Popularly known as the ‘Switzerland of the East’Jammu and Kashmir, is well known for its captivating natural beautywhich attracts thousands of visitors each year. The diverse topography of Jammu and Kashmir also makes it one of the most preferred adventure tourism destinations for thrill seekers.
So, for those who enjoy adventurous activities like Trekking, River Rafting, Camping, Mountain biking etc,Jammu and Kashmir is no less than heaven and here are a few places where you can dosuch adventure sports.
1. Skiing At Gulmarg Ski Resort
For those of you who enjoyskiing or have got some good experience in skiing, Gulmarg ski resort is worth trying. Based in Kashmir, amid the snowy Himalayas, this resort with its wide slopes, deep valleys and mountains almost touching the clouds, looks endless and can be reached by gondolas or chair lifts.
Best season to visit Gulmarg Ski resort is from January to mid-February and it is best to hire a professional and quality trainer who can take you to different terrains and teach you Snowboarding, Sledging or Heli skiing depending on your level of skiing (beginner to advanced). One can also hire quality skiing gears at the resort.
2. White Water Rafting At Pahalgam Valley
River rafting is one of the most famous adventure activities in summers and rafting in the Lidder river of the Pahalgam valley around the month of June, can lift up the spirits of any adventure enthusiast. The Lidder River comprises of deep gradients and narrow gorges that passes through different landscapes like forests and villages located on mountains.
Therefore, this 2 km stretchcan be pretty challenging and amazing at the same time. One has to manoeuvre their rafts carefully while crossing obstacles and can get a glimpse of the whole Pahalgam valley from the river. Your experienced guides will train you initially and guide you through the whole ride.
3. Paragliding In Sanasar
Jammu and Kashmir is a piece of heaven on earth and paragliding between the serene mountains and green forests can be an adventure in itself. Paragliding is now a popular activity in Jammu and Kashmir and is offered at various locations like Ashtanmarg, Sonmarg, Gulmarg and Srinagar. But the best location for Paragliding is Sanasar which is 19km away from Panitop.
Camps are conducted at Sanasar to instruct and guide those who would like to experience paragliding and they also provide the equipment’s, needed for the activity. May-June and September-October are the best times to visit Sanasar and this sport is definitely attracting a lot of tourists recently.
4. Mountain Biking From Srinagar
If you are ready to explore Jammu and Kashmir in a crazy and innovative way, Mountain Biking can be the most exciting adventure activity for you. Depending on your stamina, you can choose to mountain bike on stretches starting from Srinagar and cover Gulmarg, Pahalmarg, Sonmarg and the Manasbal lake and enjoy the bumpy ride, in which you will pass though 10 mountain passes to complete your journey. For those who like challenging and freaky rides, the Srinagar-Leh highway pass leading to Kardung La pass at a high altitude of 5,340 meters can be the best option.
But before you start your ride, make sure to rent a mountain bike which has good shock absorbers and is well equipped with safety gears. Also carry maps, repair kits and flashlights for extra safety and comfort, while you cycle through the rugged terrains and steep hairpin bends.
5. Camping At Sonmarg
Nature lovers always enjoy being surrounded by greenery, mountains, flowing streams and a calm environment. If you are one of those and also a bit adventurous, camping at Sonmarg in Jammu and Kashmir which translates into the ‘Meadow of gold’, is one of the best options.
You can choose to relax with your friends or family between the months of April-October at one of the many camping sites in this beautiful hill station. From the campsite you can choose to trek to one of the many Himalayan lakes or to places like Zoji-la pass, Baltal and Thajwas Glacier. Most camps also include various activities like fishing, kayaking, canoeing and sports like volleyball. Also, many camps organize bonfires which you can be a part of and feel at peace.
6. Gondola Ride At Gulmarg
Usually when the name Gondola pops up, we mostly think of the long, well decorated boats of Venice. But in Gulmarg ‘Gondola’ refers to cable cars which are used as lifts to transport people from the low-lying areas to high altitude ski areas. Working in 2 Phases, these Gondolas start from Gulmarg passing through Kongdoor Mountains and reaching the final destination which is Apharwat Mount.
Popular as the highest gondola lift served ski resort in the world, this lift ascends to a height of almost 4000 m and one can witness a panoramic view of either the snow-clad mountains or the beautiful golf course and colourful wildflowers, depending on the season of your travel.
7. Enjoy Jeep Safari At Kashmir
If you like adventure but would not like to walk or ride bikes for long, you can hire a driver and a jeep and explore the hidden areas of the Himalayan region through a Jeep Safari. You can travel on the routes like Sonmarg, Gulmarg, Yusmarg, Srinagar and Pahalgam while understanding the real value of Kashmir with its hidden paths and forests, its wildlife and hilltop temples.
Kashmir is also well known for its beautiful Shikaras on the Dal lake, its flower valleys and saffron fields which are a must visits when on a jeep safari. The Aru valley, famous due to a Bolloywood film Betab, is also a hotspot for Jeep Safaris.
8. Visit The Dachigam Wildlife Santuary
Famous for the Hangul or Kashmir stag and other wildlife animals and birds like the Himalayan Black Bear, Long Tailed Marmots, Red fox, Leopard, Himalayan Weasel, Jackal, Blue Magpie and Lammergeier, the Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary lies just 22 km far from Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. Divided into two parts called Upper and Lower Dachigammeaning ‘Ten Villages’, and the most suitable season to visit is between the months of April to October.
The Santuaryis completely snow filled in winter months, but in October the trees are filled with Autumn colours and one can experience the rutting season of the Hanguls and also see Black bears feeding themselves, in preparation for hibernation. On the whole, the Santuary is filled with a variety of species and you can also explore the upper region on foot to be able to appreciate its beauty entirely.
9. Trekking At Vaishno Devi
The 13km long trek to Vaishno devi starts from a town called Katra in Jammu and the best time to go for this trek is from March to June. Many people either hire a pony or a palkhi to complete their trek. But for adventure junkies and people who enjoy sports, climbing this mountain with a good ascent can be very satisfying. Athletic people might take 3-4 hours to complete this trek and sunset or night treks are pretty famous at Vaishno devi.
10. Try Ice Skating at Gulmarg
Jammu and Kashmir is well known to freeze during winters and this low temperatures, attract a lot of people to try ice skating on frozen rivers and snow laden plains. Ice Skating can look difficult at the beginning and its common to have a fall due to loss of balance and laugh upon oneself, but if you have ever tried roller skates, it can be a joyful experience with a few good tips from experienced skaters.
January and February are the perfect months to try ice skating at Gulmarg and you can hire all the equipment’s along with a good instructor, if you are a beginner. If you have time and keen on learning more about ice skating, you can also join one of the Training camps organized at the rinks.
11. Hot Air Ballooningfrom the Valleys of Suru and Zansar
Jammu and Kashmir is a paradise not only on land but also from the air. And the best way to adore this mesmerizing beauty is from the top, like a bird.The hot air balloon ride takes about 2-3 hours and the takes you to a height of up to 3000 feet. So if you are adventurous and like to enjoy the splendid beauty of Jammu and Kashmir while you are among the clouds, you should definitely try Hot Air Ballooning at the Valleys of Suru and Zansar.
Adventure is just a word if you don’t experience it. So the next time you are in Jammu and Kashmir, don’t miss to try out these popular adventure places.