An Affair to Remember

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An Affair to Remember – Bring on the Bollywood

Srinagar – Pahalgam – Sonamarg – Srinagar

October to March – Possible Year Round

Experience celluloid’s love for Kashmir. It might seem strange but the world’s biggest film industry in one of the world’s hottest countries is obsessed with snow. That’s right, snow. So many films – even gangster movies set in sweltering Bombay cut almost at random to a dance spectacular on a mountaintop. Once you have been to Kashmir, you will see why. Perhaps the sixties would not have been so swinging were it not for the Elvis Presley-like Shami Kapoor’s antics in the snow. From Rajesh Khanna – the original Bollywood megastar – to eternally beautiful Sharmilla Tagore and of course Amitabh and Shah Rukh Khan, Kashmir is an affair to remember!

Highlights

  • No Bollywood movie is complete without a Kashmir dancing in the snow scene
  • Crystal clear lakes,  intricately carved floating palaces
  • Boats and motor vehicles. Oh, and ponies, too
  • Hotel and houseboat accommodation
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Itinerary

Day 1 Srinagar

You will be greeted and escorted to your house boat. Time to settle in and marvel. A Shikara ride to the floating post office against the backdrop of a sun setting behind mountains marks a memorable first evening. Bollywood and western stars have been enthralled by a stay here. George Harrison took sitar lessons on a house boat with musical genius Ravi Shankar.

Kashmir has long been a center of historical, cultural and social significance and even tumult. The modern state has existed since the 1846 treaty between Raja Gulab Singh of Jammu and the British East India Company. Anything this good is worth fighting for it would seem.

The only struggle you have is choose between coffee or the local delicacy – Kahwa tea on the deck of your house boat. Kahwa means eleven – the number of ingredients – including almonds, raisins and local saffron – that go into this delicious brew.

Day 2 Srinagar - Pahalgam

We head off through saffron fields at Pampore to the “shepherd’s village” – Bollywood’s second home of yesteryear.  Visiting Vishnu temple ruins at Awantipur along the way, our meandering drive through rugged terrain along the majestic river brings us to Pahalgam.

Dinner in the market place with its great bustling vibe will. You’ll soon be tapping your toes as if you’ve been enjoying  Rajesh Khanna songs all your life. Pahalgam market is somewhat unlike the other mall road markets of other hill stations in India with broad roads and more organised shops. Spend some time browsing and shopping in the bazaar.

Day 3 Pahalgam

The quaint village sits exquisitely in stunning landscape. It is naturally decorated by the Lidder river and guarded by snow covered peaks. No surprise that the “Switzerland of India” was a hit with Bollywood. You visit the picturesque Betaab valley where the movie starring Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh was shot. The Aru valley was home to many hit films like Karma, Silsila and Rocky to name a few. Enjoy the sparkling Lidder and the serenity of pine forests hugging the golf course and the mini deer park.

Day 4 Pahalgam - Srinagar

Heading back to Srinagar you will see the Martand temples, the sulphur springs at Anantnag and the cricket manufacturing factory at Bijbehara. Sachin Tendulkar’s bats were made here. After returning to your houseboat and a special lunch you visit the backwaters of the lake with its floating gardens and aquatic life.

Day 5 Srinagar

Visiting the world famous Mughal gardens. Three calm and tranquil spaces conjure a sense of the refined and romantic Mughal era. With Dal Lake in the foreground ringed by the Zaberwan mountains these are special places indeed. Look forward to refreshing cuppa at Gandhi tree. This site was named for Mahatma Gandhi who saw “a shining ray of hope in Kashmir.” An overnight excursion takes you to Pari Mahal and Shankaracharya Hills.

Day 6 Srinagar - Sonmarg

A spectacular day of touring. We take you to the golden meadows winding our way through the roaring Sindh valley. Sonmarg is truly blessed in its unparalleled scenery all year round. The icy glaciers, snow capped peaks, conifer forests, lakes and trails of amazing beauty and size draw you in with their majesty. A walking tour follows to experience village life: elderly men and women tend to chickens and sheep. Playful children scamper about while women carry water pitchers on their heads.

Day 7 Sonmarg - Gulmarg

About three and a half hours drive away is Gulmarg. En route, we visit the Thajjwas glacier where you can explore by pony. Manasbal Lake, considered the deepest in India, is home to lotus flowers which bloom in July and August. It is a bird watchers paradise. We take lunch here before heading to Gulmarg.

Day 8 Gulmarg - Srinagar

Whether you are a skier or a golfer or neither, this is a special place. We ride one of the world’s longest ropeways to the summit of Mt. Apharwat and begin to understand why mountaineers might climb. It is heaven up here. Check out this trailer for the 2012 movie Student of the Year. Snow scenes shot in Gulmarg.

Day 9 Srinagar

The tour ends after breakfast and you are escorted to the airport for your onward travel.
Rah Villas Hotel Sonmarg
Malabar Resort Kerala