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Kashmir in a Week: A Local's Guide to Live the True Essence of Kashmir

Kashmir in a Week: A Local


"Kashmir is the delicate reminder of the fact that poetry not always needs pages and words. When the pages are torn, and ink is faded, the living poetry can be felt through heartbeats and emotions."

Nestled among the majestic Himalayan peaks and known as the "Paradise on Earth", Kashmir is not just a place of breathtaking beauty but also a testament to the resilience and warmth of its people. Beyond the famous Dal Lake and Mughal Gardens, the region provides an escape of spiritual serenity at Gulmarg, an artistic experience at Kanihama, a nomadic way of life at Daksum, and much more!

In this blog, tourHQ's local Kashmiri guide, Shakeel Dar, presents an immersive itinerary that unveils the hidden gems and allows you to experience Kashmir like a true local.

Day 1: Embrace Tranquility - Lolab Valley

Image 1.1- Lolab Valley

"Lolab Valley through Deodar woods and beautiful rice fields, the craves which connects to Russia according to locals is one of my favourite crowd-less places." ~ Guide Shakeel

The best way to start your journey is at the heart of Kashmir with a visit to the serene Lolab Valley. Nestled in the northern district of Kupwara, the sight of wildflowers dotting the landscape, the gentle murmur of the streams, and the rustling of the Chinar will create an enchanting ambience. Starting from Srinagar, after a 3 hours drive, you can reach the Lolab Valley. Spend your day leisurely with a local guide  who can introduce you to the stories and lives of Kashmir over kahwa tea, a traditional Kashmiri beverage made with a unique blend of green tea, saffron, spices, and almonds. By the end of the day, head back to Srinagar for a comfortable stay. 

What more?  Near Lolab Valley, you can also explore the Chandigam Forest, known for its verdant meadows and tall Pine trees. If you are an adventure and history enthusiast, a hike to the nearby caves of Kalaroos might intrigue you, which are steeped in local folklore. 

Day 2: Weaving Magic - Kanihama

Day two takes you to Kanihama, a small village known for its Pashmina weaving. Here, you can spend the day witnessing and learning the intricate process of creating world-renowned Pashmina shawls. Engage with the artisans who dedicate months, sometimes years, to this meticulous craft. The local guide can arrange a visit to the weaver's home, who can share generational stories of weaving against a background of the rhythmic clacking of the looms to create a symphony that sings the tale of Kashmir's rich cultural heritage.

Image 1.2- A local selling Kashmiri attire

What more? Before heading back to the city, you can visit the Dachigam National Park, a captivating wildlife sanctuary that spans over 141 square kilometres. The park's lush forests, gushing streams, and scenic valleys provide a picturesque backdrop for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers. Although there are diverse flora and fauna, the most notable are the endangered species of the majestic Kashmir stag or hangul. 

Day 3: Peaceful Retreat - Tosmaidan

Known as the "King of Meadows," on day 3, continue to Tosmaidan, a picturesque meadow with lush green slopes and vibrant flowers at the heart of the Pir Panjal Range. The region boasts a variety of wildflowers, including rare species like the Himalayan blue poppy and Brahma Kamal, and bird species, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts or photographers! Apart from its scenic charm, the meadow also holds historical significance, having served as a training ground for the Indian Army. Today, remnants of artillery shells can still be found scattered across the area. 

"Tosamaidan, the king of Medows, is an endless meadow that has always been my favourite crowd less destination to take my guests." 
~ Guide Shakeel

Image 1.3- Guide Shakeel at Tosmaidan

What more? A beautiful experience to enjoy while at Tosmaidan is taking a pony ride to explore the seven high-altitude lakes situated at 4000m. Especially for those seeking a day-trekking adventure, this is the perfect day to explore nature and return to the city by night. 

