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  • Veda5 - A Review of Ayurveda & Yoga Wellness Retreat in Rishikesh, India

    Health is the greatest wealth that one can possess. And with travelling, managing a healthy routine often takes a backseat. Having realized that quite early on, we were always looking for an alternative way of traveling, where the objective of the holiday/vacation is to look out for our physical and mental health. Our search led us to Veda5 on our recent trip to the mythological towns of Haridwar and Rishikesh in Uttarakhand, India. Veda5 is a luxurious Ayurveda and Yoga wellness retreat located at the foothills of the Himalayan ranges, just 10 kilometers outside from the hustle and bustle of Rishikesh. The property is surrounded by lush green forests and overlooks a tributary that joins the Ganges. Rishikesh, also referred to as 'Yoga capital of the world' is perfectly placed to practice yoga and focus on holistic wellness. Veda5 Rishikesh is not your regular wellness retreat. It’s a journey down a healthy lane, with Ayurvedic therapies, yoga, meditation, fitness, recovery, Sattvic food, relaxing stay surrounded by ample nature, and much more – all adding to a sense of tranquillity. Our 8-day Ayurveda and Yoga wellness retreat at Veda5, Rishikesh was a journey towards healing. Suggested reads Red Hills Nature Resort, Ooty, India Poovar Island resort, Poovar, South Kerala, India Rockholm at lighthouse beach, Kovalam, South Kerala, India Dudhsagar Plantation & Farmstay, Goa, India Kahani Paradise, Gokarna, India Table of Contents Reaching Veda5 Rishikesh Arrival at Veda5 Rishikesh Rooms at Veda5 Rishikesh Ayurvedic Therapies at Veda5 Rishikesh Yoga and Meditation at Veda5 Rishikesh Food at Veda5 Rishikesh Other Amenities/Activities at Veda5 Rishikesh Staff at Veda5 Rishikesh A Typical Day at Veda5 Rishikesh Reaching Veda5 Rishikesh: Nearest airport, Jolly Grant International Airport, Dehradun is connected to major Indian cities. If you are coming by air, it may take around 1 hour to reach Veda5 though the distance is only around 31 kms. They can pick you up from airport, cost for which is included in your stay and wellness package. We were picked from Rishikesh in a chauffeur-driven car and transferred to Veda5. It roughly takes half an hour to reach Veda5 from Rishikesh but the journey isn’t for the weak hearted; especially the last one kilometer, which is extremely steep and curvy route to drive on. If you are driving on your own, call them in advance to understand the route and any chances of landslides (frequent in monsoon). Arrival at Veda5 Rishikesh: On our arrival at Veda5 Rishikesh, we were warmly greeted with a tilak and given a Rudraksha mala and a silk scarf. While downing a refreshing welcome drink at the reception, we were informed of all the amenities and were given a weekly schedule of the treatments and activities, including the timings of restaurant, yoga and meditation classes, and Ayurvedic doctor consultations While our luggage was taken directly to our room, the staff escorted us to our room while showing us the place. On the way we realized the resort was setup on a slope of the hill and hence had few levels. If you consider the reception as lowest level, the restaurant is at next level, this is followed by swimming pool and Ayurvedic spa followed by next level where 2 storeyed buildings containing most of the rooms are present. Due to these levels, you always have good hill views, open spaces and fresh breeze around you. Rooms at Veda5 Rishikesh: All rooms at Veda5 Rishikesh are spacious and beautifully done with pleasing interiors. Staggered across the mountain, each room either has a small garden or a balcony. We were appointed one of the best rooms with panoramic mountain and river views from our spacious balcony. Large roof-to-ceiling windows in the room ensured we had immense natural light and ample chances to immerse in nature’s proximity. Rooms at Veda5 Rishikesh feature a king-sized bed with lamps on the side tables, a sofa and a center table, a closet, a tea/coffee maker, a perfectly appointed bathroom with adequate toiletries, and a geyser. We were impressed with the quality of room servicing; every day when we returned to our room after yoga and Ayurvedic treatments, the entire room was cleaned and reordered. There are also room options with 3 beds or family rooms where 2 rooms are combined. Ayurvedic Therapies at Veda5 Rishikesh: Our Ayurveda and Yoga wellness retreat at Veda5 Rishikesh began with a consultation with a senior Ayurvedic doctor. The doctor gave us a simple and small questionnaire to fill, checked our pulse, and diagnosed the physical, mental and emotional imbalances of the Ayurvedic doshas in our body. He drew up a schedule for the Ayurvedic treatments and suggested us a diet to balance those doshas. We were then given a breathable, cotton uniform consisting of a T-shirt and a pajama, which we were free to wear whenever we wanted, but especially during treatments so we don’t spoil our regular clothes. The Ayurvedic therapy center at Veda5 Rishikesh is designed to meet each individual’s need and health goals. It offers age-old authentic Ayurvedic therapies and other holistic treatments. Through the week, we indulged in different types of massages and treatments, followed by steam and sauna. All the therapists and masseuse at Veda5 Ayurvedic centre are well-trained in their areas of expertise. The treatment rooms are spacious and designed with a great attention to detail to make the guests feel calm, relaxed, and de-stressed. We received varied treatments each day, including Abhyanga (full body massage with medicated oil), Shirodhara (slow dripping of medicated oil/butter milk on forehead), Udhwartana (body massage with a herbal paste), and Potli massage (massage with heated herbal pouches). The center also specializes in providing other different therapies like reflexology (applying gentle pressure on various points to ease stress), naturopathy (acupressure or water-based treatment using natural herbs and oil), and Soundarya treatment (to improve complexion and texture of skin). Yoga and Meditation at Veda5 Rishikesh: The yoga and meditation hall at Veda5 Rishikesh is vast with glass windows adorning the walls, which allow guests to feel one with the surrounding nature. Every time we entered the hall, it felt like we have entered a stunning theatre-like setting with yoga mats, blocks, and blankets strewn all over the floor for the guests to use. Our main aim to join the Ayurveda and Yoga wellness retreat at Veda5 was to bring flexibility in our body and to understand each asana in a proper way. Two classes of yoga were held at Veda5 Rishikesh every day: early morning yoga class for beginners and late morning yoga class for intermediates (focused on a specific body part - back bending, hip opening, shoulder opening, arm strengthening, and likewise). These classes helped us achieve our goals, learn new asanas, and better our postures without injuring ourselves. Our yoga instructors were experienced, professional, and friendly. We made the most of the yoga classes and learnt so much from them. Thanks to the meditation classes at Veda5 Rishikesh, we emerged from the retreat much calmer. Our meditation coach had a very calming and soothing voice, and her quiet words during practice drew us closer to a spiritual place of our own. We practiced different types of meditation, including Chakra meditation, Trataka meditation, Transcendental meditation, mantra chanting meditation, and likewise. These made us more aware of our thoughts and emotions and helped us connect with ourselves and experience the peace within us. Food at Veda5 Rishikesh: The restaurant at Veda5 Rishikesh serves pure vegetarian Sattvic food (without garlic and onion). But let this not deter your plans to book a retreat with them. All the dishes prepared by the chefs at Veda5 are finger-licking delicious. Every food item is prepared fresh, using natural whole food, and includes a balanced composition of nutrients (carbohydrate, protein, fiber). Neither too