It was 4 am in the morning and 4 degrees outside. I opened the door to the balcony just an inch and peep out of the hotel room. I wanted to see that view one last time. The snow carpeted roads and mountains, dark and ancient pine trees, and just white snow everywhere. It was still night outside. It was my time to leave Pahalgam at 4 am. I swear that was the hardest goodbye!

My friends and I had been planning this Kashmir trip for months. My well-meaning friends, who’d been saying, “Is Kashmir worth it?” You never know until you visit.

The first place in Kashmir for our visit was Pahalgam. Don’t stop at Srinagar that day was the advice of local Kashmiris. So, that’s what we did. In the quiet of pre-dawn, we raced through the picturesque valley and the apple orchards and after five hours of journey, we were in Pahalgam.

Pahalgam, I would say is the best of Kashmir. Pahalgam is 95 km from Srinagar. It’s like “V” character on the map. It follows the valley surrounded by glacier waters. Situated away from the grind of daily life, Pahalgam is among the soaring mountains, glistening glaciers, gushing silvery streams of ice water and pine forests with fresh sir. It is an ideal place for an adventure sports enthusiast. The place offers wonderful treks, skiing, glamping and camping sites. Roller skating, table tennis, badminton is also available at Pahalgam Clubs. Golf is majorly played in Pahalgam. You can see a lot of golf courses while crossing the streets.

Enjoy a magnificent view en route to Pahalgam
Enjoy a magnificent view en route to Pahalgam

After a brisk journey, we were at our hotel room in Pahalgam. Again an hour was spent in the lobby waiting for bargained prices of the room with tired faces. There are luxurious and well-run hotels in Pahalgam with central heating available. You can choose one based on your budget!

How to reach Pahalgam

Bus services are available from Srinagar and Anantnag. Taxis can also be hired from Srinagar at some fixed rates. The nearest airport is Badgam Dist. The nearest railway station is at Jammu. There are also daily sightseeing tours from Jammu provided by J&K Road Transport Facility.

Lakes in Pahalgam

Pahalgam is the base camp for pilgrims of Amarnath Cave. The snow-covered Tulian lake is the way more beautiful. I was not able to see the watery lake, instead, I witnessed a snowy lake. Of course, I didn’t get the experience of my first snowfall as we were visiting Kashmir in the month of March. We took slides over the snow of Tulian lake and that was so much fun!

Sheshnag lake, 27 km away from Pahalgam was the next tourist location. You will not see a watery lake until June. We spent almost an hour on this location clicking selfies and pictures with different poses! (LOL!)

Panchtarni, its name derived from the confluence of five streams is known as a good camping location.

Baisaran

I was the most excited for our next tourist spot and that was Mini Switzerland also known as Baisaran. Covered with snow clad mountains, sky touching pine trees and the scenic scenery around, Mini Switzerland is the major tourist spot of Pahalgam. We returned to the hotel for lunch after our visit to the above locations and all were perfectly set for Mini Switzerland. You have to take a horse ride from Pahalgam to Mini Switzerland because of the long distance.

Horses grazing at Aru Valley near Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir, India
Horses grazing at Aru Valley near Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir, India

However, you can also enjoy walking equal to trekking up the hill. The horse ride was the best experience. I had a horse vendor with his horses named as Deewana and Mastana (LOL) Mine was Deewana. The horse vendors are so talkative like they will ask your whole story right from the birth and you have no other option than answering them. That blissful feeling you get when you enter the location is just memorable.

You can enjoy the ball ride, wear those colourful Kashmiri dresses and pose and eat hot delicious Maggi to feed your stomach. You can also click pictures with sheep and rabbits, they are so fluffy! That was it, it was dawn until we enjoyed each and everything that was there at Mini Switzerland. It was time to return to the hotel. And ultimately that was the end of our Pehalgam journey. We had to leave for the next town of Kashmir the next day at 4 am.

I would love to spend my life in Pahalgam after my retirement. Pahalgam, you were beautiful. I miss you!

Further reading: You can also explore these hidden places in Kashmir

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