Backpacking Jammu & Kashmir: Paradise on earth
Backpacking Jammu & Kashmir is a never things, as it has only recently opened up for tourism. It was (sadly) previously off limits to tourists due to political unrest, terrorism activities, and the military rule.
The crown jewel of India, J & K is made of three very different civilisations.
- Jammu is flocked with domestic devotees, who walk (sometimes barefoot) 14 km to the revered temple of Vaishno Devi, screaming cheers of her praises all along the route, is the Hindu section of J&K.
- Muslim part of Kashmir is Srinagar and the Northern beauty for which Kashmir is nicknamed India’s Switzerland, or heaven on earth. This section sees many local tourists seeking to cool off in the summer, mountainous setting and Srinagar’s dreamy houseboat lodging.
- Leh & Laddakh, with its Buddhist peace loving inhabitants, is J&K’s ultimate attraction for most foreigners. Tibetan locals are winningly friendly and easy going. Their archetypal monasteries are set amid arid valleys and spiralling peaks with emerald-green villages nestled like mirages in mountain deserts.
Although the situation is calm now, the political unrest in the state has led to three wars in the past.
Ride a house boat at Srinagar: Maybe cliched, but a night on a houseboat in gorgeous Srinagar is an unparalleled experienced.
Weather & when to visit
The best time to be in Kashmir is during he summertime, from April to July.
Places to visit
Leh Laddakh: A meditatively calm Buddhist mountain town with hearteningly friendly people and beautiful red old monasteries rising out of the arid mountains. Note that Leh is inaccessible by road most of the year. And it is crucial that you give yourself ample time to acclimatise to the high altitude.
Sonamarg: Sonamarg, meaning ‘meadow of gold’ lives up to its name. It is an alpine valley, nestled amid the imposing Himalayan peaks. The drive to Sonamarg is by the Nallah Sindh River through a long valley and a rocky gorge, opening to grassy meadow slopes.