If people are going so far to take quick personal loans and travel to Jammu & Kashmir, one can only imagine the number of attractions there. This week, we are taking you to such a gem in Kashmir.
Pahalgam throws out many lures to tourists. Positioned at the confluence of the brooks flowing from the River Lidder and Sheshnag Lake, Pahalgam was once a humble shepherd’s village with a breathtaking panorama. This city is at its liveliest during summer and at the time of Amarnath Yatra (pilgrimage to ‘Ice-lingam’). As sizzling hot days begin in other parts of the country, the otherwise sleepy town of Pahalgam wakes up to welcome a horde of tourists to their favourite summer haunt in Kashmir.
Despite a small town, Pahalgam packs in an incredible amount as far as sightseeing is concerned. On the road to Pahalgam, pause at the Mughal Gardens. A hundred varieties of blooming flowers is a satiating sight to behold. The two temple ruins in Avantipur near Pahalgam, a step-back in time, are a must-watch. Mattan is another Hindu Pilgrimage with lots of fresh trout filled springs flowing along nearby. Visit Mamaleshwara on the opposite side of the Lidder which is home to a 12th century Shiv Temple at the time of King Jayasima.
Apart from the pilgrimage season, this is a fine spot for hiking, pony trekking or just enjoying the healthy mountain air. Pahalgam is an unrivalled trekker’s paradise. Tourists love the long climb to high altitude lakes like Kounsarnag, Nandakol, Sheshnag and Gangabal to fish for fresh water trout. No traveller will miss a pony trek to Tulian Lake at an altitude of 3350 metres, where the views are simply stupendous. It is ice-clad for most of the year. Same can be said for Sheshnag Lake which lies on the way to Amarnath Cave.
Hajan or Betaab Valley (the Bollywood movie Betaab was shot here) on the way to Chandanwari from Pahalgam is a heavenly spot for a picnic. Chandanwari is more known as the starting point of Amarnat Pilgrimage. It continues to Sheshnag, Panchtarni and finally Amarnath Cave Temple. Panchtarni, a breathtakingly beautiful place tucked at the foot of Mount Bhairav, boasts of 5 rivers. Pilgrims often camp here on the way to Amarnath Cave.
Aru, a quaint village near Pahalgam, is the first step on the way to the world famous Kolohai glacier. From here you can also trek to Sonamarg known as gate to moon land. At Aru one will often find the Gujars, living in their ramshackle with their flock of sheep and long thoughts. A short distance from Pahalgam is Baisaran surrounded by thick forest of pines, firs, cedars and snow spread over the Lidder Valley. These are the oft-beaten treks in Pahalgam.
Anantnag which is hardly an hour from Pahalgam has a number of little springs and ponds. Sulphur springs are found in this region believed to have curative properties and the water is used in traditional treatment. As the myth goes, the largest of the springs is the home of Ananta, the king of serpents.
Pahalgam holds no excitement for shoppers except for woollen products like Gabbas and namdas. Pampore near Pahalgam is the hub of Kashmir’s saffron industry. Saffron, carefully extracted from native flowers is a tad expensive due to its unique colouring properties and flavouring. Succumb to the might of Himalayas, a world away from grind of routine and stress.