Kashmir is like god’s own painting, a place crafted by the creator with all his time. The scenic beauty of Kashmir is unparalleled. The valley of Kashmir is a relief to our souls. Be it a luxury gateway, a romantic destination, a honeymoon bucket list, or a dream place to visit as a teenager, Kashmir fits every dream of a traveler. Pahalgam is one such place in Kashmir that is straight out of our fantasy world. Pahalgam is located at a distance of 88 km from Srinagar and it is a must-visit place during your travel to Kashmir. And here I will be listing the top places to visit in Pahalgam that you can visit.
Pahalgam, known as the ‘valley of shepherds’ is a unique valley in Kashmir. Pahalgam is surrounded by tall mountain ranges in the district of Anantnag and the beautiful Lider river flows across the valley of Pahalgam making it even more scenic.
Best places to visit in Pahalgam
Wondering which are the best places to visit in Pahalgam? Then you are at the right place. I will help you decide that and plan your visit accordingly. Let’s check out the list below. Keep scrolling down and get ready for your next visit.
Aru valley will certainly be on top of your list of places to travel in Pahalgam. Aru valley is located at a distance of 12 km from Pahalgam. Aru valley is famous for its lush green meadows surrounded by snow-clad mountain ranges.
Aru Valley is a starting point for many treks in Kashmir. From Aru valley tourists start for many short day treks as well as long treks. Tarsar-Marsar trek, Lidderwat trek, Kolahoi Glacier trek, and Harnag lake Trek are the popular treks to do from Aru valley.
The beautiful Lidder river flows alongside Aru valley. The scenic locations of Aru valley are a cure for the eyes. Apart from walking around the Aru valley, you can do various activities like Horse riding, mountaineering, and trout fishing.
You can go horse riding in Aru valley and do a short 1-2 hours trek and come back.
Where to stay in Aru Valley- It is not necessary to stay in Aru valley if you are just going to Aru valley for sightseeing. There are not as many hotels there. If you are staying at Pahalgam you can easily enjoy Aru valley and go back to Pahalgam.
Best time to visit- Mar-Jun for greenery, July-September for long trekking seasons.
Betaab valley has a serious connection with Bollywood movies that dates back a long time. The famous Betaab valley got its name from the Bollywood movie Betaab in 1983.
Betaab is located between Pahalgam and Chandanwari. On your way to Chandanwari, you can visit there. The valley is covered with pine trees and walnut blossoms in the April-June season. The beautiful Lidder river flows through the picturesque Betaab valley.
Being located nearby Chandanwari pilgrims visit Betaab valley during the Amarnath Yatra.
Entry Fees– 100 Rs/Person
Activities to do in Betaab Valley– You can enjoy a horse ride in the beautiful valley of Betaab. You can also enjoy a Sledge ride and an ATV ride. You can just stroll around the bank of the silently flowing Lidder river and soak in all the beauty of the Betaab valley.
Chandanwari is located at a distance of 8 km from Betaab valley. Chandanwari is famously known as the starting point of the famous Amarnath trek. During the season in June-July devotees line up to start their journey to Amarnath.
Chandanwari is the end of the road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari. People start their trek from there. Chandanwari is located in the middle of tall mountain ranges the Lidder river flows beside the valley and dense pine forests surround the area.
Though in terms of activity there is nothing much to do. You can have a Sledge ride or walk around. I visited in March when there was enough snow to enjoy the view of the snow-clad mountain ranges near it. You can have some rest there and enjoy some snacks in local shops.
A small waterfall is there in the forest around the Lidder river. From April-June when there is not much snow you can hire a horse and ride on it. But none of them are really that enjoying.
It would be good if you are visiting Chandanwari during the sunset. During that time the snowy mountains turn golden in color under the rays of the setting Sun.
If you ask me about the place that I liked the most in Pahalgam, it would undoubtedly be Baisaran valley. Baisaran valley is also known as the ‘Mini Switzerland of India’.
You might be thinking that isn’t Khajjar called the mini Switzerland of India? Well, you are not wrong. Both these places are known as the mini Switzerland of India as both these places have similar-looking landscapes that would make feel like you are in Switzerland.
But let me tell you this is one of the most exhilarating places you will come across in Kashmir. The journey to this place is even more breathtaking. Baisaran Valley is at a distance of 6 km from the Pahalgam market on a mountain range.
And, you cannot reach there by car. You will have to take a horse ride to reach there or you will have to trek your way through. The way to the Baisaran valley top is difficult and quite adventurous. The roads are full of rocks, mud, logs, and in some places little streams of the river which you would have to cross on the back of a pony.
It takes around 2 hours to go up and down the trek. The horse ride is difficult and you might feel in the middle of the journey that this was not your best decision to do. But let me tell you that the destination is worth it.
