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    A shot from the Bollywood movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan showing Anushka Sharma enjoying a shikara ride

    Some places are traveled, some are explored, and some are lived. But Kashmir must be felt. It’s beauty and allure will be etched in your memory for a long time. To see the best of this heaven on earth, however, you must not just visit and stay. You must do things – all of the most amazing things to do in Kashmir – you must try them. That is the only way to see what these amazing valleys have tucked in their basket of goodness.

    The piece lists 15 must-have experiences in Kashmir in 3 sub-sections – things you can do all year round, offbeat things to do in Kashmir, and winter activities in Kashmir. The list offers complete information about these activities, and also gives you enough fodder to plan your holiday in Kashmir.

    Fun things to do in Kashmir all year-round

    1. Take a Shikara ride

    Numerous shikaras ready to take tourists for a ride in Dal Lake

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    Lay back and admire the beauty of the distant mountains as your boatman takes you through a ride across the lake. Away from the hustle bustle of the polluted city life, a shikara ride ranks on the top of the list of the best things to do in Kashmir. No smoke or sound of the vehicles, no high-pitched angry crowd, nothing. Just the soft sound of the boatman’s oar breaking the surface of the water and the touch of the cold water as you trail your hand on the surface of the lake.

    Where to try: Dal Lake in Srinagar and Manasbal Lake near Sonamarg
    Timings: 6:00 am – 5:00 pm; all days of the week
    Cost per person: INR 150 – INR 250

    A shikara in the Manasbal Lake near Sonamarg

    Image Source


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    2. Spend night in a houseboat

    The numerous houseboats in Dal Lake that offer night stay options

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    And it is not just the shikara rides in Dal Lake. Spending a night at the houseboat docked at the Dal Lake jetty is also among the top things to do in Kashmir. Be it honeymooners, families, or solo travelers; a night stay at one of the houseboats in Srinagar is something that you simply can not miss.

    3. Go for a ‘Gondola’ cable car ride

    Taking a Gondola ride in Gulmarg is one of the fun things to do in Kashmir

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    Riding the Gondola cable car is one of the exciting and fun things to do in Kashmir for people of all ages. Tourists prefer to travel via cable car to enjoy the best views of the snowcapped mountains.

    The ride takes place in three phases.

    • Phase 1: Gulmarg to Kongdoori
    • Phase 2: Kongdoori to Apharwat Peak
    • Phase 3: Kongdoori to Mary Shoulder [Chair Lift]

    Timings: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Ride) | 9:00 am – 3:00 pm (Ticket sale); all days of the week
    Cost per person: INR 600 (Phase I) | INR 800 (Phase II) | INR 300 (Chair Lift)
    Website

    4. Ride the rapids in Lidder River

    River rafting in Lidder River is one of the most adventurous things to do in Kashmir

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    White river rafting is one of the adventurous things to do in Kashmir. The rapids here are easy or moderate, which implies that rafting in Kashmir is not very difficult. You can go rafting near Sonamarg as well. However, the white water rafting in the Lidder river in Pahalgam is more famous.

    Details:

    • Short Lidder River Rafting: 3 km (Pahalgam) | Yarganpal to Yaneed Bridge | Grades II & III
    • Medium Sindh River Rafting: 8 km (Sonamarg) | Mamar to Satrun Margund | Grades II, III, & IV
    • Long Sindh River Rafting: 28 km (Sonamarg) | Mamar to Wayul Bridge | Grades II, III, & IV

    5. Glide over the majestic valleys

    Many views of paragliding that is one of the best things to do in Kashmir

    For all those adrenaline junkies, there is also an option to go for paragliding. The majestic beautiful valley beneath is a sight to behold. The unique view of the green valleys makes paragliding one of the most thrilling things to do in Kashmir. Paragliding options are available in Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Bhaderwah, Sanasar, and Harwan (Srinagar). Of these, paragliding in Harwan is most easily accessible as it lies on the route of the tour of the Grand Mughal Gardens.

    Note: Refer to the Website for details about paragliding at Harwan.

    Tip: Also try paragliding and hot air ballooning at Sanasar.


    Planning your holiday but confused about where to go? These travel stories help you find your best trip ever!

    Real travel stories. Real stays. Handy tips to help you make the right choice.


    6. Tee-off at the Gulmarg Golf Club

    A tourist ready to tee off at the Gulmarg golf course

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    The Gulmarg Golf Club is coveted as one of the largest and highest 18-hole golf courses in the world. Playing golf in this ‘Meadow of Flowers’ is, indeed, one of the most fun-filled activities to do in Jammu and Kashmir.

    Timings: 08:30 am – 10:00 pm
    Entry Fee: INR 800 for Indians | INR 1200 for Foreigners

    7. Gorge on some delectable Kashmiri food

    A bowl full of delicious Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh

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    Like in any other destination across the world, trying the local cuisine is one of the most important things to do in Kashmir. We all have heard about the Kashmiri Kahwa (tea) and Lamb Mutton Rogan Josh. But the cuisine has many more sumptuous dishes. These include Nadroo Yakhni (yogurt based Kashmiri curry with lotus stems), Paneer Chaman (fried paneer simmered in tomato sauce and flavored with spices & fennel seeds powder), Dum Aloo, Matschgand (minced meatballs cooked in spicy red gravy), and Gushtaba (minced mutton cooked in flavorful yogurt gravy and spices).

    8. Visit the many tourist attractions in Kashmir

    The terraced Mughal Garden of Nishat Bagh in Srinagar

    Be it a family tour, honeymoon, or an outing with friends, no one would want to miss the beautiful attractions of Kashmir. Of the various places to visit in Kashmir, Srinagar, Pahalgam, Gulmarg, and Sonamarg are the most popular ones. Heading to explore these cities is one of the most popular things to do in Kashmir.

