Arrive in Srinagar in the morning and be escorted to your houseboat on either Dal or Nagin Lake. Relax before a sunset Shikara cruise against the snowcapped mountain backdrop. Back on deck, choose between coffee or the local delicacy – Kahwa tea. Kahwa means eleven – the number of ingredients, including almonds, raisins and local saffron – that go into this delicious brew.
Bollywood and western stars have added to the mystique of staying 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.
Day 2 Srinagar
We’ll first visit the Shankar Archarya Temple before a guided walking tour of Srinagar’s Old Town to discover the city’s heritage. The promenade lasts a few hours and takes in the “papier-mache” mosque, the legendary copper markets and old residential houses which seem to barely cling to the bank of river Jhelum. At times surrounded by horses and carts, crowds of men, women and children, we arrive at Kashmir’s biggest mosque – the 600 year old Jama Masjid. A typical Kashmiri lunch is served back at your houseboat.
The afternoon includes a visit to the famous Mughal gardens, Nishat, Shalimar and Chesmashahi.
Day 3 Srinagar
Our river cruise is a peaceful and private shikara ride on the river Jhelum passing under the illustrious seven bridges that connect Srinagar city. Enjoy steamy Kahwa and local snacks as you soak up the imperial grandeur and varied architectural styles of the city. The true Kashmiryat – Kashmiri cultural values – are expressed in the close proximity of Hindu temples and mosques that line the way. There will be a tasty picnic lunch at Shadipur, before returning in time for a late afternoon drive to Sonamarg.
Day 4 Sonamarg
After a relaxing night at the hotel, you’ll be taken on a half day moderate hiking tour to explore the Thajiwas Glacier. Horses are available for those who prefer to ride. There is some amazing scenery in the form of lush green pastures, snowbound peaks and pristine streams of milky white waters gushing down the hills. We share a unique opportunity to experience village life firsthand and take lunch beside the river.
We move on to Kulan where we stay in a hotel for the night. There is time for a guided village walking tour. You’ll see villagers tending their corn fields and walk through the little bazaar, perhaps enjoying talking to the playful village children.
Day 5 Sonamarg - Srinagar
We head back to Srinagar to stay in the Lalit Palace overlooking Dal Lake. Now a hotel, the palace was formerly the residence of the Maharaja Hari Sing of Kashmir. The afternoon is free to relax, go shopping in the city or just take a stroll.
Day 6 Srinagar - Delhi
After breakfast you will be taken to the airport for your forward connection.