Untouched by the name of globalization by keeping the natural beauty of the destination alive, Pahalgam is a popular hill station nestled in the Himalayan ranges by the banks of the River Lidder in Jammu and Kashmir. The entire area of Pahalgam is only two or three kilometers, but a tourist can stay here for a week and still have activities to do and attractions left to see in and around Pahalgam. Situated at height of 7200 feet, Pahalgam is one of the five tehsils of the Anantnag District in Jammu and Kashmir and the headquarters of the tehsils is located in the main town of Pahalgam.
It also serves as the base camp during the Amarnath Yatra, which is a pilgrimage that takes place every year. Pahalgam is also famous for shooting Bollywood films. And quite a few of them have been shot in this quaint little town. Its proximity to Srinagar attracts more tourists from the capital as well. Srinagar to Pahalgam is only 95 kilometers. Apart from being a natural splendor and a sight for sore eyes, Pahalgam also has several adventure activities for the adrenaline junkies. Read travel information about Phalagam here.
Pahalgam Tourism is extremely equipped to accommodate and entertain tourists for more than just a few days and this Pahalgam Tourist Guide will show you the ropes of the place.
Pahalgam is not difficult to reach as it is easily accessible from around the world. Srinagar to Pahalgam is only 95 kilometers and Anantnag to Pahalgam is only 45 kilometers.
Pahalgam does not have its own airport. The nearest airport is the Srinagar International Airport after which one can hire a taxi or book a bus to reach Pahalgam. The network of roads is excellent and the travel is mostly extremely smooth. A taxi from Srinagar should take about two and a half hours to reach Pahalgam and costs over 2000 rupees.
There are several places to see in and around Pahalgam, making sure the average tourist never gets bored. Here are a few:
This gorgeous valley is located at a distance of 15 kilometers from Pahalgam which can be easily covered by driving. The village that is nestled in the valley is adorable and picturesque, and a famous tourist destination. If you’re looking to trek to the Kalohai Glacier, this would be your starting point. This is a popular spot for families to stay as the locals are extremely friendly and there are many activities around Aru Valley that will keep you entertained like hiking, trekking, horse riding, and fishing. As soon as winters knock in, the region gets sprinkled with snow and it then gets converted into a favorite skiing and heli-skiing resort. The scenic beauty of the location is absolutely unparalleled.
Situated on the banks of the Kalohai stream, Mamleshwar Temple dates back to 400 AD. Legend has it that Lord Shiva had kept Lord Ganesha as a door guard here to prevent anyone from entering the temple. Hence, the temple is also called as Mammal which means ‘don’t go’. Inside, the temple has a Shiva Linga with a water spring. Mamleshwar Temple is one of the most visited places in Pahalgam.
Pahalgam Golf Course:
Pahalgam offers an 8-hole golf course that one must at least visit for it is surrounded by dense forests and lush greenery. This recreational activity could not have been more relaxing in the setting of Pahalgam at an altitude of 2400 meters. Pieces of equipment are available for rent here. The locals prefer to call the Pahalgam Golf Course ‘The Plateau’. It is open from 11.00AM to 4.00PM.
A paradise for Bollywood filmmakers, Betaab Valley gets its name from the famous Sunny Deol-Amrita Singh movie Betaab that was shot here. It is surrounded by snow-capped mountains, lush meadows and woody forests. The chilled water of the stream acts as a drinking water facility for the locals and Betaab Valley is a part of the Amarnath Yatra as well. River Sheshnag meanders through it, and a bridge is built upon it that gives access to the beautiful garden of the valley.
Other than being the starting point of the famous Amarnath Yatra, Chandanwari is also famous for snow sledging on a snow bridge. It provides the best spots for ideal picnics with family and friends amongst the natural beauty of Pahalgam. Trekking through Chandanwari also leads to the Kalohai Glacier. Gumboots are available on rent from the nearby stalls and locals running the sledding camps will tip you on the do’s and don'ts of sledding to stay safe. Snow here is a common sight and it snows here almost throughout the year.
Legend has it that the great lord of snakes – Sheshnag – dug the lake himself. Hence, the lake gets its name from this myth. At an altitude of 3500 meters, the lake reflects the magnificent and flawless scenery of Pahalgam in its clear waters, making the lake an ideal picnic spot or a shutterbug’s paradise. The green patch is a kilometer in length and about 0.7 kilometers wide. The lake is located about 23 kilometers from the main center of Pahalgam and is also en route to the Amarnath Caves – the Hindu Pilgrimage Site.
Yet another ideal picnic spot for family and friends, Baisaran is a valley surrounded by woody forests that are only 5 kilometers from Pahalgam and can be reached easily via a pony ride. The journey to the valley itself is filled with cute pathways and untouched nature, leading the way into one of Yash Chopra’s movies that are the Baisaran Valley. It is also known as the mini Switzerland of India. One must try the teas in one of the small tapries as it is said to be one of the most exceptional teas ever.
