Jammu & Kashmir Trip

We (me, my partner & our 5yo) recently visited J&K for vacation. In this blog post, I will detail the following

  • how it all went
  • my view on the security situation
  • the do’s and the dont’s
  • our itinerary
  • things to carry
  • where to stay, where to visit etc

Is Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) safe to visit?

Short answer: Mostly, yes.

Long: We decided to visit J&K primarily to attend a wedding at a friend’s house. He gave us the assurance that everything is going to be okay if you follow the basic guideline – that is – don’t go exploring yourself into any villages, gullys which isn’t a tourist spot & without guidance.

This was an easy guideline to follow 😉 So, we decided to trip.


We started from Mysuru. The goal was to first visit Jammu, attend the wedding and then go sight seeing in Kashmir (Srinagar & around).

  • Day 0 – Drove in our car, from Mysuru to Bengaluru. Stayed the night. We had an early morning flight to catch the next day to Jammu.

  • Day 1
    • Early morning, drove to Bengaluru Airport, parked the car in Terminal 2, took a shuttle to Terminal 1 (from T2) – Indigo flight – BLR – INDORE – JAMMU.
      • TIP: The Terminal 2 parking (P2) is underground, hence no sunlight, but premium. The overall cost is cheaper compared to hiring a cab or using the Flybus. We paid Rs 2700 parking fees for 6 days 14 hrs 🙂 But, felt it is better than parking in other available parking spaces in the airport
      • At Jammu – checked into Radisson Blu – a really nice 4star hotel arranged by our friend (thank you :)) for our stay during the wedding. Ate lunch at the restaurant. Was amazing!
        • After a 2 hr nap, we went shopping to a nearby mall (Wave mall) which we didn’t find so interesting. There were interesting play things like toy train, toy horse to ride for kids.
        • We then took an auto to Raghunath market near Raghunath Mandir. Local markets excite me.
        • We bought – shawls!
        • TIP: The original Pashmina (Kashmiri) shawls, I hear, start in the rage of Rs 14,000 and can go upto a lakh or two (per shawl). The local markets call Pashmina shawls and sell them in the range of 4,000. However, find a nice place where nice really soft material shawls are available in the range of 500 to 1500 Rs.
  • Day 2 – Wedding
    • Mostly wedding.
    • Evening – again we went to Raghunath market.
    • We bought more clothing & dry fruits (Walnuts, Almonds & Saffron)
      • TIP: Walnuts, Almonds and Saffron are native to Kashmir. On your sightseeing to or from Gulmarg / Pahalgam near Srinagar – there is Saffron Valley (Kesar valley). There are good places to buy Saffron, Walnuts & Almonds. Buy these there.
  • Day 3 – Drive from Jammu to Srinagar so as to reach by noon. Eat lunch & reach Gulmarg by 4PM. But this did not happen. The weather was not good, it was raining. We were stuck in traffic jam due to a landslide for over 8 hrs in one place. The overall journey took about 16 hrs. By 10 PM we reached Gulmarg hotel (Gulmarg Countryside)
    • TIP: If there is no major reason to visit Jammu, then don’t. Directly take the flight to Srinagar. However if you want to do, Vaishnodevi, then Jammu is the way. First finish that and then come to Srinagar. If possible avoid road and book a flight (Jammu to Srinagar). The scenic beauty is good on road (Jammu to Srinagar), but definitely be ready for delays and bad road experience.
    • FEEDBACK for the Hotel: The hotel was beautifully located in my view. The hotel staff were sweet. The food was good. We were served night dinner and the breakfast (next morning) was also great. The room was clean, the heater was good. Ensure that the hotel you choose has a good room heater
  • Day 4 – Gulmarg sightseeing
    • We were supposed to start by 9, but we were all doing nice photos in the nice background near the hotel. And ended delaying by 30 minutes.
    • We headed off to the Gulmarg hilltop.
    • NOTE: Note that there are hotels in Gulmarg hilltop. Our hotel was actually 15KM away from the actual Gulmarg hilltop. One could also choose to actually stay in Gulmarg hilltop hotel. It is more cooler than the place we stayed. I would imagine it to be fun.
    • Once, we reached Gulmarg hilltop, we rented boots, bought waterproof gloves, put on our jackets.
    • TIP: If there is there is an opportunity to go to a snow place in Gulmarg, then hire boots, waterproof jackets and gloves (very early) at the start so that it is slightly cheaper. You will start seeing these shops early – rent these out early. Once you are the full top – near the parking, these might get expensive.
    • The first thing we did was – hired a local taxi to do local Gulmarg sightseeing. This is some kind of arrangement done by the taxi union for more business opportunities.
    • TIP: There is a possibility of using a horse also to do the local sightseeing. But it depends on you. You can first go to the ice place yourself by foot and then hire a horse for the rest of the places in Gulmarg. We chose a taxi as it was preferable and easy.
    • TIP: For anything, assume that they will ask you 3 times the actual cost. Hence divide by 4 and finally pay the amount that is divide by 3.
