Pahalgam is a town in Anantnag district of state of Jammu & Kashmir. It is a popular tourist destination and hill station. It is located 45 kilometres (28 mi) from Anantnag on the banks of Lidder River at an altitude of 7,200 feet (2,200 m). Pahalgam is the headquarters of one of the five tehsils of Anantnag district. Pahalgam is associated with the annual Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari, located 16 kilometres (9.9 mi) from Pahalgam is the starting point of the yatra that takes place every year in the months of July-August.
Pahalgam, popular as the valley of shepherds, The place attracts tourists to explore its scenic beauty and the picturesque Liddar valley located in the high Himalayas. An ideal destination for hiking, trekking, and fishing, Pahalgam receives heavy snowfall from December to February. Its thick pine and cedar forests provide a natural habitat for the brown bear. During your vacations in Pahalgam, you may visit Hajan, a picnic spot, which lies on the way to Chandanwari.
Flora and fauna:
The area holds a rich cover of vegetation, the dominant forest consisting of conifers which account for over 90%. The principal species are Cedrus deodara, Pinus griffithii, Abies pindrow, Aesculus indica etc. The major shrubs are Indigofera heterantha, Viburnum spp., Sorbaria tomentosa etc. the ground cover is very rich and dicotyledonus herbs dominate: Rumex patientia, Primula spp., anemone spp., etc.
There are many species of rare, endangered and protected species. The main species are hangul, musk deer, serow, brown bear, Leopard, rhesus macaque, grey langur, Himalayan mouse hare, etc. Wild bears still roam much of the area, and local villagers are on constant alert for their presence. Due to the constant threat of illegal border crossings, the Indian army is always patrolling the area and is on constant high alert. As the local population cannot carry firearms, this has saved the bears from being hunted to extinction. With the abundance of fresh trout in the rivers and local farm animals, they have plenty to eat. Monkeys also populate the area. The area houses a good population of pheasants and upland birds apart from other species, both resident and migratory. The common birds are griffon vulture, monal, snow cock, koklas, blue rock pigeon, Kashmir roller, European hoopoe, jungle crow etc.
What to See and Do
Pahalgam is a beautiful valley, and the Lidder River running through it makes it even more picturesque. The river is one of the favorite spots for trout fishing in the country. Rafting is also organized at this river. Here are 10 interesting things to do when you are in Pahalgam.
1. Visit Club Park: Club Park is one of the oldest parks in Pahalgam. It is crowded, specifically on weekends. The garden blends perfectly with its surrounding hills and river running nearby and looks more like a naturally created garden.
2. Stop at Aru Village: Aru village is around 12 km from Pahalgam. Taxis are available from Pahalgam on shared basis. It is a beautiful village, visited by far lesser tourists and is more peaceful than Pahalgam. Some scenes from the film ‘Jaab Tak Hai Jaan,’ were shot here. The ride from Pahalgam to Aru has some of the most picturesque viewpoints. Pony rides are organised on the gentle slopes at Aru.
3. Go camping at Lidder Valley: Lidder valley is a popular camping site. It is around 12 km from Pahalgam and 12 km from the nearest motor accessible village, Aru.
4. Trout fishing at Lidder River: If you want to indulge in some fishing, there is no better place than Pahalgam. As much fun as it is, it doesn’t come cheap. Fishing permits are issued only in Srinagar by the Fisheries Department. If you are a first timer you can hire the service of a shikara (offered by fishermen in this case) but it can be quite expensive. With a permit I’m told that one can catch more than six fishes. So more or less it is a give and take process but a fun-filled adventure altogether. Pahalgam is thus also known as a ‘anglers paradise.
5. Rafting at Lidder River: River rafting is one popular sport here. Some people just come here to indulge in the sport. The white frothing water makes it more enticing.
6. Jamia Masjid Mosque: The green roof mosque just near the main bazaar (market) with its beautiful design is a major attraction. The location of the mosque also adds another dimension to its aura. The Lidder River below and the mountain as the backdrop make it a peaceful place to worship.
7. Gauri Shankar Temple: This temple is one of the oldest temples in Pahalgam. The Amarnath Yatra also begins here. The temple is small but much revered by the Hindus.
8. Visit the zoo: Around 1 km from Pahalgam town, wildlife lovers can see different species of deer, leopard and bear at the zoo.
9. Visit Betaab Valley: Betaab Valley is 15 km from Pahalgam town and is one of the most beautiful valleys around Pahalgam. The valley is famed as a setting for a popular Bollywood film, Betaab.
10. Visit Amarnath Cave: Amarnath is a famous cave where myth and beliefs meet. It is believed that Lord Shiva is seated in the cave. The cave was first discovered in 19th century by a local Buta Malik of Batakote. The cave and the naturally formed ice Shiva Linga has become a revered and one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in India. Most pilgrims stop at Pahalgam before continuing their journey to Amarnth. Tourism has flourished here richly after the insurgency problems have dissipated.
