Pangong Lake, also known as Pangong Tso, rests at an elevation of 4350 m above sea level. The length of the lake stretches over 134 km and the width over 5 km. Tourists visiting this place can also explore nearby attractions such as a green valley and the Thiksey Village. One can find numerous ancient monasteries on the way to the Thiksey village from the valley.
Birdwatchers can spend their time at this lake spotting avian species such as bar-headed geese, Siberian crane and waterfowls in this region. During winters, the lake completely freezes over, despite being saline.
Situated at five hour’s drive away from Leh, the place can be accessed only after an Inner Line Permit for visiting this lake has been acquired owing to the fact that it lies on the Sino-Indian Line of Actual Control.
While individual permits are required for Indian nationals, others are required to have group permits with a minimum of three persons in a group. They must be accompanied by an accredited guide. For a small fee, the Leh tourist office issues these permits. Boating is, however, not permitted in Pangong Lake owing to security reasons.
Aishmuqam Shrine is one of the most prominent tourist spots in Anantnag, which was built in the 15th century A.D. This shrine was constructed in the honour of Shiekh Zain-ud-din, who was one of the chief disciples of the renowned Reshi, Shiekh Noor-ud-din. The hills in the Aishmuqam town were once home to Hazrat Zain-ud-din Wali. Therefore, this place is considered to be sacred by people belonging to different religions.
According to the popular belief, Hazrat Zain-ud-din Wali had spent his time preaching about Allah. For this purpose, Hazrat Zain-ud-din Wali decided to restrict himself to the cave. Aishmuqam shrine is thronged by thousands of devotees during the annual Urs and Zool festival.
Alchi Monastery, situated in the village of Alchi, is one of the oldest monasteries in Ladakh. Also, known as Alchi Choskhor and Alchi Gompa, it is situated on the banks of the river Indus. It is believed that Rinchen Zangpo, the translator of Sanskrit Buddhist texts into Tibetan, constructed the monastery in the 10th century.
One of the most significant features of this monastery is that it is built on flat ground. The monastery complex comprises of three major temples namely, Du-khang, Sum-tsek and the Temple of Manjushri. Their history dates back to the early 12th and 13th century.
Lotsabha La-khang or the Translator's Temple and La-khang Soma are the two other important temples in the complex of the monastery. Chortens or stupas at the entrance of the monastery is also an important structure there.
Presently, the monks of the Likir Monastery look after this gompa. Photography is prohibited here and, visitors are required to carry flash-lights or torches as the monastery has not yet been electrified.
Amarnath Cave, dedicated to the Hindu god of destruction, Shiva, is a major attraction in proximity to Srinagar. Located at an altitude of 3888 m above sea level, these caves are believed to be around 5,000 years old. The length, height and width of Amarnath Cave are 60 ft, 15 ft and 30 ft respectively. The destination enshrines a natural Shivaling made of ice and thousands of devotees visit the site in large numbers to pay homage.
Amarnath got its name from Hindi word "amar", which means, "immortal", and "nath", which means, "god". According to the Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati, consort of Shiva requested him to reveal to her the secrets of immortality. In response, Shiva took her to the secluded caves in the Himalayas, where nobody could eavesdrop on him and revealed the secrets of life to her.
The months of July and August are considered to be ideal for visiting Amaranth. However, the place can also be visited from May to September. Indian Paramilitary Forces and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) keep a close watch at this site to ensure the safety of the visitors. Prior permission from authorities is required to enter the site.
Avantisvami-Vishnu Temple was constructed by King Avantivarman, the son of Sukhvarman; the first Utpala king, before his succession to the throne. This temple is a mere 1 km away from the Shiva-Avantishvara Temple. As the name suggests, this pilgrimage site is dedicated to the Hindu god of preservation, Vishnu.
This shrine is comparatively smaller than the Shiva-Avantishvara Temple. Though the Avantisvami-Vishnu Temple is smaller in size, it is in much better condition than the Shiva-Avantishvara Temple despite being constructed with raw materials similar to it. It is that King Avantivarman appointed some of the best professionals of that time for the construction of the two shrines.
Although the temple lies in ruins, the excellent artistic skills of its builders can still be seen. D. R. Sahni was given the responsibility of the restoration work of the site. During the reconstruction process, archaeologists discovered innumerable coins and antiquities belonging to the Chinese, Muslim and Indian dynasties.
Bani, a beautiful small valley, is the most prominent attraction in the Kathua District. This valley remains covered with ice and that is why it has been given the title of ‘Mini Kashmir of India’. Bani is situated at an elevation of around 4200 ft above sea level in the town of Bani along the Sewa river.
Upon reaching the valley, travellers would discover several waterfalls, thick forests, noisy streams and beautiful meadows. Trekkers from Chamba, Bhaderwah and other destinations use this place as their base camp.
Betaab Valley is famous among tourists for its scenic beauty. This place was renamed after a Bollywood movie called ‘Betaab’. Most of the scenes of the movie were shot with this valley as a backdrop.
Located 7 km away from Pahalgam, the valley is also noted as the river mouth of Sheshnag. Snow-covered mountains, deodar forests, pine trees, crystal clear streams, warm sunshine and willow trees are some of the major attractions of this location.
The close proximity of Baisaran and the Tulian Lake and the short distance from Pahalgam have also made the place popular with visitors. In addition, the work of the Pahalgam Development Authority towards the development of this place has made it even more popular.
