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Top 25 Things to do in Jammu & Kashmir

The lush green views of Aru Valley; the colourful series of houseboats and shikaras; the holy shrines of Jammu City; the deserted motorable road of Leh; and the tranquil ambience of Buddhist monasteries, Jammu and Kashmir is all about never-fading beauty and allure. There is no place in the state that is not blessed by Goddess Nature. But there is much more to J&K other than sightseeing and beautiful places. If you like to give your trip a distinct feel then engage yourself in the varied activities offered by the state. There are several things to do in Jammu and Kashmir that make your holidays an unforgettable experience to cherish. Listed below are some popular activities that travelers must do during their trip to this pristine state of incredible India.

Shikara Ride
shikara-ride
Capturing the beauty of Srinagar in lens on the slow movements of Dal and Nagin Lakes through Shikara rides is one of the most relaxing aspects of holidays in Jammu and Kashmir. The views of colourful houseboats and shikaras on the banks of lakes add hues to the surrounding charm and tranquility.

Golfing
golfing-in-kashmir
If you want to enjoy your leisure time without exerting yourself too much, then golfing is one activity that you must try your hands at. There are four world-class golf courses in Kashmir with each ons of them having beautiful landscapes. Offering fantastic views of snow-capped peaks, the golf course of Gulmarg is estimated to be the most elevated golf course in the world.

Trekking
trekking-in-ladakh
There are many things to do and enjoy in J&K but nothing can be more challenging and exciting than trekking. From short duration walks to weeks-long trans-mountain treks- it is not wrong to call Jammu and Kashmir ‘the trekking capital of India’. Casting a spell of magic are the trekking routes of Ladakh that give freaking trekkers multiple reasons to visit the place again and again.

Skiing
skiing-in-kashmir
One of the main attractions in Jammu and Kashmir for adventure seekers is skiing. With snow-covered peaks and slopes of Himalaya Mountain Range in the background, the state is blessed with world-famous destinations like Gulmarg, Pahalgam and Thajiwas glacier in Sonamarg which are also great places for skiing. Jammu Kashmir government maintains a number of accommodations for skiers at Patnitop, Sanasar and Kud in Gulmarg.

Mountain Biking
mountain-biking-ladakh
If the idea of exploring beautiful valleys, crystal clear lakes and snow-covered mountains on a bicycle gives an adrenaline rush then J&K is your destination. Whether it is the gentle slopes of Kashmir Valley or the rugged terrain of Ladakh, mountain biking is a fantastic activity that travelers love to do during their holidays in Jammu and Kashmir. There are various challenging cycling treks in Ladakh that add thrill to your mountain biking experience.

Paragliding
paragliding-in-kashmir
Among the various adventure activities in J&K, paragliding is one of the most popular ones. The view of the striking green meadows and the majestic valleys while gliding over them is a totally different experience. And gliding is the best way to witness this. Sonamarg, Gulmarg, Baderwah, Sanasar and Harwan (Srinagar) are the top places where tourists can enjoy this aero sport.

Mountaineering
mountaineering-in-ladakh
Situated mainly in the Himalayan Mountain Range, Jammu and Kashmir is a state of varied heights. From Kashmir Valley to Zanskar Range, there are several mountains, low and high, easy and challenging, that offer mountaineers wonderful opportunities of mountaineering. Harmukh, Tattakutti, Sunset and Kolahoi in Kashmir Valley, White Needle, Z-1, Z-8, Bobang, Nun – Kun of Zanskar Range and Stok Kangri, Gulap Kangri and Kang Yatsey in Ladakh are some of the well-known peaks in J&K.

Angling and Fishing
fishing-and-angling
With a network of rivers, lakes and streams, Jammu and Kashmir is a paradise for angling and fishing. It is common to see people engaged in this interesting activity in the entire state. Fishing at Dal Lake is a popular activity; however, Pahalgam along with Lidder River is considered as the best spot to enjoy angling. The water bodies of the area are rich in both brown and rainbow trout. But you have to take permits from Jammu Kashmir government before going for the activity.

Bird Watching
birding-in-ladakh
If you think sightseeing in Jammu and Kashmir is limited to man-made marvels then think again as there are many natural habitats the state  that are  heaven for bird watchers. There are about 24 wetlands dotted all across the state where bird watchers can enjoy this activity l. Home to around 500 species of bird, bird watching in J&K is an all-season activity. The eastern part of Ladakh region and Gharana and Surinsar wetlands are the perfect places to spot a lot of local and migratory birds. Black necked crane, bar headed geese, falcon, and European blue whistling thrush vulture are the notable birds of the state.

Shopping
shopping
Shopping is one of the favourite things to do in Jammu and Kashmir. The state is known world-wide for its handicrafts, dry fruits and textiles, especially shawls and carpets. The shopping itinerary also includes Kashmir silk, copper and silverwares. One can enjoy this leisure activity at numerous traditional shops and also at modern shopping centres dotted all over the state.

Dining
dining-in-kashmir
Whether you are a foodie or not, the rich flavors of Kashmiri cuisine will sure win your hearts and appreciation. The Kashmiri people prefer non-vegetarian food, but there are various vegetarian dishes too that are equally tasty. J&K state is also known for its bakery products. The banks of Dal Lake are adorned with bakery shops selling various types of delicious breads. Wazwan, a multi-course meal is the signature dining treat of Kashmir.

Rafting
rafting-in-kashmir
Amid the breathtaking natural allure of the state lies a treasure of adventure in its many forms. One such thrilling form is rafting. The famous rivers where adventure seekers can try this challenging activity are Indus, Lidder and Zanskar. Cutting through various mesmerizing landscapes, deep gorges and mountains, these roaring rivers give ample thrill to rafting lovers.