    Places to visit in Srinagar: Dal Lake, Nehru Park, Floating Post Office, Shankaracharya Hill Temple, Jama Masjid, Tomb of Zain-ul-Abidin’s mother, Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, Chashme Shahi, Pari Mahal, Hari Parbat Fort are the key attractions of Srinagar.

    Places to visit in Gulmarg: Maharani Temple, Ziarat of Baba Reshi, Khilanmarg, Apharwat peak, and Strawberry Valley are some of the places to visit in Gulmarg.

    Places to visit in Sonamarg: Thajiwas Glacier, Manasbal Lake, Ganderbal, Khir-Bhawani temple, and Narang temple are the major tourist attractions of Sonamarg.

    Places to visit in Pahalgam: Lidder River & Amusement Park, Deer Park & Zoo, Mamleshwar Temple, Betaab Valley, Sheshnag Lake, Aru Village, Matrand Sun Temple, Saffron fields, and Anantnag Sulpher Springs are some of the attractions of Pahalgam.

    9. Go shopping for a retail therapy

    A little shop selling all kinds of decorative art and stuff at Srinagar

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    Shopping is one of the most common things to do in Kashmir. And no, I do not mean just antiques and other souvenirs. Tourists here can shop for exquisite Kashmiri handlooms and Pashmina shawls, antique copperware like samovars, Namda hand-woven carpets, local garments called Ferins, and expensive Doda Sapphire.

    And then there are flowers, fruits, and vegetables sold on the shikaras in Dal Lake. More than the what you buy, how you buy will be the reason for your excitement here.

    Kashmiri men sell their vegetables at a floating market in Dal Lake

    10. Take pony ride excursions

    Tourists riding ponies in the valley of Sonamarg

    Pony is a common mode of transport in the valleys of Kashmir. Taking a short pony ride in the beautiful valleys is another interesting thing to do in Kashmir. Pony rides in Pahalgam, Sonamarg, and Gulmarg are very popular.

    Offbeat things to do in Kashmir

    11. Take a heritage walk around Old Srinagar

    A shot of the old structures in Old Srinagar

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    They say, walk more to know more. And the same is true with Srinagar. With some structures over 4 centuries old and gardens that are no less than a paradise, the city has an architecture that is influenced by 3 different styles and 3 different religions. Walking through the old town is one of the peaceful things to do in Kashmir.

    12. Trek the hills

    A tourist takes a trek to Sonamarg

    Though in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, trekking in Ladakh is more famous. There are short treks and hikes that tourists can take in the valleys of Kashmir. There are many high altitude alpine lakes in Kashmir, such as Vishansar Lake, Tarsar Lake, Gadsar Lake, Alpather Lake, and Satsar Lake. Since these beautiful lakes can only be accessed after scaling the hills, trekking has become one of the best things to do in Kashmir for the nature lovers and adventure seekers.

    Things to do in Kashmir in Winter

    13. Jump high on the snow with skiing and snowboarding

    People try skiing and snowboarding at Pahalgam

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    With the onset of winters, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, and Gulmarg are entirely covered in snow. And this open ups an opportunity for the winter sports. Snowboarding and skiing are the best things to do in Kashmir during winters, especially if you have an adrenaline rush to satiate.

    Skiing Organizers: Powerhounds (Gulmarg) | Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports (Pahalgam)

    Adventure seekers can also take a beginner level ski course at Pahalgam:

    Cost per person: INR 5,600 onwards*
    Dates: 30th January to 2nd February and 5th February to 8th February
    Contact Number: +91-99069678430
    *Package inclusive of instructor, skiing dress, equipment, food, and stay

    Must Read: Snowboarding And Skiing In India: Top 12 Destinations

    Activities to do in Jammu and Kashmir

    14. Go for a pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave and Vaishnodevi Temple

    People on pony and on foot making the climb to the Vaishno Devi Shrine

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    Taking a pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave & Vaishno Devi Cave Temple is among the most religious things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. The Amarnath Yatra is done to worship the ice stalagmite Shivalinga. It is said that Lord Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati. The pilgrimage takes place during July – August. This 45-days Shravan Mela is dedicated to Shri Amarnath Ji.

    The Vaishno Devi Yatra is a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi. The Trikuta mountain, where the shrine is located, has one base but three different peaks. A similar structure is seen inside the cave. The three heads are said to be of Mata Kali, Mata Laxmi, and Mata Saraswati – Hindu goddesses. This yatra, too, takes place in the months of July and August.

    15. Visit the Buddhist monasteries of Ladakh

    A distant snap of the Thiksey Monastery in Ladakh

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    Of the numerous places to visit in Leh Ladakh, the Buddhist monasteries are the rarest gems of Jammu Kashmir tourism. An exploration of these Gompas is one of the most religious things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. Some of the most popular monasteries (gompas) of Ladakh are:

    • Hemis Monastery: Constructed by Stagchen Raschegn during the 17th century, the monastery is most popular for its masked dance during the Hemis festival.
    • Thiksey Monastery: Home to over 500 monks, the monastery houses many items of Buddhist art like wall paintings, statues, thangkas and swords.
    • Likir Monastery: Believed to be the first monastery to be erected by Tibetan monks, it was founded by Lama Dhwang during the 14th century. The monastery houses many Tibetan artifacts.

    So, pick your mojo and include your favorite things to do in Kashmir in your next trip.

    Further Read: A Prison You Would Happily Escape Into: Trip To Kashmir


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    Category: Kashmir