India and Pakistan both dispute ownership of the Kashmir Valley, and political violence can flare up without warning. Because of ongoing security problems, many foreign governments advise against all travel, or all but essential travel, to areas outside of the cities of Srinagar and Jammu, and your travel insurance may be invalid if you ignore this advice.
Welcome to Kashmir & Ladakh
The state of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) brings together three incredibly different worlds. Hindu Jammu and Katra, in the south, are the state's rail hubs and a major draw for domestic pilgrims. Muslim Kashmir is India's Switzerland, attracting hordes of local tourists seeking cool summer air, alpine scenery and Srinagar’s romantic houseboat accommodation. And then there's the Himalayan land of Ladakh, which for most foreigners is J&K’s greatest attraction. Its disarmingly friendly, ethnolinguistically Tibetan people are predominantly Buddhist; their timeless monasteries are set between arid canyons and soaring peaks, while emerald-green villages nestle photogenically in highland deserts.
Kashmir is politically volatile, with July and August often the 'season' for shutdowns, demonstrations and curfews. Indeed, arguments over Kashmir's status caused three 20th-century wars. Ladakh is altogether different, a calm oasis where your main concern will be high-altitude acclimatisation. Note that Ladakh is entirely inaccessible by road outside the summer season.