26th Dec : Day 1 : Kashmir winter trip starts
Arrive around 12 pm at Srinagar airport (SXR) .
We will head to our heated houseboat, freshen up, have lunch and head to Jamia Masjid , originally built in 1394 and restored for the last time in 1672, is the largest mosque in Kashmir. It has 378 wooden pillars supporting its ceiling.
We are skipping the Gardens as in winters it just looks dull.
In the evening we will try some Kashmiri Kahwa (tea) and Wazwan - a multi-course meal in Kashmiri cuisine, the preparation of which is considered an art and a point of pride in Kashmiri culture and identity. It consists of 20 dishes.
Your will see that the real Kashmir winter trip starts tonight.
Day 2 : Gulmarg
Today after a quick shopping at Kashmir Government Arts Emporium ,we will start our drive to Gulmarg , it is a beautiful with willow trees on both sides of the road.
Unlike in summers , Most trees will shed all their leaves giving a raw look to the whole valley.
We check into the hotel and can head out for a short walk in the snow today.
This is not a typical Kashmir tour package that aims to spend more time inside the hotel, instead we will try to get out as much as possible so that once we are back to hotel, we should feel like we earned the bed.
Day 3 : Skiing in Gulmarg
Today we will take the Gandola ( 3747 M ) . This is one of the highest gondola rides in the world.
The ride takes place in three phases.
Phase 1: Gulmarg to Kongdoori
Phase 2: Kongdoori to Apharwat Peak
Phase 3: Kongdoori to Mary Shoulder [Chair Lift]
Today is the day to try your hands on skying . The views from the top area unparalleled and this is one of the top Kashmir tourist places to see.
Day 4 :Gulmarg-Pahalgam
Today we will visit the beautiful Betab valley, and head to our super cozy hotel in Pahalgam.
Pahalgam is a small town and there won’t be much happening for new years but we can always make our nights brighter , far away from the cities , amidst the snow valleys.
On the way , we will stop at the only kesar farm in india. You can even buy original kesar from here.
Day 5 -Visit Aru
Aru is a village nestled deep inside the valley which is home to some of the most famous glaciers.
It is also the base of Tarsar-Marsar trek and Mt.Kolhai ( Highest mountain in Kashmir ). Depending on the snow condition , the road might /might not be open.
There are several view points on the way to Aru.
Let’s just hope this road remains open, else you would know that we have pushed the boundary of where we can do in the harsh winters of kashmir.
Overnight stay at Pahalgam.
Day 6 : Dec 31: Pahalgam to Sonamarg
Today it's a long journey of 4.5 hrs.
We will head after breakfast , to Sonamarg.
You will see huge valleys on both sides as we reach Sonamarg. If you want to see, i will take you see a local family i lived with for some time here.
Opposite of this house is the Jehlum River. I remember the days when we used to go sit by the river and pretty much do nothing.
I must say there is nothing special here but only if you want to meet a local family of our tour guide.
Sonmarg is where you will get you ideal kashmir picture in snow. This will be our last small town on our Kashmir group trip and its very well worth the wait.
Day 7 : Stay in Sonamarg
There is no wonder this is one of the most beautiful places to experience Winter in Kashmir.
Depending on the snow condition there, we will see how close we can get to the foot of the mountain that has the famous Thajiwas glacier.
There might be few shops open for shopping too. I highly advise to buy on 26th , while we are at Srinagar and keep it in the vehicle or with you.
Day 8 : Jan 2-Depart from Srinagar
Our Kashmir trip comes to an end today . :(
It takes about 2 hours to reach Srinagar : the Kashmir capital .
You can book any flight after 2pm today.
We will leave from Sonamarg just after breakfast.
With a new beginning to the year , we depart . Some of us will meet again in some other mountain.
If you are heading out to Ladakh by any chance, this is what you will see after your Kashmir trip.