How long have you been
operating walks in Srinagar?
We spent a long time field-testing our walks in 2010 and early
2011 before we began offering them professionally at the end of
2011. By early 2012, we were speaking with friends in the tourism
industry and started receiving a steady flow of guests.
Dal Lake, Kashmir © Tappasan
Phurismarit - Shutterstock.com
What sort of walking tours in Kashmir can clients sign
up to - are they just around Srinagar or are they all over the
Most of our walks or craft itineraries are within the city of
Srinagar, though we have taken guests in special situations to
villages out of town, such as Kanihama (a hamlet dedicated
tokanishawl weaving) on the way to Gulmarg.
Our walks are all set in the old town of Srinagar, and the craft
tour ventures into some of the relatively newer parts of town.
Currently there are four walks to choose from. The craft tours can
be custom designed on the basis of interest in the different
material and textile crafts.
Kanihama Shawl Weaving ©
Knoxville Museum of Art - Flickr.com
How long do walking tours typically take?
Ideally we like to wrap up the walk (from the time we reach the
starting point and start walking to end of walking) in about two
hours. There is another half an hour spent before and after in
picking up the guests and dropping them off to a convenient
Where would a typical walk in Srinagar take you? What
would you see?
We like the walks to be an introduction & orientation to
both the historical as well as the popular cultures of Srinagar.
The architecture and plan of the Old City (around the river,
Jhelum) becomes the reference point to narrate stories about past
empires, philosophical traditions and geo-politics. The bazaars and
the crafts are the source of stories about the development of
Kashmir's rich mutli-cultural aesthetic. The way the raw materials
would connect neighbouring regions and how influences from Central
Asia, the Indian sub-continent and even Europe shaped the nature
and form of its various craft traditions.
Shah Hamadan Mosque, Srinagar ©
Tappasan Phurisamrit - Shutterstock.com
What makes a walking tour so different from other types
The old town of Srinagar, much like other historical market
towns of the Indian sub-continent, is best explored on foot. The
architecture is on a human scale and the cities and towns have been
designed with that in mind. We merely try and provide moments to
engage with the space, speak to the locals, hear their stories,
taste their tea. Apart from the tales that are provided the walks
help the guests connect history, design, architecture with
practices around trade, religion and social customs.
How have you seen Kashmir open up over the last couple
of years? Is there anything that tourists should be wary
As tourism is making a heady come back quite a few enterprises
enthused with making a quick fortune are sacrificing ethics. There
is nothing to be wary of as long as guests speak to experienced
agents and tour operators, and explore itineraries well in advance.
There remains a chance of disruption of plans due to some political
issues, but guests must check with organisers ahead of their trip
to avoid inconvenience.
We also suggest guests should be sensitive to the fact that
Kashmir is largely an Islamic area and that they should dress
accordingly - especially while visiting parts of the Old City,
shrines or people's homes. On the lake or the touristy spots things
are more informal.
Pari Mahal, Srinagar ©
Shahbasharat - Flickr.com
What are the essential things for any visitor to Kashmir
Among the gardens - the black marble pavilion in Shalimar Bagh,
Pari Mahal over looking the Dal, Daksum a small hamlet on the way
up to the Sinthan pass which crossed over to the Kishtwar valley is
a quiet and clean getaway specially for fishing.
For those staying in Kashmir for a little longer the Gurez
Valley is wonderful and slowly opening up, so it is still not very
busy and the drive up there is lovely as you go past the Wular Lake
and cross the Razdhan Pass.
Wular Lake © Eye Ess Oh -
And what are the real secrets that visitors tend not to
The ruins of the Martand Sun temple, near Anantnag; the Ziyarat
Aishmaqam en route to Pahalgam, there is a short trek up from
Harwan where one can still see the plinth of the erstwhile
Buddhistviharas; a trek to the Gangbal glacier and lakes from
Kangan/Naranag (two days); Badshahi Baag - the Mughal garden of
Dara Shikoh built by the Jhelum in Bijbehara.
There are other hidden gems such homes of famous traders or
small shrines within Srinagar city, which guests interested in
architecture or design usually enjoy.
I personally recommend the Mahattas Camera shop on the Bund for
photography enthusiasts - it's a living museum of photography in
Gangbal, Kashmir © Cajie -
There have been some wonderful new hotels opening up in
Kashmir which are your particular favourites?
Dar-es-salam on the Nigeen Lake and Almond Villa on the
What are some typical Kashmiri dishes to eat? Where
would you recommend trying them?
Most hotels serve a decentwaazwan(a multi-course Kashmiri feast)
these days, but it still worth dropping by at Ahdoos, because apart
for the ambience the chicken patties and kahvaare a local
favourite, and worth following up with a walk on the Bund. One
should sample some of the items from their bakery as well - a range
of macaroons, almond and walnut cakes and biscuits are available.
In winter there is a rare dish calledharissa(slow-cooked
mutton) that is worth trying and available in parts of downtown
very early in the morning. We also try to give the guests a taste
of the everyday home-cooked meals (as part of our craft visits) at
the homes of our master craftsmen. These are a variety of meat and
cottage cheese dishes cooked with local greens known
ashaak (spicy greens) orkaram(spinach)
If travellers to Kashmir should be buying something
typical of the region to take home, that isn't too touristy, what
should they purchase?
Pashmina - there is a range of contemporary work along with the
classical stuff, which can be explored.
Walnut wood / papier mache - Suffering Moses is a visual
Beaten / engraved copperware - as part of our walks in
Sheh-e-khas we visit the street where copperware is produced.
Pashminas in Kashmir ©
Soumyadeep Paul - Flickr.com
Abeer and Renuka can be contacted
Abeer Gupta - firstname.lastname@example.org
Renuka Savasere - email@example.com
If you would like to read further about the beautiful
region of Kashmir you can find information on our itinerary; Kashmir,
Heaven on Earth.