When most tourist sites in India take your breath away… just imagine what a state that’s nicknamed ‘Paradise on Earth’ can do to you!! Jammu and Kashmir-a state that has it all – from sun-kissed mountains to lush green valleys, exotic orchards, green pastures, alpine forests, beautiful gardens and crystal clear lakes … sounds wonderful doesn’t it?

A true paradise of nature lovers, here are some breathtaking tourist spots that just can’t help but leave you mesmerized!

Also called the ‘City of Lakes’, Srinagar is the capital of this paradisical state and one of the main tourist attractions. A picture perfect destination, it is most known for its breathtaking Dal Lake and Nagin lake that are surrounded by imposing mountains giving it that perfect look.The boathouses and the aquatic sports such as kayaking, water surfing, canoeing, and angling add to the excitement of tourists visiting the city. Srinagar is also known for some of the most beautiful gardens found in India and its fruit orchards, and must visit attractions here include the Mughal Gardens, Nishat Bagh, Garden of Char Minar, Harwan Gardens and Chashma Shahi.

Other attractions here include the Pari Mahal a historic monument, near the beautiful Chashma Shahi Gardens, the Hari Parbhat Fort built during the 18thcentury, which is home to two beautiful darwazas (gateways) the Kathi Darwaza and the Sangin Darwaza).

Other attractions include the Shankaracharya temple, Sharika Devi Temple, Dastgir Sahib Shrine, Jama Masjid, Hazratbal Mosque, Pathar Masjid and more.

Literally translating to the ‘Meadow of Flowers’, Gulmarg known for its beautiful meadows of flowers is often referred to as the pride of Jammu and Kashmir. While must visits here include Khilanmarg, Apharwat Peak, Alpather Lake and shrine of Baba Reshmi, Gulmarg is a haven for adventure sports lovers with loads to choose from, be it skiing, wildlife expeditions, mountaineering, or more.

At an altitude of 2730 meters, Sonamarg or ‘Golden Meadows’ is often referred to as a mini Kashmir and is blessed with  dazzling lakes, snowed capped mountains and striking streams. Noted for its exquisite beauty, tourists can enjoy some breathtaking trekking trails from here to many scenic locales such as Vishansar, Satsar, Gadsar, and Amarnath.

Some important attractions here include Baltal and Yushmarg with its beautiful landscapes make wonderful picnic areas, Nilagrad for its waters which are believed to have healing powers, and the picturesque Bisansar and Krishnasar Lakes.

Around 95 km from Srinagar, Pahalgam lies in the lovely Lidder valley and is not only known for its scenic beauty but also adventure sports such as rock climbing, trekking and skiing. The main attractions in these regions include the famous Amarnath Caves, known to be one of the holiest Hindu pilgrim centres visited by tens of thousands of devotees every year, for its natural ice Shivaling. While Saisaran is blessed with some of Mother Nature’s choicest gifts, one can find the picturesque Tulian lake, amidst pine forests and snow capped mountains, while Chandanwari is known for its snow bridge.

At an altitude ranging from 2750 – 3550 meters, the mountainous region of Ladakh is blessed with some of the most breathtaking landscapes. Guarded by the Himalayan and the Karakoram Range, Ladakh offers an amazing array of tourist sites which include Kargil, Suru valley, Sankoo, Padum. Sani, Zongkul, Zangla, Drass and Stongdev. It’s exciting trekking trails have also made it a hit amongst sports freaks with trekking trails such as the Nubra Valley, Chadar ice trek, Indus Valley, Markhs Valley and the Great salt lakes of Changtang, Spiti to Ladakh, etc being all time favorites.

A part of the mesmerizing Ladakh region, Leh is known not just for its exotic natural beauty but also for some interesting places of interest making it popular with tourists heading this way. From monasteries such as the Hemis Monastery, Likir Monastery, Phyang Monastery, Alchi Monastery, Lamayuru Monastery to other attractions like the Old Castle at Tsemo Hill, rock cut sculpture at Mulbekh, sculpture at Drass, Leh Palace and Shey Palace, Leh is a destination that provides tourists with plenty of opportunity for sightseeing.

However there’s no arguing that the best time to enjoy Leh is during one of its vibrant festivals celebrated here like Ladakh Festival, Buddha Mahotsava Festival and Sindhu Darshan Festival.

While the destinations mentioned above are the main attractions of the state, others include the famous Nubra Valley also called the “Valley of Flowers”. Situated in close proximity to the famous Siachen Glacier; it is one of Ladakh’s famous tourist spots for this magnificent valley is filled with natural beauty.

Katra is another important town as it serves as the base camp for those heading to the sacred Vaishno Devi shrine, a pilgrim site highly revered by Hindus.

Another destination of importance for Hindus is Mantalai, as according to Indian mythology this is the area Lord Shiva was united in marriage to Goddess Parvati. The ancient Sudh Mahadev Temple said to be over 2800 years old is one known to attract its share of devotees especially during the full moon night in the month of August. Also of religious importance is the Gauri Kund Spring; it is considered sacred by devotees as it is believed to be the place Goddess Parvati would bathe before offering her prayers to the Lord.

If adventure is what you seek then Sanasar is the place for you! Known not just for its beauty but also for some interesting activities such as trekking, paragliding, parasailing, hot air ballooning, and more, this is the right place to explore your adventurous side!

Surrounded by thick forested hills, that are reflected in its crystal waters, the Sruinsar Lake is one that can’t help but take your breath away. Adding to the beauty here is the Sruinsar Mansar Wildlife Sanctuary that is home to a wide species of birds and animals.

Akhoor is a town of historical importance; the Amar Mahal Palace Museum is one of the main attractions of this place. Constructed in red sand stone, this majestic monument that once served as the residence of Raja Amar Singh is home to a brilliant golden throne that has been preserved here.

Another palace of importance here is the Mubarak Mandi Palace built in 1824.It is one of the oldest structures here and is an amalgamation of European Baroque, Rajasthani and Mughal architectural styles. Of importance is the beautiful Sheesh Mahal the residence of the Dogra king and the Dogra Art Museum that houses nearly 800 paintings of different styles.

Other attractions here include Jhajjar Kotli, Harwan, and several other religious sites and places of worhip.

A State filled with some marvelous attractions, Jammu and Kashmir is known not just for its spectacular beauty but also for some interesting adventure sports, religious sites and exotic wildlife.

Looking to carry back a bit of your magical holiday? From Kashmiri shawls to carpets, papier mache, to walnuts or walnut wood items, saffron and more, the State spoils you with the choices available!

And while the tensions between India and Pakistan over the land have led this state to have its share of problems, when it comes to unmatched natural beauty Jammu and Kashmir still remains an undisputed wonderland for tourists!