Bhaderwah, popularly known as Chota Kashmir, is a beautiful town in the Doda District extending from Killa Mohalla to Gupt Ganga and from Qabristan to Gatha. Primarily a hilly town, Bhaderwah is located some 80 km from Batote. The place is known for its temples such as the Vasuki Nag Temple, Subar Nag Temple, Sheetla Mata Temple, and Gupt Ganga Temple.
The Thubu Nag Temple, Nagni Mata Temple, and Alalbani Temple are some of the other popular religious sites here. Many festivals, beginning from the month of April are also celebrated in this town. The place is also known for the Kailash Yatra, one of the most important pilgrimages for the Hindus Located amidst nature, Bhaderwah offers amazing landscape for sightseers to enjoy.
Tourists can also participate in eco-adventure activities in the meadows of Padri, Seoj, Jantron, and Rosaria. The valleys of Jai, Kelar, Blaisa, Chinta, and Chirala are ideal for trekking and camping.
Dehra ki Gali is situated in the centre of mountain peaks and dense forests of the Rajouri District. The site is the first eco-tourism project of the state, which lies in the Pir Panjal Range at an elevation of 6600 ft above sea level.
Dehra ki Gali is popular among tourists for its chain of high-altitude lakes. Upon reaching the top of the hill, tourists would find a one-room apartment has been built under Project Beacon. Tourists planning to visit the site should avoid winter season as the region experiences heavy snowfall.
Doodpather is a beautiful site situated amidst dense forests, hills and a stream. Locals believe that a Kashmiri sage known as Nund Reshi came to this place in search of water. According to a legend, when the sage dug the ground looking for water, milk started flowing out of the earth. It was after this that the place was named Doodpather, a combination of two Hindi words, "doodh" meaning "milk" and "pather" meaning "rock".
Some of the other popular tourist attractions situated close to this site are Sochilpather, Mujpather, Dophkhal, Palmaidan, Parihas and Tangnar.
Dras War Memorial, otherwise known as Bimbat War Memorial, is the prime attraction of the town of Dras. The memorial, located about 5 km from the city centre across the Tiger Hill, commemorates the martyrs of the Kargil War. A poem by Harivansh Rai Bachchan, father of veteran Bollywood actor, Amitabh Bachchan, inscribed on the gateway of the memorial greets visitors.
The names of the soldiers who lost their lives in the War are inscribed on the Memorial Wall and can be read by visitors. A museum attached to the Dras War Memorial, which was established to celebrate the victory of ‘Operation Vijay’, houses pictures of Indian soldiers, archives of important war documents and recordings, Pakistani war equipment and gear, and official emblems of the Army from the Kargil war. ‘Operation Vijay’, victory in Hindi, was the name given to the operation to clear Kargil of enemy soldiers.
Hemis Monastery, situated around 45 km south-east of Leh, Jammu & Kashmir, is the most prominent tourist attraction of the town of Hemis. This monastery was constructed in the year 1630 by the first incarnation of Stagsang Raspa Nawang Gyatso. In 1972, King Senge Nampar Gyalva re-established the Monastery in order to promote the religious teachings of the Mahayoga Tantra School. The Hemis Monastery, otherwise known as the Hemis Gompa, was constructed in the Tibetan architectural style, which displays the Buddhist culture and lifestyle.
Numerous shrines surround the site of the Monastery, but its prime attraction is a copper statue of Buddha, the founder of the Buddhist religion. Paintings on the walls of the veranda depicting the ‘Lords of the Four Quarters’ and the ‘Kalachakra’ or the 'cycles of life' add to the attraction of the Monastery.
The monastery has two prime sections which are the ‘Dukhang’ and the ‘Tshongkhang’. At present, the Drukpa sect of Buddhism has been given the responsibility of maintaining the Hemis Gompa. People in large numbers visit this site during late June, and early July to join the annual festival of Hemis, which is celebrated during this time to honour Guru Padmasambhava, an extremely important figure in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.
Karpo-Khar Shrine, situated in Sankoo, is one of the most important religious centres in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. The religious site is situated in the village of Karpo-Khar. Devotees from all over the country visit this shrine to pay their tribute to Sayed Mir Hashim. He was a popular Muslim saint and scholar who was invited from Kashmir, especially to teach Islam to Thi-Namgyal, a Buddhist ruler who converted himself to Islam in 16th century.
Kheer Bhavani is situated at a distance of 27 km from Srinagar, in the village of Tulla Mulla. Chinar trees and beautiful streams surround this temple adding to its charm. The temple received its name from the fact that only kheer, an Indian sweet dish, and milk are given as offerings by the devotees here.
Originally constructed by Maharaja Pratap Singh in honour of Hindu goddess Devi Ragnya in the year 1912, the temple was later reconstructed by Maharaja Hari Singh. A hexagonal spring in the temple is believed to represent the goddess. Legend has it that Hindu deity, Rama, used this temple as a place of worship while in exile. After the banishment period was over, the Hindu monkey-god, Hanuman, was asked to shift the idol of the Goddess to Shadipora, where it currently is.
Locals believe that the colour of the kheer, which is normally white, turns black to indicate unexpected adversity. In the month of May, on the 8th day of the full moon, devotees in huge numbers gather here to offer their prayers. The Goddess is believed to change the colour of the water on this auspicious day. Jesht Ashtam and Shukla Paksh Ashtami are some of the popular festivals that are celebrated in this temple.
Kud is a major attraction near Patnitop. This town is a committee area and is designated for future development by legal provision. It is located at an elevation of 1738 m and is a part of the lower regions of the Himalayan range. The town is popular for sweets, particularly for its hot and fresh patisa. The place is also known for its serene beauty and attracts maximum number of tourists during snowy winters and months of May and June.