Sonmarg – The picturesque “Meadow of Gold”
Sonmarg, the “Meadow of Gold”, is famous for its incredible landscapes and wonderful excursions. There are several beautiful lakes in the vicinity all reach by shorter or longer treks based from Sonmarg. A popular excursion is the one to the little valley of Baltal, at the bottom of Zojila, a one-day journey from Amarnath, a base camp for Amarnath Yatra, a sacred hindu cave situated at an altitude of 3,888 metres.
Gulmarg – The skier’s paradise known as the ”Meadow of Flowers”
Gulmarg is a great place for travelers looking for adventure. There is a lot to do here; skiing, mountain biking, fishing or golfing. A trip on the French-built Gulmarg Gondola, one of the highest cable cars in the world reaching Mount Apharwat (summit at 4,200 meters) close to the summit at 3,979 meters. Gulmarg is rated one of the best ski resorts in Asia and described, by CNN, as the “heartland of winter sports of India”.
Pahalgam – From Bollywood film-shooting to tourist health resort.
The most developed tourist destination in the Valley of Kashmir, Pahalgam, housing several modern hotels and resorts, is a popular starting point for reaching the Amarnath Yatra as well as hiking to the breathtaking Kolahoi Glacier. From the town of Chandanwari a steep trek can be undertaken, either on foot or by pony, to the Amarnath Yatra, passing the mountain lake of Sheshnag. There are a lot of activities in the vicinity of Pahalgam such as trekking, horse riding and golf.
Patnitop – Spectacular plateau, paragliding over pine-forest landscapes
Located at an altitude of 2024 metres Patnitop has spectacular views over the Shivalik Range. The beautiful river Chenab, a major river of India and Pakistan, flow close by Patnitop. Praised by visitors for its beautiful surroundings and entertaining activities, the pine-forests landscapes and high plateau location allow for amazing trekking, paragliding, rock climbing and rappelling. Don’t forget to try the popular dessert patisa, a type of cardamom cake, and other sweets in the nearby town of Kud.
Ladakh – the Land of Buddha and astronomy
Stretching out to the eastern parts of Jammu & Kashmir, bordering Tibet, is the region of Ladakh. It is often called the Land of Buddha since it is spotted with Tibetan monasteries, Gompas, prayer flags and prayer wheels. The culture is very Tibetan with similar architecture and a similar language. Visit the beautiful Pangong Lake, camping there for a night, or the so called “Valley of Flowers”, Nubra Valley, with white sand dunes, wonderful scenery and several monasteries. If you enjoy gazing at the stars it might be worth visiting one of the many observatories in the region, which is emerging as an astronomy centre because of its high altitude and clear skies.