The valley of Kashmir is known all over the world for its beauty and charm. The Kashmir valley is situated about 300 km. from Jammu across forested ravines and steep mountain passes. The emerald valley of Kashmir is cradled in the Himalayas, under the crystal blue skies, against the background of snow-capped mountains. It is a magic land of silvery streams, rivers, fresh water lakes, pine, deodar and chinar forests, snow clad mountains, sparkling waterfalls, shikaras, green meadows and grassy slopes full of flowers of vibrant colours.
It is an oval plateau over 5000 feet high and framed by three Himalayan ranges – the Karakoram, Zanskar and Pir Panjal. Kashmir covers an area of 222,236 square kms and is often referred as the 'Switzerland of the East'. It is the land of bewitching beauty with exotic fruits, flora and flowers. Srinagar, the capital of Kasmir is nestled amidst the huge lakes, meadows and unique floating gardens in the valley. The state of Kashmir is mainly dominated by the Muslims and Kashmiris. Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru also said about Kashmir that is there is a paradise on the earth, it is this, it is this. Kashmiri, Dogri and Urdu are the main languages which are spoken here. The best time to visit Kashmir is during summers.
The drive to Sonmarg is through the Sindh Valley which presents yet another spectacular facet of countryside in Kashmir. Situated at an altitude of 2730 m, Sonmarg ('The meadow of gold') has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky.
The Sindh River that meanders through the valley abounds with trout and mahaseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, which is a major local attraction during the summer months.
Gulmarg's legendary beauty, prime location and proximity to Srinagar naturally make it one of the premier hill resorts in the country. Originally called 'Gaurimarg' by shepherds, its present name was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers.
Gulmarg was a favourite haunt of Emperor Jehangir who once collected 21 different varieties of flowers from here.
Situated at the confluence of the streams flowing from Sheshnag Lake and the Lidder river, Pahalgam (2,130 m) was once a humble shepherd's village with breathtaking views. Now it is Kashmir's premier resort, cool even during the height of summer when the maximum temperature does not exceed 250°C.
A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious hotels to unpretentious trekkers' lodges.
Over 15km around, Dal Lake is Srinagar's jewel, a vast, mirror-flat sheet of water reflecting the carved wooden balconies of the houseboats and the misty peaks of the Pir Panjal mountains. Flotillas of gaily painted shikaras (gondola-like taxi boats) skiff around the lake, transporting goods to market, children to school and travellers from houseboat to shore.
Most visitors to Srinagar stay out on Dal Lake in one of the delightful houseboats left behind from the Raj.
Just behind the Botanical Garden is Asia's biggest Tulip Garden, which attracts crowds in March/April. Its long, straight rows of blooming tulips (60 varieties) would look like a typical Dutch flower farm but for the backdrop of mountains.
Tulip Garden Srinagar is visited by thousands of tourists from all over the world. The period from March to May is considered as the best time to visit the garden, but April is also a favorite month among flower lovers.
Mughal gardens are a group of gardens built by the Mughals in the Persian style of architecture. This style was heavily influenced by the Persian gardens particularly the Charbagh structure. Significant use of rectilinear layouts are made within the walled enclosures. Some of the typical features include pools, fountains and canals inside the gardens.
Cheshmashahi is the first Mughal Garden you will pass after Nehru Park. Built at a height above the city.
Yusmarg in Kashmiri means The Meadow of Jesus. It is believed by the natives that Jesus came to Kashmir and stayed at Yusmarg for some time. It is an alpine valley covered with snow clad mountains and the meadows of Pine and Fir, It lies 13 km south of Charari Sharief a town of Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir.
It is situated at the bank of Doodganga River which is a tributory of Jehlum River.