Amarnath caves is a must visit. The caves are home to the naturally occurring ice Shiva-Linga. Being one of the most significant pilgrim centers for the devotees of Lord Shiva and opens to the visitors for only some days every year, this beauty is located about 45 kilometers from Pahalgam. Attracting thousands of devotees every year, Hindus consider a pilgrimage to the abode of Lord Shiva to be of great importance in their lifetime. Pilgrimage for the Amarnath cave starts from Pahalgam every year between July and August.
Between the Pir Panjar and the Zanskar range is a sparkling blue lake, dotted with chunks of ice during the few times in the year, when it isn't frozen completely. At an altitude of 4000 meters above sea level, the lake demands a 2-day trek from Aru Valley to be reached. One can also hire ponies, available for this trip to the lake.
Considered as one of the most important tributaries of the Indus, this river is the main source of water for the nearby Anantnag region which is only accessible by trekking. Other adventure sports that you can indulge in are white water rafting, angling, horse riding and fishing as well. Originating from the Kalohai Glacier, the river also serves irrigation purposes and the entire vibe in the atmosphere demands tourists to relax and unwind with perfect picnic spots.
Although Pahalgam is a small area of only two or three kilometers, the adventure activities, as well as family activities, are countless.
The Pahalgam-Kolahoi trek through the Aru village and Pahalgam-Chandanwari trek to Sheshnag Lake are the most popular routes. The trekking trail up to Kalohai Glacier is not for those who are not willing to push through the toughness. Instead of trekking all the way, one can also take a horse up to a point. The best time to trek in Pahalgam is from April to June.
Trout Fishing is a something most tourists try in Pahalgam. However, one must first get a permit to fish in Pahalgam and the permit usually lasts for three days. Lidder River is famous for trout fishing. The locals also have another way of fishing where they use a Pepsi bottle to fish – it is called Pepsi fishing.
There are quite a few areas in and around Pahalgam where one can go skiing. Aru Valley is one of the most preferred spots. It costs usually 2000 rupees per person. Skiing really gets the adrenaline in a rush and it feels like one is flying across white blanket covered land surrounded by woody trees!
White Water Rafting:
With 2, 3 and 4 rapids for adventure seekers to choose from, the Lidder River offers an exciting combined with gorgeous white water rafting experience. It is an amazing trip winding down the Lidder River through the natural forests and down the exhilarating rapids. The season for rafting is May to August and the trips go for 30 minutes and approximately 3 km. White water rafting can be booked in advance by email. Each boat takes 6 passengers with 2 rafting guides with helmets and life jackets provided. No experience is required as all training provided.
As we mentioned earlier, Pahalgam Golf Course is a great place to relax with a game of golf amongst the flawless splendor of nature! The 9-hole golf game will leave you exhausted but rejuvenated at the same time.
The holy pilgrimage to the Shiva Lingam can be done during a two-month period that starts in June or July. The pilgrimage starts in Pahalgam and takes 3 days. Pilgrims take a taxi 16 km to Chandanwari and walk or take a pony to the cave. The journey back takes at least 2 days. It is a trip not for the weak-willed as it is quite tough though the loyal in their devotion to Shiva push on regardless.
A pony ride from the city center to Kashmir Valley, Dabian and Baisaran - where you can even have a picnic – is an excellent idea for families. However, make sure to carry food and water along with you. Pony rides cost ₹500 or less in the off-season and can even go as high as ₹1500 in peak season. We urge you to bargain for the best price. Also read of Gulmarg travel guide here.
Every year in the month of January or February, a splendid snow festival is organized by the state government of Jammu and Kashmir. Many adventure activities like horse riding, skiing and sledging are part of this event. Apart from the sporting activities, special plays performed by the local Dhambali Faqirs are quite famous amongst crowds. Phirans (long woolen Kashmiri cloaks), Kashmiri shawls, carpets, clothing with unique Kashmiri embroidery along with other woolen products such as Namdas and Gabbas (Kashmiri handicraft) are popular tourist buys.
The JKTDC huts are spacious and comfortable and have the best location in terms of view and greenery. Hotel Pahalgam, Hotel Pine Lodge, Hotel Himalaya House are highly recommended for their location and services. The food is exemplary and the setting in itself is mesmerizing. Ideally, tourists prefer to stay in Pahalgam for two or three days, except if they are here for the Amarnath Yatra. However, Pahalgam can be enjoyed for a lot more days than just two or three.
Pahalgam offers a subtle difference in their cuisine compared to other cities and town in Kashmir. The most famous dishes include Matschgand (minced lamb meatballs in spicy red gravy), Kaanti (lamb pieces in red hot gravy, usually eaten as a snack and not part of the main course). Other popular items are Modur Pulaav (Sweet Pulao, usually as a dessert), Muj Gaad (Fish with Radish), Nadir-Haaq/Gogji/Monji (lotus stems cooked with Spinach or Radish), Marcha-wangan korma and Syoon Olav (Meat with Potatoes cooked in spicy gravy).
One of the things to watch out for in Pahalgam is bears. The woods around Pahalgam are where bears still roam. There have been reports about them attacking humans and it’s advisable not to wander off into the wilderness alone.
In all fairness, Pahalgam is a gorgeous and quaint little town if you’re looking to hide away from the chaos of the cities. Relax, rejuvenate and be a part of the Pahalgam culture!
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