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Kashmir lets you explore the snow-engulfed beauty of the Himalayas like no other place! India’s very own Swiss Alps, the scenic valleys of Kashmir take forms of white sheets of ice to lush green valleys depending on the season, but nothing beats the charm of the  valley in the summer. It’s not biting cold, the sunlight and fresh mountain air feel rejuvenating, and there’s enough greenery around for you to appreciate the gifts of nature.

When I declared to my friends that I was heading to Kashmir for a vacation, everyone pretty much had the same question: “is it safe?”

Unfortunately, many people still view the Kashmir region as being perilous for one reason or another. Though safety may have once been a concern for visitors, today, the region has shed its insurgent past and is blossoming in many ways.

Having heard a lot about the abounding beauty of Kashmir, I was on my way to discover it myself. My itinerary encompassed Srinagar, Sonmarg, Pahalgam and Gulmarg as I was told that these are the safest places to visit in Kashmir, and also spellbindingly beautiful.

Srinagar

Let us start with the Dal Lake and the Shikara ride. Shikaras are luxuriously furnished boats with a canopy and a maharaja style seating arrangement. This is something we don’t find anywhere else.

Boating especially on a full moon night is a totally different experience than the day.

The lake has various shades at various times including the views at dusk and dawn. Sunset on Dal is bliss, only seeing is believing when everything turns to Golden, that is a beauty to behold. Mountains and sun reflections make for a truly great sight.

Sonmarg

Sonmarg also known as “The meadow of gold” is just 82Kms from Srinagar. Amazing beauty of Kashmir valley keeps you occupied all the way till Sonmarg from Srinagar.

Sonmarg also happens to be the starting point of major Himalayan passes. Zojila Pass which is considered to be one of the toughest passes is just few Kilometers away from here. This is also a gateway to Kargil and Leh expedition. If you happen to go to Kashmir do not miss out on this amazing beauty. Spend atleast a day before continuing further towards Leh.

Gulmarg                    

Apharwat Peak is what tourists should aim first when arriving in Gulmarg. The Gondola ride in two stages takes you to the peak and it appears as if you are headed for the heavens. The Ski and snowboarding at the Gulmarg Ski Resort and Gulmarg Alpine Guides during winters attract visitors in huge numbers.

Gulmarg is known for its picturesque beauty and prime location. The lush green valley, surrounded by the snow-capped mountains and towering fir and poplar trees on all sides, can easily become your favourite getaway. Other attractions are the Rani Temple, Baba Resi Shrine and St Mary’s Church. For nature lovers a visit to Ningle Nallah, Alpather Lake and Gulmarg Biosphere Reserve is a must.

Pahalgam

Enticing cold temperatures with snowfall is one of the many things that Pahalgam has to offer. Pahalgam is a wonderful place to visit for its unique parks like Bethab Valley, Aru Valley and Chandan Valley. A morning walk or a short stroll can never do justice to the amount of natural beauty there is to see. Bethab valley has vast sunny lawns spotted with clusters of tall, coniferous trees. There’s a gushing stream cutting through the park that keeps you company while you gaze at the white Himalayan range.