spicy nor too bland, the food is so nicely presented that it’s a joy to dine at Veda5. They customize and quickly fix the meals as per your dietary preferences based on the assessment of your Ayurvedic doshas and body type. The restaurant staff is highly organized and well behaved. Each dish served at Veda5 Rishikesh has a nutritional information connected to it, which states the calorie count in each serving and the grams of proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. But that doesn’t mean you’ll crave for desserts; in fact, they serve drool-worthy desserts. Be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, we were always spoilt for choices. The dining hall at Veda5 Rishikesh promotes health with the usage of copper utensils and quotes on healthy eating adorning the walls. From freshly squeezed juices, flavor-infused water, nutrient-rich fruit/vegetable salad, to savory sprouts, everything they served was healthy and tasty. The chapatis and dosas were customized and made fresh. The restaurant staff also organized barbecue nights at the stunning outdoor pavilion. Other Amenities/Activities at Veda5 Rishikesh: There are a range of activities at Veda5 Rishikesh that you can indulge in while enjoying your wellness retreat. They have a super-nice swimming pool that overlooks the surrounding mountains with lots of greenery; best used after an intense session of yoga. The indoor play area at Veda5 has some interesting games like table tennis, carrom, chess, etc. To keep the kids occupied, there are a few board games and a separate painting area, where they can draw and color. There’s also an outdoor play area equipped with swings and slides for children. The music room at Veda5 Rishikesh is equipped with some interesting musical instruments like drums, harmonium, keyboard, guitar, drum boxes, sound bowls, and happy drums. The in-house guests are free to use these instruments anytime as per their liking. The small yet resourceful library at the property features books from all genres, be it self-help, story books, novels, fiction, non-fiction, history, mythology, or spirituality based. Adventure seekers can hike up the hill behind Veda5 for some great views or head to the natural meditation cave to spend some time in silence and tranquillity. For others, there are several beautifully decorated sit outs across the Veda5 campus, where you can spend time and enjoy splendid views. If you want to spend some time meditating in absolute peace, they also have a meditation cave and a meditation hut. You could sit here in stillness and silence as long as you want with a Buddha statue. Multiple sit outs throughout the property allow you to share moments with other guests while soaking the sun. Staff at Veda5 Rishikesh: Everything at Veda5 Rishikesh is top class and at par with the highest quality standards, but what really sets the retreat apart from others is their staff. Every person working at Veda5, right from the housekeeping staff, the restaurant staff, the trainers, the therapists, to the staff at higher levels of management, is incredibly warm and welcoming. We were greeted with a ‘Namaskar’ 100 times a day; always with folded hands and a friendly smile. The staff celebrates all festivals with their guests, and we were lucky to be there on the Indian Independence Day, which was celebrated with great pomp and grandeur. From time-to-time, various staff members, including chefs, doctors, and receptionists, will ask how everything is and if there’s anything they can help us with. We had engaging conversations with all levels of management, and were so well looked after and pampered that while departing, we felt like we are leaving a family behind. A Typical Day at Veda5 Rishikesh: This is more or less how our days looked like during our Ayurveda and Yoga wellness retreat at Veda5 Rishikesh. The schedule can ofcourse change while you plan to be there. The schedule for next day is put up in restaurant and at reception which you can simply click to refer later. 06:30 AM – Wake up, get fresh, and spend some time in balcony with nature 07:30 AM – 1 hour yoga class for beginners 08:30 AM – Breakfast and networking 09:30 AM – Get back to the room, take a shower, relax 11:30 AM – 1 hour yoga class for intermediates 12:30 PM – Lunch followed by a session of Yog-Nidra (Restorative yoga) 02:30 PM – 1 hour Ayurveda therapy 04:00 PM – Participate in daily activities organized by the staff (dance, tambola, cooking class, lectures, movie-screening, etc.) 05:00 PM – Tea/Coffee time 05:45 PM – 1 hour meditation session 07:00 PM – Evening Aarti (a worshipping ritual) 07:30 PM – Dinner, network with fellow guests, and retire So, you see how busy yet relaxed they kept us! We had lots of free time in between all these schedules, when we just relaxed, read books, got around in the campus, spent time in the balcony (our favorite place!), and talked to other guests. Not even once through our weeklong stay, did we feel like getting out of the campus to sightsee or visit Rishikesh market! We highly recommend booking your wellness retreat with Veda5 Rishikesh. However, if you are not a mountain-person, they also have a similar center in Kerala and Goa, and we hear that those are right by the beach!!! Book your journey to healing with Veda5 and let us know how your experience was.

  • Kaziranga National Park: Famous for One-Horned Rhinos, Awesome Assam

    Kaziranga National Park is a wildlife sanctuary nestled in the lush green landscapes of the state of Assam in North east of India. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, tucked between the Golaghat and Nagaon districts in Lower Assam, is home to the world’s largest population of rare, great one-horned rhinoceros. Spread across 1000+ square km area, live around 2500+ beautiful one-horned rhinos along with many other species of birds and animals. Kaziranga National Park has long been on our must-visit list. Luckily, we recently had the chance to experience Kaziranga's wildlife wonders for ourselves on an open-top jeep safari adventure. Kaziranga seriously amazed us with its diverse animals lurking around every corner. The national park houses over 2000 animals, including tigers, Asian elephants, hoolock gibbon, capped langurs, sloth bears, and of course, one-horned rhinos. All we can say is, get your cameras ready for an adventure of a lifetime! In this blog, we'll share everything you need to plan your own memorable trip to Kaziranga National Park. Ready? Let us show you how this animal lover's paradise in northeast India can dazzle you. Table of Contents Reaching Kaziranga National Park in Assam Best Time to Visit Kaziranga National Park Types of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park Kaziranga National Park Elephant Safari Kaziranga National Park Jeep Safari Price of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park, Assam How to Book a Safari at Kaziranga National Park Our Jeep Safari Experience Other Things to Do in Kaziranga Enjoy Leisure Time at Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park Visit the Kakochang Waterfall Take a Tour of the Tea Estates Shop for Traditional Souvenirs Visit Assamese Tribal Village Where to stay in Kaziranga Reaching Kaziranga National Park in Assam Whether you're a wildlife enthusiast, nature lover, or simply looking for a unique travel experience in India, a visit to Kaziranga National Park should be on your bucket list! Located in Assam - the largest state in North east of India, the park does not have direct air or rail connectivity. However, it can easily be accessed through the nearest airports, train stations, and roads. By Air The closest airport is Rowriah Airport in Jorhat, located 97 kilometers from Kaziranga National Park in Assam. There are regular flights to Jorhat from major cities like Delhi and Kolkata. We hopped on to a shared taxi from the Jorhat town to reach Kaziranga, which took us about 2.5 hours. Though flying to Jorhat is an easy option, the more well-connected option is Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport in Guwahati, 217 kilometres