Location: 95-km From Srinagar,
Kashmir Region, J&K
Main Attractions: Mamaleshwara, Baisaran, Tulian Lake, Aru
Best Time To Visit: In Summer - May To September In Winter -
November To February
The Valley Of Shepherds
At an altitude of 2,130m and about 95-km from
, 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
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
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.
Around Pahalgam are many places of interest, and because the
resort is set between fairly hills, it is worth hiring a pony
rather than walking. Pony fares are posted at prominent
Mamaleshwara ownstream 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.
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.
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.
The little village of Aru is actually the first stage from
Pahalgam on the trek to Lidderwat and the Kolahoi glacier. It
makes an interesting day walk from Pahalgam, following the
Lidder river for Pahalgam, following the Lidder river for 11-km
upstream. The main track, which also can be taken by car, is on
the left bank of the river. There is also a less used, and more
difficult path, on the right bank. At Aru one will often find
the Gujars, living in their log huts with their flocks of sheep
and goats, en route to the higher sheep and goats, en route to
the higher pastures for the summer.
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.
Chandanwari & Passage To The Amarnath Yatra
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.
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.
On The Road To Pahalgam
The 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.
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
This popular stop on Pahalgam excursions is noted for its two
ruined Hindu temples. The temples were both constructed by King
Avantivarman, after whom this ancient centre was named, between
855 and 883 AD. The larger of the two is dedicated to Vishnu and
known as the Avantiswami temple. A huge wall encloses the
central shrine with four smaller shrines around the centre. The
other temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and known as the
Avantishvara, is about a km before the Vishnu temple, but also
close to the main road. It is situated in a courtyard, enclosed
by a massive stonewall with a gateway on the western side. The
nearby village of Bijbihara has a huge Chinar tree, claimed to
be the largest in Kashmir.
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.
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
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.
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.
One may be suffering garden overload by the time one gets here,
but Kokarnag has yet another one, noted for its roses. Like
Achabal there is a tourist bungalow, tourist huts and a camping
ground for accommodation.
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.
Mattan & Martand
Only 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
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.
Close to the foot of the Pir Panjal range, the spring at Verinag
is said to be the source of the Jhelum river, which flows north
through Srinagar, Jehangir built an octagonal stone basin at the
spring in 1612 and in 1620 his son, Shah Jahan, laid out a
garden around it. The spring is said to be over 15m deep and is
reputed never to dry up or overflow. There is also a tourist
bungalow at Verinag.
HOW TO REACH THERE
Air: 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.
Road: 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.
WHERE TO STAY
Pahalgam 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.
MORE TOURIST INFORMATION
The tourist office is just around the corner from the bus halt,
on the main road. They may be able to help with hiring porters
or ponies. Fishing permits have to be obtained in Srinagar.
There is a bank in Pahalgam and a post office during the tourist
season. If one is planning on trekking from Pahalgam there are
plenty of shops selling food supplies although it's cheaper and
more plentiful in Srinagar. If trekking is altogether too
strenuous Pahalgam also offers the Pahalgam club with tennis
courts, badminton courts, a golf course and card evenings!