Day 4: Step Back in Time - Gurez Valley

On the fourth day, head towards Gurez Valley, an untouched paradise located near the Line of Control. The valley, with its scenic landscapes and simple village life, offers a glimpse into the ancient traditions of Kashmir. Visit the local homes made of logs, taste the local cuisine, and listen to the folk tales that are an integral part of their oral tradition. With some prior arrangements and contacts, your local guide can make the necessary arrangements to spend the overnight with the lovely locals of Kashmir. 

What more? After some peaceful time in the valley, visit Dawar town, which is worth exploring for its local culture and traditional Kashmiri architecture. You can stroll through the charming streets, interact with the friendly locals, and savour authentic Kashmiri cuisine.

"Gurez Valley through the Razdan Pass feels like travelling through heaven; camping in Gurez on the blue water Ganga River is my favourite camping destination!" ~ Guide Shakeel

Image 1.4- Gurez Valley

Day 5: Walk in Nature - Habba Khatoon Peak

Named after the famous Kashmiri poetess, Habba Khatoon Peak is a majestic mountain peak offering breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Himalayan ranges. The peak is often enveloped in a mystical aura, as local folklore claims that Habba Khatoon, the poetess herself, spent her days seeking solace and inspiration on this very peak. On the fifth day of your trip, embark on a moderate trek to reach the peak. Spend ample time at the summit, capturing the panoramic vistas and enjoying the serene ambience. 

What more? After the day trek, spend some refreshing time at the banks of the Kishanganga River. Immerse yourself in the tranquil surroundings, sharing stories with your guide or perhaps trying your hand at fishing before you head for Srinagar. 

Image 1.5- Habba Khatoon Peak

Day 6: Savor the Kashmiri Flavors - Wazwan Cuisine

On the second last day and while in Srinagar, delve into the culinary culture of Kashmir. Experience the traditional Wazwan, a multi-course meal that defines the region's gastronomic heritage. Dishes like 'Rogan Josh', 'Rista', and 'Gushtaba' will titillate your taste buds and offer a slice of Kashmiri life. Remember, savouring Wazwan isn't just about tasting food; it's about being part of a cultural tradition that binds the people of Kashmir together!

Know Before You Go- While Wazwan is predominantly meat-focused, there are also vegetarian options available for those who prefer plant-based cuisine. Dishes like "Dum Aloo" (potatoes cooked in a rich gravy), "Haak" (leafy greens), and "Nadru Yakhni" (lotus stem curry) showcase the culinary diversity of Wazwan and cater to varying dietary preferences.

Image 1.6- Siraj Bagh

What more? Spend the day engaging in must-do activities in Srinagar, like the Shikara ride by the Dal Lake, a visit to the Hazratbal Shrine (a significant spiritual site housing a relic believed to be the hair of the prophet Muhammad) or strolling through the Siraj Bagh, Asia’s largest tulip garden (or any of the Mughal gardens). 

Day 7: Live the Nomadic Life - Daksum

As per our local guides, the best way to end the trip is by becoming part of the Kashmiri life, an encounter that will warm your heart! On the last day, head to Anantnag to experience the nomadic way of life in Daksum. As you explore the meadows, keep an eye out for the nomadic Gujjar and Bakarwal tribes, who often migrate with their herds in search of fresh grazing pastures. This encounter presents a unique opportunity to interact with these communities, learn about their traditional lifestyle, and witness their rich cultural heritage firsthand. 

What more? While in Daksum, consider embarking on a trek to the magnificent Sinthan Top. This breathtaking vantage point offers a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes, with snow-capped peaks, verdant valleys, and glistening lakes stretching as far as the eye can see. The trek to Sinthan Top is an adventure in itself, introducing you to the pristine beauty of the Himalayan region.

Image 1.7- The beautiful locals of Kashmir

This seven-day journey isn't just about visiting places; it's about connecting with the land and its people, understanding their traditions, and immersing yourself in their way of life. It's about experiencing the true essence of Kashmir, not as a tourist, but as a local.

Image credit (Images 1.1, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5): tourHQ's local Kashmiri guide, Shakeel Dar

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