Pahalgam is the most beautiful and the most romantic places on earth.
A town with beautiful hills, abundant greenery, river flowing with crystal clear green waters, colorful flowers, ultimate beautiful landscapes, pleasant climate and blessed by god. An ideal place to live.
Situated on the banks of Lidderwat and Sheshnag rivers off Srinagar Jammu highway at a distance of 95 KM (2Hrs 30mins drive) from Srinagar is Pahalgam or the valley of Shepherds. Traveling through meandering roads of north Kashmir, Pahalgam opens up with a fresh cool breeze of the Lidder River. Pahalgam is the gateway for Amarnath Yatra from May to August via Chandanwadi which is motorable and of late, helicopter service has started from Pahalgam to Amarnath Caves. Sheshnag River flows down from Sheshnag Lake and joins Lidder River at Pahalgam. Pahalgam can be approached from the Jammu Srinagar NH 1A via Bijbehra or via Ananthnag.
It took me around 3 to 4 hours to reach Pahalagm from Gulmarg via Anantnag district.Lush Greenery surrounded with Pine trees,the roads filled with apple trees, on my way I could nt stop my self from getting in the apple farm.It was like getting treasure. I ended up buying box of apples back to bangalore and the kashmiri promised me it wont get spoiled for another 10 days and I trusted him and bought one box.
I headed to Pahalgam after the apple feast and 30 mins later reached my Hut.Beautiful as always,beneath the woods.Pahalgam reminded me of the Fairytale stories I read in books and the places they described.My list of places to visit in Pahalagam were ready,bargained with the ponny guys and I was all set.Pahalgam is not a mere hill-station. Its a recreation resort .Its like going into the lap of nature to do many things - one of the best - that "do-nothing". You want to have a romantic trip with your beloved, want to get together with you family, and have what they call a 'quality' family time, you want to do those little interesting things with the family and kids, like take a pony ride, just picnic next to a beatiful river, just lie down under the sun next to your 'hut' with fresh breeze blowing, and read a book, or have a game of cards.
Pahalgam is given the slogan heaven on earth,I have been to many countries but nothing impressed me as Kashmir valley did ,specially Pahalgam.I came back from scandivania recently but I must say nothing compared to Pahalgam. A number of treks in this region also begin from Pahalgam, as the 35 km trail traverses through pinewoods to the spectacular Kolahoi glacier.
My list of places of I wanted to Visit were Betaab Valley, Baisaran,Lidder river,Aru Valley,Chandanwari , Sheshnag,Tulian Lake,Amatnath Cave,kolahoi Glacier.
But since I went during the winters ,the start of december few of my destination which were on my list could not happen.
Amarnath yatra gates open from chandanwari from july untill august , Kolahoi Glacier Trek is possible again only in the summers,Tulian Lake gates wont open untill summers and on the way to Amarnath Cave is the Sheshnag Lake. So now I was left with few places and wnated to make the best out of it.
Off in the pony to Baisaran with beautiful views across pine trees,,mountains and huge rocks,Zig Zag ways above the hills and the pony is so well trained I must say.Most of the time on the pony I had the feeling that im gonna end up having an accident.
After more than an hour pony ride it was worth the pain in my ass.Baisaran used to be a hunting place for the kings in the Mughul times.Baisaran Hills is enclosed by a dense forest of pines, firs and cedars over the Lidder Valley, this makes for a perfect campsite.
All I dremt of doing was to make a campsite and stay back there over night ,( yes sometimes my thoughts go over my head)
After spending some quality time in baisaran the pony guy took me to few more places and told me another one hour from here up above the hill is the Tulian Lake and beacuse of winters the gates have been closed.Later he shows me some really nice Gujjar huts (OMG I WAS IN LOVE WITH THE HUTS). He said at night times most of the gujjar houses became home for wild animals and when winters arrive the Gujjar tribes leave these huts nd move to a warmer place untill summer and then return back.
