Home > Magazine > Features > Travel: Kashmir on My Mind


Travel: Kashmir on My Mind

Text and Photos by Ramaa Reddy Email Text and Photos by Ramaa Reddy
May 2024
Travel: Kashmir on My Mind

Sights, culture, cuisine, and skiing on the slopes! There is no end to the charms of beautiful Kashmir, which has been attracting throngs of visitors in recent years.

[Left] Kashmir’s newfound security has resulted in a deluge of tourists. Many don’t ski but just ride up in the gondola to enjoy their first experience of snow. They frolic, take pictures, and have a meal at a restaurant in Kongdoori Phase 1. The picturesque area is surrounded by birch, deodar, and cedar trees that can reach a height of 250 feet. Mid-price hotels in Gulmarg include Highland Park, Hilltop, and Kolahoi Green. But for a luxury experience, head to the Khyber, the only property showcasing a heated swimming pool, which is a draw for children.



[Left] Rishis and Sufis have long found refuge in the Himalayas. Lord Shiva revealed the secrets of life and eternity to his wife Parvati at the Amarnath shrine, now a popular pilgrimage site. ​[Right]  Visitors can enjoy a good meal in one of Gulmarg’s restaurants.

Travel_3_05_24.jpgIsn’t Kashmir a conflict zone? The Department of State (DOS) advises U.S. citizens against visiting “the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir (except the eastern Ladakh region and its capital, Leh) due to terrorism and civil unrest.” Kashmir lost its special status after the Modi government controversially revoked Article 370 in 2019. Lt. Colonel Mirza Zahid Baig seems to disagree with the DOS. He says there have been no terrorist incidents during his tenure, and he adds that the locals, who abhor terrorism, have been welcoming tourists with open arms. 

[Left] Gulmarg: Visitors flock to this “valley of flowers” to enjoy the scenery and play at the high-altitude golf course. Once the cold weather envelopes Gulmarg, it becomes a winter wonderland.


A part of Mt. Apharwat in Kashmir is used daily as a training ground for the Indian Army’s High-Altitude Warfare School run by Baig, who is currently completing his posting in Gulmarg. Since 2022, he has also been assisting with avalanche rescue and training cadets in skiing and mountaineering. The mountain is just eight or nine kilometers from the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, and Baig says they are stationed there to keep Gulmarg safe. ​

[Right] The Gulmarg Ski Resort opened in 1927. Mt. Apharwat, India’s largest ski area, is a two-hour ride from the Srinagar airport. It has the highest skiable gondola (13,057 feet). Here, skiers can access the second highest peak in the world after the Telluride Ski Resort in Colorado.


[Top] Snow safety officer Brian Newman, a Colorado native who has spent 14 winters in Gulmarg and speaks fluent Kashmiri, works alongside his native Kashmiri ski patrol to reduce avalanche risk. Newman says the area is popular because the gondola takes tourists to the Karakoram Range, from where one can see the peaks of Nanga Parbat (26,000 feet). 


Srinagar and its Mughal Gardens

A visit to Kashmir is not complete without a stay in the capital, Srinagar, where the Mughal gardens, cuisine, golf courses, and hospitality can make a deep impression. Also unmissable is the Artisane – Art and Cultural Center, where artisans weave Kashmiri carpets and Pashmina shawls and sell their wares. Arrival in Srinagar can be daunting as every block has army officers patrolling in khaki uniforms with assault rifles. But checkpoints are not there any longer.

 [Right] To bask in ancient history, stay at the Lalit Grand Hotel. Constructed in 1910, the hotel was the palace of Hari Singh, the former maharaja of Kashmir. Some scenes from the hit 1981 Hindi film Silsila were shot here.

It is no wonder that after visiting the Himalayas, Kashmir, and the Shalimar Gardens, Orfi Shirazi, a Persian poet, wrote: If there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.


Mehmood Ahmad Lone operates Gulmarg Adventure Academy and K-Line Adventures. He says the best time to visit Gulmarg for skiing is February and March. For beginners, his company provides ski instructors. For advanced backcountry skiing, he provides pro-level ski guides at a reasonable price for a party of three. They also arrange snowmobiles, ATVs, snow cycles, ski touring, airport pick-ups, hotels, and sightseeing.

Ramaa Reddy is a journalist who works in a multimedia landscape that fuses print, audio, video, and photography. She is a graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism. All her pieces can be found on her digital magazine (venturetraveller.com).


[Right Bottom] A gondola ride to the top of the mountain with unlimited access to other chair lifts costs a mere $25/day. The central portion of the mountain (Greens) is patrolled while the backcountry is complete wilderness, offering a range of off-piste ski runs. The mountain spans three acres of skiable terrain, but it’s also prone to avalanches due to the vertical drops.

Travel_11_05_24.jpg[Left] Around Dal are two must-see Mughal Gardens—Nishat Bhag and Shalimar. Both are terraced gardens built by the Mughals using Persian principles of cascading waterfalls and fountains. With the Zabarwan mountains as a backdrop, these gardens are noteworthy for their 400-year-old chinar and willow trees, not to mention the impressive architecture. Beginning in March, flowering trees like almond, sand cherry, and magnolia line each walkway. That’s also the season for tulips, exquisitely displayed in the seven-terraced Indira Gandhi Memorial Tulip Garden, which has around 48 varieties of tulips.

Also worth visiting in Srinagar is Ahdoos Restaurant, where one can sample Wazwan, the multi-course royal Kashmiri feast that traces its roots to Persian, Afghan, and Turkish cuisines.














 In the heart of the city lies Dal Lake, an urban lake that covers nine square miles. Its shoreline is flanked by a boulevard lined with gardens, houseboats, shikaras (wooden boats), and hotels. British Raj officers were not allowed to buy land in Kashmir, so they circumvented the rule by building residential houseboats on Dal Lake. A popular tourist activity in the summer is to hire shikaras and watch floating islands that blossom with lotus flowers. They will also see fishermen digging out lotus stems, a local delicacy.


Enjoyed reading Khabar magazine? Subscribe to Khabar and get a full digital copy of this Indian-American community magazine.

  • Add to Twitter
  • Add to Facebook
  • Add to Technorati
  • Add to Slashdot
  • Add to Stumbleupon
  • Add to Furl
  • Add to Blinklist
  • Add to Delicious
  • Add to Newsvine
  • Add to Reddit
  • Add to Digg
  • Add to Fark
blog comments powered by Disqus

Back to articles






Sign up for our weekly newsletter


Potomac_wavesmedia Banner ad.png

asian american-200.jpg




Krishnan Co WebBanner.jpg


Embassy Bank_gif.gif