When one thinks of Kashmir, they think of the Himalayan ranges, snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lakes and of course, the chilly weather. Tourists always seem to be satisfied with mainstream Kashmir encompassing cities like Srinagar, Gulmarg or even Pahalgam. However, most of them miss out on the unexplored Greater Kashmir – with the same criteria but with no crowded streets. Instead, enjoy the company of Mother Nature undisturbed and explore the woody forests and white mountains without the chaos of tourism. Here are five offbeat places to visit in Kashmir that no nature lover should miss out – Kashmir tourism is incomplete without these offbeat Kashmir destinations. Read travel information about Srinagar here.
5 hidden gems of Kashmir are the following. Read about these five offbeat places to visit in Kashmir:
Located in the southern part of Kashmir, Chatpal is a small area of friendly locals and enthusiastic children. Tourists rarely hear about this destination, hence, Chatpal is free of commercial tourism. However, Chatpal has no electricity! As long as you can survive in nature, surrounded by mountains and forests with clear streams only a stroll away, you will easily have a great time spending a few days in Chatpal. One can also choose to trek through the mountains which open up to dense forests.
The locals are also extremely welcoming, although they usually keep to themselves. They are still set in their traditional ways and most of them are shepherds in the area. If you’re looking for a few days to spend with the quietness of nature in the background and zero disturbance of any commercial activities, Chatpal is one of the best offbeat destinations in unexplored Greater Kashmir. It is truly a hidden gem of Kashmir because reaching Chatpal involves an adventurous road trip!
This oval shaped valley is a sight for sore eyes. Located at a distance of only 170 kilometers from Srinagar, Lolab Valley is still untouched by commercial tourism. When some curious tourists do visit the Lolab Valley, the people in the nearby villages are pleasantly surprised to see visitors. The surreal valley stretches to about 24 kilometers, encompassing nature and its many different varieties of trees and flowers. Lolab Valley also has various ancient springs and dense forests. One can spend a few days visiting the nearby villages, camping by the Lahwal River or explored the Kalaroo caves. It is a top hit as an offbeat place to visit in Kashmir.
Lolab Valley can only be reached by a private taxi. There is literally no other mode of transportation that will get anyone there. Don’t miss out on this hidden gem of Kashmir!
Only an hour away from Srinagar, this bowl-shaped valley holds the lush green meadows where villagers bring their cattle to graze and procure best quality milk. Hence, the name Doodhpathri seems fit for the destination. The river Shali Ganga gushing through Doodhpathri brings an atmosphere of tranquillity in this region of unexplored Kashmir.
Although it is only 40 kilometers from the capital of Srinagar, it is an offbeat place to visit in Kashmir as barely any tourists venture into this area. At a height of 2730 meters above sea level, this kaleidoscopic Valley is jotted with several peaks, pictorial meadows, and evergreen thickets. This area in offbeat Kashmir is gaining popularity now and more tourists are visiting Doodhpathri. The JKTDC has also built a wonderful resort here. If you are not staying on a houseboat at Dal Lake or Nagin Lake in Srinagar, it is advisable to stay at Doodhpathari tourist guest houses. Also read about the Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar here.
Also known as Yousmarg, it is a hill station in the western Kashmir valley. It is located at a distance of 47 kilometers from Srinagar. Yusmarg in Kashmiri means ‘The Meadow of Jesus.’ Natives believed that Jesus came to Kashmir and stayed at Yusmarg for some time.
It is an alpine valley covered with snow-clad mountains and meadows of pine and fir. The river flowing through Yusmarg provides a great camping spot. There are two peaks - the Sunset Peak and the Tatakooti Peak -for which the expeditions are led from this hill station. A 10-kilometer trek leads to the frozen lake in Sang-e-Safed Valley, which is mostly covered with ice even during summer. One can also spend time horse-riding or skiing during winter. The only way to reach Yusmarg is by hiring a private taxi. We love this offbeat place to visit in Kashmir and truly admire this hidden and unexplored destination preserved by Kashmir Tourism.
It is said that Bangus Valley was once a popular summer destination during the British era but is now counted as an offbeat tourist place in Kashmir. Owing to its breath-taking beauty, there are the Chowkibal, Qazinag and Shamsbery mountains guarding the picturesque valley. If you are an adventurous trekker, you must visit the least explored destination of Bangus Valley during summer and along with trekking, you can also enjoy the Kala Roos Caves with a glimpse of the stone age paintings.
Located at about 72 kilometers from Srinagar, Bangus Valley is a biosphere that is covered with evergreen grasslands, countless mountain peaks, freshwater marshlands and more. There are two elliptical bowl-shaped valleys called Bodh Bungus (Big Bungus) and Lakut Bangus (Small Bungus), however, tourists are usually allowed only in the Bodh Bungus. Summer is the best time to visit this pristine valley. The only accommodation near Bangus Valley is the beautiful guest house situated on the banks of Mawar river in the Reshwari Village. As it is located in the sensitive district of Kupwara, tourists need prior permission from the SP of Kishtwar as they reserve the right to entry. Also, read our Srinagar travel guide here.
Apart from these five offbeat places to visit in Kashmir, there are a countless number of options if one wants to visit the offbeat Kashmir towns and cities that are less crowded and showered with the untouched beauty of nature!
If you have information about any other unexplored places of Kashmir, please feel free and spare few minutes to share your experience with Tripscam community. This would help other travelers like you. Log in to theTripscam website and 'Write a Report' on your good or bad experiences.