It has bewitched every heart that stumbled upon its beauty and stopped every pair of wandering feet in its tracks with its idyllic landscape. The celebrated Persian poet Firdausi gave it its best known epithet – A Paradise on Earth – and the Mughal emperors were so enamoured of its beauty that they spent a fortune building elaborate and lavish gardens here. There is perhaps no one who has been to Kashmir and not fallen irrevocably in love with India’s crowning jewel.
Want to experience the most rewarding scene a set of eyes could behold? Then plan a trip to the gorgeous Kashmir this summer. Book a flight to Srinagar or hop on a train to Jammu from where you can take a scenic drive to Srinagar and be forever transformed by the magic of the valley.
How Safe is Kashmir for Tourists?
That’s a question most of you planning a trip to Kashmir might ask yourselves. Is it safe to go looking for beauty in a place with security issues? Sure, the paradise has been scarred by an unfavourable past but today Kashmir is a safe holiday destination. If you are wondering where to beat the torturous heat this summer, then book a package tour to Kashmir right away. After all, Shah Rukh Khan and his entourage just spent an entire month there during the shooting of Jab Tak Hain Jaan!
Dos & Don’ts
Here are a few tips that you must keep in mind when in Kashmir:
1. One of the top priorities in making your trip safe should be making advance bookings of a hotel in Kashmir. Rooms are likely to be gobbled up like candy in the hands of a four-year-old because of the sheer number of visitors during peak season. Nearly 600,000 people set foot in the picturesque vales and hillsides of Kashmir in 2012. You don’t want to get stranded in that crowd, right?
2. Be smart and research for safe hotels before booking a room. You can find the best choices in and around the Dal Lake and Nehru Park area. You could try: Batra Hotel & Residences, PK Sarovar Portico, Savoy Group of Houseboats, Hotel Broadway among many others.
3. Getting around Srinagar is easy with options ranging from rented vehicles, taxis and the ubiquitous auto-rickshaws. Your hotel’s front desk or the owner of the Houseboat could also help you hire a motorcycle (costs between Rs. 800 and Rs.1,300 per day) or a taxi. Auto-rickshaws will cost you an average of Rs. 70 for a trip from Dal Lake area to most city attractions. It’s advisable to fix rates before you leave.
4. If you’re planning on hiring a guide to show you around the city and take you to other destinations, negotiate and get a fix on a price before you start. Guides, especially in high season, are prone to hiking prices immensely and you don’t want to fall in the argument trap with them!
5. An important thing to know is that mobile phones registered in states outside of J&K do not work here. Also, you can’t buy a pre-paid mobile phone in the state. What a pickle, right? Solve the problem by bringing a post-paid connection from BSNL or Airtel.
6. Make some new friends, preferably with the locals, to get a finger on the general pulse of the area. They’ve been at it longer than you and would be more than willing to help out in the unfortunate event you get caught in the middle of some trouble.
7. Finally, keep family and friends in the loop on your travel plans, be aware of your surroundings and give late night walks a miss! Shop, eat, gawk at the magnificence of the Himalayas and give us a shout to tell us about it when you’re back.