Baisaran valley is a unique lush green meadow on a hilltop surrounded by tall pine trees and snow-clad mountain ranges. During the month of Mar-June, the valley looks beautiful. That is the best time to visit Baisaran.
Entry Fees– 25 Rs/person
Tulian Lake Trek
Tulian Lake is a pristine water lake located in the mountain ranges at a height of 3700 meters. Tulian Lake Trek is a fun adventure activity that you can enjoy.
Tulian Lake trek is an almost 16 km long trail through rocky roads. The trek is moderately difficult but should not be a problem for a healthy person. The trek starts from Pahalgam and follows the same route through Baisaran valley.
Many people hire a horse and ride up to Baisaran valley and start their trek for Tulian lake from there. The road from Baisaran is steeper to climb. It is better to have a local guide for the trek.
Mind that you will have to complete the trek before evening as it would be difficult to climb down post evening. So it’s advisable to start as early as possible.
The turquoise color lake remains frozen most of the time of the year. During May-Aug of months, the lake shows its natural beauty. The lake is hidden between the mountain ranges. The area is a surreal beauty to your eyes.
The view of the lake is amazing. The journey through dense forests and little river streams is a joyful ride.
The beautiful Lidder river flows through the land of Pahalgam. Its origins are from the Kolahoi glacier and go southwest 73 km to converge into the Jhelum river.
Lidder river got its name from the Lidderwat region. Almost throughout the whole Pahalgam valley, you can enjoy the trails of the Lidder river. In many regions, it is quite narrow and does not have much water. In Betaab valley from April-June when the water level is low you can even walk on it.
Activities You can do in Lidder River-
- River Rafting- Usually starts in April. You can enjoy white water river rafting in Lidder.
- Fish angling
- Horse riding beside it.
- Photography on bridges- On the Lidder river there are many bridges from which you can get a good view of the Pahalgam valley and have some great photographs.
How to reach Aru valley/ Betaab valley/ Chandanwari?
Well, I have not told you yet how to reach Aru valley, Betaab valley, and Chandanwari. Now I would like to let you know one important thing about traveling in Pahalgam.
Like many of you, we also were traveling in our previously hired car in Pahalgam. But all that can visit is up to Pahalgam market. You have to hire a taxi from the Pahalgam taxi stand as the union won’t be allowing any other tourists’ cars other than the taxis hired from the Pahalgam taxi stand.
I was a bit disappointed, to be honest. Though I can’t do anything about that. At least the good thing is that the taxi fares are fixed and you won’t have to bargain. According to your requirements taxis of all sizes are available.
The availability of taxis is quite quick. The package for Aru-Betaab-Chandanwari is usually for 4 hours. But if you take more time they will overcharge you. And if that goes beyond more than two hours you may have to pay rent for a full day. So, be a little cautious about time while roaming around.
Baisaran valley pony ride
I have already told you that the pony rides to Baisaran valley from Pahalgam are the most thrilling experiences to have in Pahalgam. But have I told you that there are a lot of scams around pony rides in Baisaran?
When we enquired in Pahalgam marketplace for a pony ride they asked for 2500 Rs/Person. That was way more than we expected. We had to bargain a lot and eventually we did at less than half of that at 1200 Rs/ Person. If you bargain even more you can do that at even lesser.
So, be careful before agreeing to do any activity at any price. Always bargain a lot in Kashmir. They inflate the prices a lot. They will push you by saying that you have to come to enjoy yourself here if you don’t do this ride your trip will be incomplete. Don’t fall prey to their trap.
Also, during the whole journey, they are supposed to show you 3 points-
- Hunting point( nothing just a random place with a story)
- Kashmir valley viewpoint
- Baisaran valley
But, some dishonest pony owners will take you to some random places and claim that is the final point. Many people won’t even know that they have been created. It’s good that J&K police and security personnel will come to your help.
After we started we came to find 2-3 police personnel who stopped us and asked us how much are they charging? We told them how much we have agreed to pay. They said what you are paying is good and within range. They also told me that until you get a ticket to the Baisaran valley your journey is not complete. If they have not taken you to Baisaran do not pay them a single penny. At least there is someone to help the tourists.
Where is MINI Switzerland in Pahalgam?
Ans. Baisaran valley is known as Mini Switzerland of Kashmir. The tabletop mountain valley is surrounded by tall pine trees and snow-capped mountain ranges making it resemble Switzerland’s lush green valleys among mountains. Baisaran valley is also known as Mini Switzerland of India.
Is Baisaran worth visiting?
Ans. Baisaran valley is worth the hype. You would hardly see anything like this in the whole of India. The pony ride through rocky terrains is enjoyable and thrilling itself. If you are thinking of the best places to visit around Pahalgam this should top your list.
Where is Pahalgam?
Pahalgam is in the Anantnag district in Kashmir located at a distance of 48 km from Srinagar. Pahalgam is also called the ‘Valley of Shepherds’.