Our next day started with enthusiasm and energy , as we are going to fly in the helicopter for the first time in life . There was a slight drizzle in the morning with mist surrounding the hills . A little bit of upset on the climate .
Baltal Helicopter Base – Time : 7 AM
We Started around 6.30 AM from hotel and reached Baltal helicopter base around 7 AM. There was a discussion happening in the office room on weather condition and they took a decision to start the helicopter for the first trip, we are happy to hear that , may be we didn’t know the fact at that moment , what was going to happen in another few hours 😦
First set of passengers
Helicopter instructions was given to the first set of passengers and it started .We saw the climate , A little bit of drizzle in the morning become a heavy rain now and mountains opposite to us is not even visible clearly and completely surrounded with mist.
Returning to base
Half the way through, Helicopter returned to base and they said, heavy rain in Panjtarni and near cave and not able to get through due to mist . We are completely disappointed at the moment as they said, they don’t know when helicopters would take off again that day.
Baltal Helicopter Base – 8 AM in the Morning
Mother Nature was so harsh that day as the rain was heavy after 9 AM . Officers were discussing on the weather condition and came to a conclusion that there was no possibility to operate helicopters that day at any cost , but they didn’t disclose to the passengers as they shouldn’t be disappointed.We are sitting and believing that we would be flying at least after 1PM .
Realizing the Truth – Time : 12.30 PM
We started realizing that helicopter trip will not happen that day due to the bad weather. officers confirmed that, Himalayan weather is unpredictable and nothing really they could do. Jagdish called and helped us in getting some snacks as half of our day went with Nothing.
We bought some breakfast from hotel and felt hungry when the time crossed 12.30 PM. We talked to Jagdish for help and he said nothing really can be done for the rest of the day and said he will help us next day by trekking through Baltal route and he would think that is the only option available . I was confused on the next day Weather and Completely fed up at that moment .
Baltal Helicopter Base – Time : 2.30 PM
Close to 2.30 PM, Heavy rain , we could feel the chillness. We enquired the officers in Base camp if there is a chance to fly on the next day, they said, the same tickets can be used, but never committed anything on the weather, that triggered more confusion for us .
Helicopter Tickets Cancelled: No Options Now
It is left to us with no choice other than cancelling the tickets and they said it would be refunded in 45 days if the tickets are booked directly and would take 2 months if booked through travels. We booked through travels, so they said, it will be refunded in 2 months time.
At last we came back to hotel with big disappointment and has nothing in my mind other than to pack up Sonamarg and go to Srinagar. I lost my mind and thought of leaving Sonamarg and discussed the same with my wife. She was afraid that, we would be missing the darshan due to the weather and asked me to re-think , also suggested to discuss with Jagdish again.
Hotel – Time : 4.30 PM – Moment of Right Decision
Around 4.30 PM , I was about to call him for a discussion, I got a incoming call … SURPRISED !!!!!!!!! Luckily Airtel worked (Of course call disconnected many times in the middle due to lack of signal ) for a moment and Jagdish on the line and spoke to me for almost 20 min and motivated me. That was the triggering call for me to think in the right direction and took a bold decision !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I Would call this as a “PREQUEL” of Amarnath Holy Cave Yatra blog 🙂 which I wrote earlier. I would like to share some of the experiences in my journey where we need to make a decision real quick as we don’t have time to rethink . I realized one thing that even though you are well planned on a Trip, there might be plenty of hurdles/situations comes through and we will not have choices other than to face and overcome it.
Let me explain the package which was afford to us and then, I would like to start with the sequence of events happened from Srinagar to Amarnath . The reason for giving the details is, we got a situation in Sonamarg where we have been forced to break the package in the middle and that created few more issues for us.
Our package covers 2 night stay in Sonamarg and 1 night stay in Srinagar Boat house including breakfast and dinner, Car with Driver which includes Pickup and Drop to Airport, Drive to Sonamarg from Srinagar and return , Morning ride to Baltal Helicopter base from Hotel and return . Srinagar Sightseeing. Package includes Srinagar Sightseeing also but it doesn’t happen as we spent 2 days in Sonamarg itself and the third day we just covered Boat house stay, Dal Lake & Sitara ride and Back to Chennai.
At Chennai Airport – Time : 6 AM
We started our Journey from Chennai around 6 AM and reached Srinagar around 1 PM. From Srinagar, Sonamarg is 90KM.
Srinagar – Time : 1 PM
The first hurdle was started when we reach Srinagar, CELLPHONE!! .Mine was postpaid and my wife’s was prepaid. Once in a while we faced issues with Cell phone connectivity. It was narrow , luckily it worked when we try to reach the car driver. Driver hardly speaks English nor Hindi, they speak kashmiri. Nothing really we can do about it , Just live with it. As I updated in my earlier blog, Only Airtel and BSNL postpaid works and other networks will not work for sure in Srinagar. In Baltal, only BSNL Postpaid works and Airtel will not work.