The picture you see below directly comes from Sheshnag Lake.I felt blessed some how just being there. Its actually quite a wild raft, the water flows really wild not as it looks in the picture. I had to jump around few big rocks to be there in the middle to get a nice click.
Then he takes me to nice village which once upon a time exisited and in a flood the village disappeared completly which is called as the Ganesh bal village.There was a Ganesh temple why its callled Ganeshbal .The temple drowned in the flood.
After a long tiring day I head back to my hut and all I wanted is to collapse on the bed.The care taker of the hut was a nice old guy who used to cook for me and make a big fire out side the hut and get fresh buffalo milk for me early mornings. small sweet memories just stay back in ur minds forever.
Next day I was all set to visit the most talked about places in Pahalgam that was Betaab valley.Betaab valley is situated at a distance of 15 kilometers from Pahalgam. The valley got its name from the sunny deols hit debut film Betaab. The Valley is towards northeast of Pahalgam and falls between Pahalgam and Chandanwadi and is en route Amarnath Yatra. The valley surrounded by lush green meadows, snow clad mountains and covered with dense vegetation.Betaab Valley lies between the two Himalayan Ranges –Pir Panjal and Zanskar.Betaab Valley is also a favorite campsite of travelers as it also serves as a base camp for trekking and further exploration of the mountains.The crystal clear & chilly water of the stream bubbling down from the snowy hills is a delight; locals here drink this water too.
I head to Chandanwari soon after Betaab valley.
It will take 30 minutes to reach Chandanwari. The road passes through old Pahalgam town with traditional Kashmiri houses. At your right side Lidder river will be flowing and you will be passing through hills and bend roads. Many waterfalls will be there at both sides of the road. These falls are created by melting ice from the snow peaks. Lidder river will be flowing from Chandanwari towards Pahalgam.Chandanwari is a place for big Ice glacier thick layer of ice . Water flows below the glacier. This is the ideal spot for tourist to enjoy snow even in end summer. At a height of 9500 ft Chandanwari is also famous for the start of the Sri Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari is the end point of road journey and devotes has to trek 32 KM to reach holy cave of Sri Amarnath.
The below shown picture is where the yatra begins.
After all the fun and excitement in Chandanwari I head to Aru valley. One of the most beautiful and pleasant habitats I have ever seen. Not to be missed when one is in Pahalgam.A small village, 11 kms upstream the Lidder River, is a beautiful locality. The route is picturesque with ample campsites. Aru village is the starting point for treks to the Kolahoi glacier.This charming meadow can be reached by walking along a mountain path. The river Lidder disappears at Gur Khumb and reappears after 27 mts.Aru valley is very famous for River Raftings in the summers.Thousans of foreigners come here for the kolahoi treks and river rafting every year. The way between Aru valley and Pahalgam is extremely alluring and exceptionally scenic. Once again full of mountains covered with Pine and Deodhar Trees with light green Lidder rushing towards Pahalgam in between them ( no sign of any paper or plastic waste in between) .Horses and cows grazing in between the few flat grasslands present and birds chirping expressing their happiness and freedom in nature. Gentle soft white clouds and snow white peaks romance in the middle of this heaven called Aru valley.
The moment I got out of the taxi, I was turning into a ice cube and could not stand there even for a second. Like all girls i too like taking pics and never wanna miss a chance and the picture you see below was taken ith great difficulty ,could'nt even breath and I was adamant on geting my self clicked
With all those beautiful memories and places I fell in love with Kashmir and I am even today in love with kashmir and kashmiris.The temprature was getting more colder every passing day. I finally had to say the sadest good bye ever told. my heart still lays in kashmir. My Last visit was to a Mughul garden in Verenag,the day I left Pahalgam to vaishno devi. Verenag was frezzinggg minus that morning and not a single moment i wanted to get out of the taxi.
The most amazing trips of my life so far. Have been to many countries but nothing like Kashmir Valley.