by Muhammad Nadeem
SRINAGAR: As the leaves turn golden and the chill sets in, the valleys and peaks of Kashmir transform into enchanted realms perfect for an autumn getaway. Harud, the autumn in Kashmir, casts a magical spell with its stunning palette of fiery reds, warm yellows, and vibrant oranges.
Crisp mornings give way to pleasantly sunny afternoons, making autumn the ideal time to explore the breathtaking landscapes and abundance of cultural and adventure activities that Kashmir offers.
To experience the Vale at its most spectacular, here are some magical destinations in Kashmir perfect for an autumn holiday.
Nestled in the high Himalayas, the Gurez Valley transforms into a kaleidoscope of autumn colours. Towering mountains draped in crimson and amber hues frame the vista while Chinars and maples lining the gushing Kishenganga River moult into warm tones. The valley echoes with the gurgling of icy streams and occasional calls of pheasants and partridges.
As you hike through narrow lanes flanked by quaint wood and stone houses swathed in scarlet vines, you will hear the rustling of fallen leaves under your boots. Stop at little bakeries tucked in tiny hamlets to try sheermal bread baked in traditional tandoors. Spend a night or two camping under starlit skies while bonfires keep you warm. Explore ancient forts like Kala Pani and Qila Misri on misty mornings. On clear days, catch awe-inspiring views of the Himalayan peaks Nanga Parbat and Haramukh from viewpoints like Dawar Ridge.
Enveloped by the Pir Panjal Mountains, the Bangus Valley unfurls vibrant autumnal tapestries with its sprawling grasslands and forests. Trek through rustling maple and walnut trees that form fiery canopies over the trails. Stop by gushing rivers and streams turning crystalline in the chill. As you hike further up the valley, sight majestic peaks like Harmukh, Bangus, and Amarnath swathed in snow.
Discover medieval ruins buried in fiery foliage, like the Krimchi Temples dating back to the ninth century. Visit highland villages where little homesteads are surrounded by orchards of apples and apricots donning autumn hues. In tiny hamlets like Bapora, observe artisans spinning and weaving intricate Pashmina shawls. Spend the night in a traditional village house, sipping piping nun chai while gazing at the star-strewn skies.
Situated at a distance of 20 km from the heart of Srinagar, the Dachigam Wildlife Sanctuary Park will make you feel real goosebumps as you step deep inside. With the breath-taking scenery of landscapes with a wide range of exotic flowers and wildlife, it provides a truly engulfing experience of nature, especially during the autumn season.
Situated at an altitude of 5500 to 14000 square feet, this park has been divided into different parts of higher and lower areas. Surrounded by 500 herb species and 50 tree species, this wildlife sanctuary is a must-visit place during the autumn season in Kashmir.
Blanketed with dense forests of pine, fir and lush grasslands, Lolab Valley unfurls vibrant autumn vistas. Start your journey in the town of Chandigam to explore the Mughal Gardens awash in Auburn shades. Ramble through apple orchards bursting into reddish-golden and catch glimpses of the snow-capped mountains beyond.
As you trek through the Kalaroos forests, take in the fiery shades of maples and watch leaves float gently into icy streams. Follow gushing rivers upstream to discover hidden waterfalls and quiet glades surrounded by autumn colours. In the evenings, rest in wooden huts in little villages, feasting on wazwan and listening to shepherds sing folk songs by the fireside.
Nestled amidst pine and fir forests, the Doodhpathri meadow transforms into a sea of autumnal shades in late October. Slopes burst into crimson and gold with wildflowers like daisies, buttercups and wild roses. Icy streams flowing through the grassland glisten under azure skies while songbirds chorus in the rustling trees.
Set up camp here for an overnight stay, wake up to misty dawns, and go on leisurely walks breathing in the crisp air. As the meadow is swathed in colours, you will feel like you are walking through a painting. For more stunning views, trek up to peaks like Sinthan Top and Tatakuti where Himalayan vistas unfold under blue skies. Stop for pahadi chai at quaint little shepherd huts along the way.
In the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the Yusmarg meadows erupt into fiery autumn hues with their cover of wildflowers and maple trees. Ride on horseback through this sea of gold, crossing babbling brooks framed by scarlet trees. Set up camp here and wake up to views of the first light touching grasslands and distant hills.
Follow bubbling streams uphill to find hidden waterfalls and lonely lakes surrounded by fall colours. As you hike up to Nilnag Lake, relish the crisp air and take in the vibrant shades of the landscape. Visit historic sites like the Mughal fort and centuries-old Shrine of Baba Reshi engulfed in autumn foliage. Stop at little villages like Khan Sahab to try wazwan and kahwah as golden light filters through Chinar trees.
The remote hamlet of Killar unfurls vibrant autumnal magic as it sits ensconced amidst pine forests and apple orchards. Wake up to misty days, wander through foliage turning fiery red and relish the crisp nip in the air. Take long walks through woodlands ablaze with fall hues and discover babbling brooks and streams shaded by scarlet canopies.
Visit the serene Kishtwar National Park where wooded slopes erupt into a mosaic of autumn shades. Enjoy picnics in the sprawling meadows swathed in gold as peaks like Sinthan Top and Baba Kailash cast their reflection on glacial lakes. In the evenings, huddle around bonfires and try delicacies like siddu and rajma as stars glitter in the clear night sky.
Situated amidst striking autumn mountains and forests, this plunge waterfall makes for an ideal short hike. Enjoy a picnic beside the gushing waters surrounded by vibrant fall colours all around.
Aharbal is a small village in Kashmir Valley, located about 70 kilometres from Srinagar and 15 kilometres from Shopian. The place is best-known most for its spectacular waterfall which in recent times has started to get referred to as the Niagara Falls of Kashmir.
The waterfall is named after this village and is formed at a spot where the Veshaw River or Nallah Veshaw flows through a narrow gorge of granite boulders. The water falls about 25 meters at 3 different places before it flows down the valley.
This quaint suburban town on the outskirts of Srinagar encompasses the historic Harwan Garden as well as the iconic Dachigam National Park, both taking on stunning autumn hues. The area boasts abundant maple, Chinar and pine trees that transform into a vivid fiery landscape in fall.
With its abundance of scenic vistas, adventure activities, historic sites and vibrant foliage, Kashmir casts an unforgettable spell in autumn. Lose yourself to the alluring landscapes, indulge in delectable local cuisine, experience the warm hospitality, and create magical memories amidst the autumn hues.
It is one of the largest Mughal gardens based out in Srinagar. The beautiful design of this garden will surely take your breath away. This garden is one of the Mughal-era antiques that symbolise the elegance of a bygone era.
During the season of autumn in Kashmir, Nishat Bagh offers an astounding display of beautiful, vibrant colours. The garden is adorned with a stunning mix of red, yellow, and orange leaves, resulting in a beautiful and pleasant eye-watching scenario for the eyes