Pahalgam is probaly the most popular hill resort in the Kashmir valley. Since it is rather lower than Gulmarg the nighttime temperatures do not drop so low and it has the further advantage of the beautiful Lidder River running right through the town.
Pahalgam is situated at the junction of the Aru and Sheshnag Rivers and surrounded by soaring, fir-covered mountains with bare, snow-capped peaks rising behind them. The Aru flows down from the Kolahoi glacier beyond Lidderwat while the Sheshnag from glaciers along the great Himalayan.
At the confluence of the streams flowing from the river Lidder and Sheshnag Lake, Pahalgam was once a humble shepherd’s village with breathtaking views. Now it Kashmir’s premier resort, cool even during the height of summer. A number of hotels and lodges cater to all preferences and budgets, from luxurious to unpretentious trekkers’ lodges, including JKTDC’s delightfully romantic, fully furnished huts, partially concealed by giant pine trees.
Pahalgam Walks - There are many short walks available from Pahalgam and in addition it is an excellent base for longer treks such as those to the Kolahoi glacier or to the Amarnath cave. Pahalgam can also be used as a starting point for treks out of the region. Pahalgam is particularly famed for its many shepherds and they’re a common sight, driving their flocks of sheep along the paths all around the town.
Around Pahalgam are many places of interest, and because the resort is set between fairly hills, it is worth hiring a pony rather than walking. Pony fares are posted at prominent locations.
Mamaleshwara is only a km or so downstream from Pahalgam, and on the opposite side of the Lidder, is this small Shiva temple with its square, stone tank. It is thought to date from the reign of king Jayasima in the 12th century, even earlier.
This meadow, about 5-km from Pahalgam and 150m higher, provides excellent views over the town and the Lidder valley. Pine forests and the snowclad mountains surround the grassy glen. One can hire ponies for this trek from near the centre of town.
If one continues 11-km beyond Baisaran one reaches the Tulian Lake at 3,353m, 1,200m higher up. It is covered in ice for much of the year and surrounded by peaks, which rise more than 300m above its shores. It also can be reached by pony trek.
The little village of Aru is actually the first stage from Pahalgam on the trek to Lidderwat and the Kolahoi glacier. It makes an interesting day walk from Pahalgam, following the Lidder river for Pahalgam, following the Lidder river for 11-km upstream. The main track, which also can be taken by car, is on the left bank of the river. There is also a less used, and more difficult path, on the right bank. At Aru one will often find the Gujars, living in their log huts with their flocks of sheep and goats, en route to the higher sheep and goats, en route to the higher pastures for the summer.
Hajan, on the way to Chandanwari is an idyllic spot for a picnic. Filmgoers will recognize it instantly as it has been the location of several movie scenes.
Chandanwari & Passage To The Amarnath Yatra
Situated 16-km from Pahalgam, Chandanwari is the starting point of the Amarnath Yatra, which takes place every year in the month of Sawan (Rain). The destination is the Amarnath Cave, believed to the abode of Lord Shiva. Although the road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is on fairly flat terrain, and can be undertaken by car, from Chandanwari onwards the track becomes much steeper, being accessible on foot or by pony.
Located 11-km from Chandanwari is the mountain lake of Sheshnag, after which 13-km away is the last stop, Panchtarni. The Amarnath cave is 6-km away from there. During the month of ‘Sawan’, an ice stalagmite forms a natural Shivling (also spelt as Shivlinga), which waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon.
The state government makes extensive arrangements every year for the successful completion of the pilgrimage, registering each one of the over one lakh pilgrims, pony owners and Dandi Walas, providing camps en route, and ensuring safe, comfortable and speedy progress of the Yatris.
Even if one’s visit to Pahalgam is not during the period of the Yatra, one can still take a pony ride up to Sheshnag Lake, returning late evening.
Pahalgam is one of Kashmir’s popular trout fishing beats. Kashmir is famous for its trout although they tend to be rather small. Additionally, fishing licences are hard to get and rather expensive. A compulsion is to keep am guide and one is also permitted to catch six fishes, which is the daily limit.
HOW TO REACH THERE
Air: Pahalgam is in Anantnag District and is about 96-km from Srinagar. The nearest airport is in Badgam District. This Airport is connected with all the major cities of India. Rail: The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India.
Road: The road to Pahalgam can be taken to Khannabal or alternatively from Bijbehara villages from National Highway NH1A. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway. It takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountainous road, which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India. Bus service is available from Srinagar and Anantnag, which leave at fixed time from the Bus stands. Taxis and other sort of transport can be hired from Srinagar at pre-fixed rates. Assistance is available at Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar. On Road to Pahalgam one comes across the beautiful Lidder Valley with important spots of Mattan and Aishmuqam