Mainstream destinations that come on a ‘silver platter’ do not satiate the thirst for exploration in avid travellers. Taking the road less travelled to discover exotic new destinations, the kind that even Google can’t tell you much about, is what makes them tick. Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Srinagar, and Ladakh may have become synonymous with the idea of a ‘holiday in heaven’ but there are many more beautiful places in Kashmir that can make your heart swell with wonderment and you one with nature.
A growing section of travellers today is on the lookout for such lesser-known destinations that offer an instant retreat from the civilized world. If that’s your idea of an ideal holiday too, follow us on this journey to five offbeat beautiful places in Kashmir that you must visit at least once:
Chatpal: A Virgin Land in South Kashmir
Away from the city’s uproar, this unexplored place in Anantnag offers you a quiet into serenity. A green landscape with gushing streams and colossal white peaks reaching for clear blue skies, and air so pure you can feel it cleanse your being – Chatpal is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Kashmir. The destination abounds in trekking trails that hide many surprises in their folds for nature lovers, hikers and photographers. You can also witness the lifestyle of the nomadic Gujjar tribe here.
An overnight stay is recommended to experience the beauty of this place to the fullest. You can book your stay at furnished cottages maintained by the tourism department. There’s one catch though – the place has no electricity. So, you can forget about your phones and laptops, use this opportunity for a digital detox.
Places to Visit Nearby: Aharbal Waterfall and Kistawar National Park
Sinthan Top: Panoramic View of Beautiful Places in Kashmir
Sinthan Top is a mountain pass that connects South Kashmir with Jammu province. Known for its precarious zigzagging hill roads, this destination is easily accessible from Srinagar. The road journey from Srinagar to Sinthan Top takes about 4-5 hours. Situated at a height of 12,500 feet above the sea level, Sinthan Top bestows its visitors with breathtaking 360-degree panoramic views of some of the most beautiful places in Kashmir. The place has no local inhabitants, except few shepherds and the tourists camping in tents.
Away from the mundane city life, this offbeat destination is a must visit for free-spirited nature lovers, skiers, and trekkers.
Places to Visit Nearby: Daksum and Kokernag
Aru Valley: Wondrous Beauty
Another heavenly expanse in the vicinity of Anantnag district is Aru Valley, a veritable treat for nature lovers. Known as one of the most beautiful places in Kashmir offering the perfect blend of meadows, lakes, and mountains, this place is also a base camp for trekking expeditions to Tarsar Lake and to Kolahoi Glacier. Trekking through the hidden trails of Aru and Lidderwat Valleys is the best way to experience the beauty of these destinations up close.
If one is hard-pressed for time, a pony ride comes a second close. Horse riding, hiking, trekking, and camping are some of the key attractions of the place, in addition to endless perfect frames to capture through your camera lens. Just a 12-km drive from Pahalgham, this heavenly destination has many small budget guesthouses and eco-resort too.
Places to visit nearby: Aru Wildlife Sanctuary and Betaab Valley
Lolab Valley: Home to Beautiful Fruit Orchards
Once a crossroads to the silk route and summer delight for the Mughals, the Lolab Valley is also known as the fruit bowl of Kashmir, thanks to its expansive orchards of apple, walnut, peach, and cherry. From the copper-rich mysterious caves of Kalaroos to the seven-arched rocky structure of Satburn, ‘Wadi-e-Lolab’ is not just another beautiful place in Kashmir but an archaeological wonder unto itself.
With its idyllic landscape, lush green paddy fields, around 11 lakes, ponds and natural springs, this picturesque place is perfect for trekking, campaigning and picnicking. Situated on the banks of Lahwal River and nestled between Neelum and Kashmir valleys, Lolab is nature’s own hamper waiting to be explored.
Places to Visit Nearby: Chandigham, Kalaroos, Khumriyal and Reshwari, a border town in Kashmir.
Zanskar Valley: Walk over a Frozen River
If trekking the hills, admiring the pristine beauty of meadows and streams, evokes a ‘been there, done that’ feel, how about a walk over a frozen river? That’s exactly what the Zanskar Valley, that lies in the Kargil sub-district in eastern Kashmir, separated from Ladakh by the Zanskar mountain range, has to offer. Standing at the height of more than 15,000 feet, this beautiful place in Kashmir is famous for its stunning landscape and Tibetan-style monasteries.
A walk over the frozen Zanskar River called the ‘Chadar Trek’ is longest winter trekking in the Indian Himalayan Region that offers a blissful secluded experience of watching the many colours of nature in its unadulterated form. In summer, the same river turns into the hotbed for adrenaline-pumping white river rafting.
Places to Visit Nearby: Pensi la Pass, Padum and Rangum
The quest beautiful places in Kashmir does not end here. The region abounds in many more such unblemished destinations. But for now, these destinations should set you up for a serene yet exhilarating getaway.