Some places are traveled, some are explored, and some are lived. But Kashmir must be felt. The beauty is such that will allure and will be etched in your memory for a long time. To see the best of this heaven on earth, however, you must not just visit and stay. You must do things – all of the most amazing things to do in Kashmir – you must try them. That is the only way to see what these amazing valleys have tucked in their basket of goodness.
This curated guide highlights the 12 must-have experiences in Kashmir in 3 sub-sections – top things to do in Kashmir, top adventure activities to do in Kashmir, and spiritual activities to do in Jammu and Kashmir. The list offers comprehensive information about these activities, and also gives you enough fodder to plan your holiday in Kashmir.
Top Things To Do In Kashmir
Mostly located in the Himalayan ranges, Kashmir offers a plethora of experiences that one must take by indulging in the below listed exciting things to do. The location and the terrain make some of the things are exclusive to this destination, so go ahead and enjoy all of these:
1. Shikara Ride
Lay back and admire the beauty of the distant mountains as your boatman takes you through a ride across the lake. Away from the hustle bustle of the polluted city life, a shikara ride ranks on the top of the list of the best things to do in Kashmir. No smoke or sound of the vehicles, no high-pitched angry crowd, nothing. Just the soft sound of the boatman’s oar breaking the surface of the water and the touch of the cold water as you trail your hand on the surface of the lake.
Where To Try: Dal Lake in Srinagar and Manasbal Lake near Sonamarg
Timings: 6:00 am – 5:00 pm; all days of the week
Cost Per Person: INR 150 – INR 250
2. Houseboat Stay
And it is not just the shikara rides in Dal Lake, this is one of the best offbeat things to do in Srinagar. Spending a night at the houseboat docked at the Dal Lake jetty is also among the top things to do in Kashmir. Be it honeymooners, families, or solo travelers, a night stay at one of the houseboats in Srinagar is something that you simply can not miss. The houseboats have Wifi and airport transfer facilities available. You can also avail the meals facilities provided by them. Houseboat stay facility in Jammu and Kashmir is the best experiences if you are here with your family, a group of friends or with your partner.
3. Gondola Cable Car Ride
Riding the Gondola cable car is one of the exciting and fun things to do in Kashmir for people of all ages. Tourists prefer to travel via cable car to enjoy the best views of the snowcapped mountains. Taking a Gondola ride is one of the best things to do in Kashmir in May because during this month, the summers are coming to an end and the view is really great.
The Ride Takes Place In Three Phases:
- Phase 1: Gulmarg to Kongdoori
- Phase 2: Kongdoori to Apharwat Peak
- Phase 3: Kongdoori to Mary Shoulder [Chair Lift]
Timings: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm (Ride) | 9:00 am – 3:00 pm (Ticket sale); all days of the week
Cost Per Person: INR 600 (Phase I) | INR 800 (Phase II) | INR 300 (Chair Lift)
Book Your Ride Here: Gondola Ride
4. Kashmiri Cuisine
Like in any other destination across the world, trying the local cuisine is one of the most important things to do in Kashmir. We all have heard about the Kashmiri Kahwa (tea) and Lamb Mutton Rogan Josh. But the cuisine has many more sumptuous dishes. These include Nadroo Yakhni (yogurt based Kashmiri curry with lotus stems), Paneer Chaman (fried paneer simmered in tomato sauce and flavored with spices and fennel seeds powder), Dum Aloo, Matschgand (minced meatballs cooked in spicy red gravy), and Gushtaba (minced mutton cooked in flavorful yogurt gravy and spices).
Shopping is one of the most common things to do in Kashmir. And no, I do not mean just antiques and other souvenirs. Tourists here can shop for exquisite Kashmiri handlooms and Pashmina shawls, antique copperware like samovars, Namda hand-woven carpets, local garments called Ferins, and expensive Doda Sapphire. And then there are flowers, fruits, and vegetables sold on the shikaras in Dal Lake. More than what you buy, how you buy will be the reason for your excitement here.
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Top Adventure Activities To Do In Kashmir
Kashmir is full of experiences and there is so much to do and see. And if you want to do something that is different from the regular tourist tours, here are some offbeat things to do and activities that you can do in this heaven on Earth:
6. River Rafting
White river rafting is one of the most adrenaline rush giving adventurous things to do in Kashmir. The rapids here are easy or moderate, which implies that rafting in Kashmir is not very difficult. You can go rafting near Sonamarg as well. However, the white water rafting in the Lidder river in Pahalgam is more famous. Teamwork coordination is an important feature in river rafting and you must also follow the safety instructions given by the instructors.
