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Best Places To Visit Near Srinagar - Weekend Getaways
Srinagar, the city of auspiciousness, is the largest city of Jammu And Kashmir and used to be the summer capital of the Dogra kings. Ethereal with sprouting rivers and lotus covered lakes, wooden houses and old mohallas, ancient mosques and grand palaces; Srinagar is a place where nobody can get enough of the sights. However, the surrounding areas and towns beckon people too. From snowcapped hills to surreal emerald meadows, From rolling fields to hiking trails — there are so many promising places to visit near Srinagar. Most of them amazing for weekend getaways!
A 3 hours’ drive from Srinagar, Betaab Valley is about 98 km away. It is a place of great peace and tranquility, falling on the road leading to Amarnath. Your eyes will forget to blink, such is the beauty of Betaab Valley. Lush emerald rolls of meadows, crystal waters of streams and waterfalls, the amazing River Lidder and camps and resorts by the side. A weekend away here, with zero noise and stress will rejuvenate you — mind, body and soul.
Manasbal Lake in the Ganderbal district of J&K, is only about 27 km away from Srinagar. Surrounded by three beautiful villages — namely Kondabal, Ganderbal and Jarokbal, the lake is perfect for a scenic day out. You can pull an overnighter at one of the villages and enjoy sightseeing at the ruins of Mughal Fort and Daroga Baag, go boating in Manasbal itself (deepest lake in Asia), collect lotuses and enjoy homesteads that are hosted by local Gurjar Kashmiris.
Yousmarg or Yusmarg, is the local word for ‘the meadow of Jesus.’ It is an almost obscure little hill station, with ample peace and solitude. Located 50 km away from Srinagar, it will take you around 2 hours to reach it. The Sang-e-safed valley here is breathtaking, highlighted by a lake that is frozen even during summer months. There are JKTDC huts on the edge of this valley, where you can stay over the weekend and enjoy the raw prettiness of nature.
The Meadows of Gold, Sonamarg is a brilliant delight. Literally some of the fields here turn bright golden during summers, inviting hoards of tourists. At a height of 9200 ft above sea level, Sonamarg is outlined by the majestic Pir Panjal Ranges, with rivers sprouting from their midst. A real child’s water colour painting. Machoi, Kolhoi and Sirbal Peaks stand sentries to this valley and you can go for many sports and mountain adventures - from rappelling to bungee jumping. Sonamarg is 80 km from Srinagar city centre and opens only post the snow thaws in spring season. After autumn, as winter sets in, even the locals migrate elsewhere as the village is too cold to make a living.
The town of rainbows and springs, gardens and sweet farms, Kokernag is the perfect place if you want to take a romantic weekend off. The Breng Valley surrounding it is just another piece of heaven, with green hillocks ad brilliant blue streams. Everything looks surreal, like out of a fairytale book — fish jumping in rivers, rainbows stretching across the sky, birch and poplar trees standing tall and bridges and botanical gardens making you feel like you are in a different era. Even though the Kokernag area is only 90 km from Srinagar, the steep and uneven roads take you almost 5 hours to reach there.
Sinthan Top, a pass on the NH244, lies on the way from Srinagar to Kokernag. Located 132 km from Srinagar, the Sinthan Top has recently become a tourist favourite. It is located at a unique point and height, from where you can see Kashmir as well as Jammu. Hiking up here is the best adventure sport, followed by a scenic drive through and picnics. A day trip up here is worth it, turning your Sunday from lazy and boring to fun and adventurous.
Dachigam National Park
Dachigam National Park, literally menacing 10 villages, is a national park from where 10 villages were relocated to make this a protected area. With the breathtaking beauty of alpine forests, waterfalls and meadows, Dachigam National Park is also home to animals like black bears, Himalayan brown bears and the Kashmiri stag. Other than these animals, you can also enjoy your time at the Marsar Lake, in the foothills of Zabarwan ranges and inside the national park. Dachigam National Park is about 23 km away from Srinagar and is best visited in the months between April and October.
The Valley Of Flowers, Gulmarg is Kashmir’s best in terms of colours as well as monochromes. Many Bollywood movies have been shot here and there are too many adventure sports to miss. From skiing to sled rides in winter and golf, hiking and fishing in summer; Gulmarg is perfect for a long weekend away from Srinagar. The winter and snow sports here rank highest in Asia. For sightseeing nearby, make sure you visit the St Mary’s Church, a beautiful hangover from the British colonial rule, see the gondola in Kungdoor that was built by the French, and enjoy a round at the golf course which is the highest green golf field in the world. Gulmarg is just 51 km from Srinagar.
A splendid valley, literally meaning the valley of milk, is located 42 km from Srinagar. It is a hill station at a height of 9000 ft and is so named because of the frothy milky colour of the streams that flow here. These streams cut through incredible emerald coloured meadows and there are giant pine and deodars that guard the natural beauty of this place. If you go during summers, the valleys are not green but filled with colours of flowers, and the sweet fragrance of buttercups and forget me nots. With wild sheep grazing and the sun shining even on cold days, Doodhpathri makes for a great escape from Srinagar’s noise.
A very prominent town in J&K, Avantipur is known for the two beautiful ancient temples here — Avantisvami-Vishnu and Shiva-Avantishvara. Built in the 9th Century by Avantivarman, a king who revered Hindu gods, these temples form the prime attraction here. Their ancient stone architecture is worth exploring. There is a very promiscuous Greek touch to them and that is probably due to the lore that Alexander came to India but could not cross Kashyapura (ancient name for Kashmir) to wage wars and capture territories. It's a mystery why he couldn't, just as these ruins, that look like a splendid spiritual centre of one time.