Kashmir in winter – Covering Pahalgam, Srinagar, Sonmarg and Gulmarg in 5 days

We were 6 of us, boys – I, Amby, Ekansh, Avnish, Amit and Gourav who decided to see the ‘Paradise on Earth’ and booked a rail ticket from Delhi to Udhampur for 20-Dec-2013. On the day, we boarded the metro from Gurgaon for New Delhi Railway Station. Ekansh was carrying good dinner to avoid the train food and we all had our dinner in New Delhi. Gourav boarded the train from Ambala station at mid night with a parcel of “सरसों का साग और  मक्का  दी रोटी” that was prepared by his mother for the gang. Thank you, aunty, for our morning breakfast.

On the morning of December 21, the train arrived on Jammu railway station and then proceeded to Udhampur. Our excitement levels were high because we had reached right in the lap of the Himalayas. After reaching at Udhampur, we booked a 6-seater car for 5 days, run by the driver called Nazeer. Mid way, as we reached Kud we took the break for tea and also got a taste of the local sweet called “प्रेम का पतीसा”.

After crossing the Jawahar tunnel we started noticing small snow covered mountains and after 10-15 minutes we got a great welcome with nothing short of a snow fall! We stopped the car at Titanic Point to enjoy the first snow fall of our lives and for a quick photo session. Amby, Gourav and Ekansh also bought caps from here.

At Titanic point after crossing the Jawahar tunnel

At Titanic point after crossing the Jawahar tunnel

We reached Pahalgam in the evening and everything was clean with no snow at all and after 1 hour heavy snow fall started and covered the entire city with a white envelope. On early morning of 22-Dec, we took a walk in order to see the city and saw the Temple, Gurudwara and a beautiful Golf course covered with Snow. We playfully had snow fights in the Gurudwara after that Amby pushed us guys to the Golf Course and we got warm with hot tea in Golf Course.  After lunch, we checked out from the hotel and left beautiful Pahalgam city for Srinagar.

The Beautiful Pahalgam City

The beautiful Pahalgam City

Golf Course in Pahalgam City

Golf Course in Pahalgam City

Lidder River runs through Pahalgam

Lidder River runs through Pahalgam

Snowfall continued in Pahalgam. Nazeer, our driver, also described and shared stories about Kashmir with us on the way to Sri Nagar. We reached around 4 pm; Srinagar was cool but no snow at that time. We decided to see Sankaracharya Temple first and then checked in at Guest House. Sankaracharya Temple is on a hill and we need to climb 200 stairs to view God Shiva Temple. Sankaracharya Temple is one of oldest and beautiful temples but camera is not allowed there. After the temple we moved to Chashme Shahi as Nazeer suggested, and took lots of photos and enjoyed some street shopping.

Chashm-e-shahi

Chashm-e-shahi

We came to the guest house and after refreshments, we went for dinner at Krishna Dhaba. In the night we played card games and planned for the next day. We all were in one big room with 3 king-size double beds. So, 2 people needed to share one bed but no one was ready to sleep with Avnish.

Next day, i.e., 23 Dec, we left for Sonmarg and stopped at Panjabi Dhaba near Sindhu River for Paratha and tea. Amby told us a the story about Sindhu river that this river has a reverse flow and goes to Pakistan from India. Continuos snowfall followed us to Sonmarg and we felt that Kashmir really is the paradise on earth. We cannot explain the lovely way to Sonmarg. We enjoyed a lot and very heavy snowfall continued. Each time we would run to sit in car for the front seat. Amit and Avnish were always fighting for this. That was funny and memorable moment for us guys.

Sonmarg

Sonmarg

My best picture captured in Sonmarg. Thanks Avnish for this picture. But Anvish was still learning about his new DSLR camera which he bought for this trip.

Me in Sonmarg

Me in Sonmarg

Local villagers’ children had cheeks that resembled Kashmiri apples. So we could not resist clicking their pictures. We also enjoyed Kasmiri songs as visited the villages.

Child in the village near Sonmarg

Child in the village near Sonmarg

Our gang with the children

Our gang with the children



Booking.com

Due to a very heavy snow fall, the road was almost blocked and all the vehicles were moving like bullock carts. Our car was also in trouble most of the time and we needed to push the skidding car.

Pushing the car to move

Pushing the car to move

Our car in Sonmarg after 1 hour

Our car in Sonmarg after 1 hour

We returned to Srinagar around 8pm and went for a delicious dinner at Mugal Darbar Hotel. Amit was always asking for “नादरू यखनी” and “कहवा” in every hotel but always got no for the answer because this time was not for “नादरू यखनी” (the lotus stem cooked with curd). After the dinner, we came back to the guest house and played card games.