    • At the ice place: We got some lovely photos of we pretending to ski and we pretending to use the slider etc.. We ate some Maggie, played with ice. that’s all. If you are will family & smaller kids, then going to the top of the ice place might be challenging. However if you are with friends or with young people it might be easy.
    • After the ice place, we were shown other places in and around the Gulmarg. This was also beautiful. the weather was great. we got some amazing photos clicked.
    • Finally, we reached back near the parking. There is a shivling temple. Visited that temple. Came to a smaller restaurant for a hot cup of Maggi noodles.
    • We started from there and asked our driver to get us to a reasonable priced veg restaurant. He took us to a nice place. While the restaurant did not have any other guests/customers, the food served was hot and good. We enjoyed it.
    • We then started on our journey to Pahalgam.
    • TIP: This route has the Cricket Bat factory, Kesar valley, Apple valley (to buy Kashmir apples). We did not have the time, hence we decided to directly reach the hotel.
    • We reached our hotel by 7PM – Hotel Riveria by Mountview. As we were very tired by our adventures, we slept early.
    • FEEDBACK on the hotel: We stayed at the hotel for 2 nights. The food was okay, not bad – acceptable food. We ate the included breakfast there. Also had ordered room service once (Jeera rice & Dal). The room that was given to us was small and the heater was small. Felt insufficient at times. Location of the hotel was amazing, there was a beautiful river (tributary of Jhelum) flowing in front of it. There are a bunch of hotels that you can choose from in front of this river. The view from the room also was amazing.
  • Day 5 – Pahalgam Sightseeing
    • We started at 10AM.
    • There are 3 places (actually more) to visit that could be done (a) Mini Switzerland (b) Aru valley (c) Betaab valley. The only way to visit as suggested by our driver was to take a horse and go to Mini Switzerland. Now, I guess he did is because he could then take a cut off the commission. Here is an experience about mini switizerland.
    • TIP: All the recommended places of the driver will get the driver a cut of the total cost. Hence negotiate hard or ask the driver to go another place if you don’t like it. But do remember that it is in driver’s interest for you to like it. Therefore generally expect them to be good. Again negotiate hard without feelings.
    • Again, once we reach the Pahalgam parking, we had to board another cab that took us to Aru and Betaab valley. At both the places we had 1 hr each to sight seeing around the place. Both were good.
    • TIP: If you want to cover all the 3 places and explore more places too.. There are other places too – either start early or divide this in to 2 days.
    • We bought a Kashmiri silk carpet. They were able to neatly wrap it and we got it on the flight.
    • We had our food on the way at a restaurant and came back to hotel. We slept early.
  • Day 6 – Srinagar sight seeing & Shikara ride & Stay at boat.
    • We checked out from Pahalgam a little late. This was bad.
    • We reached Srinagar and visited the Tulip garden, and another bagh (don’t remember the name).
    • We were supposed to go to Chesham Shahi, Nishant Bagh, Shalimar garden and Shankaracharya temple. We couldn’t.
    • The beautiful Shikara ride was part of the Stay at the boat. This was the most amazing part at the Dal lake. It has floating gardens where you can stop the boat and shop.
    • TIP: I personally didn’t enjoy my stay at the houseboat. I would rather you enjoy multiple hours of the Shikara ride (on the boat) and then go to a hotel and stay. Our house boat the food was a problem. Also the flush wasn’t working okay. It did not have a hot water kettle.
    • Earlier in the noon, we ate at a Raj Dhaba hotel. We tried a local item. It turned out to be a disaster and both me and my partner had to puke and resulted in a bad sleep that night.
    • Our booking was with the Meena group house boat (Royal Mumtaz). Don’t recommend them. The breakfast was pretty ordinary.
  • Day 7 – We started early with the intent to visit Shankaracharya temple
    • I was able to climb the 240 steps to the temple, make Darshana of the beautiful shivlinga and back in 30 mins.
    • It is a must visit place
    • TIP: I wanted to have more time there. So I guess if you like temples, then it is best to visit first as soon as you reach Srinagar.
    • After that we gave a quick stop on the airport road at the Moonlight bakery famous for Walnut fudge.
    • After that we headed towards the Srinagar airport
    • TIP: Srinagar is a high security airport. Hence there are multiple security checkpoints for entering the airport. Hence it will take additional 30 mins to 1 hr. Plan accordingly.
    • We take the Air Vistaara – SRINAGAR – DELHI – BLR – fortunately for us it landed at the T2 where we parked our vehicles. We drove and reached Mysore by 11 PM.
    • The end.






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