This curated journey from the ancient trading city of Srinagar set among the majestic mountains and captivatingly tranquil lakes of the Vale of Kashmir to the wild flower filled bucolic Sonamarg Valley famed for its trekking trails to traditional mountain villages among a panorama of Himalayan snow capped peaks, has been carefully designed to offer unique and unforgettable experiences of this stunningly beautiful and enchanting region of the Indian Himalayas.
The experience begins with a stay on Sukoon, a traditional Kashmiri houseboat sensitively restored to seamlessly blend old-world charm with modern comforts, set among floating gardens of flowering lotus on Dal lake. Sukoon makes a perfect base from which to explore the bazaars and mosques of Srinagar’s old town and enjoy the pleasure of reclining in a traditional elegant Kashmiri style gondolas, called a shikara, as you are paddled around the lake to encounter every day life with a backdrop of the misty Pir Panjal mountains.
From here we will drive past ancient temples, and scenes of timeless village life to the stunning Sonamarg Valley along the ancient trade route that links Kashmir with the Tibetan Plateau. The Sonamarg Sukoon Camp has stylish tents with double or twin beds and comfortable mattresses. Set in a meadow among a majestic natural amphitheatre of Himalayan scenery populated by nomadic herdsmen, they are furnished with Kashmiri carpets, have full en-suite facilities and large windows to enjoy the fabulous views from your bed!
The final destination is Nageen Cottage a typical family home located on a peninsular between Nagin and Dal lakes back in Srinagar The building enjoys the old heritage architecture of Kashmir, with a covered balcony, Jali work (wooden lattice), and a Khatam Band (wooden engraved ceiling), furnished with walnut chests, divans, teak-wood pieces and Tibetan Choksi.
The hosts who are life long residents of the town, reside on the premises offer an intimate and authentic experience of local culture and life.
Day 1. Arrive at the beautiful city of Srinagar by air to be met by the Sukoon team and transferred to Sukoon Houseboat with time to settle in before the unforgettable experience of being paddled around Dal Lake at dusk in a shikhara as the sun sets over the panorama of mountains that surround the Vale of Kashmir perfectly reflected in the mirror calm water. Back on board Sukoon Kashmiri musicians will perform a traditional classical music recital as you enjoy a sumptuous feast under the stars on deck.
Day 2. The day begins with the tradition morning ritual of a ‘bed tea’ - Kashmiri style laced with saffron and cardamon, milky Indian masala chai, tippy Assam and aromatic Darjeeling brews are all on offer. After breakfast on deck we will set off on a guided walking tour of Srinagar’s atmospheric old city. Starting at Zaina Kadal bridge we will enter a living museum of Islamic architecture and lively bazaars piled high with local treats like walnuts, apricots, red chillies and honey as well as many tempting pashminas and beautifully embroided shawls. We will visit the Patthar Masjid or “slipper mosque”, the exquisitely decorated sufi shrine Khanqah of Shah Hamadan, the Zain Ul Abedin tomb with its silk road style Byzantine domes and the 370 wooden pillared Jama Masjid with a lunch break at Ahdoos’, an authentic Kashmiri restaurant in the old city. The Last stop will be the hilltop Shankarachariya Temple reached just before sunset for the glorious view it offers. After sundown you will be escorted back to Sukoon for dinner and retire for the day.
Day 3. Gear up for an adventure filled day ahead of you. After bed tea and a hearty breakfast at Sukoon, we will drive to Sonmarg Camp with a stop on the way to visit the fabulous the 8th century Shiva Temple complex at Naranag, and for lunch at Villa Himalaya, before a 15 minutes walk the camp where you will be welcomed with cold/hot towels and a hot cup of tea, settle in your tent, relax in the afternoon sunshine and enjoy the view or take an evening stroll before dinner served under the stars around a bonfire! Overnight at Sonmarg Sukoon Camp.
Day 4. After bed tea and breakfast we take about 3 hours walk on the rolling hills to the Gujar (Nomad) Huts at upper Lichpather, as we ascend towards the huts the views towards Sonmarg and across to the Thajawas glaciers get increasingly beautiful .We will be invited into the home of a Gujar family to enjoy a hot cup of salt tea! and have a glimpse of their traditional lifestyle. We continue walking for another hour to the upper meadows to enjoy greater views of the mountain, our lunch will be set up on an ornate carpet in the shade with lovely views. After lunch we walk back to the camp for High Tea and some time at leisure before dinner served under the stars around the campfire. Overnight in your comfortable tent.
Day 5. After breakfast we drive back to Srinagar to stay a night in Nageen Cottage, a charming small family house where our hosts will offer cooking lessons and an intimate personal experience of home cooked Kashmir food and culture, there is a lovely garden to relax in before an afternoon visit with our host to the famous Hazrat mosque and the bazaar.
Day 6. After breakfast, we visit the famous Mughal garden of Shalimar and Nishat to wander at leisure among amongst the flowers, fountains, waterfalls and beautiful chinar trees before a late afternoon transfer to the airport for your flight back to Delhi or Mumbai.
Comfortable and spacious Toyota Innova car with experienced and helpful driver.
Local English-speaking Guides will be provided in each area for the visits, sightseeing and walks.
• Sukoon Houseboat 2 nights
• Sonmarg Sukoon Camp 2 nights
• The Cottage Nigeen 1 night
May to Mid September
Nearest Airport: Srinagar: (daily flights from Delhi, Amritsar, Mumbai, Bangalore) then a 30 min transfer to the Ghat from where a 10 min speed boat transfer to Sukoon Houseboat.
Nearest Railway Station: Udampur railway station 200Kms/ 6hrs drive the breathtaking scenery of the lower Himalaya, surrounded by gentle hillside slopes with villages and pine forest.