Visit Kashmir and you just cannot afford to miss this beautiful valley called Pahalgam. Often known as the Valley of Shepherds and Mini Switzerland, this beautiful town is perched between the breathtaking Sheshnag Lake and Lidder. It is safe to say that Pahalgam represents all that is charming about Kashmir. Pahalgam is around 95 kms away and 2-3 hours drive from Srinagar. Before visiting Kashmir, I had visiting this valley in my mind but it got even more strong when the passenger next to me on my flight to Srinagar was from Pahalgam. He had requested me to visit his hometown and had given me his number so that I could contact him if I do make a plan. Every single local I met kept telling me that I had to visit Pahalgam and without it, my trip would be incomplete. I called my friend and he was more than happy to host me. I took a sharing cab to Pahalgam and as soon as I reached, my friend took care of my every single expense. They treated me as their own and made sure that i was comfortable! I have to say that I have never seen such hospitality in my entire life.
Pahalgam is truly a paradise for people looking for soulful serenity. The journey to this valley goes through the wonderfully hilly roads from where you will also be able to witness the cascading beauty of the gorgeously clear Lidder River flowing between the pine forests.
The main commute in Pahalgam is either through a horse ride or through local transportation. To reach Baisaran one has no choice but to go for the horse options as cars can’t reach there. I rented a horse to Baisaran, then the Kashmir Valley and lastly the Betaab Valley on a motor bike. The horse ride is one that you would wish it never ended. Riding on a horse back with the view of thin and wispy clouds touching the majestic mountains and water streams flowing between them, who would want an eye pleasing ride to ever end?
- Baisaran/Mini Switzerland:
I reached the Baisaran in around 45 minutes on a horse ride. A striking resemblance to the lush green meadows of Switzerland has christened this place as the “Mini Switzerland in Kashmir”. The way to Baisaran provides a perfect photo opportunity as the ponies take you through crisscross paths, lined by pine trees, up to the valley. The dense pine forest that gives the green carpet look to the meadow provides a contrasting hue to snow-capped peaks of the surrounding mountains. Resembling European resorts, this huge and undulating meadow serves as a good campsite. While you relax and breathe in the cool breeze, you will notice cattle as well as rabbits grazing on the meadows. It is really a treat for your eyes. The best part about Baisaran is that the more you stay in the meadows, the more mystical and spell bounding it will become. For the photographers in you, this is a paradise!
- Kashmir Valley:
Next, the ride continues to a place called Kashmir valley. Kashmir Valley is a valley of vast meadows situated on top of the mountain range overlooking the Lidder River flowing through the Pahalgam. The view of the lush green dense forest encircled by the mountains from the valley is breathtaking. All you have to do is sit back and just enjoy the picturesque view.
- Behtaab Valley:
After visiting the kashmir valley, I went back from where I had started. My friend was waiting for me there and he treated me with a kashmir special lunch. After that he took me to the betaab valley on his bike. I have to say that bike rides are really fun so my last but definitely the most beautiful stop was the Betaab Valley, a land of sheer magic. Earlier known as Hagan Valley or Hagoon, Betaab Valley got its present name after the blockbuster Bollywood movie ‘Betaab’ was shot there in 1983. Snow capped mountains, lush green surroundings and a sparkling stream in the centre of the valley make it a heavenly abode for travellers. Betaab Valley is a perfect gateway to enjoy the heavenly pleasure of Mother Nature. The valley is at a walk-able distance from Pahalgam. The crystal clear & chilly water of the stream bubbling down from the snowy hills is a delight. The sight of the glorious view will engulf your eyesight and as the cool mountain breeze will touch your body, you will feel like you are strolling in heaven.
Whether you want to go for a trek with your gang or get together with your family or simply lie under the warm bright sun, listening to the sound of the gushing water, Pahalgam is a heavenly place that has a whole wide range of activities to offer to its visitors. My next visit was surprisingly unplanned therefore it was more adventurous and more fulfilling. You have to wait for my next blog to learn how to make unplanned trips!