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The Kashmir valley consists of 10 districts adjoining Srinagar. As rightly said by the Mughal emperor Jahangir it is delight for each tourist visiting this place and it is true to its name "Paradise on Earth."
The city of Kashmir has the history of serving numerous Hindu and Muslim rulers. Akbar established Mughal rule in Srinagar and Kashmir valley. After the Mughal period Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab province captured majority of the Kashmir Valley, including Srinagar. It remained a princely state and was made part of the Indian Union after the Independence. However, it always remained a bone of contention between India and Pakistan. The frequent militant attacks and bombs exploding have terrorized the tourists. Kashmir has of late emerged as the base camp for numerous Islamic militant organizations. Finally the incident of hanging of Afzal guru and Kasab has turned out in violence and protests all across the state.
Kashmir is considered as the most popular tourist destination by not only people with in India, but also outside the country. Tourism is the most prominent revenue generator for the government machinery and it is the single largest source of income for the native people.
There are numerous tourist destinations in the valley.
- Gulmarg: Gulmarg is famous for Skiing. There is also provision for sledge pad which is pulled by dogs. The picturesque locations and snow clad mountains are a delight to watch. There is also a rope way across the mountain.
- Sonmarg: Sonmarg is famous for river rafting. This beautiful picturesque place is the favorite choice for most of the film shootings. It is approximately 85 km from Srinagar. Mandakini Hut and other beautiful waterfalls and natural scenery make this place very special for the tourists.
- Pahalgam: Pahalgam is one of the beautiful places associated with the annual Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari which is 16 km from Pahalgam is the starting point for the pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra. This yatra takes place every year in the month of July-August.
- Srinagar: It has the following tourist destinations:
- Dal Lake: Excellent Lake spread across in the Srinagar city. Famous for houseboats and shikara ride.
- Shalimar Bagh: This garden was built by Mughal emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan. It is a beautiful garden with different flowers and a lake.
- Nishat Bagh: Nishat garden is situated on the banks of the Dal Lake. Sitting in the garden we can have a beautiful view of the lake and the snow clad Pir Panjal mountain ranges.
- Chashma Shahi: Chashmashai is located on the side of the Dal Lake. This beautiful garden which was built by Shah Jahan consists of a cool water outlet which comes from a spring and is considered highly refreshing and digestive.
- Pari Mahal: It is well connected from chashmashai. It was a royal observatory, Buddhist monastery and a school of astrology during the earlier days. It is an ancient monument with a garden at the front.
- Shankaracharya Temple
- Hazratbal Mosque
- Jama Masjid
- Ladakh:Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called "Little Tibet" as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture. Leh is an important city and tourist destination in Ladakh. The flowing river streams, mountains, and meadows provide beautiful view points.
How to Reach
Kashmir valley is well connected with Ladakh and Jammu by Road. The terrain roads are the main source of transport for the entire Kashmir valley population, the tourists and the troops deployed in the Valley. The Jawahar tunnel at Qazigund on national highway NH 1A connects the valley with Jammu via udhampur and Nathatop.
Srinagar is the main airport which is located in the heart of the city. Indian Air lines flight and numerous low fare airlines operate between Srinagar to Jammu, Leh, Chandigarh, and New Delhi.
Train service in Kashmir valley was commenced way back in 2009. Train services are available within the valley between Baramulla to Qazigund and Banihal. However, the nearest broad gauge railway station which is well connected with Kashmir valley is Udhampur which is 200 Km from Srinagar. Regular trains from Delhi and other important cities are available to udhampur.