of the region as you bike through its hills tackling one beautiful landscape after another is surely a great way to experience a place. Through the mountain biking routes available, you can witness the thick pine and deodar trees along with paddy fields, water streams, village markets and the dark woods.
Moreover, it will give you a perfect glimpse of the virgin nature of Kashmir in an eco-friendly manner. The best biking routes are Gulmarg to Pahalgam, Pahalgam to Srinagar, Sonmarg to Wular/Manasbal Lake, and Srinagar to Sonmarg. It is advisable to keep a sunscreen lotion, water bottle, and sunglasses with you.
Explore snow wildlife at Hemis National Park
Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh that spreads across various regions houses a bountiful of flora and fauna that represent nature’s beautiful creations. One of the best ways to explore and understand the wildlife residing in the union territory is to visit Hemis National Park. It is one of the most popular national parks within the territory and has the highest number of snow leopards in the whole world. Blanketed with snow, the national park is at a high altitude region which provides perfect shelter to the animals that habitat in colder areas.
Moreover, you can even spot the Tibetan wolf, the Red Fox, Himalayan mouse hare, mountain weasel and the Eurasian brown bear that is currently endangered. The park is also a perfect place to indulge in bird watching. The Hemis National Park is the largest national park of India and it preserves the natural unbound beauty of nature here. The Indus River flows along the borders of the park.
Additionally, you may even opt for traditional homestays in this region for a lovely weekend getaway.
Walk through the Meadows of Lolab Valley
The beauty of Lolab Valley has a certain divinity to it that beckons travellers to its enticing valley. Lolab Valley is the best place to go backpacking as you can walk along the meadows and trails within the valley to witness the pristine nature. The valley is oval-shaped and offers orchards, paddy fields, green meadows, clear springs and beautiful blue lakes. Furthermore, its fruit orchards are what attracts people there which is evident from the abundance of apple, cherry, peach, apricot and walnut trees in the region.
Locally known as, ‘Wadi-e-Lolab’, the place has been attributed to the title of ‘the land of love and beauty’ by the poets that sing its praises. Moreover, it houses two beautiful and unbelievably clear springs called Gauri and Lavnang.
The valley even has a relatively unexplored cave called Kalaroos cave that people believe connected Kashmir to Russia. This beautiful and enigmatic valley has a lot to offer for backpackers and explorers.
Drive to Sinthan Top for a Mesmerizing View
Sinthan Top is one of the rarely explored places in Jammu and Kashmir and therefore, it sees a very less crowd much to any traveller’s joy. It is a mountain pass that offers a fascinating view which will make you fall in love with the place. The drive to the top is accessible and well maintained so it makes a perfect long drive with family or friends. Dense pine trees, deep blue lakes and lofty mountains engulf the landscape. The view of nature and the two different mountain valleys is exquisitely beautiful.
Further on, the spot stands at 12,000 feet above the sea level and provides a perfect vantage point for the people to witness the picturesque landscape ahead. The top offers you a 360° degree view of a dizzyingly beautiful landscape wherein you’ll find yourself lost in awe. Moreover, the journey to Sinthan Top in itself is quite an experience.
Hike to the Beautiful Nilnag Lake
The hike to the beautiful Nilnag Lake spans over 5kms in a lovely steep uphill journey. The hike is usually taken by those who visit Yusmarg or Yousmarg which is its base location. Yusmarg refers to Meadows of Jesus and is a charming little hill station that is quite inviting in its appeal. The local belief is that Jesus Christ stayed at Yusmarg during his travel of the world. Moreover, there are even contentious claims of his burial and tomb at this place but the alluring local belief and the tranquillity of the place is unforgettable.
From here on, people embark on a hike to Nilnag Lake. It is not a long trek but it offers a great trail along the water streams and through pine forests. The hike uphill is equally as rewarding as the sight of the lake. The lake is quite beautiful and blue which gives it the name ‘Nilnag’. You can rejuvenate from the energy spent by sitting by the lake and relaxing with friends. You will even be able to see fishes swimming in the water.
Try Angling At Kokernag
Kashmir is well known as an angler’s paradise as most of its water bodies, especially streams, are crystal clear and are home to many trout fishes. One of the many valleys that provide a good angling experience is Kokernag. Kokernag offers travellers a great insight into the exchange between man and nature. Not only is the green valley of Kokernag home to a beautiful fresh spring believed to have magical healing properties but it is quite popular for its trout-stocked streams. Moreover, the place has historical significance as it was mentioned in the Ain Akbari for having water that satisfied both hunger and thirst and soothed indigestion.
The Kokernag spring has a Trout Fish Hatchery where its channels are full of fishes of different sizes and ages. These fishes are reared for its seeds that are further exported to the north earth and Bhutan. The trout culture in Kokernag is quite fascinating and the best place for angling enthusiasts to check out the trout first-hand.
Explore the Natural Beauty of Chatpal
Chatpal in Kashmir is quite similar to the popular Pahalgam yet it goes up one notch as it lacks the frequency of travellers. An exploration of Chatpal will leave the nature lover and solitary seeker in you quite satisfied. Chatpal is marked with untouched woods and forests with a beautiful stream winding its way across the valley. Under the blue sky dominated by thick clouds, this offbeat valley embodies heavenly characteristics of nature. You will witness the landscape painted green interrupted by the gurgling of fresh streams.
Furthermore, Chatpal even offers a trek to the valley that will etch amazing memories of your journey. One of the highlights of Chatpal is the sunset! To watch the golden rays sweep over the snow-capped mountains as a backdrop to the lovely meadows is a sight that you won’t witness very often. There are 2 government accommodations available at Chatpal if you wish to stay overnight. The place does not have any electricity and therefore, one should make preparations accordingly.
On another note, Woovly requests the countrymen to stay inside their houses and follow the guidelines issued by the government. In these times of need, please help the needy and do whatever is under your capabilities to help the country.
Wish it> Do it> Woovly