India is the first of the countries I have traveled to outside my country. India is located on the three sides of my country, and it has many tourist places. Kashmir is a tourist place in India, known as the paradise of the earth. There is nothing new to say about the beauty of Kashmir because the Mughal emperor of India, Jahangir, was fascinated by the beauty of Kashmir and first compared it to the paradise of the earth. All travelers strongly desire to visit Kashmir at least once in life, and every year many people rush to be fascinated by the immense beauty of Kashmir. I also went there a few days ago; that was a thrilling feeling for me. And after coming back, I also realized that the words of Emperor Jahangir are not false at all. I am sharing my Kashmir tour experience in this article so that first-time travelers can have some ideas to prepare.
The most important thing before going on a tour is Preparation. The Tour will be enjoyable only when the Preparation is excellent and organized. Every job should have proper planning, and the same goes for tours. Physical and mental Preparation is vital for the Tour. I usually mentally prepare at least a month in advance for tours abroad. At the same time, I book the plane tickets in advance wherever necessary because you know that it is very convenient to book the plane tickets in advance. And it is better to decide in advance where to stay at the destination because sometimes it becomes very tough to find a hotel there when there is a large number of travelers. In that case, you should search online and book a hotel at your convenience. Nowadays, online booking of all types of hotels in any tourist place is available. Finally, at least two days before I start packing the bag and making the final preparations.
As per my plan, I booked Dhaka to Kolkata flight ticket first. Then as I was planning to stay in Kolkata for three days, I booked the flight ticket from Kolkata to New Delhi according to the date. And instead of taking a direct flight from New Delhi to Srinagar, I took a bus to Jammu and then took a car to Srinagar because I wanted to enjoy the thrill of traveling through hilly roads with twists and turns. Finally, I reached Srinagar as per my plan, and I will never forget that thrilling feeling of the journey from Jammu to Srinagar.
An unexpected trap: Since I intended to travel to Jammu by bus from New Delhi, I went to the Kashmir gate bus station and looked for a bus. At that time, after being cheated by a broker, I boarded a bus, and the destination of that bus was not actually Jammu. The bus terminated at Ludhiana in the middle of the night, and no bus was available from there to Jammu then. There I had to stay in a hotel, and later with the help of the hotel staff, I took a bus from Ludhiana to Jammu. So, my suggestion to all the new tourists is to be careful to stay away from these kinds of broker traps and always buy tickets from recognized ticket counters of popular transports.
It is essential to register your passport first on reaching Srinagar. Passport registration is mandatory for all foreigners in Kashmir for security reasons. There is a foreign passport registration office right in front of Srinagar Dal Lake where this urgent task needs to be done. On the other hand, if you arrive in Srinagar by direct flight, you will find a separate desk at the airport to complete this task. Basically, in a form, you must provide your passport number, visa number, why you came, where you will stay, how long you will stay, etc.
Another important thing is to manage the SIM for communication because even if you have an All-India SIM, it doesn’t work in Jammu and Kashmir. And getting a SIM in Kashmir is very difficult and often impossible. However, many taxi drivers have extra SIMs you can get for your stay by being friendly with them.
The entire city of Kashmir is like a paradise; the horizon is a pair of tall mountains and a fair of white snow. On the way from Jammu to Srinagar, the beauty of Kashmir slowly unfolds with a thrilling feeling. There are many places to visit in this state, and some prominent places are named here.
Srinagar: At the beginning of exploring Srinagar, you will see white snow particles covered like snow on the hilltops. Srinagar also has Dal Lake, Nagin Lake, Hazrat Bal Mosque, Mughal Garden, Indira Gandhi Tulip Garden, Botanical Garden, Nishat Bagh, Chashmeshahi Bagh, Shalimar Bagh, Parimhal, Shankaracharya Hill, etc. I found the floating city of Dal Lake lively, where I spent an entire afternoon.
Sonamarg: After exploring Srinagar, my destination was Sonamarg which is 42 km from Srinagar with beautiful valleys and waterfalls. On the way, you can see the beautiful river Sind. You will also find Thajiwas Glacier, Jajila Pass, Martand Mandir, Kokarnag, Nubra Valley, Dudhputri, Chhatpal, Gangabal Lake, Visanthar Lake, Gadsar Lake, Sastar Lake, etc. Here are some of the finest spots for sledding, snow biking, horseback riding, and fishing.
Gulmarg: My third destination was Gulmarg. Just 52 km from Srinagar is spread over green grass and is famous for being covered with snow throughout the year. Gondola, Golf Course, Baba Rishi Shrine, Afarwat Peak, and St. Mary’s Church are here. Above all, this place is known for its two-stage cable car and ropeway. Here different fares are fixed for climbing each step where in winter, the snow is available on the first step, and the rest of the time, you must reach the second step. Apart from this, the fun of paragliding is also available in this Gulmarg.
Pahalgam: Have you already filled your camera or mobile phone’s memory by taking pictures while wandering around in the beauty of Kashmir? The natural beauty of Kashmir still remains. A 97 km taxi ride from Srinagar leads to Pahalgam, my last spot—Apple orchards on both sides of the road from Anantnag on the way from Srinagar. The most exciting places in Pahalgam are Pahalgam View Point, Aru Valley, Betab Valley, Kashmir Valley Point, Chanderwari, Lidar River, Dhabian, Kanimarg, etc. Among them, Aru Valley, a small hill village 12 km from Pahalgam, must be mentioned separately. In the hot season, one has to be mesmerized by the green nature here, and in winter, there is the eye-catching beauty covered with snow where the pleasure can be multiplied by skating in the snow. Besides, the beauty of Baisaran, considered a mini-Switzerland, is also one of the attractive places for tourists.
Also, there are more unique things that I have missed due to lack of time. Next time, I will attend Gurage Valley, Seven Lakes Trek, Trout Fishing, etc.
Dhaka to Kolkata flight tickets can be found for around Tk 20000; however, it may cost less if you buy two or a month in advance and more if you buy instant. Then domestic flight tickets from Kolkata to New Delhi can be purchased for around Rs. 6,000. To reach from New Delhi to Jammu by bus will cost about 1200 rupees. Jammu to Srinagar can be reached by car, which costs around Rs 800-1500 per person. Negotiating the rent or other expenses at various tourist spots would be best. Finally, on my way back from Kashmir, I didn’t dare back by road. So, I came from Srinagar to Delhi by direct flight. Air tickets from Srinagar to Delhi are available roughly between 12000 to 20000, depending on the flight and class.
Some Essential Tips for Kashmir Tour:
- Booking flights one to two months in advance through a travel agency or (if possible) online will save you money.
- At the same time, the cost will be less if you book the hotel in advance according to your budget and preferences.
- When visiting Kashmir in winter, preparations are necessary, and taking more time for a tour in Kashmir is better.
- Some flatterers or brokers extort money by telling and enticing to increase the fun of traveling to tourist spots in Kashmir. So, spend the money after verifying well.
- A good idea for first-time tourists is to go to Kolkata first, as I did, and then go to Kashmir, and it will also explore Kolkata and cost less. On the way back, you can also visit Ladakh.
- Exchange money to rupees after knowing the rate of cash and rupee online.
- Do haggle before buying anything, as everything in Kashmir is priced a bit higher than for foreign tourists.
- Kashmiri food has a lot of spices, so it should be eaten with some understanding. And here usually all the shops close after 8 pm.
- Travel tax (Tk 500 for Bangladeshis at the Sonali Bank branch) must be deposited before traveling to India by road or train only.