Inspiration Destinations India Discover Heaven on Earth in Kashmir 

Discover Heaven on Earth in Kashmir 

August 28, 2023

From the snow-capped Himalayas to the idyllic lakes and verdant valleys, Kashmir’s iridescent beauty is an ever-changing canvas waiting to be explored. 

Kashmir’s natural beauty is pure poetry: lush green in summers, snow-caked in winters, with Mughal gardens, alpine lakes, apple orchards and skiing hotspots – it’s a paradisiacal wonder. Time slows down in Kashmir, as if robbed of rush – from patiently-brewed saffron tea to slow-cooked lamb curries and shikaras that float in a meditative trance. Time breathes here. Read on to discover why Kashmir is a picture-perfect delight. 

Eager to discover paradise? Choose from our scenic stays in Kashmir.  

Enjoy a shikara ride on Dal Lake  

Shikara ride on Kashmir's Dal Lake

Sprinkled with blooming pink lotus pads and cradled in the lap of the Himalayas, the picturesque ‘Lake of Flowers’, Dal Lake, is the jewel of Kashmir’s summer capital. Hop onto a shikara – a wooden Venetian gondola-shaped boat – and set sail past glamourous houseboats, narrow water alleys and bustling floating markets.  

Be greeted by neighbouring shikaras selling handicrafts, flowers, saffron or just a warm cup of kahwa – an aromatic saffron chai popular in Kashmir. On the Dal Lake, much of Srinagar’s life and rich culture stays buoyant.  As your shikara weaves through the Dal, make a stop at the floating Gulshan Books store or head over to the world’s lone floating post office near Nehru Park, and send off a quick postcard.  

Head to Gulmarg for a snowy stay   

Gondola ride in Gulmarg, Kashmir

From wearing velvety carpets of green in summer to quickly draping a glossy shawl of snow in winters, the natural beauty of Gulmarg is undeniable. It’s almost as if you are in American poet Robert Frost’s world — passing woods that are lovely, dark and deep, with only the soft shudder of snowfall as your music. Gulmarg is a skier’s paradise. Head to this quaint snowy town between December and March and be blessed with an abundance of fresh powder. From picture-perfect vistas, sledge carts, snow bikes and horse ride experience, Gulmarg is a winter wonderland.

Don the snow boots, layer up as much as you want to enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime gondola cable car ride experience over the snow-clad slopes. For golf enthusiasts, Gulmarg boasts the world’s highest 18-hole golf course (8700 ft) – so make sure you are ready to tee off!

For a unique experience, stay in a houseboat  

Skirting the banks of the Dal Lake, Manasbal Lake and Jhelum Lake, luxuriously decorated floating houses are anchored. Unique in their laidback charm and anchored away from the land, the Kashmiri houseboats are made from cedar wood and are adorned with embellishments of carved walnut wood.

A sight to behold, the interiors of a houseboat are opulent, with carpet-laden floors, plush ottomans, a fireplace to keep warm on chilly evenings and even a sundeck to sit and admire the lake views. Spend time sipping on freshly brewed kahwa, shopping from the shikaras that come knocking on your houseboat’s steps or simply curling up with a book. 

Indulge in delicious Kashmiri cuisine 

Rogan josh is a Kashmiri delicacy

Intrinsically linked to its culture and mountain lifestyle, Kashmiri cuisine includes pulaos sprinkled with dry fruits, a variety of juicy decadent kebabs, creamy yakhni broths and a variety of breads. Sample local delicacies like the nadru kebab made from minced lotus stem and head over to the ‘Barbecue Street of Srinagar’ at Khayam Chowk to feast on tujj – spiced meat charred over charcoal embers that pairs deliciously well with chutneys.  

For the daredevil foodies, enjoy a meal at Ahdoo’s for the traditional wazwan feast, a staple celebratory meal of Kashmiris that consist of up to 36 dishes, including popular delicacies like rogan josh. 

Soak in the charms of Kashmir when you stay at the brand-new WelcomHeritage Grand Srinagar

Visit the awe-inspiring Mughal gardens  

Nishat Bagh Mughal Garden in Srinagar, Kashmir

Inspired by Persian pleasure gardens, the impeccably manicured Mughal gardens with its orchards, gardens blooming with lilacs, wild iris and tulips, and water fountains, once served as a thing of delight to the Mughals. Most beloved of Emperor Jahangir who deemed Kashmir as a paradise 'priests had prophesied and poets sung’, Mughal gardens boast a unique blend of architectural wonder and natural splendour. 

Spectacular in sight, the terraced gardens of Shalimar Bagh, Nishat Bagh, Pari Mahal and Chashma Shahi offer stunning vantage points of the Dal Lake and the Kashmir Valley. Take a leisurely stroll past water cascades, pause to admire the floral beauty, breathe in the crisp mountain air, catch the sun in flight as it sets behind the distant hills and feel closer to nature. 

Shop for traditional handicrafts & artefacts 

Embroidered with rich cultural history, shopping for souvenirs in Kashmir is a unique experience. Be mesmerised by the delicate naqashi artwork on Kashmiri papier-mâché vases, pencil cases, jewellery boxes and teacups. Find your way through the old alleys of Srinagar in search of heirloom pashminas that master weavers spend years bringing to life. In Kashmir, the art of making pashminas is one that is slow-fading, given the meticulous mastery required to hand-stitch intricate patterns on the softest and lightest variety of cashmere wool. Kashmir is also renowned for its hand knotted silk carpets – reshmee kaleen. 

Looking for more mountain travel inspiration? Read Mountains, Monasteries & Magic: Explore the Beauty of Ladakh, India.  

About Sohinee Basu
Rolling around in word muddles and hopping across inky puddles, this teeny-tiny adult kid can be found downing dumplings with fiery sauce and daydreaming about faraway beaches while keeping her fingers crossed during Roger Federer's matches. Like a cloud, she can't be pinned down (she'll judge if you don't get this reference); she lives for her love of all things artfully poetic and overwhelmingly beautiful.

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