Situation in Srinagar
The level of beauty that Kashmir incorporate itself has equally contain dark face as well Terrorist attacks, Frequent 144 ,Stone Pelting riots are part of Kashmiri Natives life. The common man,women and innocent kids would have disheartened by this sort of frequent incidents around them. I was surprised to hear on my first visit . On my second visit, the shocking news on the day we reach Srinagar was, one of the terrorist leader was shot , Riots and stone pelting incidents happening around in Srinagar. My friend (Major Jagdish) who is in Army who helped me and guided me all the way to get through the situations in Srinagar.
Srinagar – Riot with a Surprise – Time : 2PM
We got in to the cab and started our Journey towards Sonamarg. There are places in Srinagar we could see riots. We saw riots happening in one end of the road and other end people living their normal life as the riot area is covered by barricades and Army. Absolutely no sign of Riot in the other end of the road !!!!!!!! SURPRISED !!!!!!. The tourists are well treated by Police officers and Army soldiers/officers. They are helping us in any way possible.we finished our lunch as well in Srinagar.
Sonamarg – Time : 4 PM
We reached Sonamarg that evening around 4 PM and did our Hotel Check-in . We don’t want to waste the evening and planned to go for sightseeing around Sonamarg. Outside the hotel, we hired an another cab and went to Visit Glaciers/View points opposite to Hotel.We did visited few view points and didn’t went to the Glaciers due to time constraint , it is already close to 5.30 PM .
Sonamarg – Time : 6 PM
We reached hotel and could see absolutely no sign of rain that evening. We felt everything is going to be OK next day and thought everything will be smooth as per plan. But we never know our destiny is to face more hurdles through Nature !!!!!!!!
This is Photo Point , The speciality of this place is to take pictures and look at the View Point 🙂 ..
On the way to Top Station, there is a Flower Garden, You can spend some time . It was a small garden ,but it was very colorful though.
Few more pictures from the flower garden
The attractions in this place are Dam and a Lake. Mattupatty Dam is ideal place for tourists as they will enjoy different boating facilities like speed launch, slow speedboat, pedal boat, row-boat, and motorboats which was arranged by District Tourism.
The Dam’s Purpose is Water Conservation and to generate hydro Electric Power. This place is also located on the way to Top Station.
Nearby Mattupatty Dam, Elephant ride is awaiting for you to Enjoy . Kids will have fun for sure.
Echo Point is also on the way to Top Station popular for its Echo Phenomenon. The Child inside us will wake up and trigger your inner sense to scream to see whether we are getting reverberation around the attraction. It was really funny and I see people enjoy this place with full of energy.
When you get the result you need, what do you do ??? ,, Have Fun !!!
One of the Most beautiful spot that we shouldn’t miss in Munnar is Top Station. This Place is where you can see the border segregation of Tamilnadu and Kerala. This place is maintained by Tamilnadu. It is located 32 KM from Munnar.
You will wonder why Munnar is so special when you get to see the on the way sceneries with full of green lush, plantations, Green hills … its like hills dressed in Green Saree.!!
GEORGEOUS !!!!!! and STUNNING !!!!!.
on the way , we could clearly see the changes in the climate and its like a Business as usual in Munnar it seems 🙂 , but that is the prime reason to Visit Munnar and its all about it
Top station offers Panaromic view of Western Ghats.
Munnar has everything a family would enjoy. A wildlife for kids, Trekking routes for youngsters, Waterfalls and Green lush for Photographers and Nature Lovers, Climate Variation. If climate and stay works well in Munnar, I m sure, you will not come out of this destination.
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Chinnakannal Waterfalls is on the way to Munnar. It is located after Devikulam. It is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Munnar. It is said to be originated from the Devikulam Hills.
I could see there is a Uniqueness in this falls as this place is surrounded by Plantation and green hill which gives a classic look to this falls.
It looks like this water is used for drinking purpose and there was a board which says “Not to Pollute this Water” ( Really surprised the way our neighboring state is much aware on the criticality of water resource and thought about our state 😦 ) . You can spend some time here for taking pictures and enjoy the weather. you will feel the climate change as you close to Munnar.
Pothamedu View Point
Pothamedu View point is on the other direction of Munnar as you notice in the Map. I could see plenty of hotels and resorts in this place. This place is surrounded by trees and inside them, you would see homestay and resorts. There are affordable and costly resorts as well in this place.
The drive after 5 PM is not safe as the route seems to be very narrow and dangerous too. The view-point has plantations of tea, coffee and cardamom. This place is also good for a quick walk ( Morning 🙂 ) where you can enjoy the greenery all around.
Beautiful Forest Water Stream – On the way to Attukadu Waterfalls
Water Stream on the way to Attukaadu Waterfalls . It was beautiful and wanted to capture !!!!!!!!
Attukaadu waterfalls is located between Munnar and Pallivasal. You would need to go down from Munnar Town, it’s not too far. We didn’t went so close to falls as it was around 5.30 PM in the evening.
From the guide, we came to know that there are routes for trekking in this place to reach the falls. It could have been lovely !!! I missed it 😦 .
During monsoon, the waterfall is at its full roar and the place is full of greenery. Months of June, July and August will be ideal time to visit the waterfall.
Rajamala is located 15KM from Munnar. It is one of the finest hill station surrounded by full of Lush green carpet on all sides.
To reach Rajamala, first reach a point near to ticket counter in your Vehicle, purchase tickets for entry , a bus takes the visitors about 2 KM up on the hill to Visit Nilgiri Tahr and View Points.
