With assembly elections declared in UP, schools & offices being closed for 2 days, it was 4 day long weekend. My sister insisted on going out and after exploring various options, we finally decided for “Srinagar” and competitive air ticket prices contributed towards this decision. For those travelling with infant (as in my case), GoAir might be the best bet as GoAir is not charging Fuel Surcharge, Passenger Handling Fee and Congestion Surcharge for infants, that would make infant ticket cheaper by 1K.
Day 1: After landing Srinagar airport around noon time on 12th April, we had lunch at Krishna Vaishno Dhaba and headed for local sightseeing. There are many pure-veg restaurants and dhabas around Dal Gate along with Nathu’s (especially for Delhiites).
Local sightseeing started with Shankarayacharya Temple which is on the height of more than 200 stairs. Avoid going to this place just after having heavy lunch. We then turned to Gardens of Srinagar – Botanical garden, Tulip garden, Shalimar and Nishat garden (Mughal garden). All gardens have beautiful grass lawns and fountains but the best garden is Tulip garden.
Srinagar’s Tulip Garden is Asia’s largest Tulip garden, which was opened just few days back for the season. It had more than 3 lakh flowers in full bloom imported from Holland. Worth spending few hours.
After covering sightseeing, in the evening, we went to Dal Lake for looking at House Boats as we were planning to stay one night in House Boat. A single visit to House Boat was sufficient to clear all our doubts regarding safely of child, mosquitoes, stinking issues blah blah. We changed our minds and negotiated with the owner of “PANZEY” (House Boat) and settled there for all 3 three nights. House Boats opposite to Nathu’s Sweets are pretty decent and close to market.
Day2: We had early breakfast and left for Gulmarg in the private taxi. We bargained with taxi
driver directly without approaching taxi stand and got a good deal as this was a non-peak season. We reached Gulmarg in around 2 hours time.
From there, we took Gandola rope way to the snow point Phase 1. Phase 2 is the hilltop for which authority charges 500 bucks per person. For us, phase -1 was good enough, full of snow and winter activities such as skiing and sledging. We spent few hours there and then came back to Gulmarg base, had lunch and returned to Srinagar.
In the evening, we enjoyed Shikara ride around the Dal Lake. Shikara ride covers several sight-seeing of Dal lake viz Nehru park, “Chori ki zameen” (floating land in Dal lake), shopping centers and “Shikara Restaurant”. Yes, Shikara Restaurant – A restaurant on Shikara which caters snacks, when you are enjoying Shikara ride or staying in House Boat. Shikara ride and stay in House Boat is the best of Kashmir.
Day3: Phalagam, starting point of AmarnathYatra, is around 2.5 hrs away from Srinagar. It is worth hiring a pony and enjoy pony ride along with sightseeing. We let our driver negotiate on the price as he knew local language and finally he got us deal on much lower price than the government listed rates. Pony took us through the kaccha tracks on the mountain and after 15-20 minutes of ride, we reached a large beautiful ground surrounded by Himalayan range. There was also a small river flowing on one side of the ground with chilled water.
We spent few hours there, relaxed and also tried Kashmiri Kahwa (only Aarushi enjoyed the taste of Kahwa :-)). On the way back to Pahalgam, there were several other sightseeing but not of a kind where we could get down of pony and spent some time. We had our lunch at Nathu’s Rasoi in Phalagam and headed back to Srinagar.
In the evening, we visited the (in)famous “Lal ChowK” of Srinagar (place where most of the bomb blasts happen). Lal Chowk is not a tourist area and is dominated by locals so we purchased some good Kashmiri stuff from there on reasonable price. Dry fruits, Kesar, Shawls and ladies suites. Finally, after dinner we packed our luggage and booked taxi for leaving airport in the morning.
There are multiple security checks on Srinagar airport so it is good to keep buffer of few hours while reaching airport else you may miss your flight.
Day 4: Welcome back to Delhi with soaring 42 degree temperature.