Kashmir Valley

Spring is the time when Kashmir bursts into a riot of colors and millions of flowers carpet the landscape.

"Badamvaer"- Kashmiri for "The garden of almond blossoms" lies on the foot end of the Hari Parbat Fort. This fort, also called "Koh-i-Maran" or "Faseel-e-Akbari" was founded by Mughal emperor Akbar in 1597. It was in 1876 the Dogra monarch Ranbir Singh got the entire garden planted with almond trees.A favourite place among locals on the occasions of fairs and festivities till the mid 70s', the popularity of this garden began to decline considerably as other means of entertainment came into existence. Caught in the vagaries of time, "badamvaer" had lost itself and its' cultural charm to public greed and political unrest. It has now been restored in 2007 and although today it is just a part of what used to be "Bagh-e-Wariskhan" but nevertheless it is a sight that is unmistakably paradise! File:Srinagar, Kashmir-India.jpeg

The "Tulip Garden"-arguably the largest of its' kind in Asia is located just opposite the main Boulevard Road on the shores of the Dal Lake. Although work on the garden started in 2009, nevertheless, with each season it is expanding rapidly and is fast becoming a major tourist attraction in Spring.Angling in the many fresh water streams is an attraction in spring as well or if you missed out on Skiing in winter, you could go skiing in Gulmarg which offers excellent opportunities till late March.

Summer brings a lot of tourists to the valley, especially those from the Indian plains which experience unbearably hot temperatures during the summers.

Gulmarg being a perennial favourite can be visited. Gulmarg means 'the meadow of flowers' and is located 56 kilometres south-west of the city centre, Srinagar. The slopes of the Apharwat hills of the Himalayas at Gulmarg are one of the highest ski slopes in Asia.

Due to its' unique geographical location, Gulmarg gets some of the heaviest snowfall in the Himalayan region. This hill resort is served by a cable car that goes all the way to the Apharwat peak – boasted as the highest gondola in the world 13,400 feet. However, it is important to know that even though Gulmarg receives excellent quality snow, the infrastructure on ground is not comparable to famous European ski resorts like those in France or Austria. So, do take things with a pinch of salt if you hear a lot of superlatives from the locals.

"Pahalgam" or the village of Shepherds is a very popular resort ninety kilometers south of Srinagar. It has some magnificient plains like Baisaran where horse-riding can be indulged in. Again, some fantastic angler opportunities as well and a lot of trekking routes including the one that goes to Amarnath, a hindu pilgrimage shrine deep in the himalayas

Kokernag is a spring garden located in district Anantnag. It lies 80 kilometers south of Srinagar- When you reach Khanabal Chowk from Srinagar on the National Highway the road straight ahead goes to Kokernag whereas if you just follow your lane, you're off to Pahalgam. The main garden lies on foothills surrounded by lush pine trees and a beautiful garden. There is a stream almost as big as a river that flows at the far end of the garden. The spring from which the stream originates can be easily visited and water can actually be seen gushing out from at least three major sources. Legend has it that in olden days an old sage was sleeping at the precise spot and when local women, having failed in their search for drinking water reached the place where the sage was taking a nap they checked his bucket hoping to find water- instead a snake came out and transformed into a cockerel and began digging the earth and each time the cockerel burrowed his way, water gushed out from earth much to the relief of the village damsels! Interestingly, all of this happened while the sage was sleeping and by the time he woke up a lot of water was coming out of the once barren land. The folklore is had the sage not woken up from his siesta, the whole area would have been flooded! "Kokernag", in kashmiri means Cockerel and Snake.

Located 84 kilometers from the state capital Srinagar and situated at an altitude of 9567 feet, Sonamarg lies in the valley carved by River Sindh, surrounded by towering snow-capped mountains. Sonamarg literally means "Meadow Of Gold".The skiing season in Gulmarg, the world famous ski resort in Kashmir, lasts for about four months, but with the Thajiwas Glacier and the upper reaches of the Sonamarg valley covered with snow practically all through the year, skiers can thrill themselves for a longer period.Sonamarg has a certain "raw" unspoiled beauty about it. The mountains look tall and haughty and the vista whichever way looked at consists of meadows, imposing mountains and streams. Sonamarg is the gateway to Ladakh so if you're planning to go to Ladakh by road you'll be enthralled by its' charms.