To our surprise, when we started, it was sunny and all of sudden the climate was completely changed and we could see a bit of drizzle . In the next picture it can be noticed that there is absolutely no sign of cloud. Rajamala pictures are taken with an hour and could see a lot of climate changes with in that.
Nilgiri Thar in Rajamala
The place is the natural habitat of the mountain goat, The Nilgiri Tahr. We could see plenty of Goats in Rajamala.
You get to see plenty of goats roaming around in Rajamala but don’t go so close them, just watch them at a distance as I could sense they are little bit wild and try to headbutt.
After reaching rajamala, you would further need to go for a trekking about 3KM to reach the top of hill. We decided the enjoy the climate change and skipped the trekking.
A beautiful view of the green carpet from Rajamala
Lakkom falls is another popular destination in Munnar. It is located 25KM from Munnar town on the Munnar – Udulmalpet road. The origin of this falls is from Eravikulam Stream and tributary to Pamba , then merged in to Cauvery.
It is such a beautiful spot to spend time with kids especially as the height of falls is not TOO High but the water will be very cold.There are options for trekking to explore dense forest surrounding this falls. If you go on a family trip, it may not be a choice, but if you go with friends, try to explore !!!
Places to Visit in one direction of Munnar
This is Photo Point , The speciality of this place is to take pictures and look at the View Point 🙂 ..
It was really a shocking Surprise 🙂 when i noticed my name was nominated for Liebster Award with in a Month as I was just few days older and out of 5 blogs , only one has 50+ views. Thank you So Much Sharmilli (Millidiary) for this nomination and it was really motivating and inspiring to spend more time to write more !!! 🙂
I learn that the Liebster award was created to recognize and/or discover new bloggers
Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog
Nominate other blogs that you feel deserve the award
Answer the questions you were asked by the blogger who nominated you
list the rules
Write a post to show your award
Once you have written and published your post, then inform your nominees of their nomination!
My Answers to the Questions from Millidiary
What inspired you to start blogging?
Travel is my passion and only during travel, I feel myself happy !!!! . Photography is my hobby . When I look at some of the pics and try to connect the funny and memorable moments after some months, I hardly remember 🙂 and i don’t have the habit of writing diary . It is the triggering point for me to write blog !!! to recollect, remember, share and collaborate !!!! It all started in early 2016 with blogger site to share my experience and collaborate. But unfortunately it doesn’t turn up due to official and Personal commitments as i just uploaded few pics and not able to involve myself in write ups, but now i realized , we cannot find free time instead we need to make free time 🙂
What is the top thing in your bucket list?
New Places – Travel / Electronics / Current affairs in my State
Narrate your favorite dream?
I visited Grand Canyon in 2009 , after visiting that place, it became an obsession for me for Visit all the Wonders in the World. I don’t know if this is going to happen in my life, if it happens, then it is really a dream come true for me… I need to visit all the Wonders .. not only 7 , there are many … 🙂
Everybody role-play as kids. What is the role that you played as a kid?
Which is your favorite horror movie?
I m not a big lover of horror Movies. To answer your question, “Maya” movie is good with Excellent Screenplay
Tell 3 things about yourself that people don’t know.
Smartphone lover / Riding bike in Night – Long Ride / Reading Tamil Novels & World Politics
Define a leisure day for you.
Sleep !! Sleep !! Sleep … There are days,i might need to work on Sunday and Coverage on Saturday, So rest is the ultimate Winner here 🙂
If you could go back in time and change one thing about you, what would it be?
Go back to 2011 and Reject the CSC Offer !!! lol 🙂
What is your favorite, unique travel experience? Did you plan it, or did it just happen?
Last year, We went Amarnath Yatra Trip, it was a Unique experience and adventurous than we thought with more twist and turns.
Did you know the meaning of the word Liebster or you had to google it after receiving the award? 😀
I don’t know the meaning of it 🙂 !!!!!! Just googled it
I just started writing & its been less than month and I have been following very few people and sooner it will increase for sure !!!
Southern Kitchen Basics
Questions to my nominee
What inspired you to start blogging?
How did you come up with your blog’s name
do you plan to write on other topics than food blog ?
which country do you want to visit and why ?
What do you like most about your country?
who is your childhood hero ?
If you could go back in time and change one thing about you, what would it be?
Which type of movie genre you like ? do you have any favorite Movie on it ?
What do you do on your leisure time ?
Did you know the meaning of the word Liebster or you had to google it after receiving the award?
Enjoy and Have fun Answering !!!!!! lol 🙂
Thank you so much Sharmilli (Millidiary) for giving me this award.
Munnar is a hill station in Kerala . It is situated at 5000ft above sea level. It is a wonderful place for honeymoon couple and also for a family trip. It has places where you can spend almost a week to cover.
How to reach :
It is well-connected from Madurai and Theni by Road and the nearest airport is Cochin in Kerala and Madurai in Tamilnadu. The nearest railway station is Aluva where Munnar is 110KM , where as from Madurai it is 140 KM. I reached Munnar through Theni, Bodinayakannur, devikulam by Car. The trip by car would be an enjoyable ride with plenty of plantations around when you enter Kerala.
