Blue valleys, alpine passes -- Kashmir's beauty is the stuff of fables. The geography of Kashmir is actually divided into three land masses: the foothill plains of Jammu, the Kashmir Valley and the mountains of Ladakh. Its strategic position leads to off-and-on skirmishes with Pakistan and has converted this beautiful place into one of the highest battlegrounds of the world.
The people here are basically a quiet race and among the most beautiful people of India. The dominant religion is Islam and the language most spoken is Urdu. Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir, is a hospitable place where the tourism industry is slowly picking up after years of strife. Here, you can boat in cushioned and canopies shikaras across the Dal and Nagin Lakes.
The Shankaracharya Temple, provides excellent views of the valley of Kashmir. Other places of tourist attractions are the Mughal Gardens of Shalimar where flowers, fountains, streams can be seen as well as the beautiful Mosque of Hazrathal. Pahalgam is a pleasant little, single street town full of streams. The site of the start to the shrine of Amarnath begins here. Gulmarg also has great scenic beauty to offer.
The tourist draws of Jammu are mainly the Raghunath Temple and the Vaishno Devi Temple which attracts pilgrims all over the country. Jammu has the typical typical climate of the plains and can be quite hot in summer.
In Ladakh the Leh Palace overlooks the town but is damaged. The Thiksey Monastery is, however, in shape rising in a white tiers up a hillock. The Stok Palace and Museum houses the royal relics of the last ruling family of Ladakh. Best time to visit: September-October or early winter.