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Syed Nowreen Qadri
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For someone who is visiting Kashmir for the first time ever, it is a difficult task to select those few particular destinations to visit in a valley of enchanting and bewitching places. To make your job easier, we have listed below the five mesmerizing places in the valley that are a "must-visit" for

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Gulmarg- The Meadow Of Flowers

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  Originally called ‘Gauri Marg’ by shepherds, the present name, Gulmarg, was given in the 16th century by Sultan Yusuf Shah, who was inspired by the sight of its grassy slopes emblazoned with wild flowers. Gulmarg was a favorite haven  of Emperor Jehangir who once collected numerous different varieties of flowers from here. This was the reason why Gulmarg was referred to as the meadow of flowers.

Today Gulmarg is not merely a mountain resort of exceptional beauty, it also has the highest green golf course in the world.

Altitude: 2,650 m.

This hill station is the country’s premier ski resort in the winter.   While Gulmarg is an all-weather resort with refreshing meadows with flowers dotting the endless green slopes, this place will make sure, your camera never leaves your hand. Apart from the summer season, tourists from all around the globe prefer to visit this place in winter. Winter brings a whole different side of this valley. Skiing and snowboarding activities pump up the adrenaline seekers. The Himalayan resort of Gulmarg is one of the newest and increasingly popular ski destinations. Visitors from around the globe head here for the world’s highest gondola ski lift and captivating views .

Pahalgam- The Valley Of Shepherds

PAHALGAM

Located: 95 km from Srinagar.

Height: 7200 ft.

Pahalgam, better  known as, ‘Valley of Shepherds’, is a famous hill station in Kashmir . Located at the junction of Lidder river and the Sheshnag lake, Pahalgam is surrounded by dense  pine forests, breathtaking views of meadows and the snow-clad Himalayan mountains.Serving as the base camp during the Amarnath Yatra, the Pahalgam-Chandanwari-Amarnath route is mostly preferred by devotees trying to reach the mountain cave of Lord Shiva.

The town also holds an amazing two-day long Snow Festival that showcases winter sports like skiing, snow-sledding and many more which tourists can participate in. Other activities that tourists can indulge in are golf, trekking and angling. Apart from being a pilgrimage site, Pahalgam is also a treat for adventure junkies and is the starting point for several treks. However, the highlight of the activities available for tourists is the white water rafting facility winding down the Lidder River through the forests and down the rapids.  

Sonmarg- The Golden Meadow

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Sonamarg is a picturesque hill station in Jammu and Kashmir,

located: 80km north-east of Srinagar.

At an elevation of around 2800 km from sea level, Sonamarg is known for its snow-covered  fields, surrounded by majestic glaciers and pristine lakes which leaves the travellers enchanted .Sonamarg is surrounded by the great Himalayan glaciers - Kolahoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier - and gives rise to the famous Three Sisters of Kashmir Valley. Surrounding this scenic hill station are the peaks like Kolahoi, Amarnath, Machoi and Sirbal which make Sonamarg a perfect destination for adventure sports tourism.

Sonamarg also acts as the base camp for the trekking routes which lead to the mountain lakes such as Gangabal, Vishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Kishansar. This valley is divided into two halves by the Thajiwas range - on one side is the fir-covered Thajiwas range known for its camping sites. The other side comprises some beautiful waterfalls and the Thajiwas glacier which is the supreme attraction of this place.  

Gurez Valley- The Unexplored Jewel Of Kashmir

Gurez

In 1895, the British author Sir Walter Lawrence called the Gurez Valley “one of the most beautiful scenes in all of Kashmir,” where the crystal clear waters of the Kishanganga River are enveloped by “mountain ranges of indescribable grandeur.” In the book he wrote after traveling throughout the princely state, Lawrence predicted that Gurez would soon become one of Kashmir’s most popular Himalayan tourist destinations. 

Gurez, or Gurais , is a valley located in the high Himalayas, about 86 kilometres (53 mi) from Bandipora and 123 kilometres  from Srinagar in northern Kashmir and southern Gilgit-Baltistan. At about 2,400 metres (8,000 ft) above sea level, the valley is surrounded by snow-capped majestic mountain ranges.  This place is perhaps the only untapped region of Kashmir where nature displays its glory to the fullest. Gurez is rich in its natural resources and beauty. From the mystic waterfalls to the pristine lakes, every inch of this valley makes a traveller crave for more. Lying in the lap of mountains, Gurez has been a favourite destination for explorers who visit from far and wide to take a break from their busy lives and get in touch with their spiritual selves. The famous British author, sir Walter Lawrence, wrote about Gurez in his famous book, "Perhaps Pahalgam, the village of the shepherds that stands at the head of the Liddar valley with its healthy forest of pines, and Gurez, which lies at a distance of thirty-five miles from Bandipora, the port of the Wular Lake, will before long rival in popularity the other margs. Gurez is a lovely valley five miles in length lying at an elevation of about 8000 feet above the sea.

The Kishanganga river flows through it, and on either side tower mountain scraps of indescribable grandeur. Perhaps one of the most beautiful scenes in the whole of Kashmir is the grove of huge poplars through which the traveller enters the Gurez valley. The climate is dry and mild, excellent English vegetables can be grown, and the wild raspberries and currants are delicious. The valley is extremely picturesque, as the river comes dashing along through a rich meadow, partly covered with lindens, walnut and willow trees, while the mountains on either side present nothing but a succession of most abrupt precipices, and Alpine lodges, covered with fir trees."  

Shahr-e-Khaas, or The Old City Of Srinagar

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Shehr-e-Khaas, or the old city of Srinagar has a great place in the cultural history of Kashmir. The old city has been of great cultural significance as every nook and corner of this place displays the rich tradition and culture of the valley. From the historical architecture to the world famous Dal Lake, the old city of Srinagar is a must visit for any visitor to Kashmir. The area is mostly located on the banks of Jhelum river about 5 km from the city center.

The area is considered as the core point in the city as the first inhabitants of Srinagar lived there.  Bestowed with exquisite water bodies like the Dal Lake, the Nigeen lake and the river Jehlum, Srinagar has been the centre of all cultural activity in Kashmir. Besides this, the city of Srinagar is home to the world famous Mughal gardens. These century old gardens are an epitome of the Mughal era and reflect the finest form of the Mughal art and tradition.  Apart from this, the city of Srinagar also houses some of the oldest and sacred religious shrines like the Jamia Masjid, the Hazratbal shrine, the Shankaracharya temple on Hri Parbat and the Chatti Padshahi.  The city of Srinagar is a blend of tasteful varieties of sightseeing places. Apart from this, Srinagar city displays a cultural and religious diversity like none other. 

author

Syed Nowreen Qadri is an academy published author from Srinagar City. Her first published collection was compiled under the name "Silhouettes" in 2018