For mountains, snow-filled adventures, innovative cable car rides, and thoughtful living, Kashmir is particularly crisp for being ridiculously pretty. There’s something intrinsically soothing about a Gondola ride in the Dal lake and there’s unnamed magic in the Rogan Josh brimming with flavors. When the lockdown protocol was initiated in March, Kashmir was hard-hit by the sudden halt of tourism activities but is now re-opening slowly with a motto of safety first which is exactly what this post-covid travel guide to Kashmir will navigate you through.
Now that every state is easing their restrictions, the government of Jammu and Kashmir is has announced guidelines for Unlock 5 that include several relaxations to invite tourists for the late-autumn and winter season.
Read below for a detailed Covid-19 travel guide to Kashmir for your post-pandemic travel planning.
Kashmir Travel Advisory During Covid-19
Kashmir’s state borders are now open for domestic tourists and travelers as international travel remains closed. Member Secretary State Executive Committee, Simrandeep Singh had announced a list of permitted and non-permitted activities with more relaxation of inter-state and intra-state travel. Here is a list of the latest travel advisory issued by the state government of Kashmir under the new Unlock 5 stage of reopening:
- Flights between Leh and Kashmir have resumed operations after months of lockdown. Tourists can now travel between the capitals for both essential and non-essential activities.
- Passengers entering the state border of Kashmir must wear a mask at all times during their commute and in public places and must undergo all temperature screening procedures.
- If the temperate noted is higher than the recommended guideline, the travelers will have to take an RT-PCR Covid-19 test. If the result is negative, they will be allowed to reach their destination.
- If a person tests positive for an RT-PCR Covid-19 test, they will have to follow the state protocol and undergo quarantine.
- Travelers will themselves pay for both the RT-PCR test and the quarantine facility if needed.
- Hotels and restaurants will follow the SOPs issued to them by the state department.
- The number of visitors for the Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji Mandir has been increased from 5,000 to 7,000.
- The government has permitted the reopening of cinema halls, theatres, multiplexes, swimming pools, bars in restaurants, hotels, etc., entertainment parks at 50% capacity.
- All shops will remain open from 9 a.m to 9 p.m.
- If you are in an open space, the use of sanitizer and mask is mandatory and you may be fined by the local authorities for not doing so.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Kashmir is from March to October when the tourist season is at its peak and the alpine valleys are booming with sunshine and lush countryside. The climate is not too hot or not too cold and is perfect for sightseeing.
How To Reach
The state of Kashmir has removed all major travel restrictions for domestic travelers. Please note that international travel is still not operation till 31st December 2020. The authorities have also introduced a fine for those who are not wearing their mask during commute/entering the border.
- Travelers can take a flight from to the Srinagar Airport which is the sole airport in the state of Kashmir. If possible carry a negative Covid-19 test report for hassle-free boarding or else undergo the mandatory temperature check at the airport.
- There are also a limited number of trains operating to Kashmir and you must check the availability on the IRCTC website before booking.
- If you are planning to travel by road, you can hire a car or drive yourself from the state border to your accommodation. There will be temperature screenings at certain checkpoints and you must wear your mask at all times until you reach your destination.
There are multiple modes of transportation available for travelers who want to go around Kashmir. You can rent a bike from travel dealers for an affordable price, hire auto-rickshaws, take private cabs for a more comfortable journey and also travel by the SRTC local buses operated by the state. If you want to take photographs on the road, you can also hire jeeps which are very popular in Kashmir.
Places To Visit In Kashmir During Covid-19
Think of this as your starting point to the most epic expedition you will ever take in your life. From being immersed in nature and Kashmir’s way of life, to hiking in some of the most picturesque parts of the state, there is plenty to explore, many cuisines to try and culture to absorb.
As Kashmir is reopening, the way we approach travel might have changed but the beauty of the places remains the same. If you are planning to make a trip to Kashmir anytime soon, make sure you travel to these must-visit places like the Dal Lake, Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Pahalgam, and Betaab Valley which are some of the most visited destinations.
Things To Do In Kashmir During Covid-19
From the stunning sight of massive valleys and mountain peaks to sunlit summer nights walking through the traditional markets in the state, Kashmir is a perfect destination for both short getaways and long-staycations that you will never forget. Besides the enchanting beauty and tempting places to visit, the first and foremost priority is the safety of the travelers and the people of the state. There is no better amenity than health and it is something we all must agree to pull through this pandemic.
If you are planning a trip to Kashmir in the upcoming months or maybe in the next year, here’s a list of some of the best things to do in what some people refer to as “heaven on earth.”
