Trekking in Kashmir

Kashmir is often thought of as "Heaven" or "Paradise" on earth and walking among the green fields, tall pine trees and lofty snow covered mountains this does not seem far from the truth. Travellers may attract a lot of stares but they are in general friendly and curious ones. It is a tempting destination and one well worth considering if one is comfortable with the current political situation. Since the 1990's Kashmir has frequently been a center of frequent political unrest that has on occasion become violent towards travellers. The US state department imposed travel restrictions in the region in 1995 in response to the kidnapping of 6 tourists near Pahalgam. Conditions have improved since 2010 and domestic tourism in the region has had a healthy increase while the number of international visitors is increasingly more slowly. Several European countries including Germany have lifted travel restrictions in the last few years but the US has yet to follow suit. Keep in mind that real security issues have been rare and that the people of Kashmir are at large warm and welcoming.

Trekking in Kashmir is an experience unlike the rest of the Himalayas. The region experiences a real winter and is largely bypassed by the Indian Monsoon. The heavy snows don't melt until late in June and the best trekking is from July to September. Kashmir, Ladakh and to some extent Mustang (Nepal) offer the best trekking in the Himalaya during the Monsoon when the rest of the range is blanketed in rain.Srinagar has its own charm with its unique house boats on Dal Lake and beautiful Mogul gardens. Take a ride on Shirka, small boats used for transportation, and enjoy a few days in Srinagar the largest city in the Kashmir Valley. In winter pick up your skies and head to the resort at Gulmarg, India's premier ski destination.

Image From Flickr: Baasir Gaisawat, Motographer, Cajetan Barretto, Cajetan Barretto, THINK Global School, Rajesh, Cajetan Barretto, Isriya Paireepairit

Top Treks

This 7 days trek is one of the most popular in Kashmir. The trail follows the traditional route of the Gujjars (the nomadic shepherds of Kashmir) from Sonmarg to Harmukh, passing four picturesque high altitude lakes with spectacular mountain scenery, flowered campsites and trout fishing.At the Kolahoi glacier the trekker can catch a glimpse of the Kolahoi Peak and see the source of the Lidder River. Excursions to the Tarsar and Marsar lakes in the Upper Dachigam area can also be made from here if the trekker has an additional day. The trek takes 3 days and covers approximately 35 km. The season is from June to late September.
Amarnath Yatra
This religious pilgrimage is undertaken by more than 100,000 pilgrims every year and has been a continuing tradition for Hindus for the last 300 years. This spectacular 5 day trek takes one to the holy ice cave where an ice stalagmite thought to represent the Linga of Shiva forms every year. Legend says this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and the universe to his consort Parvati. Foreigners wishing to participate must receive special registration which while not costly takes about 30 days or longer to process. The site of 1000's of singing and chanting devotees is a sight in itself.

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Kashmir Facts

Srinagar, Anantnag, Gulmarg
Best Time:
March to October
Must See:
Pahalgam, Sonamarg
Kolahoi, Amarnath, Nun Kun

Latest Stories

One of the best short treks in Kashmir is the Lidder Valley trek to Kolahoi Glacier. My wife Ann and I made this trek in July of 2014 and here is little bit about the experience.

The terms "Heaven on Earth" or "Paradise" are often used to describe Kashmir and it's easy to forget any security concerns while trekking among tall pine trees.

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