The next day, we moved for Gulmarg and left the guest house around 7:45 am. It was a special day for me because 24 Dec is my birthday. We were around 10 km away from Gulmarg valley and Nazeer said that we needed to take a local vehicle from there because a driver from outside is not allowed to drive from there. Nazeer also shared that 2-3 vehicles slipped down the hills only a few days ago. The road was covered with snow but no snow fall here. Driver stopped the car in mid way and pointed that IBN7 news team was waiting for tourists to capture news for Christmas. News team selected us guys because we all were wearing Christmas caps. That was our first interview taken by a news channel and we got surprised in Gulmarg. That video clip was published by CNN IBN7 new channel on 25 Dec.

with IBN7 team

with IBN7 team

After reaching Gulmarg, we hires a sledge cart to reach the Gondola booking office. You can walk till the office but we wanted to experience every different thing. The sledge cart helper used his legs as brakes to stop the cart. So Amby’s cart impinged with some tourist and he fell down but thankfully was not hurt. We also want to salute our military people who were for our security.

Gourav with the Military people, in Gulmarg

Gourav with the Military people, in Gulmarg

Gourav and I enjoying the Sledge cart

Gourav and I enjoying the Sledge cart

We also tried making a snowman in Gulmarg but instead of making a snowman we created a Ramu kaka.  We took Shawl from newly married couple’s snowman. One funny incident was that Amit called her aunty who gave the shawl. Amit is on the left of the snowman in below picture.

Gulmarg Valley

Gulmarg Valley

Snowman, Gulmarg

Snowman, Gulmarg

Gondola ride was also one of best experience in my life. We enjoyed a lot in top of Gulmarg valley.

Ready for the Gondola ride

Ready for the Gondola ride

We returned from Gulmarg to Srinagar around 5pm and went to Lal Chok market for shopping. We bought shawls from market.  After shopping, we got to see Lal Chok. We always heard about Lal Chok in the news. So we were very excited. A small sitting area is at Lal Chok to relax and that part enhanced the beauty of Lal Chok.

Lal Chowk, Srinagar

Lal Chowk, Srinagar

Some guys had the dinner at a restaurant called “Mummy Please” because that restaurant was for non- vegetarian only. Amit was still crying for “कहवा”. So we went to Ahdoos Hotel for Kahwa. We ordered Kahwa and Firni sweet. Avnesh, Ekansh and Gourav came with a cake to celebrate my birthday. That was the very happy moment for me. Thanks you guys for a lovely birthday celebration.

Celebrating my birthday in Ahoods hotel

Celebrating my birthday in Ahoods hotel

25 Dec was last day in Kashmir and our flight from Srinagar was around 2:30pm. So we packed up early in the morning because the last thing pending was a Shikara ride. So we went to Dal Lake for the Shikara ride and also covered Mina market.

Shikara ride in Dal Lake

Shikara ride in Dal Lake

With Nazeer at the Srinagar Airport

With Nazeer at the Srinagar Airport

Amby and I at the airport

Amby and I at the airport

After a 1-hour journey we were at the Delhi Airport around 4pm and my mobile started working. So I first checked-in on Facebook to tell the friends and family that I am fine. We promised to visit Kashmir at least one more time during summers and thanked Amby for this trip. Thanks for reading my experience. This is my first blog, so please give your feedback and suggestions.

46 Comments

  • Anupam Chakraborty says:

    A very warm welcome to Ghumakkar, Vivek.

    Lovely cheerful travel story. Beautiful pics.

    Nice, Nice and very nice. Keep traveling and keep sharing with us.

  • Vivek Kumar Srivastava says:

    Thanks Anupam

  • Pictures r very Good !

    Pahalgam , Srinagar , Sonmarg & Gulmarg in one post ? What other suggest but from my point of view there should be at least 3-4 post on it.

    Its a suggestion , kindly don’t mind it.

  • Ekansh says:

    Aweseome pictures.
    Awesome explanation.

    Thanks for sharing it.

    Cheers!!!

  • Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Vivek.

    Seems like you and your friends had a gala time in Kashmir. The pics of snow-laden everything is very soothing to eyes, as Delhi begins to get hot. Wishing you many more such endeavours.

  • Venkat says:

    Nice tour of snow filled Kashmir, Vivek for readers of Ghumakkar. Thanks, Vivek.

  • Venkat says:

    Nice tour of snow filled Kashmir for readers of Ghumakkar. Thanks, Vivek.

  • Ashok Sharma says:

    nice post about the snowing winter in Kashmir.very good photos.

  • AJAY SHARMA says:

    Welcome Vivek,
    Excellent photography engulfed with flawless write-up. I remember my gang and recalled those gala days. Hope to see you guys with more fun & sharing them to all of us.
    I echo Mahesh Bhai, please share the minute details by splitting the stories destination to destination. It is exciting to read the travel, playful moments and on route unique stories more than knowing about a place.
    Over all your log made my day buddy!