away from Kaziranga National Park. From Guwahati, you can take a private taxi, shared taxi, train, or a bus to cover the 5-6 hour journey to Kaziranga. By Train The nearest railway station to Kaziranga National Park is Furkating Junction in the Golaghat district, which is about 80 kilometers away. Regular trains connect Furkating to Guwahati and Upper Assam. The onward journey to Kaziranga National Park by taxi or bus takes 2-3 hours. Guwahati railway station, 240 km away, has connectivity across India. Take an overnight or day train to Furkating to continue your onward journey. By Road Kaziranga is located just off NH-37 connecting Guwahati, so there are regular buses between Guwahati and Kohora town (main town in Kaziranga) near the park entrance. The 230 km journey from Guwahati takes about 5-6 hours by bus. Shared taxis are also available from Guwahati, taking 4-5 hours. The nearby city of Tezpur in North Assam is 180 km away and is well connected to Guwahati and Upper Assam. Best Time to Visit Kaziranga National Park Winter: The winter months from November through April are the best to visit Kaziranga National Park. The weather is just perfect - sunny days, cool nights, not too hot or cold. Better than the humid summers! With clearer skies, winter brings a ton of cool migratory birds alongside Kaziranga's usual feathery residents. Grab your binoculars because it's a birdwatcher's paradise! More importantly, February to April is when you'll spot the most animals. The grass is shorter, so the Kaziranga rhinoceros, elephants, and maybe even a tiger are easier to spot as they hang out in the marshes and grasslands. The water is lower too, so there are lots of animals gathering around the few watering holes that are still filled. And the cute baby animals are super playful this time of year! Monsoon: The park closes due to flooding in monsoon months - May, June, July, August, and September. Pro tip - Aim for November or April if you can. The national park officials cut the grass shorter in March, hence spotting animals in April becomes easier. Mid-winter (read, December) gets really crowded. Unless you don't mind the crowds and love a good Indian festival: The Magh Bihu celebrations, mid-December is also fine to visit Kaziranga National Park! Types of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park Kaziranga National Park offers a plethora of activities to immerse yourself in the treasure trove of wildlife. You can indulge in elephant safaris or adventurous jeep/gypsy safaris to truly explore the rich biodiversity the park harbors. To safeguard and manage this precious wildlife gem, the park has been divided into four zones: the Central/Kohora zone, the Eastern/Agaratoli zone, the Western/Bagori zone, and the Burapahar zone. Each range presents unique opportunities to witness diverse flora and fauna. Jeep/gypsy safaris are conducted in all zones, whereas elephant safaris are limited to Bagori and Kohora gates. 1. Kaziranga National Park Elephant Safari While we do not promote elephant safaris, the elephant ride allows visitors to traverse through various vegetation types, including tropical semi-evergreen, alluvial savanna woodlands, and tropical moist mixed deciduous forests. The chances of spotting one-horned rhinos are higher during elephant safaris, adding to the unique experience of exploring Kaziranga National Park in Assam. The mammal takes you on a guided tour on the periphery of the national park. Timings for Elephant Safari: Twice every morning (1 hour ride): 5 AM to 6 AM and 6 AM to 7 AM (Elephant safari slots are to be booked one day prior to your safari date) Note: Elephant safaris run only from the Bagori gate (for Indians) and Kohora gate (for foreigners and VIPs) 2. Kaziranga National Park Jeep Safari One of the most exciting ways to explore Kaziranga National Park in Assam is Kaziranga jeep safari. These guided tours allow visitors to cover expansive ground throughout the park in search of diverse wildlife. The jeep safari takes you to the heart of the dense national park. Cruising in 4x4 vehicles provides prime wildlife spotting opportunities. Knowledgeable naturalist guides expertly navigate the dirt trails, stopping frequently when animals are sighted. Kaziranga jeep safari goers can hope to encounter iconic species like the Indian one-horned rhinoceros as well as elephants, tigers, wild buffaloes, and a myriad of birds. Timings for Jeep Safari: Twice each day (2 hour ride): 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM and 2 PM to 4 PM Note: The early morning ride from 7:30 AM to 9:30 AM is ideal for viewing active wildlife against the sunrise. Each elephant seats 2 passengers on its back. Price of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park, Assam Here is a quick insight into the cost of Safaris in Kaziranga National Park. However these could have changed and would request you to check the latest rates. Disclaimer: Jeep/Elephant safari timings and rates change from season to season. Also note that separate camera charges may apply. How to Book a Safari at Kaziranga National Park The most convenient way for Kaziranga National Park safari booking is through your accommodation. Most resorts/hotels have safari help desks that can make all arrangements for you. Share your preferences with the staff and they will organize the vehicle pickup, entry permits, taxes, guide, etc. Payment is also handled via the hotel/resort. And no, they don't tend to charge you more. Just a couple of bucks extra. You can also head to the official Kaziranga National Park Safari booking office located opposite to the park's main entrance gate (Central/Kohora gate). Go to the ticket counters to check availability and reserve your slots. Rates are displayed on a signboard outside. Tip: If you are not in a group (maybe a couple/ solo traveller) and the entire jeep is expensive for you, wait at the ticket counter to share the jeep with other passengers. The jeep seats 6 passengers. Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to departure to complete formalities. Carry ID proof and a mosquito-repellant. Set out early to catch the best wildlife action! Our Jeep Safari Experience We do not promote/encourage animal riding. So, from early on we knew that we wouldn’t opt for elephant safari. Hence, we booked an early morning 7:30 AM open-top jeep safari through our resort in Kaziranga National Park in Assam. Our driver arrived at the hotel entrance to pick us up in a 4x4 vehicle right on time (around 7 AM). He had already handled purchasing the permits, taxes, and fees, so we just showed the entry tickets at the gate before cruising into the park. We had opted to enter through the Central/Kohora gate. Our enthusiastic naturalist guide cum driver reminded us to have cameras ready as he expertly navigated the bumpy dirt trails. It wasn't long before we spotted our first wildlife - a large herd of Indian elephants with playful young calves staying close to their mothers. We stopped for 15 minutes as they crossed the road, admiring their graceful movements through our zoom lenses. Further along, noisy monkeys were shaking the tree branches and peering down curiously at our jeep and massive wild buffalos wallowed in a marsh nearby. After about an hour spotting varied species of wildlife, our driver brought us to a wooden tower. We eagerly climbed up the platform, which offered an incredible 360-degree view over the vast grassland expanse. In the distance, we finally spotted two rare greater one-horned Kaziranga rhinoceros peacefully grazing by a wetland. A thrilling sight! We spent quite some time at the tower-top, admiring the rhinoceros with our camera’s zoom lens. Just before exiting the park, we caught a glimpse of a lone adult rhino bathing in a marsh, dangerously close to the road. We held our breath as the massive beast slowly emerged, allowing us to admire its intricate skin texture and prominent horn up-close before it snorted and retreated into the tall grass. Inside Kaziranga National Park, you are not allowed to disembark from the jeep, with the exception of specifically designated areas, such as the viewing tower and a lake. Despite this restriction, our overall experience was delightful, and we were fortunate enough to spot some Kaziranga one-horned rhinoceros during the safari. Other Things to Do in Kaziranga 1. Enjoy Leisure Time at Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park The Orchid Park in Kaziranga is a really cool spot that any nature lover should check out. They've got a super impressive collection of rare orchids. They also have vegetable garden, cactus garden, nursery, bamboo garden, museum, souvenir shop, restaurant and more. The best part is wandering through right before sunset when all the flowers are blooming - it's gorgeous! Besides the orchids, they also have traditional music and dance shows at night. Grab a seat and watch the colorful costumes twirling around. It's thrilling to see the local culture. And you can't leave without trying the tasty tea they serve. There's also a nice little restaurant if you fancy a huge lunch/dinner platter. Do not forget to try out authentic Assamese thali to taste the local cuisine. Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park is an awesome spot to really experience Kaziranga National Park's natural beauty and cultural traditions up close. After spending the day on safari spotting rhinoceros and other wildlife, it's the perfect place to kick back amidst the gorgeous flowers, sip some chai, and absorb the local vibe. 2. Visit the Kakochang Waterfall Kakochang Waterfall is a serene escape hidden in pristine wilderness in Kaziranga town. You can also admire the ruins of the historic Numaligarh fort from this picturesque spot. The natural beauty of the falls is enhanced by the surrounding vistas of lush tea plantations blanketing the landscape. The trek to reach the waterfall's base takes you on an enchanting journey through untamed nature at its finest. 3. Take a Tour of the Tea Estates Exploring the sprawling tea gardens surrounding Kaziranga offers an unforgettable experience for the senses. These gardens are exquisite gems that fill the region with immense pride and charm. Globally famous for producing Assam's distinctive, bold black tea, these plantations contain one of the largest tea growing areas in the world. For any tea lover, walking through the seemingly endless rows of lush green tea bushes, learning about cultivation practices, and sipping fresh brews at local factories promises a one-of-a-kind tea tourism adventure. 4. Shop for Traditional Souvenirs Kaziranga offers many unique opportunities to shop for traditional Assamese souvenirs - each infused with artistic flair and cultural symbolism. Chat with friendly shopkeepers to learn about tribal designs and the stories behind the crafts. Haggle for deals on these wonderful handmade treasures to take a piece of Assam’s rich artistic heritage home with you. 5. Visit Assamese Tribal Village Visiting the tribal villages near Kaziranga provides a fascinating glimpse into traditional local lifestyles and culture. You can get an authentic understanding of indigenous communities' daily existence and way of life. Witnessing their artistic talents firsthand is truly captivating - residents craft intricate handicrafts brimming with cultural meaning and creativity. Where to stay in Kaziranga You can find various types of accommodations in Kaziranga to suit your needs. From luxury resorts to budgeted homestays, all these accommodations should be able to arrange a visit to national park for you. We would suggest booking a suitable accommodation in advance, at least during peak seasons (November to April). If you are visiting in peak season, it is also advisable to call them in advance to ensure there is no double booking or any other issues with your stay. Below table gives you some shortlisted stays across different price ranges that you could consider for stay in Kaziranga. Click on icons to check availability and current price. Kaziranga National Park showcases India's incredible wildlife and natural heritage. Safaris offer adventurous ways to admire exotic species roaming freely in their native habitat. We highly recommend adding this UNESCO site to your travel bucket list! Save this pin if you find this article useful and would like to save it for later. Save this Pin

  • Offbeat Places to Visit in Kashmir, India

    Robert Frost, in his narrative poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, mentions that when he is faced with a choice between two roads, he elects to travel the one that appears to be less worn, and that made all the difference. Isn’t that what offbeat or unexplored travel is all about? But nowadays the words ‘offbeat’ and ‘unexplored’ are used very cursorily. I’ve seen places like Gulmarg, Sonmarg, and Pahalgam being included in the list of offbeat places to visit in Kashmir, India. These places are visited by lakhs of tourists every year since decades! So, when we got a chance to do a true ‘Offbeat Kashmir’ tour, we decided that we will make a genuine list of ‘Unexplored places in Kashmir’. This list of offbeat places to visit in Kashmir is based on data like less tourist footfall, little/no information on the internet, and relative lack of chitter-chatter on social media. Although some names might be a bit familiar, you are going to come across names of places that you may have never heard of. We were able to visit some extremely unheard-of nook and corners of Kashmir, thanks to Cliffhangers India. Some of these places do not even have resorts or hotels, but only homestays or JKTDC accommodations. However, these destinations will surely offer you the much sought-after desolation (read peace) and will keep you away from the tourist radar. So here we go with the list of most unexplored places to visit in Kashmir. Scroll till the end to find an ideal ‘Offbeat Kashmir itinerary’. Suggested read Travel Guide to Srinagar, Kashmir Best places to stay in Srinagar, Kashmir Table of Contents Offbeat Places to Visit in Kashmir 1. Daksum 2. Kokernag 3. Verinag 4. Yusmarg 5. Doodhpathri 6. Bangus Valley 7. Lolab Valley 8. Athwatoo 9. Naranag 10. Other offbeat places to visit in Kashmir a. Dachigam National Park b. Saffron fields of Lethpora and Pampore c. Martand Sun Temple d. Achabal Garden e. Manasbal Lake f. Wular Lake g. Gurez Valley h. Aru Valley Cliffhangers India - Our Travel Partner Offbeat Kashmir Itinerary Offbeat Places to Visit in Kashmir 1. Daksum Located in the Kokernag district, about 100 kilometres away from Srinagar, Daksum is a hardly inhabited, virginal spot surrounded by Pir Panjal Mountain ranges. This offbeat place to visit in Kashmir is situated in Brengi or Bringhi River valley and houses a wide grassy meadow (part of which was covered in snow when we visited in March), several nomadic shepherd cottages, and an ever-green coniferous forest. The Indian hill trout fishes spawn and thrive in the fresh and cold-water streams of Bringhi River. Daksum lies on the trekking route towards Kishtwar and is often used as a base by trekkers who wish to cross the Sinthan Pass (Sinthan Top) at 3750 metres. The road to Sinthan Pass was closed due to heavy snow at the top when we visited, and hence we weren’t able to drive to the pass and enjoy panoramic view of the valley. However, we enjoyed our short time in Daksum village by playing in snow, making snowman, and sipping hot Kashmiri Kahwa sitting on the banks of the gurgling Bringhi River. We also happened to visit the Rajparian Wildlife Sanctuary known for inhabiting the Van-Gujjars and Bakerwals - amongst the oldest tribes residing in Kashmir, who are sheepherders. This sanctuary houses a quarantine facility for imported Australian Merino sheep that were brought to J&K to improve the fineness of wool production in Kashmir. We were lucky to spot a flock of these sheep pasturing the natural resources - grassy meadows of the sanctuary. Apart from a few homestays, the only tourist accommodation facility in Daksum is the government-run JKTDC tourist bungalow; however, we opted to stay in JK tourism cottages in Kokernag (about 15 kilometres away from Daksum). We also heard that during summer, tourists pitch their camps on the banks of the Bringhi River and enjoy a day of trout-fishing, angling, and sleeping under the blanket of stars. While staying in Daksum, you can revel in the warm hospitality of local Gujjars and be a part of their cultural traditions. Daksum is certainly amongst the most beautiful unexplored places in Kashmir and should be a part of offbeat Kashmir itinerary for the ones who seek peace and quiet in the company of nature. 