Best time to Enjoy:
The overwhelming beauty and scenery of Munnar with the full of green lush all over it can’t be expressed in words. I went in the month of August . The weather in Munnar is unpredictable as morning it will be cloudy and around 10 AM , you can see sun and then all of sudden little a bit of drizzle . But that is the reason people come to Munnar. I also added few pics ( Will be listed in Munnar Continuation blogs) , where you can see the sudden change of weather with in 1 hour of time. I also heard it would be good if monsoon sets on time in kerala,then you may need to think for a stay in Munnar and to enjoy the roaring waterfalls around .
There are plenty of affordable hotels in Munnar and home stay . I booked a homestay at Pothamedu View point . It was really a wonderful experience where you would feel you are staying inside a Jungle. The other side of the Homestay was valley and I could see people who work on the estate comes through the route. I was really surprised to see women comes to work through the valley . The homestay was good and food was good, if incase you need Non Veg food, you may need to order them and it will be charged separately . We also tried some hotels in Munnar for lunch , the taste was OK but absolutely affordable and it was not worst for sure.
Munnar Map for Sightseeing :
P.S. I took this Map from Munnar related Website
I visited the following places as Munnar has 3 different directions to cover sightseeing.
Pothamedu View Point
There are other places which shows up in the Map can be covered if incase you have time and days. I had only 3 days time, I have covered only the above stated places during that time frame.
I didn’t cover Wildlife Sanctuary around Munnar. If you have time, you may wanted to visit those for kids.
I travelled from Theni to reach Munnar. Hill road is very narrow as it has to be. You can enjoy the on way plantations and take photograph where ever you wanted to.
—– To be Continued !!!!!!!!
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Mahabalipuram also know as Mamallapuram. It shows the Pride of Pallava Kings to the entire World. It is famous for Stone craving Sculptures and Shore Temples. Mahabalipuram is UNESCO world heritage site. For those who are interested in history & Archeology research would love this place and enjoy. I have been to this place couple of times, one in March and another in April end.
How to reach
Mahabalipuram is close to Chennai around 40 KM. It can be reached from Chennai with in 1.5 hrs. East Coast Road drive will be fantastic to reach Mahabalipuram as you can enjoy the drive with sea-shore on the other side.
You will get frequent Bus services from Chennai to Mahabalipuram. You can also rent a car if you would wanted to cover some of the attractions in ECR.
ECR to Mahabalipuram drive – on the way attractions
Snake Park ( Please check it out in Crocodile Park as they said, Snake Park is moving to other Location)
ISKON Krisha Temple
MGM Dizee world ( You need one day for this )
There are plenty of must visit attractions at Mamallapuram some of which are the Shore Temple, Five Rathas, Varaha Caves, Tiger cave, etc. I visited Shore temple, Five Rathas, Krishna Mandapam, Tiger Cave, light house, Arjunan Thapas,Varaha Cave.
Best time to Visit/Stay
You can visit Mahabalipuram throughout the year, but i wouldn’t recommend it during the Month of April/May as its peak summer in Tamilnadu and you will be fried :). I visited Mahabalipuram in March and April 😦 , it was very hot and dry .
It’s a good place to spend your weekend if you are in Chennai as it would cover the ECR attractions plus Mahabalipuram Siteseeing. on the way ECR Resorts are available and there are affordable hotels available in Mahabalipuram. But if your home town is chennai or you got a stay in Chennai, i would think , there is no need to avail the stay in Mahabalipuram, as the travel itself would be 1.5 hrs only from Chennai .
History references: The detailed references of all the sculptures are available at various websites. I just highlighted a snippet on these sculpture which i noticed and liked.
People call it Tiger Cave. It looks like a tiger but it could have been depicted from Mythological animal called “YAALI”. The splendid work of this sculpture will really make you think how it could have been crafted by Pallava King in 8th century.
Arjunan Penance or Descent of Ganga
This Sculpture has two stories connected to it , one from ‘Mahabharatha’ and another from ‘Ramayana’
The story of Mahabharata, where Arjuna performs penance to get the weapon from Lord Shiva
The story of Ramayana, Where Sage Bhagiratha (Ancestor of Lord Rama) performs penance for bringing river Ganga to earth from Heaven
You can see Arjuna or Bagiratha , a person standing in one leg 🙂 . There are numerous interesting stories connected to the entire sculpture that you see. Let me share some of the information which i grabbed.
Near to Arjuna, to the left, you can see Lord Shiva, but it looks like Lord Muruga is it ?? You Can notice the “Divine Spear” ( Lord Muruga’s Weapon – “Vel” in Tamil ) !!!!!!! on hand . It’s just my thought !!!!!!!!!! and no history here
There are Dwarfs , followers of Lord Shiva, they signify Five Elements of Nature. Sun, Moon, Gandharvas-Musicians and Husband of Apsaras , Kinnaras-Head of Men and Bodies of Birds/Horses, other Dwarfs signify lord Ganesha , Birds, Monkeys, Deers, Lion , all are depicted surrounding Lord shiva and the other side of sculpture as well.
