How To Reach Kashmir
The fastest way to travel to Kashmir is by air. Srinagar Airport, also called Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport, is connected to most of the major cities in India, such as Jammu, Leh, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bangalore. There are numerous airlines that operate regular flights between these destinations, including Air India, Jet Airways, GoAir and IndiGo. Kashmir is approximately 566 km from Delhi, 1674 km from Mumbai, 167 km from Srinagar and 2330 km from Chennai. Travel time will depend on which city you are flying from.
Srinagar Airport has all the conveniences that a modern terminal offers. Here you can grab a quick bite before commencing on your next journey, withdraw cash at the ATMs or exchange foreign currency at the exchange counters. You can even browse through and pick up artefacts at the souvenir shops.
Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport is at a height of 5,445 ft and it is 12 kilometres from the city centre. Once you are at the airport, you can simply hire a cab that will take you to your destination within the city or even further beyond. The airport offers domestic as well as international connectivity. You can easily get a connecting flight to where your next destination is.
Kashmir has excellent road connectivity making it an easy destination for someone looking to make a road trip here. You can hire a cab or choose to drive down yourself, taking in the beautiful scenery along the way. Slow down, stop to take pictures and enjoy a drive through some of the most beautiful locales in India.
Or if you wish, you can also hop aboard any of the State-owned or private luxury buses that ply between Kashmir and other major cities in India. Sit back comfortably and enjoy the countryside as it speeds past you. These buses are operated by the Jammu & Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation and can take you to almost all corners of the state.
India has an excellent railway network and it does the job of whisking people from one corner of the country to another, splendidly. If you have time on your hand and wish to see the countryside, a train journey to Kashmir is highly recommended.
Jammu is well connected to the rest of the country and you can opt for any of the several overnight trains such as the Jhelum Express, the Jammu Tawi, Jammu Rajdhani, Swaraj Express, Humsafar Express, etc. The last stop on this railway line is Udhampur, from where you have the option of taking an onward bus or hiring SUVs/ MUVs. It is recommended that passengers get down at Jammu Railway Station as there are more taxis reliable available and lower chances of you getting fleeced. Ensure that you only get into a registered taxi and are clear about the fare. You can check for pre-paid taxis that will take you to your destination.
The journey to Jammu will take you through the Pir Panjal Railway tunnel. At 11.215 km, it is the longest railway tunnel in India. You can continue till Udhampur if you’re heading to the famous Vaishno Devi Temple and Shivnori, the shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The Kashmir Railway is currently under construction and when completed it will connect all of Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. The project will take off from Udhampur, where the current railway ends, and go another 290 kilometres until it reaches the city of Baramulla on the north-western edge of the Kashmir Valley.
Most people head straight to Srinagar when they think of Kashmir. It is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places on earth, and there is much that you can see and enjoy there.
However, if you wish to check out what else the state has in store for you, then you can decide to take off on a journey of your own within Kashmir. The state has an excellent transportation network and you will soon be on a blissful journey.
The next step after reaching will depend entirely on whether you have taken a flight or arrived by train – in both cases, your final arrival point is different.
After you land at Srinagar Airport, you can hire a taxi at the airport itself. There are pre-paid taxi counters where you can book your cab to your destination. You can either head to the city centre, which is about 12 kilometres away, or you can travel further onward, heading to a different city.
If you’ve travelled by train and are at Jammu or Udhampur, you can once again take a cab from outside the railway station. If you are heading to Kashmir, then Jammu is a better option since you get more cabs there. For going further to Vaishno Devi, continue till Udhampur and then hire a cab.
Whatever your holiday plans in Kashmir, you need to figure out how you can move around the state with ease. Your mode of transport will get decided by the duration of your trip and the itinerary.
Renting a car
Having a car with you on your vacation makes it more convenient to travel. If you have driven down yourself, your transport is already set. Alternatively, you can rent a car on a daily basis or for the duration of your trip. Do note that you will not be allowed to take the car out of cities and might need to rent a separate car at every destination. Make sure you carry your driving license before you leave for Kashmir. A travel agency might be willing to rent you a car without one, but if you get pulled over by a cop, you will either have to part with a lot of money or bribe your way out a sticky situation. You can also hire a 4WD jeep with a driver that makes it easier to get to certain high-altitude locations.
If you’re traveling on a tight budget, hop aboard a State or private inter-city bus that will take you to your destination city. If you are willing to travel with a pre-planned itinerary, do check out package tours to Sonmarg, Gulmarg, Yusmarg, Ular Lake, etc. If you wish, you can book a complete city tour. Every city has a Tourist information Centre where you can get information and tickets.
Are you heading to Kashmir soon? Before you do, please have a look at Thomas Cook’s Kashmir Holiday Packages. If you wish, we can take care of all your travel-related needs, such as flight or train tickets. We can also help you exchange your currency for some Indian Rupees.