(Valley Of Shepherds)The Valley Of Shepherds
At an altitude of 2,130m and about 95-km from Srinagar, Pahalgam is probably the most popular hill resort in the Kashmir valley. Since it is rather lower than Gulmarg the nighttime temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town.
Pahalgam is situated at the junction of the Aru and Sheshnag Rivers and surrounded by soaring, fir-covered mountains with bare, snow-capped peaks rising behind them. The Aru flows down from the Kolahoi glacier beyond Lidderwat while the Sheshnag from glaciers along the great Himalayan.
At the confluence of the streams flowing from the river Lidder and Sheshnag Lake, Pahalgam was once a humble shepherd's village with breathtaking views. Now it Kashmir's premier resort, cool even during the height of summer. A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious to unpretentious trekkers' lodges, including JKTDC's delightfully romantic, fully furnished huts, partially concealed by giant pine trees.
Prime Attractions of Pahalgam
MartandThe lofty plateau, on which the remains of the ancient temple of Martanda stand, overlooks the modern village of Matan, located at its foot.
Mattan & MartandOnly a few km beyond Anantnag, on the Pahalgam road, Mattan is an important Hindu pilgrimage point due to its fish filled springs. A complicated legend relates that the springs were created when Lord Shiva broke open an egg, which had been thrown there, the egg being the reincarnated form of a forgetful boy, who had been cursed by a wandering sage and that's only half the story! On a plateau above Mattan and 3-km to the south, stands the huge ruined temple of Martand. Built by Lalitaditya Mukhtapida it is the most impressive ancient ruin in Kashmir and beautifully sited. The ruins are 67m by 43m and consist of a portico with a small-detached shrine on both side and a quadrangular courtyard. The courtyard was surrounded by 84 columns - the multiple of the number of days in the week by the number of signs in the zodiac. From here to Pahalgam the road follows the course of the Lidder River, past some good trout fishing stretches.
Overa Wildlife SanctuaryOvera Wildlife Sanctuary is located 76-km from Srinagar, near Pahalgam, and has an area of 32.27-sq-kms. The area is home to a number of rare, threatened and protected species of birds and mammals.
FishingPahalgam is one of Kashmir's popular trout fishing beats. Kashmir is famous for its trout although they tend to be rather small. Additionally, fishing licences are hard to get and rather expensive. A compulsion is to keep am guide and one is also permitted to catch six fishes, which is the daily limit.
On The Road To PahalgamThe road to Pahalgam starts out towards Jammu but later branches off to the east at Anantnag. There are a number of points of interest along this route including several Mughal gardens - indeed if one take a bus tour to Pahalgam one'll be thoroughly saturated with Mughal gardens by the time one arrives.
Excursions from Pahalgam
The capital of Jammu and Kashmir and the largest city in the state, Srinagar (1,730m) is famous for its canals, houseboats and Mughal gardens. The city itself is quite unlike most other large Indian cities for here you are much more in Central Asia than on the sub continent. more..
The chirrup of birds, the gentle swish of the breeze, the sapphire coloured sky, and all at 2408m above sea level - this is Aru. Far far away from the routine urban life, Aru is a meadow bordered on one side by a ravine of the Lidder River. A little stream also flows past in the green-gold grass.
Situated at the foot of one of the spurs of the mountain Wastarwan, this temple site overlooks the Jhelum, which wends its tortuous way gently by the side of the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
The great Mughal historian, Abul Fazi, has chronicled for posterity the benefits of the sweet water spring of Kokernag. This beneficent gift of nature is still regarded as having extraordinary healing powers .
The lofty plateau, on which the remains of the ancient temple of Martanda stand, overlooks the modern village of Matan, located at its foot. The name of the village is derived from the name of the presiding deity of the temple on the plateau, which is also known as "Matan" or "Martand". The plateau itself is connected with the slope of a mountain.
One of the largest springs in India, Verinag, which lies in the Kothar district, is 78-km southeast of Srinagar via Anantnag, and is easily accessible through a bypass from the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
The Mughal gardens in this small town were begun by Nur Jahan and completed by Jahanara, daughter of Shah Jahan, in 1640. It's one of the most carefully designed of the Kashmir gardens and was said to be a favourite retreat of Nur Jahan. Water from a copious spring flows from the garden in three stone lined canals, over three terraces and three cascades, with several fountains in the main canal. There are three pavilions on the upper terrace, shaded by Chinar Trees. There's a tourist bungalow, tourist huts and a camping ground at Achabal.
At this point the road fords, one route turning northeast to Pahalgam and two others southeast to Achabal and Kokarnag or to Verinag. The Jammu road leaves this route just before Anantnag at Khanabal. Anantnag has a number of sulphur springs, esteemed for their curative properties. The largest spring is believed to be the home of Ananta, the serpent on which Lord Vishnu reclines and from which the town takes its name - 'Abode of Ananta'. Ananta means 'endless' and the water issues from the base of a small hillock and rushes into another spring in the middle of which is a natural mineral deposit column which the locals revere as a lingam. On the 14th day of a full moon fortnight in September/October, there is a festival where the people fast and pour rice and milk into the spring to feed the goldfish. At one time Anantnag was known as Islamabad but this name is no longer used, due to the confusion it would cause with the not too far distant capital of Pakistan also named Islamabad.