Here you could notice headless hermits , which has also two interesting stories connected to it . One is related for Sage Agasthya and another one related to Pallava king itself. There are Snakes in the Middle you can see , looks like they are also doing the meditation to grab something 🙂
The elephant in the right side will grab the attention of any viewer at first look. Notice the Calves between the leg and finest details added to it . Extra-ordinary craftsmanship on the baby elephants playful and funny attitude that we cannot even think in our present era.
Final Note: It is one of finest and greatest sculpture art from Pallavas. On the first look at this sculpture, I was completely floored with the finest details which is added to it especially the elephant and its cub . I like the quick witty humour added to this sculpture , you can see a Cat mimics Arjuna 🙂 near the elephant .
A few incidents in life of Lord Krishna being portrayed in a beautiful way . Krishna lifting govardhana hill , Cow licking its calf and Villagers being excellently crafted with details . My favourite was the Cow Sculpture in 3D effect.
The cow sculpture was an extra ordinary thinking and craftsmanship of pallavas where you can notice a leg comes out of the wall and creates a 3D effect. The thought process in 8th century was something WOW!!! as we still see how it could have been done.
This sculpture explains the story of Lord Vishnu is in Boar Avatar rescuing his wife Bhumadevi from the king who abducted her .
Lord Gajalakshmi is the significance of Wealth and its been beautifully portrayed as this is similar to Goddess Lakshmi Picture we have in our Pooja.
This place is an interesting attraction of Mahabalipuram. Lot of surprises, History, Mythological stories . It’s a giant boulder made of granite. Its been there for more than 1200 Years. It has not moved an inch nor being moved from it original position on the slope and still the physics behind its giant ball is surprising for scientist.
The Mythological story about this rock is when lord Krishna eating butter, one of them fell in this place 🙂 Interesting !!!!!!!!.. I liked the story connected to it 🙂
This is an another interesting sculpture where we could see the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu being crafted in a one feet wall .
Five Rathas – Pancha Pandava Rathas or Chariots
Pancha Pandava Rathas also referred as Pandava Rathas are the most excellent architectural monolithic temples of Mahabalipuram . The five structures in the shape of rathas or chariots out of monolith of granite that dates back to the 7th century.
The five rathas are named as ‘Dharmaraja Ratha’, ‘Bhima Ratha’, ‘Arjuna Ratha’, ‘Nakula Sahadeva Ratha’, and ‘Draupadi Ratha’ after the five Pandava brothers and their common spouse Draupadi from the great epic ‘Mahabharata’. There is also a history stating that these Rathas has no connection with Pandavas. Interesting !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The first ratha is Draupathi Ratha dedicated to Goddess Durga and her vehicle lion in the entrance
The adjacent ratha next to Droupathi is Arjuna ratha dedicated to Lord Shiva . There is also Bull statue adjacent to this Ratha you can notice.
The next ratha is Bhima Ratha dedicated to Lord Vishnu and it is big & huge , but there are some unfinished structures inside.
This ratha is Nakula-Sahadeva Ratha dedicated to Lord Indra and his vehicle elephant stands next to this ratha .
The most superior among the five rathas is Dharmaraja Ratha dedicated to Lord Shiva.
The Short Temple was built-in 8th Century and it was one of the oldest stone temples of South India. The temple was built-in a such way that the Sun rays while rising , falls on Lord Shiva in the Temple. The shore temple looks like a Chariott .
It has three shrines and the prominent ones are dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
This is the Main Shivalingam as you could see it is damaged .
In the Background , The family of Lord Shiva sculpture been crafted on the wall
Another Shrine in the Temple , you can see Lord Vishnu being in a reclining pose on Sheshnag.
The hollow cut in the chest could have been used as small Shrine.
The Temple is surrounded by hundreds of Nandi(Bull) and all of them are similar in size. Its a Wonder by the way !!!!!!!!!
Final Note: I would recommend the travellers to Visit Shore temple mostly after 4 PM as you may not feel the heat . The biggest villain for the shore temple is with in “the shore” itself as we could clearly understand the fact that Salt on the air is causing the erosion.
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Kashmir : Kashmir is considered as ” Paradise on Earth”. Its overwhelming beauty is treat to eyes and Photographers . If you are a nature and adventure lover, It’s a must to visit place and you wouldn’t want to miss. It attracts tourists especially in Summer which enables the tourist to enjoy the Snowy Mountains. How to Reach Srinagar can be reached by Air/Train from any Major Cities of India. Best connection is through flight from Delhi to Srinagar & Chandigarh to Srinagar . I never travelled from Chandigarh, but connected from Delhi .
Places to Visit in Srinagar 1. Dal Lake 2. Sankaracharya Temple 3. Mughal Garden There are more places to explore, but we had only 3 days trip and not able to cover more places. There are other Gardens in Srinagar and we didn’t cover those and if you are a lover of Gardens, June or July should be a good month as it would be more colourful. Climate / Best time to Enjoy I have been to Kashmir for Couple of times , one in March and another trip to Amarnath in August. The trip in March is very Enjoyable as the average temperature throughout the Journey would be less than 18C and almost in single digit during night. To enjoy the Snowy Mountains, March should be right time to Visit. Stay & Food There are Many affordable hotels in Srinagar and Restaurants. Its depend upon the Choice of the individual to select . When you book on package, stay and food(Only breakfast and dinner) will be covered. If you are Non-Vegetarian, no need to worry much about other than taking care of your “Stomach” 🙂 .. You got plenty of options to explore on Non-Veg food. There are also good options for vegetarian lovers as well with rice, veg curry, Aloo paratha,Kashmiri pulav and more. Taste of the food is completly authentic kashmiri.
