Kunzum Travel List #16: Pahalgam – Leaving you breathless

The Lidder river in Pahalgam
The Lidder river in Pahalgam

If you have ever been to Pahalgam, the vivid imagery of driving the winding roads along the Lidder river with towering peaks in the background will always stay with you. And when these are accentuated with a light drizzle, dusky skies and misty columns on mountain tops, happiness is the only sentiment you will feel.

[The Kunzum Travel List is a compilation of great holiday ideas and available as an e-book, and in paperback by December 2011. To read more and to order the book, click on Kunzum Travel List.]

Fresh snow on peaks around Pahalgam – these views are my the hotel, you can seemingly reach out and touch these!
Fresh snow on peaks around Pahalgam – these views are my the hotel, you can seemingly reach out and touch these!

[Want regular updates from Kunzum? Click here to subscribe to our weekly newsletter.]

God made Pahalgam for only one reason: as a place to stand and stare. At the snow peaks (I was lucky to witness fresh snowfall), the meadows, the well manicured gardens, trees and the Lidder river gurgling amidst all this beauty. You could (I didn’t) take a pony ride to the “Dear ” Park, Tulian Lake or the meadows of Baisaran if you so desire.

I chose to put my feet up and warm myself to multiple rounds of espressos and muffins at the Log Inn Café (a part of the heritage Hotel Pahalgam where I stayed). My snug room did not help the cause of the outdoors – the staff kept the traditional wood fired stove, the Bukhari, going for as long as I wanted. Ok, I did walk around too – all the time warding off guides and pony owners. Guides hankering me to engage their services had a typical statement: “Come on, we have only you Hindustanis to earn from.” I was later told that Kashmiris have always referred to the ‘rest of Indians’ as Hindustanis (derived from Hindustan, the land of Hindus, and another name for India). They cannot be faulted though.

//
//

Kashmir was a kingdom in its own right before India gained independence and, even after the rulers agreed to annex it to India, it has been a disputed territory. Kashmiris have never had a chance to fully be a part of India yet.

But there is one time of the year when Pahalgam must be a virtual hell: during the annual Amarnath Yatra. Thousands of pilgrims camp in Pahalgam on the way to Chandanwari, 10 miles away where the arduous trek starts. The Amarnath Cave (altitude: 3952 metres / 12,966 feet) houses an ice stalagmite in the shape of a Shivaling (the symbol of Hindu God Shiva) and is like a Mecca for Hindus. Wonder if the pretty little town can take the burden? I wanted to drive up to Chandanwari but guess what; the local taxi unions had ensured only their vehicles could go there. Or one goes by pony. No thanks to both options.

But visit any other time and Pahalgam will leave you breathless.

//
//

A bedroom in Pahalgam hotel with the wood-fired Bukhari to keep you warm
A bedroom in Pahalgam hotel with the wood-fired Bukhari to keep you warm
The setting of the Pahalgam hotel
The setting of the Pahalgam hotel

Travel Tips

* When to go: Being a small town, it is not equipped to handle tourist crowds. Best to avoid the Amarnath Yatra period and the holiday months of May and June. It can be freezing cold with snow from November to February. All other times it can be mesmerizing, even if chilly during spring and autumn.
* Where to stay: Accommodation is available for all budgets, but the heritage Pahalgam Hotel (+91.9419045056 / +91.9419045057) is your best bet.
* How to reach: By road. Take a flight to Srinagar or drive all the way up. For driving directions and distances, refer to Kunzum Travel List #15 – Route K11.

Have you subscribed to the new Kunzum Travel Mag for FREE? Click here to do so.

Something more for you to consider:

* Our weekly e-newsletter: Click here to subscribe.
* Join our Fan Page on Facebook
* Follow us on Twitter
* Sign up for photography and other creative workshops at the Kunzum Media Lab

And do join us for a coffee at the Kunzum Travel Cafe in Hauz Khas Village in New Delhi, India.


//
//

//
//

//
//

SHARE

1 COMMENT

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here