The land that looks like heaven, the valley that will take your breath away, and a place full of mystery. And I was left to ask one question here, how something as beautiful as this can be confused for something else?
Kashmir has my heart and while I have been to Kashmir twice already, once on Tarsar Marsar trek and the second time to visit Srinagar. And it is still a place that I would still like to keep going back to again and again. And the reason is not just one but many, it is not just associated with the beauty of it but the hospitality of the people as well. Yes, the people! Kashmiris are so kind and have such beautiful eyes, they will keep drawing you back to the place.
Below, you will find my experience as a traveler and also what all steps you need to take while traveling to Kashmir.
I went to Kashmir for the first time on my birthday last September. Not sure why I took the decision to go there but majorly because I was trying to find a few good treks for myself and came across Tarsar Marsar trek. Hence I booked my flights to Srinagar, where I stayed in a house boat with a local family.
I will be honest; I was afraid at first if I should take the plunge or not. My parents were worried, but as soon as I stepped out the Srinagar airport, I realized how normal everything is just like any other cities. Everyone is running errands, trying to complete their daily chores. I took a cab to the ghats from where I was taken to a guest house by the sweetest person. He regarded me as his sister and while I stayed at his place for three days, he made sure I get the best of the facilities and food. I used to dine in his kitchen and he used to take me around to show me places near his house boat.
So off I went to Nigeen Lake, Char Chinar, Dargah and Vegetable market. It is one of the most beautiful times I got to witness in Kashmir and I cherish every bit of it, not only to change my perspective towards the state but also to give me beautiful memories.
So yes, I will say Kashmir is safe. “Yahan tourists ko koi chub hi nahi sakta” (no one can dare touch the tourists here) is what everyone keeps saying. And you need to remember that Kashmiris have a problem with the administration not with the people.
Although my experience has been good does not mean you should not be equipped with safety measures. There are a number of things that you should remember while going to this beautiful place.
In Kashmir, only postpaid sim works or you need to have a Kashmiri registered prepaid sim. Hence, it is better to take a postpaid sim with you from your hometown itself. this will ensure that you have network connection as soon as you are out the airport. It will also help in finding the place you would want to go and contact the owners with who you are staying with.
It is essential to have local contact especially if you are exploring Kashmir on your own. If in case there is any chaos in the streets, that person will be the best help to reach out to. Having a local contact will also help in planning your trip better as he will guide you to the nearby places and the best route to reach them.
Research about the places you want to go and know if there is any chaos there. Avoid the places which are not very tourist friendly. It is always better to go to those places first that are the main attractions as those places are the safest and you will also feel secure seeing other tourists exploring the place along with you.
Try to avoid the secluded streets. This is not only limited to Kashmir, but anywhere you plan to travel. If you go to a secluded spot and someone steals from you, it does not mean Kashmir’s chaos is at fault. You will find many such people in every state or country for that matter. So this basic tip will help you in ensuring your safety.
Kashmir is a very religious place and people over there dress conservatively. I did see women in shorts and dresses, however, in my opinion dressing in accordance with the place increases a sense of belongingness and you will not feel uncomfortable as well. I for that matter, was dressed in salwar suit which was respectful to the family I was staying with but even I felt very comfortable while exploring the streets.
The shops in Kashmir usually shut by 9 PM. You will also not find many women outside during this time. So it is better to stay indoors during this time if you don’t want to be surrounded with men all around. Ensure that all your necessary work is done during the day.
Kashmir is heaven, no doubt! But once you will visit this place you will agree with me that the media channels portray only one side of the story, shown only one side of the coin. Instead, Kashmir has kind people and everyone at the end wants peace!
This article was written by Radhika Sharma, a travel blogger, an avid YouTuber & an IG influencer for the past 2 years, based in New Delhi, the co-founder of the blog Nomllers. You can find her work on her YouTube and Instagram.