Kashmir – Dos and Don’ts for a solo traveller

I got an overwhelming response on dos and don’ts for solo traveler series. Continuing it, here is a comprehensive list for Kashmir Valley:

Dos

  • Kashmir is paradise on earth for some reason and Kashmiris are as much creditable for this as much as the mother nature is. Having said that let us not forget that the region is sensitive. So, be sensitive to your actions and fancies. Respect all rules both said and unsaid.
  • Stay in those parts of the city which are trouble-free. Dal and Nigeen Lake area, Rajbagh are some of the best options to choose from. Don’t stay near Lal Chowk or old city. Staying is houseboat is a fantastic option but be mindful of the ghat number area
  • Go for an early morning stroll around the Dal Lake. It is safe. The elite Kashmiris come for the walk. Even better go for a run.
  • Conservative dressing: Trust me, I have no business to say so but the locals are not accustomed to non-conservative styles yet. I hope things will change in the future but for now. I don’t feel like elaborating more on this. You are the best judge.
  • Carry cash: ATMs are not scarce but not that common either.
  • Buses are crowded and small. Autos are frequent and safe. Private vehicles are readily available.
  • If you are vegetarian, research for places to eat. For non-vegies out there, Kashmir is heaven. Do try Kashmiri aalu-dum irrespective, it is not the same.
  • When in need, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Kashmiris always try and go out of their way to make you feel comfortable. I remember when we were not getting autos after dinner, one gentleman, who was going in the opposite direction offer to drop us off. It was such an amazing gesture.
  • While returning from Srinagar airport, keep ample time at disposal (3 hours on an average). There are umpteen numbers of security checks. You might be asked to open your bag at many checkpoints. Be cooperative, this is for your own safety.
  • Say “NO” to someone if you feel the behavior is abnormal or not friendly.
  • Always keep your identity proof handy. Be extra cautious with your passports
  • Download offline google maps. Trust me on this. Mobile networks are taken down very frequently. Also, pre-paid numbers don’t work in the valley, so carry a postpaid one.
  • Take off your shoes and cover your head while entering any holy place

Don’ts 

  • No late nighters
  • Don’t click pictures at Srinagar Airport. That is a strict NO.
  • Avoid political conversation. You never know whom you might hurt with your opinions.
  • Avoid visiting politically sensitive areas and if your hotel guy/driver say no to a spot, it means no. Again I hate to say this but be aware on Fridays in old quarters.
  • Wandering out during curfew is a strict no unless you are near Dal Lake. Stock up instead. Prices go higher during such times.
  • If you have a morning flight, pre-book your cab.
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