    Keep travelling
    Ajay

  • Nitin says:

    WoW! Great to see so much snow! Amazing story and photo’s.. Thanks!

  • Nirdesh Singh says:

    Hi Vivek,

    Enjoyed your snow covered trip to Kashmir.

    And White Christmas is the cherry on top.

    Hope to read more of your travel stories here.

  • Naresh Sehgal says:

    Hi Vivek,
    Welcome on Ghumakkar,
    Nice post with beautiful photos.
    Thanks for sharing

  • Vivek Kumar Srivastava says:

    Thanks Naresh.

  • Basheer says:

    Hi Vivek
    We are going to visit the valley this Christmas & have planned our internety through flight.
    My question is whether to depend the flight services or not?
    My opinion is coz of snow fall in these months it can be cancelled or the airport is well equipped to tackle snow.

    • I had visited on same time (20-25 Dec 2013) and returned from the flight. We did not face any issue because no snow falls in Srinagar. I think snow fall started in Srinagar in Jan and Feb month. So no need to worry.

      We faced heavy snowfall in Sonmarg and Pahalgam; but road is very good in Kasmir so no need to worry about this.

      All the best.

  • Rehana says:

    Lovely pics.
    Thanks for sharing this post.
    We too are planning trip to Kashmir in winters.
    Excited to visit after watching ur post.

  • Rani says:

    Hi,

    What a wonderful post. The highlights of this post is undoubtedly the “Ramu Kaka” snowman :-)
    You have described each aspect of your trip in great detail. Enjoyed every bit.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • aaliyah says:

    OMG…the Lidder valley photos is no less than a heavenly place. Just feel like building my own small hut around there and live there for the rest of my life….beautiful photos…

  • shashi says:

    Is it possible to provide the contact Number of the owner of the vehicle you hired. We too need an arrangement of your sort for traveling.

  • karan says:

    Hi Vivek,

    Can you please provide the contact Number of the owner of the vehicle you hired.

    Thanks
    Karan

  • 2nd and 4rth pic are my favorite. Well written travel story. Keep travelling, keep writing.

  • Apoorv Bhatia says:

    Hi Vivek

    Please can you let me know the number of the driver. Also is it safe enough to go along with wife there? We are planning in Jan end. One more thing, how much could be the expenditure for car hiring, as we would do like, stay in Srinagar for one day, 27 & 28th in Gulmarg, 29th – Pahalgam, 30th Sonamarg and in night 30th back to Srinagar as we have our flight from Srinagar on 31st.

    Please reply and suggest.

    Regards
    Apoorv

  • driver number is 9858582681 (Nazeer) and car expenditure will be around 10-15K for 5 days. Yes Kashmir is always safe for tourist, so don’t worry.

  • Amit says:

    Hi Vivek,
    Nice detail, and awesome pics….
    If we hire vehicle for five days do we have to make arrangements for drivers stay and food or all will be included in 10500 payment you made for that.
    And secondly have stayed at houseboat and is it safe to stay our night there with wife and little baby..
    Thanks and regards,
    Amit

  • lokesh says:

    Very nice post. I certainly appreciate this website. Thanks! Gulmarg is one of the most stunning hill stations in India. It has some spectacular places to see like the Nagin valley, the Apharwat peak, and Pattan.

  • shriniwas says:

    hello vivek, i am planning the kashmir tour in december with family. i just wanted to know from where you have booked the car? and entirely, how much it costed for the car?

  • Deepshikha says:

    Very nice, loved the pics. I am also planning to visit Kashmir from 23rd Dec – 1st January and I am very much excited. Could you please share driver details?

  • Sanjay Verma says:

    Hi,very nicely covered all the places.Can u please share Nasser’s phone no.as we are planning to visit Kashmir.

  • CH N V Murthy says:

    Nice report on your Kashmir trip with all details. Could you furnish the Guest house/Hotel contact details at Pahalgam, Srinagar, Sonmarg and Gulmarg and your experience. Did you take the vehicle at Udhampur and leave it at Srinagar airport. What was the vehicle and your experience. Please reply by e-mail. Thanks and Regards.

  • Kshitiz Kumar Gupta says:

    Hi Vivek!
    I am planning a trip to Srinagar this December. Can you please share the cost breakup of each component?
    Hotel, Car, food approximately, tickets/boat riding/cable car etc cost
    We are 4 friends.

    • I don’t think that time price will apply for today because it was a 5-year-old trip. Btw car cost was 10k for 5 days. Food price was similar to any other tourist place (I think cheaper than Delhi). Boat (Sikara) ride price may vary from 500 to 2000 Rs per boat. The cable car was 400 per person in 2013.

      • Kshitiz Kumar Gupta says:

        Thank you, Vivek for the quick response. Really appreciate it. Can you please share your number? I wanted to ask a few details regarding the locations.

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