Things To Do in Pahalgam
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.
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 locations.
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 October.
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.