My @Quora answer to What are some must visit places in Kashmir?
Answer by Arûn Râinâ:
It was the Persian poet Amir Khusru who referred to Kashmir as a paradise on earth. There is a old stone plaque in I think, Shalimar Gardens, which proclaims "Agar firdous baroye zameen ast, hami asto, hami asto hami ast”, meaning "If there is a paradise upon earth, it is here, it is here, it is here".
It is indeed an extremely beautiful place, has to be seen to be believed.
The best time to travel to Jammu is between the months of September and April.The winter capital of Jammu & Kashmir observes a very pleasant and suitable climate during these months. If you want to see Jammu at its best then you have to visit it at this time to see the mind-blowing landscapes covered with flowers in all colors and snow covered mountains. It feels like paradise.
Srinagar… Redefines Beauty
The capital city Srinagar is the prized possession of the Vale of Kashmir. Imbibing many colors of the state, it reflects the authentic Jammu & Kashmir. The city sits quietly on the bank of Jhelum and contemplates the vivaciousness. The canopied Shikara boats, plush houseboats, snow-capped mountains and the sparkling water of Dal and Nageen Lake come together to bring the picture of authentic Srinagar come alive. The blessing of Prophet Mohammad from Hazratbal Shrine and Jama Masjid, the divinity of Shankarcharya temple, glimpse of floating vegetable market and the bountiful flora and fauna, all honour the capital city with a title of Paradise on Earth. Srinagar also renders great options for activities like bird watching (Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary) water skiing (Dal Lake, Nagin Lake and Bod-dal), golfing (Kashmir Golf Course), trekking (towards Pir Panjal, 89 kms from Srinagar) and boating (Shikara ride on Dal Lake and Nagin Lak) and thus makes holidays in Jammu & Kashmir a successful expedition.
Leh… Land of Queer Beauty and Sheer Adventure
Complimenting the northern periphery, Leh is a land of queer beauty and sheer adventure. The lofty mountains, the alpine lakes, divine Gompas and the quaint settings make Leh one of the best places to visit in Jammu & Kashmir. Located 434 kms from Srinagar, it majorly intrigues adventure enthusiasts and people with artistic bent of mind. The architectural grandeur of spiritual places like Alchi Monastery, Hemis Monastery, Matho Monastery, Spituk Monastery and Thiksey Monastery dazzles visitors, whereas General Zorawar fort, Stok Palace and Jama Masjid has the potential to surprise spectators. At Leh, one would get a perfect blend of adventure and spirituality, which is of course accompanied by natural scenic beauty. Trekking and Mountain Biking couldn’t excite adventure seekers more; there are several beautiful trails that instigate opportunity for brilliant adventure experience. Clad with beauty of nature, Leh also provide opportunity to witness the Himalayan panaroma.
Jammu City… A Blessed Land
Protected and blessed by Mata Vaishno Devi, who seems to have found her earthly abode on the Trikuta Hills, Jammu City is indeed amongst the top places to visit in Jammu & Kashmir. Dubbed as the City of Temples, Jammu invites those seeking peace and tranquility. The unmatched divinity at Raghunath temple, Ranbireshwar temple, Mahamaya temple, Peer Baba and Peer Khoh touches every corner of Jammu invigorates visitors. One must visit the Bahu temple, which is situated inside the majestic Bahu Fort. The temple is dedicated to presiding deity of Jammu, Goddess Kali or Bawe Wali Mata as she is popularly called in the region. Besides the temple, a travel enthusiast can witness architectural grandeur of Bahu Fort and Mubarak Mandi Palace. The Aquarium at Bagh-e-Bahu (Bahu Fort) also catches the eyes of the tourists as it is the largest underground aquarium in the country. A trip to Jammu is no less than an expedition to a holy land.
Rajauri…The Rural Beauty
The refuge of several Gujjars and Bakerwalas, Rajauri is situated around 154kms away from Jammu. The district shares border with Pakistan and thus remain an intriguing travel destination. Rajauri is blessed with many charming places to visit; Dehra Ki Gali, Thanna Mandi and Kotranka Budhal are few places that are apt for sightseeing. One can retire to these remote places in summers as the weather remains pleasant here all year round. The magnificent Rajauri Fort, Balidan Bhavan, Dhanidar Fort and Rama Temple are few places that can be visited in the vicinity of Rajauri. An absolute delight for travel and adventure enthusiasts, Rajauri is amongst one of the top places of interest in Jammu Kashmir.
