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Kashmir

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Overlooking one of Kashmir’s most prized gems, the Dal Lake, Vivanta by Taj Srinagar beckons you to indulge in a rare mix of luxury and nature in its unbridled beauty. A perfect setting for a quiet getaway, a romantic holiday or celebrating special occasions. The property was on my radar during a recent trip to Kashmir and I made the most of the experience by turning it into a quiet getaway meets romantic holiday on a special birthday outing. Perched on Kralsangri hill, Vivanta by Taj Srinagar – a contemporary space with Kashmir’s essence intricately woven in – comes close to a recreation of the fabled ‘paradise found’. The Road to Vivanta by Taj Srinagar The experience of awe begins long before you drive through the gates of Vivanta by Taj Srinagar. The winding road leading up to the property offers stunning views at every bend and turn. A bird’s…

Expansive meadows and rolling hills, saffron plantation and tulips in blossom, still lakes and foamy rivers…who wouldn’t want to explore the land that’s earned itself the title of ‘heaven on Earth’. But the first question that comes to mind when considering a trip to this wonderland is – is it safe to visit Kashmir? Given the turbulent atmosphere in the state, these concerns are not unfounded. Yet, thousands of people land here, year after year, to grab a slice of this heaven. Since tourism is a primary source of revenue in this landlocked and disturbed region, the government and the locals do everything in their power to ensure the safety of tourists. That said, there have been a few isolated incidents where tourists have been trapped due to an unforeseen spate in the tension between the forces and the separatists and even found themselves caught in the crosshairs of angry…

Imagine a smooth ceramic bowl of white edged with jade green. Being surrounded by snow-covered peaks as far as the eye can see – an endless realm of pure white magic. The thrill of speeding downhill, which is as close as you come to flying without wings. Getting in touch with your childhood by making a snowman or indulging in snowball fights. A trip to Gulmarg offers it all and then some. This incredible place will give you a taste of different seasons all in a day – going from bright sunshine to pouring rain, a chill in the air and snowfall in the course of 24 hours. Words fall short to describe this huge meadow ringed by fir trees and snowy peaks, bestowed with mountain fresh air, nature trails, ski slopes, and a host of fun activities –gondola ride, sledging, golfing and snow scooters. A trip to Gulmarg will…

I stepped my foot on the greenest grass, the sky overhead the colour of the finest blue eyes and mountain peaks wrapped in a blanket of snow. The air was cold and also the freshest I have ever breathed. Where was I? You bet I was in heaven indeed. No, it was not a dream. It was a trip to Kashmir. I didn’t need to pinch myself to believe so, for I have never felt more awake. I can never forget the moment I first stepped foot in this land of mesmerising beauty. As we ventured out, there was a nagging sense of fear somewhere in the mind, given the ground-reality of the place which is a striking contrast to its pristine beauty. I kept the windows rolled up and covered and even dressed like the locals with the hope of fitting in. My fears didn’t stand a chance to survive in…

You’ve probably read to death about the mainstream must-see destinations in Kashmir, right from Gulmarg to Pahalgam, Sonmarg and Srinagar. I wanted to explore the beauty of Kashmir from a different vantage point. If you too are looking to indulge in similar sights that are off the beaten path, this look-back at my journey through Gurez Valley will inspire you to explore the hidden gems of Kashmir. My research on the terrain and topography of the region helped me zero in on exploring the untouched beauties around North and South Kashmir. Choosing the road less travelled path and being one with nature is a wonderfully liberating experience. I believe it is “better to see something once than hear about it a thousand times”. Planning this trip to Gurez Valley on my own turned out to be a challenge, as most of the areas don’t have proper connectivity via phone or…