Mughal Gardens In the Month of March , Mughal Gardens may not be that much attractive where you can spend more hours. But from the guide who said, Parks ( There are many other parks available but we visited only Mughal gardens) will be colorful in the Month of June .
Dal Lake Dal Lake is one of the Prime attraction in Srinagar. I would even call it a “life inside a Lake” You can see Boat houses, Markets, Small shops to buy dresses, Shops for eatables.
Never miss the boating in Dal Lake as we never wanted to miss at any places that afford boating, The boat ride is called as “Sitara ride” . Take the boating especially in the evening when sunset , We can enjoy the lightings and decorations in the boat houses and also the weather. I m not sure on the closing hours of boat ride, but before 6 PM should be good .
DAL LAKE VIEW
During the Lake Boat ride, you would also see sellers approaching you parallely to sell the Kashmir Jewels ( Fashion by the way) . It is costlier and depend upon the taste of the individual to buy them You would also see Photographers approaching you for photographs during the Sitara ride with ” Kashmiri Dresses and Jewels “. It would be really funny and women will love it for sure 🙂 .. If you think about spending 6 to 8 photos with the rent for Kashmiri Dresses and Jewels for 500 to 600 is costlier, it’s not for you.. It’s just a simple fun to enjoy with your family to laugh out loud. Never buy the Saffron’s during your Dal Lake Boat ride as it was really a cheap quality stuff.
Sankaracharya Temple Adisankaracharya Temple is located in Srinagar town in a small hill around 500 steps (I don’t remember it right , Approximately) we need to climb. Camera not allowed , so not able to get the pictures .
I visited a couple of times to Sonamarg , first in March and other during Amarnath Visit. During March, Sonamarg Valley is treat to eyes as the mountains covered fully with Ice and really an excellent Visual treat . If you are not on a package, definitely worth spending a day in Sonamarg.
I personally like the March Journey as , the climate is Very cool and Snowy Mountains was something “WOW”. It was my first visit to this kind of place and felt it was a very special.
I will share my experience and compare the Journey in March and August , so people can decide based on their wish on which month they wanted to travel.
How to Reach .
Sonamarg is 80KM from Srinagar. It can be reached by Car. I m not sure on the Public transport in Srinagar nor i didn’t see any buses as well. Reach Srinagar and rent a car from there to reach Sonamarg.
Note: I covered how to reach Srinagar in my Srinagar Blog
Sonamarg in March.
We started our Journey early in the Morning for Sonamarg. Srinagar weather was very cold. On the way to Sonarmarg, We enjoyed the sceneries around and took photographs where ever we felt . On the way , we enjoyed taking snaps on Saffron field which has a Mountain backdrop.
On the way, we could see many rivers passing by, I clearly understand there is no chance that Srinagar will have scarcity of water as five rivers flow through it . ( Just though about Tamilnadu for a min when I heard five rivers 😦 ) The river has its natural beauty enhanced with the stones in the Middle and one could clearly sense why it attracts Movie Makers.
An interesting incident happen’d in this place, one of our friend bought a new camera and went ahead in the river with enthusiasm for taking pictures, the flow of river was too high and not able to stand due to the extreme chillness ,the guide warned us not to enter in to the river. Inspite of his advice, our friend went ahead and slipped and lost his camera.. New Camera gone in seconds !!!!!!
As we stopped in the middle and taking pictures, there were more surprise waiting for us, Snowy mountains hosted with more beauty and gigantism . It’s advisable to go with a Power bank and MORE chances of Camera battery getting drained due to the climatic conditions.
As we are getting closer to Sonamarg, the roads started shrinking and the passage for the vehicle would be only one way. To add more , the mountains welcomed us with more beauty. I will be taking a picture of a scenery at one point and in another few miles, there will be more beauty and visuals waiting for me. You CANNOT keep your EYES OFF from the Visuals for sure. Your camera will be a very busy Person 🙂
During the Visit in March, we didn’t stay in any one of these Places (Gulmarg, Pahalgam & Sonamarg) . But in August, I stayed in Sonamarg. I stayed in Hotel Sonamarg Glacier. Hotel was good, staff was courteous and food quality was good and affordable.
SLEDGES TO CARRY OLD AGE/ WOMEN/ KIDS WILL ENJOY THE FUN RIDE
There are sledges available for you to play around in Ice. It’s better bargain with them else there are more chances you would be cheated .Language is a barrier anyway but need to live with it :). For a person with Fluency in Hindi should be absolutely fine.