Amarnath Cave Overview
One of the most significant aspects of Pahalgam is that it serves as the starting point for the annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave in the months of July and August. Attracting thousands of devotees every year, Hindus consider a pilgrimage to the abode of Lord Shiva to be of great importance in their lifetime. The ice lingam that forms naturally within the Amarnath cave is worshipped by believers. Pilgrimage for the Amarnath cave starts from Pahalgam every year between July and August.
Entrance Fee:Free. Don’t forget to register prior to the journey dates.
The cave is located at a distance of 46.7 kilometres from Pahalgam
Aru Village Overview
While in Pahalgam, visit the last scenic village of the Lidder Valley, Aru. At a distance of 15 kilometres from Pahalgam, it is the central point for any trek to the Kolahoi glacier, which is at an altitude of 18,000 feet. The drive up to Aru is an experience in itself, keep your cameras ready for some gorgeous shots of the Valley.
Places to see around
Location 15 kilometres from Pahalgam
Pahalgam Golf Course Overview
The Pahalgam golf course offers splendid views of azure skies overhead a lush green turf and snow-clad mountains towering in the background. For golf enthusiasts, playing here is one of the top experiences in Pahalgam.
Sports Places to see around
Kolahoi Glacier Overview
The only way to reach Kolahoi Glacier is through an arduous trek, not for the fainthearted. At 18,000 feet, the breathtaking views upon arrival definitely make the journey worth the effort. The glacier during summers is the source of the Lidder River and some of the tributaries also make it to the Sindh River.
Location 26 kilometres from Pahalgam
Baisaran Hills Overview
A few kilometers from Pahalgam are the Baisaran Hills – enclosed by a dense forest of pines, firs and cedars over the Lidder Valley, this makes for a perfect campsite.
Places to see around Bollywood Connection Nature
Betaab Valley Overview
Betaab Valley is a scenic vale that lies towards the northeast of Pahalgam – the town associated with the Amarnath pilgrimage. This valley attributes its name to the hit Bollywood movie Betaab, which was shot in its picturesque surroundings. Sprawling verdant pastures, snow-capped mountains and meandering streams form the breathtaking landscape of this valley.
The region is immensely popular amongst globetrotters, who get mesmerised with its surreal beauty. Apart from being a place with impressive landscape, the valley is a famous trekking base and camping site for travellers who want to explore the nearby mountainous regions.
The beautiful Betaab Valley is a dream destination of every photography lover. The entire region boasts of several stunning landscapes that must be captured in the camera.
The association of Betaab Valley with the Hindi film industry is not new. Betaab (1983), which marked the superhit Bollywood début of Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh, featured this valley. The immense success of this movie became the reason behind the naming of this place as Betaab Valley. A song sequence and a scene from the Bollywood movie Sikandar (2009) were also shot here. Rockstar (2011), featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Nargis Fakhri, was also picturised in this beautiful valley.
Nature Places to see around
Hajan, 192126, Jammu and Kash
Chandanwari, situated in the outskirts of Pahalgam, is a place of immense religious and tourist significance. It is the commencement point of the annual Amarnath Yatra, which is an important pilgrimage held in the Hindu month of Sawan.
Blessed with ethereal natural beauty, this place has always been a delightful destination for visitors coming to the Kashmir valley. Undulating terrains and sparse greenery dominate the topography of this small and scenic hamlet.
The gushing Sheshnag River traverses this region and makes its landscape all the more enchanting. While driving to this place from Pahalgam, visitors are greeted with stunning vistas of snow-capped peaks and the Lidder River flowing through the vale. Chandanwari offers ample of opportunities for engaging activities like trekking, hiking, pony ride, palanquin ride and snow sledging.
The unique landscape of Chandanwari is made of high hills, a little greenery and meandering streams. All of this makes this place a delighting photography haunt, where several snapshots of nature’s unspoilt beauty can be clicked.
Entrance Fee Free
Location Pahalgam, Jammu and Kashmir
Where To Stay
Many hotels and Resorts are available in Pahalgam
How To Get Around
The magnificent hill station of Pahalgam does have any airport and the closest airport is in Srinagar (Sheikh-Ul-Alam Airport) that about 90 km away from Pahalgam. The airport due to its good connectivity with major cities, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Jammu provide a hassle-free journey to the tourists. From the airport, private cab or taxi can be hired to reach Pahalgam.
The beautiful cities of Srinagar and Jammu are very well connected with Pahalgam through the state owned road transport corporation buses. Special private deluxe luxury buses are also available from Jammu and Kashmir. The visitors can enjoy a ride in the buses that ply regularly from Srinagar and Anantnag and see the captivating beauty of nearby places like Panchtarni and Sonamarg.
Srinagar to Pahalgam – 95 km
Sonamarg to Pahalgam – 163 km
Katra to Pahalgam – 253 km
Delhi to Pahalgam – 826 km
Mumbai to Pahalgam – 2211 km
Leh to Pahalgam – 603 km
Udhampur is a nearest railway station (around 217 km) that connects Pahalgam to the major cities of India. The Jammu Tawi railhead at a distance of about 285 kms away is another station from where the visitors can reach this hill station. After reaching the station, a private vehicle is required to reach Pahalgam. The travelers have the option of either hiring a private cab or taxi to reach their destination.