The Valley Of Shepherds
At an altitude of 2,130m and about 95-km from Srinagar , Pahalgam is
probably 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.
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
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
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
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
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