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Old 14th March 2011, 21:13   #1
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Default 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

Hi all!! It's been a LONG time since my family went for a holiday, so mom suggested we go to Kashmir.
I would LOVE to go there, and would like to ask a few questions.

1. Is April a good time to go there?
2. Terror/Police/Curfew/ any other tension???
3. MOST IMPORTANTLY: Which places do I visit? How many days for each place?
4. How to go about it??? Will you'll be kind enough to suggest hotels too?? Good hotels. Maybe 3 and 4 star hotels only.
5. Should I book independently or should I contact a tour operator?? Do I book a car in advance for the duration of the week or should I go there and book one?
6. Which places have snow?? I would also like to go to a place with snowfall. Please suggest.


More questions to come, but waiting for replies on these first. THANK YOU SO MUCH in advance!
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Old 14th March 2011, 21:26   #2
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Default Re: 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

I was in Kashmir last April and to be honest I was disappointed. Was based in Srinagar. To be honest, I did not find it worth visiting. Srinagar itself was too dirty. Visited Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Tanmarg. These were relatively clean and worth a visit but not worth the hype.

I suggest you come and visit Shillong. You'll be pleased that you did. However, if you want to visit Kashmir just for the snow, then you have no choice. Kashmir has been a better experience for me than Shimla, Kullu and Manali which in my opinion were worse than Kashmir. I have been born and brought up in Shillong and have been fortunate to see most of the hill-stations of the North and can tell you one thing, these places are too dirty and I think commercialization is to be blamed for this. Shillong is way better in terms of cleanliness and is still relatively less commercialized. Only thing that Shillong lacks is the snow.

Just my 2 cents.

Last edited by SumitB : 14th March 2011 at 21:27.
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Old 14th March 2011, 22:09   #3
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Default Re: 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

1. Leh Ladakh
2. Shillong
3. Gangtok
4. Lachung
5. Darjeeling
6. Jammu and KAshmir


Take your pick. Not much historical interest. Just breathtaking beauty, clean, good hotels and pure old school leisure! Which ones guys?
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Old 14th March 2011, 22:28   #4
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Default Re: 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

I think if it is just snow you are looking for in April, the best places would be:
- Manali, on the way to Rohtang Pass, snow till May
- Nathu la, in Sikkhim, snow till end-April

Gulmarg in Kashmir also should have snow.

There are 2 reasons to choose either, in Apr:

Sikkhim:
+ quite green in April too
+ orchids
+ snow in Changu Lake & Nathu la
+ easy accessibility, but you cannot fly in directly
+ easy to have a week's holiday
+ reasonably priced hotels
- Kashmir is more exotic, has more variety
- long way from Bombay

Kashmir:
+ definitely more exotic than Sikkhim - gardens, lakes, mountain scapes, food
+ as easily accessible as Sikkhim
+ snow in Gulmarg and also near Sonmarg
- not fully green, winter fading away
+ unique Kashmiri cuisine
+ houseboats on Dal Lake
- terrorism & violence

If it is Kashmir, I would have the following circuit, assuming one flies into Srinagar:
D1: Arrive in Srinagar
D2: Srinagar - gardens, etc
D3: Gulmarg & back, cableways, snow/meadows
D4: Sonmarg & back, glacier views, snow/meadows, beautiful landscapes
D5: Pahalgam
D6: Back to Srinagar
If religiously inclines, the temple shrine of Khir Bhavani near Ganderbal (close to Srinagar) is a must.
In normal circumstances, Kashmir is as normal as any other Indian states, but for the heavy Army presence. However, if there is escalation in terrorist activity (happens with the coming of spring/ summer), one can expect bandhs and sporadic incidents of violence although it is not targeted at tourists.

If it is Sikkhim, I would have the following circuit:
D1: Fly down to Bagdogara and drive down to Gangtok
D2: Gangtok - orchids, monasteries, zoo (for snow leopard/panda) & shopping
D3: Changu Lake & Nathu la & back
D4: Excursion to Rumtek Monastery, Pelling/Pemayangtse, Kechopari Lake & maybe Rabangla, with stay at Pelling
D5: Gangtok
D6: Maybe a 2-day excursion to North Sikkhim - Yumthang & Gurudongmar
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Old 14th March 2011, 22:30   #5
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Default Re: 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

Quote:
Originally Posted by frankmehta View Post
1. Leh Ladakh
2. Shillong - Maybe, but combine with Kaziranga
3. Gangtok - good choice
4. Lachung - part of Sikkhim circuit
5. Darjeeling - avoid - not exciting, Gorkha problems
6. Jammu and KAshmir - my choice


Take your pick. Not much historical interest. Just breathtaking beauty, clean, good hotels and pure old school leisure! Which ones guys?
My views are indicated in bold above
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Old 14th March 2011, 22:41   #6
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Default Re: 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

Frank, if you are looking for leisure and pleasure, I would like to bring in the prospect of visiting Arunachal Pradesh. Breathtaking beauty, warm people and peaceful. Also has snow! In fact, I plan to visit these parts of the country this year. However, you will need to obtain a permit to visit Arunachal. More information can be found here.

Also, if I were you, I would avoid Sikkim as far as possible. The reason being the unrest in the hills of North Bengal (which will have to be accessed to visit Gangtok). I have a few relatives in Siliguri and according to them, there is too much unrest there currently and its best avoided as far as possible.

Last edited by SumitB : 14th March 2011 at 22:45.
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Old 15th March 2011, 09:00   #7
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Default Re: 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

I am looking forward to a similar trip in the summer. Would anyone know if it is possible to drive with a 4x4 on some routes beyond Pahalgam, specially the routes on the Amarnath trail and the village of ARU. Are they still motorable and safe from the terror threat?
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Old 26th March 2011, 18:20   #8
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Default Re: 1 week, Family of 5: Places in Kashmir??? OR elsewhere? April 2011

Hi,
Just booked a trip to Srinagar. But not driving down due to infant and time pressures. Will be reaching Srinagar on 02 Apr and returning on 10 Apr.

Booked majorly(6N) into a hotel called Blooming Dale based on the excellent reviews in TripAdvisor. 1 night in Pahalgam and 1 night in a houseboat.

Please PM me if anyone would be visiting Srinagar during the same period.

regards,
Prabin.
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