Make use of sledge if you really wanted to do so, else, Just enjoy the snow and climb. For those who wanted try with adventure, Reach the vantage point for taking photographs with ski ( Ski available on rent basis ) .. Just go for it !!!! . if you are not an expert, don’t worry !. Just stand with ski get Photographed , that’s what i did 🙂 .Sharing few pictures as the beauty of Sonamarg would be , one word “FANTABULOUS”
There are some small vendors selling noodles,biscuits and tea in the middle while you climb . Eating noodles in the snow would be yummy .. even though it’s not good for health :)) Once you reach the Vantage point , you can see the panoramic view of the mountains , ski fields . It might take almost more than 1.5 hours to climb and come down.
On a Special Note: Try to spend atleast more than 4 to 5 hours on these places (Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Pahalgham) . If you go with time lines, you will not enjoy these destinations .
Sonamarg in August
Sonamarg in August is totally a different experience from March, you will feel the heat, but you wouldn’t sweat . The colour of Mountains now would be GREEN from WHITE..
During August, there will be local guides available outside the hotel to take you for glaciers , which we may need to climb the mountain with the help of horse or pony available there for rent. We didn’t went as it’s already close to 6 PM . The cost including guide and car would be around 1500 . If it is a day time, its worth else don’t spend on it. The below snaps covered some of the view points .
We missed to explore Tajiwas Glacier as it was already close to 6 PM and wanted to take rest .
Plan one destination for one day as all these places are from different directions from Srinagar. You can stay in Srinagar and Sonamarg and not sure on the stay at Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
Amarnath holy cave is situated at an altitude of 12000 feet from sea level , about 140 KM from Srinagar. The Cave is reachable only during the Month of July and August.
For those who are interested in Trekking would really enjoy the spell-bounding Snowy visuals and climate throughout their journey.
The Journey of Amarnath Trekking will rejuvenate the energy with more surprises from the Snowy Mountains, climate changes from minute to minute. It will be exceedingly an adventurous trip for sure.
How to Reach :
Srinagar is the place where you should land first and from there you would need to choose from which place you wanted to trek. Srinagar can reach by Air/Train from any Major Cities of India. Best connection is through flight from Delhi to Srinagar & Chandigarh to Srinagar.
Trekking Routes :
There are two ways to reach Amarnath holy Cave
1. From Pahalgam 2. From Baltal
Distance to reach Pahalgam & Baltal from Srinagar
From Srinagar to Pahalgam , it is close to 90 KM
From Srinagar to Sonarmarg, it is close to 80 KM
From Sonamarg to Baltal(Baltal base camp) it is 15 KM
Pahalgam Route :
The distance from Pahalgam to Amarnath is 43 KM and it is the longest route to reach Amarnath. I heard that this route has extraordinary scenery and stunning visuals that can be remembered for a long time.
Baltal Route :
The distance from Baltal to Amarnath is 14 KM. I reached Amarnath through this route and it is very steep and adventurous. This route also has good visuals, but the adventure overtook us because of the steep path. Trekking lovers would really enjoy to the core.
Both routes have horses and pony for reaching holy cave. I also see people trek by foot. It’s the individuals interest and health condition has to be checked or reviewed before to decide whether he/she choose to trek by foot. I would think it would take approximately more than 6 hours to reach the holy cave one way if they choose by foot.
Medical Certificate Required and it is a MUST :
To take up Amarnath Journey, Medical Certificate is Mandatory and you will not be able to take flight in a Helicopter and won’t be allowed to trek as well if in case you don’t possess a Medical Certificate. It should be attested only from the Doctor Authorized to issue the Health certificate. The doctor’s list will be revised every year. The doctor’s list and Medical Certificate form/ Other Miscellaneous information regarding Amarnath Travel will be available on this Site.
Note: You will not be allowed if they see any other doctor certifying your Medical certificate other than the list sent by State Governments.
Airtel and BSNL Postpaid works fine in Srinagar. Even in some area, prepaid won’t work well. Only BSNL Postpaid works in Sonamarg, Baltal and Amarnath. No other networks available at that place. When you start trekking and you don’t have BSNL postpaid, you will be completely isolated. I didn’t aware of this information and thought BSNL prepaid would work and finally it broke. One of our family friend who is in the Army helped me to get it covered for Phone.
The climate in July and August will be mixed. There are chances it will rain but mostly we can expect a clear weather but weather in the night will be cold . So take woollen clothes, Jerkins, Hand gloves, Shawls, Shoes.
Caution – Avoid trekking during heavy rain as there are possibility of Land Slide in the route due to unexpected flooding
If your Journey is in the Start of July, there will be “Pandals” organized in Panjtarni & various other places for food. There are also Tea shops in the middle for a short break to have tea/Coffee. I took bread, chocolates and Nuts.
As far as food in Srinagar is concerned, almost in all the restaurants, Punjabi Food, North Indian Thali food, Roti, Pulka, Rice with Dal Curry, Rajma curry, Mixed Vegetable curry will be available. For a Perfect south Indian expecting south Indian food will be a big zero. Food quality and taste are normal. You can anticipate the same kind of menu in Sonamarg hotels. We ordered rice with dal + vegetable curry and some puppet in Sonamarg hotel. Quality and taste is good.
Things to Carry during Trekking – Same day Return
When you start your Trekking, take only very little things that are necessary if you are returning on the same day. You may want to carry chocolates and nuts as they are high calorie and reduce your hunger during your travel. Medicines for headache/Fever and dizziness / Pain balm or Spray/ Any instant energy drinks or Glucose might help. I took Spray / Headache and Fever Tablets.
