The valley is distinctively marked by breath-taking lakes, fresh water streams, luscious fruits, magnificent forests, mighty mountains and lush meadows which makes it a paradise on Earth. The mountain-downs or “margs” are numerous on the tops of the hill ranges prominent being Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Yousmarg etc. Lidder Valley, Sindh Valley, Dachigam Valley, Gulmarg Valley, Gurez Valley, Yousmarg Valley are some of the breathtakingly beautiful valleys in Kashmir. A paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers.
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At Pandrethan , nearly 8 kilometers from Srinagar, Ashoka the Empreror founded the Srinagar city in 3rd Century BC as recorded in the Rajtarangni of Kalhana. Until 630 AD Srinagar remained the capital city of Kashmir when Parvarasana II established the new city called Parvarapura near Kohi-i-Maran (Hariparbat hill) - the present city which later came to be called as Srinagri. The present city of Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir State situated at an altitude of 1590 mtrs (5209 ft) having latitude 23-04' North and longitude 74-48' East.
With its almost medieval charm the city of Srinagar has sights, smells and sounds to enchant the most jaded traveller. Its typical roads and bustling bazaars are a photographer's delight. A Mughal fort, developed to its full size in the late 18th century by an Afghan governor named Atta mohammed Khan around and atop Kohi-i-Maran dominates the city. The low wall enclosing the upper part of the hill was constructed by Emperor Akbar. Sprawling from the southward from the base of the Hill, the old city is the nerve centrer of Srinagar. In Persian chronicles, it is called "Shehr-e-Khas" or Main City of Kashmir. Srinagar has long been Kashmir's most important commercial town. Boats have been a primary means of conveyance in the past. On the banks of river Jehlum, an arterial waterway, the city is formed over a dozen of bridges which span the River and include Zero bridge, Abdullah bridge, Amira kadal, Budshah kadal, Habba kadal, Fateh kadal, Zaina Kadal, Ali kadal,Nawa kadal & Safa kadal. Old brick buildings line the banks with distinctive look.
Srinagar is a unique city with breathtaking physical environment, lakes, mughal gardens, springs, golf course, hills & mountains,cycling tracks, trekking opportunities, angling ,water sports, indoor sports, world class hotels and an international conference centre, restaurants, traditional and continental foods. Besides, it is endowed with spiritual places , exquisite arts and crafts and rich heritage. Neolithic age ruins (Burzhama site) & Budhist era ruins ( Harwan) are an archeologist's delight.
Gulmarg reinforces its position as a PrimeWinter Destination( 2,730 m/56 km) from srinagar. 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.
The Valley of Shepherds" Situated at the confluence of the streams flowing from Sheshnag Lake and the Lidder river, Pahalgam (2,130 m) was once a humble shepherd's village with breathtaking views.
Around Pahalgam are many places of interest, and because the resort is set between fairly steep hills, it is worth hiring a pony rather than walking.
Sonamarg is situated at a distance of 84 kms from Srinagar, on the Srinagar-Ladakh Road. The route passes through the picturesque town of Ganderbal (21 kms), Kangan (40 kms) and Gund of the SindhValley, before reaching the resort. Spectacular views of the Harmukh range dominate the horizon. The drive to Sonamarg is through the SindhValley which presents yet another spectacular facet of countryside in Kashmir. Situated at an altitude of 2730 m, Sonamarg (‘The meadow of gold’) has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The SindhRiver that meanders through the valley abounds with trout. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, which is a major local attraction during the summer months.
Past Mughals gardens of Achabal with their tinkling fountains , thorugh the breathtaking splendour of the springs at Kokernag, lies Daksum. Quite away from it all , tucked away in a densely forested gorge, Daksum would be completely silent but for the Bringhi river which gushes though it.
Daksum is a walker's paradise. Up the hills which are swathed in coniferous trees, past gurgling brooks, the simple, haunting notes of a flute will waft down to you from where an unseen shepherd tends his flock. For in the hills surrounding Daksum, suddenly you will find yourself in grassy meadows where sheep are taken to pasture.
Daksum is a reviving experience - the bracing mountain air, the soltitude , the densely clad hills, and beyond them , snow covered mountains all contribute to Daksum's mystique , making it the perfect retreat.
Situated the lower of Bringhi valley, Kokernag (2,020 m, 70 kms fromSrinagar), is set amidst sprawling gardens fragrant with the bloom of thousands of flowers. The Kokernag spring bubbles at seven places at the foot of the forested mountain. The water of the spring is famous for its medicinal and digestive properties
A two hour drive from Srinagar ( 47 kms ) will take you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow clad mountains. This is Yusmarg - close enough to Srinagarfor a picnic, idyllic enough to make you want to stay for a few days. Here are walks of every sort - a leisurely amble along flower-strewn meadows or away to where a mighty river froths and crashes its way over rocks, its mild white foam earning it the name of Dudh Ganga. Further down, a captivating lake, Nilnag, is cradled by hills. Nearby are several peaks-Tatta Kutti and Sang Safed to name a couple of them. About 13 kms from Yusmarg, a short detour away from the Srinagar road, is Charari- Sharief, the Shrine of Kashmir’s patron saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din or Nund Reshi.
Gradually, the distant rumble becomes a roar as one approach the waterfall of Aharbal, which crashes down a narrow gorge. Aharbal is more than just a waterfall. There are several places to picnic in the surrounding areas, as well as delightful walks of varying lengths all over the hillsides. Interesting treks-one of them to the high altitude lake ofKounsernag at 13,500 ft above sea level-takes off from Aharbal. waterfall.
Located 80 kms from Srinagar at an altitude of 1,876 m, the spring of Verinag is believed to be the chief source of the river Jhelum. Construction of the octagonal base of the spring and the arcade around it was undertaken by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and completed during the reign of Shah Jahan. Down the stream to the east lie the remains of a Mughal pavilion and baths. Verinag can be approached through the link road, which turns off, from the national highway at Lower Munda.
LOLAB VALLEY (KASHMIR)
A three hour drive through the famed apple orchards of Sopore, through Kupwara district will bring you to this enchantingly lovely valley, visited by so few. But it is this very quality that makes Lolab so special- virtually flat lands planted with fields of paddy , verdant in summer, pure gold in autumn are offset to perfection for the gently rolling hills that encircle the valley , clad in the deepest green that is the colour of pines. Trees of walnut and apple whose colours reflect the changing of the seasons from nature's bounty here. And in the tiny hamlets that sprinkle the valley , you will see a life that is distinctly and uniquely Kashmiri. Timbered houses with sloping thatched roofs; the brillant vermillion of chillies drying from windows; women carrying samvovars of tea into the fields where every member of the family is engaged . In short Kashmiri village life as it has been led for centuries.