This meadow, about 5-km from Pahalgam and 150m higher, provides excellent views over the town and the Lidder valley. Pine forests and the snowclad mountains surround the grassy glen. One can hire ponies for this trek from near the centre of town.
Chandanwari & Passage To The Amarnath Yatra(16Km.)
Situated 16-km from Pahalgam, Chandanwari is the starting point of the Amarnath Yatra, which takes place every year in the month of Sawan (Rain). The destination is the Amarnath Cave, believed to the abode of Lord Shiva. Although the road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is on fairly flat terrain, and can be undertaken by car, from Chandanwari onwards the track becomes much steeper, being accessible on foot or by pony. Located 11-km from Chandanwari is the mountain lake of Sheshnag, after which 13-km away is the last stop, Panchtarni. The Amarnath cave is 6-km away from there. During the month of 'Sawan', an ice stalagmite forms a natural Shivling (also spelt as Shivlinga), which waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon. The state government makes extensive arrangements every year for the successful completion of the pilgrimage, registering each one of the over one lakh pilgrims, pony owners and Dandi Walas, providing camps en route, and ensuring safe, comfortable and speedy progress of the Yatris. Even if one's visit to Pahalgam is not during the period of the Yatra, one can still take a pony ride up to Sheshnag Lake, returning late evening.
Somewhat above Kokarnag, along the bring river valley, there's the small hill resort of Daksum at 2,438m. It's on the trekking route to Kishtwar and has a Rest house, Tourist Bungalow and plenty of camping spots. From Daksum the trail rises fairly steeply to the Sinthan Pass at 3,748m. The pass is open from April to September for trekkers.
Hajan, on the way to Chandanwari is an idyllic spot for a picnic. Filmgoers will recognize it instantly as it has been the location of several movie scenes.
Mamaleshwara is only a km or so downstream from Pahalgam, and on the opposite side of the Lidder, is this small Shiva temple with its square, stone tank. It is thought to date from the reign of king Jayasima in the 12th century, even earlier.
Only 16-km out of Srinagar on the main highway south, Pampore is the Centre of Kashmir's saffron industry. Highly prized for it's flavouring and colouring properties and rather expensive, saffron is gathered from flowers, which are harvested in October.
A little further down the road, Sangam is interesting for its strong local industry of cricket bat manufacturing! One'll see thousands of cricket bats displayed by the roadside and thousands more roughly cut lengths of wood being seasoned.
If one continues 11-km beyond Baisaran one reaches the Tulian Lake at 3,353m, 1,200m higher up. It is covered in ice for much of the year and surrounded by peaks, which rise more than 300m above its shores. It also can be reached by pony trek.Pahalgam Walks
There are many short walks available from Pahalgam and in addition it is an excellent base for longer treks such as those to the Kolahoi glacier or to the Amarnath cave. Pahalgam can also be used as a starting point for treks out of the region. Pahalgam is particularly famed for its many shepherds and they're a common sight, driving their flocks of sheep along the paths all around the town.
How To Get There - Pahalgam
By AirAir: Pahalgam is in Anantnag District and is about 96-km from Srinagar. The nearest airport is in Badgam District. This Airport is connected with all the major cities of India. Rail: The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India.
By RoadRoad: The road to Pahalgam can be taken to Khannabal or alternatively from Bijbehara villages from National Highway NH1A. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway. It takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountainous road, which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India. Bus service is available from Srinagar and Anantnag, which leave at fixed time from the Bus stands. Taxis and other sort of transport can be hired from Srinagar at pre-fixed rates. Assistance is available at Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar. On Road to Pahalgam one comes across the beautiful Lidder Valley with important spots of Mattan and Aishmuqam.
Places To Stay - PahalgamPahalgam has a number of Hotels and lodges of various types, which are open only during summer months. JKTDC has a Dak Bungalow and number of Huts, which are available on hire. The tariffs depend on the type of accommodation to be hired. Accomodation needs to be booked well in advance from Srinagar. Tourists are advised to contact Manager Tourist Reception centre Jammu/Srinagar for booking and Tariffs. Hotel bookings can be executed from their representatives in Srinagar the list of which can be had from the JKTDC.
General Information - Pahalgam
Location95-km From Srinagar, Kashmir Region, J&K
Best TimeBest Time To Visit: In Summer - May To September
In Winter - November To February
Pahalgam is one of Kashmir's popular trout fishing beats. Kashmir is famous for its trout although they tend to be rather small. Additionally, fishing licences are hard to get and rather expensive. A compulsion is to keep am guide and one is also permitted to catch six fishes, which is the daily limit.
Main AttractionMamaleshwara, Baisaran, Tulian Lake, Aru