- Short Lidder River Rafting: 3 km (Pahalgam) | Yarganpal to Yaneed Bridge | Grades II & III
- Medium Sindh River Rafting: 8 km (Sonamarg) | Mamar to Satrun Margund | Grades II, III, & IV
- Long Sindh River Rafting: 28 km (Sonamarg) | Mamar to Wayul Bridge | Grades II, III, & IV
For all those adrenaline junkies, there is also an option to go for paragliding. The majestic beautiful valley beneath is a sight to behold. The unique view of the green valleys makes paragliding one of the most thrilling things to do in Kashmir. Paragliding options are available in Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Bhaderwah, Sanasar, and Harwan (Srinagar). Of these, paragliding in Harwan is most easily accessible as it lies on the route of the tour of the Grand Mughal Gardens.
With mountains generously covering the landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, trekking has become one of the best things to do here. Though in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, trekking in Ladakh is more famous. There are short treks and hikes that tourists can take in the valleys of Kashmir. There are many high altitude alpine lakes in Kashmir, such as Vishansar Lake, Tarsar Lake, Gadsar Lake, Alpather Lake, and Satsar Lake.
Since these beautiful lakes can only be accessed after scaling the hills, trekking has become one of the best things to do in Kashmir for the nature lovers and adventure seekers. No matter how long the trek is, the final view from the top is definitely going to be breathtaking. Make sure you wear a comfortable and grippy pair of footwear to the trek. Carry enough water to drink, and wear your sunscreens too.
9. Skiing & Snowboarding
Kashmir is a cold region, with snow-capped mountains and freezing – cold river streams, and to experience it at its best, you must visit Kashmir in the winter season. This is one of the best things to do in Kashmir in Winter. With the onset of winters, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, and Gulmarg are entirely covered in snow. And this open ups an opportunity for the winter sports. Snowboarding and skiing are the best things to do in Kashmir during winters, especially if you have an adrenaline rush to satiate.
10. Hot Air Ballooning
Jammu and Kashmir have countless options when it comes to adventure activities and they are not just limited to land and water. The vastness of the landforms here and the beauty of the scenic views make it a perfect destination for Aero sports too. Just like paragliding, hot air ballooning is also gaining popularity demand.
The mesmerizing sight of the lush-green and floral hills, deep valleys, snow-covered mountain ranges, milky – white streams and those signature-style slope-roofed houses, from the top will really want you to extend your stay in this heaven on Earth. Valleys of Suru and Zanskar are the popular spots in Jammu for enjoying hot air balloon rides. The ride takes to a height of around 3,000 feet and lasts for about 2 hours. Winter months are the best time to experience this activity.
Spiritual Things To Do In Jammu & Kashmir
If you thought Jammu and Kashmir is only about the breathtaking scenic beauty, here’s a surprise for you. If this is the heaven on Earth, there has to almighty’s abode too. Here some of the popular temples, shrines, and monasteries in Jammu and Kashmir that you must not miss on your visit:
11. Amarnath Cave And Vaishnodevi Temple
Taking a pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave & Vaishno Devi Cave Temple is among the most religious things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. The Amarnath Yatra is done to worship the ice stalagmite Shivalinga. It is said that Lord Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati. The pilgrimage takes place during July – August. This 45-days Shravan Mela is dedicated to Shri Amarnath Ji.
The Vaishno Devi Yatra is a pilgrimage to Mata Vaishno Devi. The Trikuta mountain, where the shrine is located, has one base but three different peaks. A similar structure is seen inside the cave. The three heads are said to be of Mata Kali, Mata Laxmi, and Mata Saraswati – Hindu goddesses. This yatra, too, takes place in the months of July and August.
12. Ladakh Buddhist Monasteries
Of the numerous places to visit in Leh Ladakh, the Buddhist monasteries are the rarest gems of Jammu Kashmir tourism. An exploration of these Gompas is one of the most religious things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. Some of the most popular monasteries (gompas) of Ladakh are:
- Hemis Monastery: Constructed by Stagchen Raschegn during the 17th century, the monastery is most popular for its masked dance during the Hemis festival.
- Thiksey Monastery: Home to over 500 monks, the monastery houses many items of Buddhist art like wall paintings, statues, thangkas, and swords.
- Likir Monastery: Believed to be the first monastery to be erected by Tibetan monks, it was founded by Lama Dhwang during the 14th century. The monastery houses many Tibetan artifacts.
This place is indeed a heaven on the Earth, isn’t it? So how can you afford to miss out Jammu and Kashmir from your places to visit bucket list? Plan a trip to Kashmir and head out to meet nature face-to-face. Also make sure that you experience all the above-given things to do so that when you return home, you take a piece of Kashmir along with you. “Nair Khaudaayas Havaal!” ('Have a good journey’ in Kashmiri)