Gulmarg… Entailing Adventure and Excitement
Dubbed as skiers’ paradise, Gulmarg is indeed amongst the best places to visit in Jammu & Kashmir. Located approximately 52kms away from capital city Srinagar, Meadow of Flowers as it is popularly called Gulmarg is a haven for adventure enthusiasts. Along with prominent skiing options, trekking, snowboarding, golfing, mount biking and fishing are the prime options that Gulmarg overwhelms you with. Visit Kongdori, Shark Fin and Apparwath Peak not only for skiing but also to witness the splendid natural landscape of Gulmarg. Other places to see the blessings of majestic nature near Gulmarg are Nagin Valley (for which you have trek), Khilanmarg, Frozen Lake and Bota Pathri. Baba Reshi and Gulmarg Gondola (Cable car) also makes for a must visit in Gulmarg.
Kupwara… Rightfully the Crown of Kashmir
Noted for natural beauty and charm, Kupwara is indeed a vital part of Jammu & Kashmir tourism. The lush meadows, alpine mountains and the gushing clear water make Kupwara an important tourist attraction in the state. Boasting of lofty mountain peaks like Shamsbari (12000ft above sea level), Nastachun (10273ft above sea level) and Dajalonjun (16000ft above sea level), this district exemplifies the beauty of Kashmir. The Ainch Mountain offers the opportunity to get a panoramic view of the Vale of Kashmir from its top. There are also many historical villages that allow the history lovers to contemplate including Gushi (Built by Kashi Shah), Karnah (mentioned in Raj Tarangini written by Kalhana) and Keran. However, the Lolab Valley steals the limelight and Kheer Bhawani Asthapan, Hazrat Mehmood Shah Shrine, Shaloora shrine and many other make for other brilliant option for sightseeing in Kupwara.
Pulwama… Where the Fields are Saffron and the Sky is Blue
Congenial climate, fragrant saffron fields and affable people welcome you to Pulwama district. Lose yourself in the beauty of sprawling saffron fields and the rich culture that dwells here. Pulwama gives you quite a large number of places for sightseeing including Nagberan, Tarsar Lake, Marsar Lake, Shikargarh and Aripal Nag. Where, Nagberan is a small scenic town that draws lot of nature lovers to it, there Shikargarh is known for attracting wildlife lovers. On the other side, Tarsar and Marsar are two legendary lakes that must be visited for its unmatched beauty. Another allure of Pulwama is Aripal Nag, which is situated 11kms from Tral town and is famed for natural water springs. If you cherish visiting historical places and shrines then the Avantishwar Temple is a must visit for you.
Tulip garden, Srinagar
Tulip garden is the largest Tulip garden of Asia spread over an area of about 12 hectares. Two million tulips adorn and add color to 20 acres of the Kashmiri Landscape in Asia’s largest Tulip Garden.
Pahalgam is a town and a notified area committee in Anantnag district of the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. It is a popular tourist destination, and every year, many tourists visit Pahalgam
Yusmarg (DOODH PATRi)
Yusmarg is approximately 47 km from the Srinagar and lies in the Badgam district of Jammu and Kashmir
Patnitop is a hilltop tourist location in Udhampur district in Jammu and Kashmir.
Nubra Valley, Ladakh
Nubra is a high altitude cold desert located to the north east of Ladakh valley.
Shanti Stupa, Ladakh
Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed stupa on a hilltop in Ladakh.
Shalimar Bagh, Srinagar
Shalimar Bagh is a Mughal garden located near Srinagar city in Jammu and Kashmir. The Bagh was built by Mughal Emperor Jahangir for his wife Nur Jahan, in 1619. It is now a public park.
Vaishno Devi, Katra
Vaishno Devi Mandir is a very popular Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu Goddess, located at the Trikuta Mountains in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Hazratbal Shrine, Srinagar
Khilanmarg, Jammu & Kashmir, India is a small valley about a 6-km walk from the Gulmarg bus stop and car park.
Hazratbal Shrine is the holiest shrine in Srinagar. It is a place for meditation and to prayer. It is also here that the relic of Prophet Mohammed is kept.