The beautiful valley of Kashmir offers a heavenly experience to all your senses. Situated in the lap of the Himalayas, with over 100 valleys, Kashmir is known around the world for its natural beauty. With many sightseeing places, tourist spots, temples, and monasteries located here, it is a must-visit for travel enthusiasts.
Kashmir is flocked by tourists all year round, both domestic and foreign. The beautiful place was proclaimed to be heaven on Earth by the famous Mughal Emperor Jahangir who was bewitched by the natural beauty of the place. The beautiful place lures nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts alike. The magnificent snow-capped mountains, religious shrines, glaciers, crystal clear water streams add to the beauty of the place. The gardens and palaces made by the kings along with the rich heritage make it an interesting place to visit.
The pristine valley maintains its beauty all year round. Every day, every month is perfect to visit this gem of a place. The peaks and tracks are closed in winters due to inaccessibility. Security issues can lead to the closure of certain regions.
Kashmiris are gentle people. Rice is the staple food of the region and has been so for since ancient times. Kashmiris consume meat voraciously. Rice and meat are a favorite among Kashmiris. Kashmiris are very elaborate with their food and beverages. Some Kashmiri beverages are Noon Chai or Sheer Chai and Kahwah or Kehew.
Kashmir can be known as the baker’s world. The valley is noted for its great bakery legacy. The bakers here sell different kinds of unique bread with golden brown crusts topped with sesame and poppy seeds. Tsot and tsochvor are small round bread topped with poppy and sesame seeds, which are crisp and flaky, sheermal, baqerkhayn (puff pastry), lavas (unleavened bread) and kulcha are also popular.
Girdas and lavas are served with butter. The Kashmiri bakerkhani has a special place in Kashmiri cuisine. It is similar to a round naan in appearance, but crisp and layered, and sprinkled with sesame seeds. It is typically consumed hot during breakfast. You must try the vast range of baked delights offered by the Kashmiri locals when you visit the valley.
- Srinagar: The city is situated along the banks of the Jhelum River, a tributary of the Indus river. The natural beauty of Srinagar is accentuated by the presence of gardens, waterfronts, and houseboats. Handicrafts like Kashmir shawls and also dried fruits are some special offerings of the city.
- Pahalgam: The pristine, crystal clear waters and the lush green meadows of Pahalgam attract thousands of tourists from all over the world each year. Nature’s gem is located 45 kilometers from Anantnag on the banks of Lidder River at an altitude of 7,200 feet (2,200 m).
- Sonamarg: A picturesque hill station located about 0 kilometers northeast of Srinagar, in the Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir. The city is historically important as it was the gateway on the ancient Silk Road, connecting Jammu and Kashmir with Tibet. It is a famous spot for hiking and fishing enthusiasts. Post-Kargill war has become a strategic point for the Indian Army.
- Anantnag: The name means “The land of numerous Springs”. The Martand Sun Temple, built-in 500 CE is one of the important archaeological sites of Kashmir. The temple is situated at Kehribal, the temple has the typical Aryan structure. The famous Sun Temple was destroyed by Ruler namely Sikander Buthshikan of the Shahmiri Dynasty.
- Pulwama: The 6th largest city in J&K is situated at a distance of 25 km from Srinagar. The place brimming with an abundance of apple orchards, waterfalls, natural springs, and scenic valleys is known as the delight of Kashmir. The city hosts numerous opportunities for trekking, mountaineering in summers, and snowboarding in winters.
- Baltal: The picturesque environment of Baltal is the perfect halt destination for all the religious Amarnath Cave pilgrims.
The valleys of Kashmir offer a rich cultural heritage with folklores and folk dances. Famous dances from the valleys are performed and presented at all the major functions and weddings. Some special dances are only performed on special occasions like marriages, monsoon, etc.
The beautiful dance forms of Kashmir attract attention and praise from all over the country. The traditional dance forms are an integral part of Kashmiri culture.
Kud is one famous dance form of the valley. The dance is performed to honor the gods ‘Lok Devtas’ as a thanking dance mostly at night. Interesting twisting dance moves are a part of this dance form. The moves of the dancers are planned according to the rhythm and beats of the music. Musical instruments like Chhaina, Drums, Narsingha, and flute are used for composing music for Kud dance.
Dumhal is a famous dance form performed by the males of Wattal on special occasions. The dancers dress up in vibrant colored robes and conical caps which are generally studded with beads and look really beautiful. The dancers sing along in chorus accompanied by drum beats. A banner is dug in the middle and the group dances around this banner.
Rouf is performed by a group of women on festive occasions like Eid and Ramzan days. The notable feature of the dance form is the footwork of the dancers. It is also performed at the onset of the Spring season and has been a part of Kashmiri culture forlong.
It is important to get an insight into the post-second-wave COVID rules and restrictions before planning to visit the divine beauty on earth. It will help you stay safe and prepare well for your trip in advance.
Follow the Pandemic Safety Rules
All Indian residents traveling domestically to Kashmir are required to undergo thermal screening before they enter the J&K border.
If the recorded temperature in the thermal screening is found to be high, the person has to undergo a Covid-19 RT-PCR test for which the cost is to be borne by the passenger If found negative, the passenger will be allowed to travel to your destination. If found otherwise, State protocol for Covid-19 shall be followed.
It is mandatory to wear a medical face mask or an N95 mask in all public. In case you do not follow the rules, you may incur fines as applicable.
What to Pack
Keeping in mind the ongoing pandemic situation, you are advised to pack some additional safety items. You need to take care of yourself and others around you to minimise risk of infection of any sorts. The things to packs while visiting the valley are:
- 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
Is travel to Kashmir safe during the Covid-19 pandemic?
The government authorities of J&K have made the required arrangements and also removed the travel ban for domestic travelers who wish to travel to Kashmir. Certain rules and advisory guidelines have been issued by the Health Department to ensure the safety of the residents of the valley and the visitors. Travel to your destination in small groups and make sure you wear a face mask and carry your personal sanitizer at all times. Maintain social distancing and enable the Aarogya Setu app on your phones to ensure tracing in case of infection spread. This helps to curb the spread.
Is Kashmir valley open for tourists?
Kashmir is finally open for tourists. Domestic travelers can now take a trip to any part of the state without a need for a negative RTPCR report or quarantine.
Is the Covid-19 PCR-RT test report required while visiting Kashmir?
You do not need to carry a report. You will be thermally screened at the borders. In case your body temperature is higher than normal, you will be referred for an RTPCR test. If the test is negative, you will be allowed to travel further and if positive, government protocol will be followed.