2. Kokernag Kokernag is a famous tourist spot, but still is amongst the lesser known, unexplored places to visit in Kashmir. Located about 80 kilometres away from Srinagar, Kokernag falls on the way to Daksum. The place houses the Kokernag spring, the Kokernag botanical garden, and one the largest trout fish farms in Asia. We stayed at the J&K tourism run accommodation right inside the Kokernag botanical garden. Early in the morning, when we decided to stroll the Kokernag botanical garden, we were greeted by some rare species of birds. With not a soul around, and only the sound of the gushing waters of Kokernag spring that’s known to possess medicinal properties, we meandered through the garden developed around the springs, crossing the many beautiful wooden bridges built on the water. The botanical garden is bigger than what we had thought and showcases a diverse collection of trees and flowering plants. The colours spread by majestic Chinar trees must be a sight to behold in the autumn season! And the sweet fragrance of pine filled the air as we collected a few pinecones that fell beneath the huge conifers. From the botanical garden, the Kokernag spring water rushes down to the trout fish breeding farm, which is located adjacent the garden. The cold weather of Kashmir and the fresh and freezing spring water provides perfect temperature for the trouts to breed. At the breeding farm, one can partake in fishing trouts from the stream channelized in different raceways and then buy the caught trouts. The lack of crowd in Kokernag was a blessing as we could sit around in the lawns and soak in the warm sunlight without any disturbance. The J&K tourism have done a commendable job creating and maintaining a garden that rivals the beauty of even the Kashmiri Mughal gardens. Do not miss out on including this intrepid jewel if Kashmir in your offbeat Kashmir itinerary. Also remember, the best way to explore Kokernag is by staying at the JK Tourism cottages and visiting the gardens early in the morning or late in the evening, when the local crowds and the day visitors have left. 3. Verinag Verinag is located around 85 kilometres away from Srinagar and about 20 kilometres away from Kokernag. We drove to Verinag after visiting Kokernag and were thrilled to see the Pir Panjal range up-close from a few viewpoints (Lisser viewpoint and Titanic viewpoint) on the way. Verinag is the place from where a spring originates, which is believed to be the major source of the Jhelum River. After meandering through a major part of Kashmir including Wular Lake, the Jhelum River meets Pakistan to join the Chenab River. An octagonal base is built at the spring, surrounding which is a Mughal Garden constructed by Emperor Jehangir. From the entrance of the Mughal Garden, the walkway took us to the octagonal pool. Verinag spring water is clear as crystal is deep turquoise blue green in colour. The octagonal pool can be approached through a 24-arch colonnade. The water comes from the spring deep below the pool, which then flows to the small channel from the axial reservoir towards the Mughal Garden. The Mughal Garden surrounding the Verinag spring is clean and well-maintained. It has lots of trees, especially huge Chinar trees and we can’t stop wondering how beautiful this place might be in autumn, covered under multi-coloured hues! While the Verinag spring reservoir was constructed by Emperor Jehangir, the garden is believed to be laid out by his son, Shah Jahan. Both the spring as well as the garden are recognised by the Archaeological Survey of India as monuments of national importance. We found our way to the top of the 24-arch colonnade surrounding the octagonal pond and the view from there was a sight to behold. The Mughal Garden at Verinag is equal to (if not better than) the other gardens in Kashmir. Verinag is truly an underrated place, and it receives a minimal tourist footfall, which makes it one of the best unexplored places to visit in Kashmir. 4. Yusmarg or Yousmarg The word Yusmarg is an amalgamation of two words: Yus or Yous (referring to Yisu meaning Jesus) and Marg (meaning meadow) - thus literally translating to ‘Meadow of Jesus’ in local Kashmiri language. Its legend is that Jesus passed through this valley (and even stayed here) and hence the name. A slightly different version says Yus refers for Yusuf / Yousuf. True or not, Yusmarg valley is so beautiful that it definitely must have been laid out by God! Yusmarg is located only 50 kilometres away from Srinagar, making it an offbeat, yet easy-to-reach destination in Kashmir. Yusmarg valley lies at the end of the road from Charar-e-Sharif, the holy shrine of Shiekh-ul-Alam, the famous Sufi-poet, spiritual guide, and an Islamic preacher. Shiekh-ul-Alam spread his teachings mostly through poems, the most popular one being “Ann poshi teli yeli wan poshe” which translates to “Food will thrive only till the woods survive.” He is also credited with translating Quran into Kashmiri language. Even before reaching the Charar-e-Sharif dargah, we were able to spot in afar from the road. With intricate wooden carvings and massive chandeliers, the shrine is as magnificent from inside as it is from the outside. There are picturesque trekking trails in any direction you choose to walk from the parking lot in Yusmarg Valley. Several pony riders surrounded us to take us to the trail of our choice (there were 17 trails listed on a sign board). Since we have a ‘no-animal riding’ policy, we decided to hike to one of the easier trails instead of taking a pony ride. The vast, open valley was blanketed in a white sheet of snow. Due to shortage of time, we only had a few options out of the 17 trails listed. We chose to trek to Doodhganga River, which is an easy walk of about 1.5 kilometres. While walking towards the river, we met a guide who convinced us that instead of Doodhganga River we should hike to Burgah Valley. And we are glad that we changed routes because Burgah valley is dream-like! As we started our descent to the promised valley, the thickness of snow sheet kept increasing and we were soon walking in ankle-deep snow. We passed a few nomadic Gujjar huts, which were abandoned due to heavy snow, and soon entered a pine forest. We now reached a higher ground, which again opened to a huge valley - the Burgah Valley. Burgah valley is raw and pristine, seldom visited by any tourist, making it one of the best unexplored places in Kashmir. We were awed by the dome-shaped structure resembling an ice stupa right in the middle of the valley. Surrounded by pine forests and snow-covered mountains, we clicked photographs, had a fun-filled snowball fight, and returned to the parking lot. Wish we had more time to hike the other trails - bookmarking Doodhganga trail and Nilnag trail for the next time. Apart from the tourism board-run JKTDC Resort, there are very few accommodation options in Yusmarg. However, we opted to stay in Tribe Homestay in Nilnag village, about 5 kilometres away from Yusmarg Valley. It was a truly unique accommodation with rooms and common areas designed in tribal-hut style. The highlight of the stay was a wooden attic that offered outstanding views of the Pir-Panjal Mountain ranges, especially in the evening when the peak shines golden. The next morning, the homestay’s host took us on a short hike to the adjacent hill and then down to the river. 