Greaves India is delighted to introduce a new Heaven
on Earth itinerary to Kashmir. As of November 2012 the British
Foreign Office Advisory Board has amended its advice on travel to
Kashmir. Following several visits Greaves are very keen to
promote this beautiful region. For many years it was the most
popular tourist destination in India and the last four years have
seen a surge in the return of domestic travellers and now finally
the foreign Indophiles are returning.
Dal Lake, Srinagar
© Wong Lu Liang, Shutterstock.com
Due to the security situation Greaves are initially promoting
Srinagar and Gulmarg. Gulmarg is a perfect little hill
station offering wonderful walks, gentle treks and fabulous virgin
skiing during the season.
To make Kashmir even more accessible the flurry of new hotel
openings including the Vivanta by Taj Dal View Srinagar and the
Khyber Pass Hotel, Gulmarg, have opened the region to a more
comfort-conscious traveller. As a slightly more unusual
offering Kashmir is world renowned for their rather unique
houseboats that pepper the lakes. The Sukoon (www.sukoonkashmir.com) is a
particularly lavish and luxurious example, which we highly
recommend you booking.
Greaves have created a sample itinerary to show off the
highlights of the region. If you wish to extend your trip why not
look to twin it with Ladakh, especially with the Hemis festival
just around the corner in June.
Carpeted in lush meadows and peppered with pine forests, not to
mention the towering snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas, the
splendid mountains of Kashmir, and a labyrinth of tranquil
backwaters and glassy lakes, Kashmir's natural beauty is well
known. One of the world's oldest tourist destinations, it has been
largely out-of-bounds to visitors over the past couple of decades,
but now, following years of unrest, travellers are finally being
welcomed back into the region. Kashmir is once again full of
domestic and overseas tourists, all keen to discover exactly what
it is that makes the state so alluring.
Set on the banks of the Jhelum River in the Vale of Kashmir, the
city of Srinagar is a worthy setting to start a tour. Famous for
its expansive lakes filled with lotus flowers and colourful
houseboats on Lake Dal, and framed by the majestic Pir Panjal
mountain range, Srinagar is one of the region's most arresting
cities - it's photogenic enough to make even the clumsiest of
photographers appear professional.
You'll be staying in the tranquility of one of the houseboats on
Dal Lake, the Sukoon. Decked out in traditional décor with large
windows looking out onto the lake, this is the ideal place to soak
up the tranquil surroundings. Visit the stunning Mughul gardens at
Naseem Bagh ("Garden of Bliss"), before setting off on a romantic
sunset shikara (boat) ride across Nagin Lake.
Nagin Lake © McKay
There's plenty on offer to occupy your days here, from visits to
the ancient Shankarcharya Temple or the gardens of Pari Mahal, set
overlooking the city, to exploring the bustling city centre on foot
before settling into a soft spot back at your houseboat and
drinking in the view, along with an icy beverage.
After spending a couple of nights on the water in Srinagar, it's
time to move on to the picturesque hill station town of Gulmarg in
the mountains of Kashmir. Popular with walkers in the summer and
skiers during season, Gulmarg is a quiet little town with few
permanent residents. Loosely translating as "meadow of flowers" the
natural landscapes here are really something special.
The Approach to
Gulmarg © J Scoke, Flickr
Arriving into Gulmarg via a scenic drive through the Kashmiri
countryside, you'll be checking into the sumptuous Khyber Himalayan
Resort & Spa - your home for two nights. Surrounded by dense
woodland and immense mountains, this remote retreat has become
popular with skiers and walkers looking to get out and enjoy the
spectacular Himalayan landscapes. The hotel is also famous for its
food, with a wonderful selection of Kashmiri curries on offer
alongside a diverse range of international cuisine. After a day out
in the open air and a walking trip to St Mary's Church (a remote
outpost built during the era of British colonial rule, over 100
years ago), head back to the hotel for a relaxing Ayurvedic spa
treatment before a long, leisurely dinner.
Having filled your lungs with fresh mountain air, you'll then
return to Srinagar, to the luxurious Vivanta by Taj. Perched up on
Krasangri Hill with panoramic views out over Dal Lake, there are
few better locations in which to enjoy sundowners after a busy day
out exploring the city.
Vivanta by Taj Dal View Srinigar
Bright and early the following morning set out on a
morning shakira ride, before visiting Char Chinar - a secluded
little island floating in the midst of Dal Lake. Dubbed the Venice
of the East, it's easy to see why Srinagar holds such a draw…