Talking about Kashmir tourism, Amir Khusrou, the famous Persian emperor and poet had once said, “Agar firdous baroye Zameen ast, Hami asto, Hami asto Hami asto”, which can be translated as, if there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here. Cold breezes, tall and green trees competing to stand out, a myriad of beautifully decorating colorful flowers, serene lakes and breathtaking snow-capped mountains that complete the landscape, is what tourism in Kashmir is all about! The alluring and verdant landscapes dotted with pine trees and bubbling streams of crystal clear water coupled with lush green meadows that stretch as far as the eyes can see makes a Kashmir holiday really enchanting.
A vacation in Kashmir is literally one for the picture postcards! With serene valleys and picturesque forests all over, this is the one place for photography and nature lovers alike. Moreover, the romantic appeal of the environment is something that needs to be experienced once in a lifetime to be truly felt! The summers in Kashmir is bountiful and colorful while winters in Kashmir is serene and blanketed in white snow. The array of activities and adventure sports that you can experience here are sure to leave you thrilled! Kashmir tourism season has something for everyone; the Amarnath Yatra for the religious, adventure sports for the thrill seekers, natural serenity, and beauty for the romantic and a path to self-discovery for the solo travelers.
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Currency: Indian Rupee.
Population: 12.55 million.
Time Zone: UTC +05:30
Area: 2,22,236 Sq Km.
Capital: Srinagar in Summer, Jammu in Winter.
Official Language: Urdu.
Capital's Calling Code: 0194 in Srinagar, 0191 in Jammu.
Kashmir is the northernmost part of India as per the geography. Earlier, the region between the Pir Panjal Mountain Range and the Great Himalayas was known as Kashmir. However, post the mid 19th century, this region’s borders were extended to cover a larger area. It now includes Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir regions which are the areas under Indian control, the Pakistan controlled territories of Gilgit-Baltistan & Azad Kashmir and Trans-Karakoram Trakt & Aksai Chin regions which are under Chinese control. The area under Indian control is home to several valleys including, Tawi Valley, Kashmir Valley, Punch Valley, Chenab Valley, Lidder Valley, Sind Valley among many others.
J&K are further divided into 22 different districts for east of administration. The significant ones among them being, Anantang, Jammu, Srinagar, Udhampur and Baramulla.
Initially, the town of Shrinagari was set up by the Buddhist Mauryan emperor Ashoka, and hence Buddhism prevailed all over Kashmir. Ashoka was followed by the Karkota Empire which originated in this region and made it one of the principal places in South Asia. As time progressed, the Muslims set their foot in the area and brought Islam into the state; followed by Mughals, Afghans and the Sikhs. All these religious issues made Jammu and Kashmir as one of the most disputable lands of India. As a result of this, it has been separated into three parts, each of them belonging to Pakistan, India, and China. So far, Kashmir is the only place in India which has a majority of people who believe in Islam. Due to this, it has been a significant target for many terrorist threats in the past. Despite all these fact, the tourism in Kashmir has attracted crowds from all the areas of the world.
The area of Kashmir controlled by India consists of the Kashmir Valley, Jammu, and Ladakh. Kashmir Valley mainly comprises of a vast population that belongs to the Islam community; followed by Jammu which consists of about 30% of Muslims and Ladakh which has about 46% of Muslims in the vicinity. The total population of India's division of Jammu and Kashmir is 12.5 million; out of which Kashmir Valley has a share of 4 million; followed by Jammu having 3 million and Ladakh having 0.25 million people residing in the respective areas.
While Muslims are the majority at 90%, there are primarily three different faiths which dominate the J&K region; Islamists, Gujjars and Kashmiri Pandits. The Muslim community is further divided into two sects; the Shias and the Sunnis. In addition to people from these three faiths, there are also scant populations of Hindus and Buddhists in a few areas of Jammu and Kashmir.
People in Jammu speak Hindi, Punjabi, and Dogri; while those in Kashmir speak the local language of Kashmiri, and the Ladakh region is all about Tibetan and Balti languages. Kashmiri is an Indo-Aryan language; also known as Koshur. The people living in Kashmir Valley speak Kashmiri. Thanks to Kashmir tourism, most of them understand Hindi, and it would not be a problem to communicate with people in Kashmir if you know Hindi.
The Indian Rupee is the standard currency in use in J&K.
Cost and Money:
In basic hotels at Kashmir, you can stay for about INR 1000 per night for two people; it also has many luxury places where they can charge you anywhere between INR 7000-9000 per night. It all depends on the kind of places you choose and the type of places you want to stay in. The hotels located near famous tourist places occasionally charge higher than the ones away from the famous area. It is advisable to stay in the popular area because of the transport issues you might face due to adverse weather conditions sometimes. The main mode of transport in Kashmir is by taxis. These taxis charge their rates depending upon the distance the type of car you choose. It can range from INR 2000-2500 per day when it is from Srinagar and for local taxis, it will cost you approximately INR 1500-2000 for three points.
Make sure you have a comfortable car as sightseeing in Kashmir means long journeys on roads that are not really great. Local public transportation is not really well connecting. Trips by buses to popular tourist spots cost around 100 to 200 per trip. Local cuisine here is moderately priced. A regular meal can cost approximately 350-400 at local joints. This can go up to 700 to 800 per person at the better restaurants out there. The budget can be around INR 1000-15000 approximately per person if you wish to stay for one week including the hotel, meals, transfer, and sightseeing.
Though ATMs are available in every nook and corner of the place, it is always advisable to carry cash when you are in Kashmir. The mid-range or budget hotels do not accept cards at times. However, if you enter Pahalgam, Sonmarg, and Gulmarg; the number of ATMs will decrease, so make sure you have cash with you in case you want to savor the delicacies of local eateries in Kashmir. It is entirely safe to roam around in Kashmir; even with the cash, so you need not worry much about thefts and robberies. In all the famous eateries and shopping complexes, credit cards are widely accepted.
Tourism in Kashmir is becoming popular day by day. In recent years, the government is taking many steps to make this place better for the tourists. With increased harmony and security measures, the valley is witnessing one the highest tourist influxes it has witnessed in a relatively long time. The local population is welcoming and you will even get many local guides at public transport stops and tourist places.
My holidays were not good...they were the BEST ! Thanks to the Team of Thomas Cook
My cousins were visiting from USA for a wedding and we had a few days in hand. This was a perfect opportunity to revisit old days and Jammu and Kashmir felt like a perfect destination to do so. We went to Patnitop, Srinagar, Pahalgam, Aru Valley and Sonamarg. The trip was managed with superb professional capacity and the entire package was world class.
I had booked a package for Vaishno Devi and Patnitop for my parents. Thomas Cook ensured that they will have a comfortable travel experience and everything will be managed by their representatives in Jammu. My parents didn’t have a single issue during their journey and returned home with fond memories.
The idea of this family vacation was to make it a mix of pilgrimage as well as sightseeing. Thomas Cook arranged a plan starting from Vaishno Devi and ending in Gulmarg. It was an amazing journey from the mystical lands of Kashmir. The shikara ride in Dal Lake, Snow sports in Sonamarg and Gondola Rides. All 15 of us were so happy after returning from the trip.