5. Doodhpathri Doodhpathri is another stunning valley located almost 45 kilometres away from Srinagar. We had read and heard from locals that it’s amongst the most beautiful unexplored place in Kashmir and should be a part of offbeat Kashmir itinerary. However, when we visited Doodhpathri in March, the valley had received fresh snowfall, and hence the place was full of tourists who had come from Srinagar for a day trip. We stayed at the JKTDC Resort at Doodhpathri, which is the only option here apart from one another recently built hotel. So, when the day-trip travellers left late in the afternoon and before the nest set of tourists arrived from Srinagar in the morning, we literally had the entire place to ourselves. Doodhpathri, translating to ‘Valley of Milk,’ is named so as two rivers pierce through the valley - Shaliganga and Sukhnag, and the fast-flowing water of both these rivers give a milky appearance when it strikes against the rocks. About 4 kilometres from the car parking, the road snakes down the hill to the bowl-shaped valley. This distance can be walked, or one can take a pony ride. Since we had booked our stay at JKTDC resort, we were allowed to drive our car down till the last point, that saved us a lot of time and a long walk. Even in mid-March, Doodhpathri valley was covered under an immense amount of snow. Snow activities like skiing, sledding, and ATV rides were being offered at the touristy points. After crossing the wobbly wooden bridge over the Shaliganga River, we tried to move away from the tourists and hiked a steep hill towards the Dikshal trail. The trail gradually ascended and we walked some more into the towering pine and deodar trees to reach a large snow-covered meadow, where we laid our picnic mat and built a snowman. Such excited were we, we spent close to 3 hours there, running up and down the slopes and playing with snow to our heart’s content. Several hiking trails emerge from Doodhpathri valley. You can either rent and ride a pony or trek on foot to wherever you choose to. Back at JKTDC Resort, we stayed in an igloo cottage in the middle of the snow. In the night, the snow shone bright like flickering stars under the moonlight, and it was magical. Offbeat or not, Doodhpathri definitely doesn’t receive as many tourists as Gulmarg and Sonmarg do, and its beauty is comparable to both these places if not more! 6. Bangus Valley Bangus Valley is another offbeat place in Kashmir, which is hidden in the northern region of Kupwara district of J&K. Located about 100 kilometres away from Srinagar, Bangus Valley lies very close to India’s most disputed border. There are 3 ways to reach Bangus Valley - from Mawer (Reshwari), Rajwar, or Chowkibal. Most tourists drop the idea of visiting Bangus Valley because of the rough terrain and poor road conditions. We took the Mawer/Reshwari route, which passed through a forest range. From Reshwari, the approach road to Bangus Valley is still under development. A government-run JKTDC tourist rest house is located in Reshwari, where we opted to stay. The accommodation is right on the banks of Mawer River and is surrounded by unlimited natural beauty and sound of the flowing river. We had pre-hired a guide to explore the valley but were disappointed to learn that the approach road to Bangus, which is anyway not in a good condition, is covered under thick layer of snow, and hence is non-driveable! Our guide, however, took us on a nature walk in snow. We crossed the Kashtwar Nallah steel bridge, located only 7 kilometres from the Line of Control, and further to forested pine- and deodar-covered hills. We used a wobbly wooden bridge over the Mawer River, where small streams enhanced the valley’s charm. Later, we spent a lovely evening on the banks of the river close to the tourist rest house, enjoying its fluidity and vitality. 7. Lolab Valley Located in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Lolab Valley is by and large an unexplored place in Kashmir. Almost 120 kilometres from Srinagar, Lolab Valley is well connected to the state’s capital city. Locally known as ‘Wadi-e-Lolab,’ the valley is a treat of nature with thick, verdant forests and sprawling pastures. Immediately after check-in to our hotel in the Lalpora area, we met our guide and headed-out for sightseeing. We first drove to the Forest Adventure Park in Diver Village. This park is recently built; however, some parts are still under construction. Surrounding the park is a dense deodar forest. We walked through the forest’s periphery and reached Kairwan Lake. Though the water was a bit smelly and brown in colour, it mirrored the reflection of nearby mountains quite well. From the park, we drove ahead to Dorusa Dam, located in the middle of pine and deodar forest. The place did not seem like a tourist place. The view was just okay. We slowly walked over on the outstretched metal walkway on the dam to get to the centre. The view from there was just okay. We wouldn’t recommend tourists with children to get to the centre. In the interest of time, we decided to drive to our next destination - Chandigam, another town in Lolab Valley. A JKTDC Guest House is located in Chandigam, which is also a good place to stay. In Chandigam, we stopped by a beautiful lake to click pictures, and again got in the car to get to Kalaroos Valley. Kalaroos gets its name from Qile Roos, which means the ‘Fort of Russia’. Kalaroos caves, located up on the hill in Kalaroos, are considered to be secret tunnels, which lead to Russia. Our guide knew the terrain well, and we soon started a 30-minute hike to reach Satbaran Rock - the Seven Doors! We recommend wearing a good pair of hiking shoes. The Satbaran Rock is a huge monolithic rock with seven sculpted chiselled niches. The rock is half-buried and has several fables wrapped around it. It’s believed that idols of Indian Gods and Goddesses once adorned each niche. The view of Lolab Valley, in its full expanse, from the Satbaran Rock is breath-taking. Kalaroos caves are a 20-minute further climb from the Satbaran Rock. The caves were dark and narrow. We went into one of them, which further opened into a big cavern. The path seemed endless, but we didn’t risk going beyond a point as the caves were infested with bats (also, we didn’t want to reach Russia!). Kalaroos caves are rich in several minerals, especially copper. With the sun setting, the walls of the caves shone in golden colour. We climbed up to an opening in the cave to watch the sunset. Exhausted and thirsty, we filled up our water bottles from the fresh streams flowing down the hill and took some rest. Our journey back to the car was uneventful. All in all, Lolab Valley excelled in its beauty, and we surely would like to return some day for a longer stay. 8. Athwatoo Out of all the less explored places that we visited in our Offbeat Kashmir tour, Athwatoo was the most offbeat. Though not very far from Srinagar (only about 70 kilometres away), Athwatoo felt like an out-of-the-world place. The place is in the north-eastern side of Bandipora district. The term Athwatoo loosely translates to ‘confluence of eight roads.’ From Bandipora town, the road to Athwatoo is quite narrow, bumpy, and curvy. We took a wrong turn and lost our way from Bandipora town, had to make a complete U-turn, and return to the town to find the right path. We suggest not relying much on Google Maps and asking your way around to the locals who are always helpful. We don’t know why Athwatoo isn’t on the tourist map. The place lies amongst the mountains, besides a fast-flowing river stream named Madhumati, and surrounded by thick forests. Madhumati stream originates from the high-altitude Harmukh mountain. With not a soul around and no noise pollution, all we could hear was the flowing stream water. We were the only travellers in Athwatoo. Even the locals looked bewildered on our arrival. The tourism board has recently constructed a beautiful property - the Athwatoo Resort, on the banks of the Madhumati stream, but we stayed at an even unbelievably stunning and unique accommodation. Ours was a one-bedroom tree house built on a walnut tree. The balcony of our room faced the rushing stream! Till date, this is the most unique accommodation we have stayed at. Our room on the treetop is made of premium wood and is warm and cosy. We were told that in summers, the tree is fully laden with walnuts and one can pluck fresh walnuts right from the room’s balcony. The tree house is surrounded by a large veranda with lots of hang-out spaces and viewpoints adorned with Kashmiri carpets, floor mattresses, and comfortable cushions. We spent some quality time at these little hang-out spots, dipping our feet in the cold water. The property is well-looked after. There’s even a fish breeding centre on the premises, which is full of trout fishes, hence giving ample opportunities for fishing and angling. We were offered fruits and biscuits with Kashmiri Kahwa on arrival and the caretakers cooked delicious meals. We slept to the sound of flowing river. We are sure that, on clear days, one could even spot the Milky Way clearly. There is no mobile network, internet, or wi-fi in Athwatoo, which gives a chance to connect with the locals and the loved ones. This place is ideal for people who love solitude, who want to meditate, or who is just seeking some peace of mind. From the treehouse, we had opportunities to go trekking to the upper forest area, however, we were so content with the place, we never felt a need to venture out. Athwatoo village has an abundance of pastures for shepherds. A folklore says that, after fleeing Egypt, Prophet Moses spent time in Athwatoo village. Our guide took us to the place where he dwelled. Though not very well maintained, this place is now covered with colourful flags and has lots of monkeys. It is often visited by Jews who happen to visit Kashmir. Note - If you are fascinated by the stories of Jesus and Moses visiting Kashmir and living in India, there is much more. There is even a place called Rozabal shrine in Srinagar which many believe is the actual tomb of Jesus Christ! Interesting? This is not just some story that some locals believe in. It is well documented by various historians and scholars across various faiths. You can read more about these stories in many books that could be bought on Amazon. 9. Naranag Naranag is only about 50 kilometres away from Srinagar but is a by-and-by different world altogether. Located in the Gandarbal district, Naranag is a small yet beautiful village, which acts as a base camp for several treks in Kashmir. The famed ‘Kashmir Great Lakes’ trek starts in Sonmarg and ends in Naranag. Other trails that start here are the Naranag-Dumail-Marchoi trek and Naranag-Gangabal Lake trek. But apart from trekkers, Naranag is seldom explored by tourists travelling to Kashmir. The Wangat River flows through Naranag and is adorned with a big glacier on one of its banks. Naranag is also a pilgrimage centre with a cluster of ruined Hindu temples divided in two groups - the Western Group and the Eastern Group. Due to years of neglect, the ruins are in a sad state of affairs. In the Western group, the main temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The roof of this temple is long gone and is covered by a layer of tin sheets. This temple is surrounded by several smaller ones. In the Eastern group, the largest temple is dedicated to Lord Bhuteswara (again Lord Shiva) and it houses a big Shiva Lingam. Further ahead is a large basin, where a spring flows. Crossing the Naranag temple complex, we walked on the Marchoi trail running along the Wangat River, that lead us to the glacier. We found several abandoned Gujjar houses and towering pine and walnut trees on our way. We went to the riverbank to see the glacier up close. A waterfall from the top pierced through the glacier before joining the river. It was quite a sight. The highlight of our visit to Naranag was our stay with a local family. There are no hotels or restaurants in the village. Guest house or homestay is the way to go. We stayed in a simple house with the family of our guide. Our hosts were warm and friendly and treated us with utmost affection. They served delicious home-cooked meals and we all sat together to eat around a heated Bukhari (fire chamber) to stay warm. We had a heart-to-heart conversation about Islam, Kashmiri way of living, and how media is responsible to have stained Kashmir’s image as an unsafe destination. 10. Other offbeat places to visit in Kashmir Here are few other offbeat places in Kashmir you could plan on visiting. Some of these places can be covered along with already listed places above while some may require you to head out specifically to visit this place. a. Dachigam National Park (20 kilometres from Srinagar) This national park was formed after relocating ‘10 villages’, and hence the name. It is a protected reserve, which can be easily covered as a day trip from Srinagar. Dachigam National park is known for the endangered Kashmiri stag - the only species of red deer to be found in India. Other animals and birds that you may spot includes bear, leopard, flycatcher, wild goat, golden oriole, falcon, griffon vulture, golden eagle, paradise flycatcher, monal, Eurasian eagle owls and more. b. Saffron fields of Lethpora & Pampore (15-25 kilometres from Srinagar) Lethpora and Pampore villages in Kashmir are renowned for their saffron cultivation, and visiting during October - November is a treat for the senses. One can marvel at the picturesque landscapes adorned with vibrant saffron blossoms in full bloom, painting the fields in hues of purple and gold. Immerse yourself in the aromatic ambiance and witness the meticulous process of saffron cultivation. From the delicate handpicking of precious saffron threads to the sun-drying techniques, you'll gain insight into the rich traditions behind this prized spice. A visit to these saffron fields offers a truly unique and sensory experience, combining natural beauty with cultural heritage. c. Martand Sun Temple in Anantnag district (70 kilometres from Srinagar) This temple is not visited as much as it should be. Martand Sun temple is a grand temple, which is now in ruins, but after visiting it, you can imagine how grand it must have been during its peak days. You can club visiting Martand Sun Temple along Saffron fields of Pampore and Lethiport and Achabal Garden, as they are located in the same direction on the way to Kokernag and Daksum. d. Achabal Garden in Anantnag district (70 kilometres from Srinagar) This was the first Mughal Garden we visited in Kashmir, and we simply loved the beauty of Achabal Garden’s. This garden was commissioned by Nur Jahan, the wife of Emperor Jahangir, during the Mughal era in the 17th century. It was designed as a pleasure garden and served as a retreat for the royal family. The garden showcases the distinctive features of Mughal architecture and landscaping, with terraces, water channels, fountains, and vibrant flower beds. Its historical significance and regal charm make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a glimpse into Kashmir's rich cultural heritage. Pro Tip: Visit Achabal Garden in autumn for a colourful exploration. e. Manasbal Lake (~30 kilometres from Srinagar) Having derived its name from Mansarovar lake, Manasbal Lake is known for its tranquil surroundings, pristine waters, and scenic beauty. One of the deepest fresh water lake in India, Manasbal lake is often referred to as the "supreme gem of all Kashmir lakes" due to number of aquatic birds that flock here and lotus blossoms seen in July - August. Visitors can enjoy boating, birdwatching, and exploring the scenic walking trails that surround the lake. A mughal garden called Jarokha bagh was buillt by empress Nur Jahan further adds to the captivating charm of the lake. f. Wular Lake (50 kilometres from Srinagar) This lake might not be as unexplored as the other places that are mentioned in this article, but it is definitely less visited and should be explored. Wular Lake is actually the largest freshwater lake in India. It spans an area of approximately 189 square kilometers and is located in the Bandipora district of Jammu and Kashmir. The lake is surrounded by picturesque mountains and is known for its rich biodiversity, serving as an important habitat for numerous bird species and aquatic life. Wular Lake offers a serene retreat