Winter months are the best times to plan your vacation, especially in the Mountains. And when it comes to planning such tours to Kashmir, Pahalgam is a must place to visit and spend some time with some of the most spectacular landscapes, soaring pines ranging from green valleys to snow-clad mountains and rugged terrains to mesmerizing lakes. All can be experienced in this one quaint town of Pahalgam. No other winter place in India is as enchanting and alluring as Pahalgam. One must visit the hill station to truly understand the secret behind the ever-lasting attractiveness of Pahalgam in Kashmir.
During winter, the landscapes just become magical and just give happy smiles. Located at a height of 7200 ft, Pahalgam-called the valley of Shepherds is a scenic beauty and where many great Bollywood movies have been shot and I will not get tired of describing its beauty. Perched at the intersection of Lidder River & the Sheshnag Lake, you can visit Baisaran Hills, Aru Village & Valley, Sheshnag Lake, and the Betaab Valley when you are in Pahalgam.
While going to Pahalgam, the scenic roads of Anantnag with Kesar plantation and apple valley for Pahalgam, the surroundings, and the beautiful landscapes made the road journey of 135 km worthwhile and a lifetime experience. While we were going to Pahalgam, we stopped at one place to drink apple juice and it was very tasty. While drinking that apple juice, I saw some of the dried apples, cut into pieces in round shapes and I ate that with salt and chili and that was very tasty. I ended up buying a full packet of dried apples. One should try this.
And then we started again for the Pahalgam after taking a halt of 10 mins, it took us 45 mins from there to reach Pahalgam from where the pony rides start. As my travel agent cum friend, who was quite familiar with the place so I did not have to wait in the queue or choose or bargain or decide whether this horse or this rider will bring me safe back or not. He already arranged everything for me.
The nature in Pahalgam is pristine, magnificent, and truly mesmerizing in simple words. The place offers a myriad of different sightseeing spots and attractions to nature lovers, mountain lovers, and adventure freaks. Yes! There are a lot of sporting activities that anyone can take part in when you are in Pahalgam like pony rides, river rafting, sightseeing, camping, and many more.
Well, when it comes to trying any adventurous sports, I am a very cowardly person thinking what if, If I fall, my legs will be broken and my face will be with marks and my best companion, my phone what will happen to it. So, this kind of thoughts just makes me stop trying but this time, I did try the pony ride or horse ride in Pahalgam in snow-capped mountains, carrying my heart in my hand, I thought I am done, and I was scared so much but then thought for a moment, let us try this and see what happens. Carrying a leap of faith on my horse (His name was ‘Mastana') and myself, we started to move toward the Baisaran hills or the ‘Mini Switzerland of India'.
While you can enjoy river rafting at Lidder river in Pahalgam for summers whereas for winter you can experience Pony Ride. Also, you can trek to Kolahoi Glacier in Pahalgam which begins at Aru, a ravishing place for 25 gorgeous lakes. The route takes you through beautiful green meadows, stretched banks of River Lidder, and the mighty Himalayan Ranges.
Pahalgam is located at a distance of about 95 km from Srinagar and it is not difficult to reach Pahalgam. Moreover, as the beautiful hill station is well-connected to other parts of India, you can easily reach here via airways, roadways, and railways. Albeit, Pahalgam has no direct connectivity via flight, you can always board a flight to Srinagar, and reach there conveniently. Besides that, you can also board a train to Jammu or Udhampur to reach Pahalgam via train. However, in order to travel to the hill station via roadways, you need to book a bus from a nearby town only and that becomes cumbersome.
As there is no airport in Pahalgam, you can still board a flight to Srinagar International Airport, which is about 95 km from the hill station. Once you arrive in Srinagar, you can hire a taxi, or avail of the services of the bus or shared jeeps to get to Pahalgam.
With proximity to two railheads- Jammu and Udhampur, it is quite easy to figure out how to reach Pahalgam by train. Being connected to other regions of the country, such as Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Indore, Kolkata, Chennai, Rishikesh, and Kanyakumari, these railheads make it quite easy for you to get to Pahalgam via train. As you reach one of the stations, you can hire a taxi, or get on a bus to get to the hill station. The nearest railway station to Pahalgam is Udhampur, which is located at a distance of about 217 km, while the Jammu railhead is around 285 km from there.
If you are someone seeking a road journey while navigating the Pahalgam map, then there are numerous taxis available that can drop you off at the hill station in about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Apart from that, there are plenty of buses also Jammu, and Srinagar to reach here.
So, my journey started, I was sitting on horseback for the first time, I was scared and have no clues that why I chose to do this, but my friend told me to trust me, try this and you will never regret it so with that belief I said, let us start the journey to see the ‘Mini Switzerland of India'. It was a bumpy road in the beginning and then quite steep which makes it quite risky. I remember when we were going towards the higher side, I was sacred, I closed my eyes in fear and started remembering my mum and God. But when I opened my eyes for once, those views were spectacular, enchanting and a feast to my eyes. After that, I did not want to close my eyes not even for once. The place was beyond anyone can imagine. Approx. 14 km from Pony stand and we finally reached the location, you can walk/trek around to see the Baisaran Hills, and worth a visit it is.
Views were captive, the snow, the cold breeze just provided warmth to my soul and gave me eternal peace and life-long happiness. Those are the blissful moments when you are happy and lost at the same time, store them somewhere in your heart where they are locked for forever. And all my wish was to never to come back from that place.
And it reminds me of the immortal quote by the poet laureate Amir Khusrau:
Gir firdaus baru e zameen ast…hameen asto, hameen asto, hameen ast.
(If there be a Paradise on Earth, it is this, it is this, it is this...)
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