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Introducing Pahalgam

Surrounded by high peaks, the Lidder and Seshnag rivers tumble down picturesque, deep-cut mountain valleys covered with giant conifers. The surrounding mountains contain many beauty spots and over 20 lakes to which countless guides and horsemen are more than keen to take you for a ride. The most popular hike of all is the multi-day yatra (pilgrimage) to Armanath. The main accommodation centre is the sprawling low-rise resort town of Pahalgam with over 230 hotels and guesthouses, several manicured parks, temples for different religions and a super mountain-ringed golf course. Rafting a 2.5km stretch of the Lidder is possible from a point 12km west of Pahalgam (taxi ₹500) once a group of six or more people has assembled.

For a short, easy unguided walk, heading up the very pretty Lidder Valley towards Aru gets you fairly rapidly away from the worst of the pilgrim crowds. Given around three hours, horsemen will be more than happy to take you on a standard roadless circuit to a lake, viewpoint and upland meadow for ₹750. Guesthouses are likely to encourage you to go for longer treks that take you well into the glorious alpine scenery. While the landscapes are undoubtedly lovely, prices tend to be far higher than for equivalent hikes in Ladakh, so if your time is limited, think carefully as to which area suits you better.