Time to Start:
I feel, it’s sound to take off the trekking early at least from 4 to 4.30 AM, so you can turn over the holy cave and return by 3 or 4 PM the same day. Return Journey will not consume much time than onward Journey.
As I articulated in the beginning, It depends upon the person and their health, whether they desired to hire Pony or trek by foot. If you choose by foot, start as early as Possible
Stay in Panjtarni & Holy Cave:
I travelled to the holy cave in the month of August, so not much of tents and shops there. When you plan in the month of July, there will be tents available for rent to stay, beds and shawls available for rent as well. It’s your choice to decide whether you wanted to stay there for a night and start your return Journey next day. I returned the same day.
Helicopters to Reach Panjtarni:
There is also an another option to reach panjtarni through Helicopters from baltal and Pahalgam. Its a good option for aged people. From Panjtarni, holy cave is only 6 KM. on Panjtarni , you can hire pony or horse for rent to reach the cave. Helicopter tickets should be booked prior and reach baltal helicopter base camp with the prompt timing specified in your tickets.
Helicopter Ticket Cancellation Policy :
Himalayan weather is unpredictable and helicopters may not fly if there is a bad weather condition. If in case you don’t fly in helicopters, you may ask for a refund. It will get refunded in 45 days.
I booked the helicopter tickets, but helicopter travel was cancelled due to heavy rain and mist on the first day . They agreed to refund the tickets and the travels refunded the amount in 2 months.
We went in the month of August and we couldn’t see much people trekking so early in the morning as it is almost closing days of that season .
We stayed in the Baltal Army Camp in the middle of the Jungle . We started our Trekking sometime early in the Morning around 3.30 AM . The weather was very cold and luckily no sign of rain that day.
The Pony came around 3 AM in the Morning. We took off approximately 3.30AM, Journey was really enjoyable and adventurous as the trekking was on the steep valley. I just looked around and realized no one else is around except us. The only sound which we heard from the surrounding was the river flow sound!!!!!!!!!!! And that was my assumption at that moment.
After a few yards, I could see Army Soldier standing with Guns for Security. A big and Royal salutes to our soldiers for risking their life throughout the season and making it sure all the pilgrims return safe to base. They are polite, brave and helpful. The good thing was they were standing in every 200 to 300m distance to cover us
As we move on, after 6 AM , I see many other people are passing by horse.
A little bit of fear with in me when the pony’s step was slipped in places like this 🙂
The time is around 7.30 AM and we are half a way through and wanted to take a quick break as my wife was really tired and felt a little bit of dizziness . We decided to take rest for 15 min . Ponywalla’s were really helpful and they never rushed us.
As the season is getting closed, I see people closing their shops and huts and coming to base.
As we move on, we could see a GLACIER ahead on the narrow path. I was surprised to see the way Pony handled to cross the glacier. Very Nicely & Smartly trained :)!!!!!!
After the glacier, there was an another surprise awaiting for us, A beautiful falls in the center with a small wooden bridge along the way. We couldn’t hold our eyes away from this place, as it possesses beauty and danger put together in the same space.
on the sangam Junction, we could see Kaali Maatha in the hill
This is the Junction where people from Baltal in the left and people from Pahalgam come from the right heading towards Cave. Panjtarni is on the right side and those who come from Helicopter will be arriving on the right side. We are almost nearing cave , it should be close to 3 KM now to reach Holy cave.
As we are getting close to the cave, we could sense there is a slight climate change !!!
During the start of the season, it would be full of tents and huts, as you see not much of tents as it is almost the close of the season.
After reaching the Cave, still we need to climb 500 steps to reach the top of the cave. My wife almost exhausted and had breathing issues. We do have a workaround to sort this out.
For those not able to climb after a long hours of trekking , Doly facility is available for you . They will carry you to the top of the Cave for Darshan and will get you down once after the Darshan. They will charge around 700, but it looks like it is costlier. Army Soldier said, it should be about 500 or less than that for taking us back and forth.
My wife reached the top of the cave with the help of doly and I climbed slowly on the steps and reached the top for darshan. It was really an extra-ordinary feeling when we reach the top and felt we are blessed. The cave was extremely cool and with bare foot, it’s not possible to stand for more than 5 minute. They do offer wooden chappels to sort this out.
After the Darshan, we spent 1 hour in that place and finished our breakfast. Around 11 AM, we started our return journey to base. It was around 2.30 PM we reached the base. The return journey would be quick but would be painful when Pony tends to run on a flat surface.
To Conclude, Amarnath Season is only for 45 days. It holds everything that you ask for, If you are Nature lover, you will be wondered by the beauty and adventure connected to it. For the trekking lovers, it’s a wonderful spot to enjoy and rejuvenate your vitality. For Pilgrims, The divine and Peace are the prime ingredients for you , which connects all together
Message for Patients :
Just a message of Caution for those who are suffering from Respiratory problems. Please have your medicines on hand. As you approach steeper there are more chances you will have breathing troubles due to lack of oxygen.
Readers can also read my Other Amarnath Series blog on ” Sequence of Events on Amarnath “
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