for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers alike. The lake is best viewed from the Wular Vintage Park and the Durkei Lut viewpoint. g. Gurez Valley (130 kilometres from Srinagar) Road to Gurez Valley (that includes crossing Razdan Pass at 3560 metres) closes for about 6 months due to heavy snowfall, hence the valley can only be visited during summer and autumn months i.e., April-September/October. Do not miss out on viewing the pyramid shaped Habba Khatoon peak that turns golden in colour at the time of sunset. Travellers generally enjoy camping and trekking in Gurez Valley. h. Aru Valley (105 kilometres from Srinagar) Nestled amidst the majestic Himalayas, Aru Valley in Kashmir is a serene haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. With its picturesque landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and gushing rivers, the valley offers a perfect escape especially between May to September when meadows are green. Visitors can embark on lovely treks to explore the surrounding glaciers and alpine lakes, or opt for leisurely walks through pine forests and alongside meandering streams. Cliffhangers India - Our Travel Partner Exploring offbeat Kashmir isn’t an easy feat. Venturing alone may prove difficult/dangerous for several reasons. Since the above-mentioned places aren’t a part of general tourists’ itinerary, not many local drivers of Srinagar are aware of the routes or are trained in driving in the back-breaking terrains. Booking accommodations is complex and reaching out to the guides or stay hosts’ is even more difficult. Some places are restricted and may require a permit to visit. Due to these reasons, you may want to hire a travel agent. And hands down, there’s no better travel agent for exploring offbeat Kashmir than Cliffhangers India. Cliffhangers India is a decade-old travel agency registered with J&K Tourist Department. They specialise in separating a traveller from a tourist, with a keen eye for unexplored locations and deeper travel experiences. The owners, Adil and Arif, are avid travellers and trekkers themselves, which means they are clearly in the profession for the journey, and not just the destination. They curated and customised our entire itinerary as per our requirements and booked all our accommodations, some of which were pretty unique. They are local Kashmiris and hence have plenty reliable contacts who know the region in and out. Cliffhangers India also hired local guides for us in some of the offbeat places in Kashmir, who took us around their villages/valleys and offered us an immersive travel experience. They stayed in touch with us each day of the tour and ensured that we just sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip. Cliffhangers India offers tailor-made itineraries to meet individual agendas and budgets and provide the best Kashmir tour packages - whether its adventure sports, trekking across mountain ranges, camping under the night sky, or luxurious tours. You can book your tour with Cliffhangers India through their official website. Offbeat Kashmir itinerary Our 10-day offbeat Kashmir itinerary was curated by Cliffhangers India and it we think it is an ideal itinerary for anyone seeking to visit the unexplored places in Kashmir. Day 1 - Land in Srinagar, check-in to a houseboat, enjoy a Shikara ride Day 2 - Srinagar to Kokernag. Visit Achabal garden on the way. Explore Kokernag Day 3 - Kokernag to Daksum and explore Daksum. Daksum to Verinag to Srinagar Day 4 - Srinagar to Yusmarg and explore Yusmarg. Visit Charar-e-Sharif Masjid on the way Day 5 - Yusmarg to Doodhpathri and explore Doodhpathri Day 6 - Doodhpathri to Bangus and explore Bangus valley Day 7 - Bangus valley to Lolab and explore Lolab valley Day 8 - Lolab valley to Athwatoo and explore Athwatoo. Visit Wular Lake on the way Day 9 - Athwatoo to Naranag and explore Naranag Day 10 - Naranag to Srinagar and fly back If you have more days, you could add few places that we mentioned earlier such as Gurez valley or include a night stay around Wular lake. You could also plan to spend couple of nights in places like Doodhpathri or Yusmarg rather than one allowing you to have a little more relaxed trip. In case you are strapped for time, you could consider bucketing above listed places across different trips. For example Achabal - Kokernag - Verinag - Daksum could be 2-3 days trip, Yusmarg - Doodhpathri could be combined into one trip of 3-5 days, Bangus - Lolab could be combined into another trip, Athwatoo can be covered with Gurez valley in a separate trip. Based on how much time you have, you can use above information to curate your own itinerary. Save this Pin The real beauty of Kashmir lies in these above-mentioned quaint little spots that have still managed to stay hidden from the travellers who frequent the union territory. We have unlocked these places with a hope that you, as a reader and a traveller, will treat these destinations with respect, shower them with the care they deserve, and keep them clean. All these places can be reached in a few hours’ time from Srinagar. Of all these unexplored places to visit in Kashmir, which ones will you put in your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments section below.

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  • Fairytale Studios | India | About - Philosophy |

    About - Our Philosophy Photography We feel that the world we see is much more beautiful through the lens than without it. Somehow when there is a camera in our hands, we do not need to go around looking for fairytales, we do not need to go around creating fairytales... All we need to do is hold the camera, look through the lens, and click! ​ We are not sure whether there are countless moments around us which are worth clicking, or because we love clicking we see countless worthy moments.... All we know is there are fairytales all around us - The sleepy face of your loved one in the morning, the vapours from the tea cup, the patterns on road called traffic, a child carrying his bag to school, the eyes of a beggar, the tears of a bride, the skeleton of a dried down tree, the mist on the winter grass, the arbitrary countors of a cloud, the definitive form of a ripple, the hawker selling stuff on signals, the might of a mountain, the piercing ray of light, the footprints in sand, the joy of journey, the designs of shadows, the intensity of the colour... the list is infinite.... the fairytales are endless.... ​ But apart from capturing the fairytales around us, what drives us is the fact that the camera sees both ways! While every photographer tries saying something through his photographs, there is actually a bigger hidden story other way round. The story that the photographs say about the photographer. For us, while the camera helps us see these fairytales around us, it also helps us see a fairytale within us! ​ "A Mirror can only show you what you look like, A Camera can show you who you are" - Fairytale Studios Travel Aspiring to live the ultimate nomadic life... A life where every morning one steps out to explore unknown places, not to get stuck in traffic on the way to office, A life where mountains and beaches are your places of work, A life where your client is future self, asking you to ensure your time is well spent.. A life where your boss is your past self, demanding his dreams are achieved, A life where one goes home to take a break from travel, A life where one owns the roads not the cars, A life that is fairytale... Blog While photography is enough to take you back to the moments & memories that have passed, the amount of detail it can capture is still limited. The visual appeal itself becomes its shortcoming. That is where a blog fills in. ​ To us, blogging serves two main purposes - Firstly it bonds with our photographs to complete the picture of our past. And secondly it strives to develop a complete picture for our readers planning to visit the place in future. It thus weaves through time prolonging the impact of fleeting yet beautiful experiences. Please reload

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