[You may also like to read Top 25 Places to Visit in Jammu & Kashmir]

Camping
camping-in-ladakh
If you want to enjoy the natural allure of Jammu and Kashmir in its full bloom then camping is a must-do activity for you. There is no shortage of beautiful camp sites in the state where one can come close to nature. Pahalgam, Aru Valley, Yusmarg, Pangong Lake, Nubra Valley, Gulmarg and Sonamarg are wonderful places to enjoy camping during summers because of their pleasing weather conditions. If you want to turn this leisure activity into an adventure activity then winter is recommended. Also,   go for high-altitude treks as they are more conducive to camping activities.

Snowboarding
Snowboarding
When we talk about the best places to enjoy winter sports in India, Jammu and Kashmir invariably makes its way to the top. Apart from skiing and heli-skiing, snowboarding is another favourite activity to do in the state during winters. And undoubtedly Gulmarg emerges as the best place as it has the world’s best sloping hills.

Water Skiing
Like winter sports, water sports are also a major attraction for travelers wishing to spend their holidays in Jammu and Kashmir. Water skiing is the  most loved of all water sports in the region and has a legion of followers. The thrill attached with surfing on powerful water currents is something that makes the activity so exciting. The iconic Dal Lake along with Nagin Lake and Manasbal Lake are the popular spots to enjoy water skiing. Manasbal Lake is located about 32 km from Srinagar and is the deepest lake in Kashmir Valley.

Monastery Tour
thiksey-monastery
Hidden amid the hilly mountains away from the rest of the world, Ladakh monasteries are the rare gems of Jammu Kashmir tourism. These Buddhist peace houses are legacies of the Indo-Tibetan culture. Dotted all across Ladakh, an exploration of these gompas (the local name of a monastery) can do wonders to our knowledge.

Wildlife Tour
hemis-national-park
With over seven national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in its kitty, Jammu Kashmir has an exciting panorama of flora and fauna that awaits nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. It will bring you great pleasure to watch many rare, indigenous animals and birds during a wildlife tour in the state. Snow leopard, brown bear, Himalayan black bear, Marmot, red fox, musk deer, golden eagles, griffon vultures, lammergeyers and Monal pheasants are some of the natives of the region.

Road Trips
ladakh-raod
It may not click many travelers who look Jammu and Kashmir trip as refreshing honeymoon break or as a family holiday. But for travel junkies, especially for bike lovers, road trips are one of the most captivating and exciting things to do in J&K. The winding ways, sometimes passing across scenic meadows and sometimes cutting across hills are too strong a temptation to be missed. And when these trips are through broken and deserted roads of Ladakh, the sense of adventure only amplifies. A drive on Khardung La, one of the highest motorable roads in the world, is a unique way to experience the beauty of the region.

Horse Riding
horse-riding
Blessed with several breathtaking tourist places, Jammu and Kashmir is the destination that needs exploration by every inch. And for doing this, horse riding is a preferred choice as one can enjoy it at any time of the year. The views of rolling hills and lush meadows from the back of a horse will make the trip more memorable. Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Ladakh, and especially Zanskar Valley are major places to enjoy horse riding in Jammu and Kashmir.

Photography
ladakh-photography
Endowed with picturesque settings and natural beauty, this northern-most state of India is a paradise for photographers. It doesn’t matter whether you are in Jammu or the brightly coloured mask dancers of Ladakh urge you to capture the beauty in your lens, every corner of the state is full of beautiful shots.

Canoeing
Canoeing
It is another major water sports that is gaining in popularity among the locals and tourists in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Even Jammu Kashmir government has introduced a Kayaking & Canoeing tournament to promote the sport. Indus, Lidder, Drass, Suru, Sindh, Zanskar and Chenab rivers offer wonderful bases to enjoy white water canoeing.

Hot Air Ballooning
hot-air-balloning
When it comes to different types of leisure and adventure activities in Jammu and Kashmir, the fun is not limited only to land or water activities. Aero sports are also in great demand among tourists visiting the state and that’s why hot air ballooning is very quickly making its mark among things to do in J&K. Panoramic views of the lush meadows, crisscrossing streams and deep valleys while floating in the open sky like a bird give a very distinct feel, one that is to be cherished.

Jeep Safaris
ladakh-jeep-safari
Unrevealed the spectacular natural allure of Jammu and Kashmir through jeep safaris! Whether it is the breathtaking location of Srinagar or the rocky terrain of Ladakh, jeeps are considered as the best companions of travelers while exploring the state.

Camel Safaris
ladakh-camel-safari
Give your holidays in Jammu and Kashmir a distinct colour this time with camel safaris. If you link camel safaris with Rajasthan only then think again. Camel safaris are a major attraction in the cold and barren Ladakh region. Offering commanding views of valleys, local villages and gompas, camel safaris prove itself to be a safe bet for exploring the region. These safaris can be enjoyed during the period of July- September. Deskit and Hunder sand dunes in Nubra Valley are the two main locations for the activity.

Ice-skating
ice-skating
It is well-known that Jammu and Kashmir is one of the most favourite destinations for winter sports in India. And there are various pristine locations like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Yusmarg and Patnitop that are known for their white carpet look. Tourists can enjoy ice-skating during winters when the frozen surfaces are common sights in the state.

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About

Vijayendra Thapliyal is the name behind Tour My India, one of the leading tour operators in India. Besides being a successful businessman, he is also a typical travel junkie who loves to explore the treasures concealed in different corners of India. When he is not on road, he is active with a pen sharing travelling experiences with many like him. With a keen interest in India’s rich cultural legacy, he loves to capture memories in his lens.