- Trekking Chadar Lake
- A Houseboat staycation
- Trip to Shalimar Bagh
- Gondola rides in Gulmarg
- Shikara Ride in Dal Lake
If you are looking to book a hotel or Airbnb during your travels in the state of Kashmir, make sure you get your room in advance and fill out the mandatory documentation like any contact tracing forms or checks you may require. All hotels are now following the government advisory for reopening which includes a deep sanitization process during and after every guest, limited capacity of beds, closure of community areas like pools and gyms, and contact tracing.
Here is a list of measures that the state of Kashmir has implemented on the hotel industry for safe and secure travel:
- Temperature screening at the time of check-in and sometimes also during check-out
- Sanitizer availability at the hotel and inside all the rooms
- Disposable gloves mandatory for hotel staff at bar and restaurant
- Contact tracing forms at every hotel
The hospitality industry in Kashmir is reopening but the safety of the travelers and staff remains a key priority. While some of the big-league restaurants are back to normal functioning with a limited capacity, many of the food outlets have moved to delivery-only or takeaway facilities. Food franchises are also operational and open for customers with social distance seating and disposable cutlery to avoid any transmission. You can also see this list of some amazing restaurants in Kashmir that you must try.
What To Pack
If you are planning a trip to Kashmir soon, you will need to pack a few extra items in your backpack considering the ongoing pandemic. The most important thing during your travel is to minimize the risk of becoming unwell as well as keeping others around you safe. Here’s Travel Triangle’s comprehensive list of things to pack:
- Winter clothing, warmers, boots, and scarfs for travel in the snowy areas
- A pack of disposable face masks or 2-3 reusable face masks
- Sanitizer for personal use
- Sanitizing solution for outdoor/surface use
- A personal PPE kit that will include a face shield, sanitizer sachets, and a pair of disposable glove for flight, train, or any kind of commute
- Book your travel and accommodation in advance.
- Talk with your hotel/Airbnb about their sanitizing facilities and the Covid-19 related precautions they are taking.
- Download the Arogya Setu app on your mobile phone.
- Try to get tested before your travel and keep the Covid-19 negative certificate handy during your commute.
- Find the latest information about containment zones in Kashmir as non-essential travel is not allowed in any of the zones.
Covid-19 Prerequisites And Consequences In Kashmir
- All passengers traveling domestically to Kashmir must undergo thermal screening before they can enter the border.
- If the temperature recorded is higher than the required number, you will be asked to take a Covid-19 RT-PCR test for which you will bear the cost of the test and any commute you may have to undertake. If negative, you will be allowed to travel to your destination. If the result shows positive, the state protocol for Covid-19 will be followed.
- It is mandatory for everyone to wear a mask in public and you may incur a fine or penalty.
Further Travel Tips
- When at the beach or visiting an attraction, make sure you follow the safety marks on the floor or walls of the place for social distancing.
- If you are planning to take a cable car ride or Gondola ride, make sure that they are not overcrowded and inform yourself about the safety precautions the operators are taking during your ride.
- People over the age of 65 or children under the age of 10 are advised not to undertake non-essential travel.
Further Read: Here’s Why Kashmir Is Called Heaven On Earth
Kashmir has always been one of the most popular destinations for both domestic and international travelers and during the pandemic, we have heard the yearnings of many who want to explore or maybe revisit this beautiful place. In uncertain times like these, what we advise is informed and meticulous planning before your departure, another reason why this guide is your go-do link for the most updated travel information. Plan your dream trip to Kashmir now.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is it safe to travel to Kashmir during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Yes, the government authorities have removed the travel ban for domestic travelers who wish to travel to Kashmir given that they follow all advisory and guidelines issued by the Health Department. It is safe to travel to Kashmir in a small group while making sure that you wear a face mask at all times, maintain social distance in public places or transport and provide contact tracing information wherever required.
Is Kashmir open for tourists?
Yes, Kashmir is now inviting tourists back under the Unlock 5 stage of reopening. Domestic travelers can now take a trip to any part of the state without having to show a negative test report or quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.
Do I need a Covid-19 PCR-RT test report while visiting Kashmir?
No, you do not need to carry a report but you will have to get tested before entering the border. If you have a negative Covid-19 test that was conducted within 48 hours of your arrival, you will be allowed to travel to your destination. If not, you can take the rapid antigen test at one of the centers at your arrival. If the test is negative, you will be allowed to travel further and if positive, government protocol will be followed.