Yes! You read it right. I was sitting one-day scrolling through my facebook and I came across a picture of Kashmir village which a friend of mine had posted. And that instant moment it triggered the sensations in my mind that this is exactly the place where I should bag pack next! The next big challenge was how to do it in 6 days with 11K because that is what was left in my account!
The next thing which I did was to book my flight tickets immediately because ‘When you wait for booking, you say hello to price hike!’. Now I had three days to figure out how I am going to do it.
The first step for a budget trip is to make a rough itinerary where all you are going to be and what is going to be your means of transportation. So, it was going to be Srinagar-Pahalgam-Gulmarg. While I was googling all, I was getting was Taxi which charges thousands of bucks to make you reach from one place to another. So, I said to myself lets reach there and I’ll figure it out.
Touch Down: Srinagar
The moment you enter Srinagar it seems you have entered a ‘No Entry Zone’ because in every nook and corner you see military people holding big guns. With saliva running down my throat I was like Okay! Been a Delhi-ite I have never seen such a scenario except when Delhi is on red alert or some VIP is coming. I had decided to stay in Srinagar on my last day and continue towards Pahalgam first. Because Srinagar is just like any other city full of crowd and traffic and I am more of a mountain lover who wants to listen to sounds of the river, birds chirping, cattle grazing, etc… The second reason was I was just coming from a city and I was not ready for another city. And third, it would be a lot easier on my last day to reach the airport than any other place. I guess the last one made sense.
So, coming back to the point, when you land Srinagar and talk to a few local you realize that sharing taxies are run all over Kashmir to travel from one place to another. They are not direct and you have to change them once or twice but trust me the difference it makes to your pocket is huge. I know most of you might be thinking why not bus? Because buses are not that frequent. You might end up waiting for long! I boarded a sharing taxi from Srinagar airport to Lal Chowk which otherwise would have cost me 700 bucks. From Lal Chowk, I again boarded a Taxi for Anantnag. Anantnag is a beautiful place where many Bollywood movies have been shot. The last one was for the movie Sultan. Before boarding the other taxi do take time out to explore this beautiful place. From Anantnag to Pahalgam once again I boarded another taxi. It took me 3.5 hours and 150 bucks to reach Pahalgam from Srinagar which would have cost 3000INR. In Pahalgam, I stayed in a guest house which was 1.5Km away from the main market at end of village Pahalgam. The reason: Guesthouses a little far from the market are always cheaper, nicer and quieter. It was a very nice place along the riverside with a comfy bed and soothing hot showers. I stayed in Pahalgam for 2days before heading towards my next destination which was Gulmarg.
Now to reach Gulmarg again you have to go back to Srinagar, Batmaloo and then take a taxi for Tungmarg and once again from Tungmarg to Gulmarg. Many people also hike to Gulmarg from Tungmarg. The hike usually takes 2.5 hours, if you still have stamina left in you after traveling so much, go for it! In my case, I just called myself a lazy douche and went with a Taxi. I just wanted to reach Gulmarg and hit my bed as soon as possible. But what is said is never done! As soon as you reach Gulmarg you have this huge voice in your head, questioning you, ‘Who made this place, Where am I’. Trust me it is so beautiful. You can sit there the whole day and just admire the beauty of long meadows, the sunrise, the sunset! Very few people and amazing Maggi with Chai. Come on no one can deny this fact that, ‘You haven’t really tripped to mountains if you have not tripped with Chai and Maggi’. Tripping Huh!
Stayed there for 2 days, explored around.
My next and my last stop was Srinagar and I have always dreamed of staying in a boathouse which came true! Srinagar gives you an amazing opportunity to treat yourself with delicious, mouth-watering food. And it gets more delicious if you are a non-vegetarian and in front of you is Chicken Wazwan with all the dry fruits and spices in it. Yummy!! Do go through the Dal Lake trip to the famous Meena Bazaar. It is a shoppers paradise in between lake with beautiful long jackets, leather coats at an unbelievable price you get marvelous quality. I was saving my pocket-money to spend at this place like a crazy shopaholic. One night I also got a chance to crash one of the prestigious Kashmiri weddings which I came to know from one of my friend photographers at that wedding. My stay there was for two days again.
Trust me when I say this despite all the confusion and troubles going on in Kashmir, as shown by media, never have I felt the safest in my life as I have felt there. I was on the streets till 2 at night, traveled and stayed alone at all places, was rowing the boat 12 at night and never I ever felt that something bad will happen to me. The people there will go out of their way to help you, they will make sure you reach safe, even if disputes are there it never touches the tourist. And if you hear people saying Kashmir is unsafe, my friend no place in this world is 100% safe. So enjoy your time there and get lost in paradise.
- Pahalgam :
Srinagar Airport – Lal Chowk: INR150
Lal Chowk- Anantnag: INR80
Anantnag- Pahalgam: INR70
Guesthouse: The Grand View, INR500/night
Pahalgam – Batmaloo(Srinagar): INR150
Batmaloo- Tungmarg: INR70
Tungmarg- Gulmarg: INR30
Guesthouse: Above Bakshi Restaurant, INR500/night
Gulmarg – Dal Lake: (Taxi + Auto) INR300
Boat House: The New Blue Heaven, Lane 5, INR400/night
Chicken Wazwan: Stream Restaurant
- Srinagar to Airport: 500INR (because you don’t get anything early morning)
Flight from Delhi to Kashmir: INR1913
Flight from Kashmir to Delhi: INR1960
Rest: Food is Life
So that’s my guide for 6 days in Kashmir with Flights, Transport, Food and Stay in INR11000.
*Travel to Kashmir during the off-season to avoid the crowd and get discounts.