Gulmarg: Rightly called the 'meadow of flowers', Gulmarg 51 km south west of Srinagar and 2,653 meters above sea level, is famed for its 18 hole golf course: the highest in the world. A beautiful saucer-shaped valley girdled with poplars, trails lead out of here in several directions and are popular with those enjoying pony-rides.
Other places of interest in the valley are Alpather lake with its deep turquoise waters; Ningal Nullah, a charming picnic spot by the side of a stream, l0 km from Gulmarg; Lienmarg, a lovely camping site in a natural clearing;Ferozepur Nullah, another picnic spot; and Baba Reshi, the shrine of a saint that is a popular pilgrimage.
Pahalgam: Pahalgam is the perfect retreat for here, in a sleepy village surrounded by meadows and fields, there is a tranquil timelessness that calls for no activity. This queit resort is only disturbed with the annual descent of the thousands of pilgrims in July-August en route to the holy shrine of Amarnath, a three-day trek from here. Pahalgam skirts Lidder river, replete with trout. A numher of treks in this region also begin from Pahalgam, as the 35 km trail traverses through pinewoods to the spectacular Kolahoi Glacier.
Sonamarg: 80 km from Srinagar, enroute to Ladakh, 3,000 metres above sea level, Sonamarg is dramatic in its breathtaking beauty. Surrounded hy mountains, with a hill spur running the length of the settlement, Sonamarg has many excellent sites for camping, and is the base to exciting mountaineenng expeditions to the high altitude lakes of Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Rehmansar, Gangabal, Nund Kol and Satsuran.
The steep Sonamarg slope is covered in a dense forestation of fir and birch. Across the opposite slope is a natural garden of wild flowers, and close at hand, the Thajiwas glacier.
Avantipur: The township, 18 km from Srinagar, was founded by Avantivarman who reigned from 855 to 883 AD. The site has two temples. The larger one, Siva-Avantisvara, is marked by massive walls some half a mile beneath the town on the outskirts of village Jaubror. The subsidiary shrines are to the rear corner of the courtyard. But the complex has, over the years, lost its grandeur and has been reduced to ruins, though it is still visited by the devout. Half a mile up is Avantisvami-Vishnu, a better preserved temple.
6 km east of Achhabal is Kokernag, a stream said to contain digestive waters. Across the wall that encloses the spring are five temples. AndVerinag, 78 km from the capital city, is believed to be the source of the riverJhelum. Gardens surround Verinag, and the water source (with waters so clear you can see the fish swimming) is enclosed in an octagonal basin ordered, in 1620, by Jehangir.
Several mountain ranges run through the state of Jammu and Kashmir - among them Pir Panjal, Great Himalayas, Zanskar, Ladakh, Karakoram. Off Sonamarg are the lesser peaks - Kolahoi (5,425 m) and Harmukh (5,148 m).
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