“If I knew this, I would be God”: Our guide to us when we asked him if he thought it would rain the next day.
“You are our guest. We can not let you go unguided in the forest”: The tourism officer to us when we said we could manage by ourselves on the forest trek.
“Sir, this is a horse from Yusmarg, not Gulmarg”: A little boy insisting we sit on his horse.

Our visit to Yusmarg was filled with such profound wisdom; we were surrounded by people who cared more about our safety than we did, and the tourism economy of Yusmarg was explained to us in a single line, by a little horseman.

Other than that it was the usual in Kashmir living in a wooden cottage on a flower-filled meadow, waking up to golden sunrises, walking through pine forests, crossing river streams, and being invited by a nomad family to take their family portrait.

Yusmarg to Srinagar is a mere 50 km drive of a couple of hours. Largely, tours to Kashmir allow one day for sightseeing in Yusmarg.

No, Yusmarg should not be “done” as a day trip from Srinagar. May we present the case for a longer stay in Yusmarg?

Compelling reason 1: In Yusmarg, you can stay right on the meadows

Our cottage at Yusmarg, Kashmir, India

That was our home in Yusmarg. This cottage accommodation is run by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department.

Yusmarg, Kashmir, India

We could see the golden sunrise from the window of our cottage.

Our cottage at Yusmarg, Kashmir, India

Compelling reason 2: In Yusmarg, “green spots” for your morning tea or evening kahwa are aplenty

Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Set up a picnic anywhere, sipping your tea in the company of horses and flowers. Relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment. Ample of opportunity to spend time with yourself and be lost in thought.

Compelling reason 3: Yusmarg is the least crowded of “easy to reach” destinations in Kashmir

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Do you notice a common theme in these pictures of Yusmarg?

Unlike the more popular destinations like Gulmarg and Sonmarg, people are conspicuously absent from Yusmarg. There might be a few local or “day” tourists. But other than a few hours in the day, the entire Yusmarg meadows will be all your to explore and enjoy.

Compelling reason 4: Many places to explore around the main Yusmarg meadows

There are many places to explore around the Yusmarg meadows, at a walking distance. Doodhganga is a gushing stream, a few minutes down the Yusmarg meadows.

For a more soaking activity, head to the lake Nilnag. Walk through the village Gojipathri as you walk towards Nilnag. Carry a packed lunch or some filling snacks as you head here. Set up a nice little picnic, and cool yourself around the blue waters of Nilnag.

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Head back through the forest route. Birds, flowers, butterflies, wildlife (?), the forest route had more to offer to a curious traveler. This forest walk is part of the trail to Chadora. Yusmarg to Chadora is a one day trek, preferably done with a local guide. Stay for the night at Chadora (or return via the road to Yusmarg).

If you ask the people of Kashmir, they might say it’s just a few hours walk. But bear in mind, “they” are different than us, city folks. Unless you have fitness like this, ask them for an estimated time at your pace!

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Compelling reason 5: Forest treks everywhere around Yusmarg

Every direction you go, there is a 1-2 day trekking option around Yusmarg. The tourism officer has complied a rough sketch of these trekking routes and their directions which is put up in his office. When we told him we had come to Yusmarg to prepare for the Amarnath yatra, he discussed the various possibilities with us. And arranged for a guide to take us on a suitable trek.

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

We went up the forest to the meadows of Dragdolan. Our guide told us there was a Dragdolan 1 and 2. Depending on our interest, he would decide how far to go. When we weren’t satiated even after reaching the second point, he took us ahead to a point called Barga. We walked a total of 25 km that day, a perfect workout to prepare us for the multiple day climbs of the Amarnath yatra.

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Soon we were among the nomadic settlements of the Gujjars.

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

At a distance, we heard a woman call out to our guide. She was asking if we wanted to have “doodh ki roti” (flatbreads made of milk). We had never heard of it before, so decided to give it a try.

A Gujjar home in Kashmir, India

In we walked into their Gujjar hut. Reluctant to barge in into someone’s home like that, we stood at the door. But the women would have none of it. They asked us to wait inside as they made the rotis.

Yusmarg, Kashmir, India

They then charged us a measly ten rupees for a roti. Then refilled our water bottles with water they had walked miles to fetch (without accepting any money for it). And let our guide have his hukkah break using their hukkah.

On our way back, they called out to us again. This time, the entire family was home from the forest, for lunch. They wanted us to take a proper family portrait.

Meadows at Yusmarg meadows, Kashmir, India

A few days later, walking down the markets of Pahalgam, we saw the same roti being sold for a price over ten times higher in a “plush” restaurant. No amount of “plush” would, however, match the Gujjar family’s hut, high up in the mountains!

Other than the Gujjars, we met a very few people along the way. There was one guy carrying his sick sheep to a medical camp up in Yusmarg. Lack of local medical facilities meant they had to walk for hours to reach the nearest health care center. For the animals (who are the lifeline for people living up in the Himalayas), they had to wait for the medical camps that would be set up every few weeks in Yusmarg.

Yusmarg, Kashmir, India

If these people look familiar, that’s beacause you have met them earlier in 7 Himalayan Families That Stunned Us With Their Hospitality and People Of The Valley: Kashmir.

7 families in the Himalayas that stunned us with their hospitality People of the valley: Kashmir

This slice of life that we got to experience in Yusmarg, is not possible when you visit a place, see the sights and leave.

Top tips for visiting Yusmarg

  • You can reach Yusmarg by public transport (albeit, with efforts) from Srinagar and Pahalgam. From Srinagar, the route is Srinagar–>Chanapora–>Chadora–>Charar-e-Sharif–>(less frequent) Yusmarg. From Pahalgam, the route is Pahalgam–>Anantnag–>Pulwama–>Pehripora–>Yusmarg.
  • If you hire a car, then Yusamrg to Srinagar is a drive of a couple of hours. Srinagar to Yusmarg and back to Srinagar is logistically possible in one day. But most of that day will be spent in the car and on a horseback in Yusmarg.
  • The only place the horses actually take you to is Doodhganga. Other than that, for places like Nilnag or Dragdolan, they only take you to a vantage point and show you the lake or meadow from there.
  • There are other longer treks as well, that can be done from Yusmarg. The trek to Sang-e-Safed is supposed to be through a beautiful virgin trail. Doodhpathri, another bowl-shaped valley of Kashmir is another long trek from Yusmarg. Both will take at least two days to return to Yusmarg, taking a guide is highly recommended. Tosa Maidan is another arduous trek which can now be done from Yusmarg, since the area was recently made accessible public.
  • Yusmarg is closed for tourists in the winter. Before making plans to visit Yusmarg, make sure the stay facilities have opened for the summer.

Map of Yusmarg to Srinagar and Yusmarg to Pahalgam

Do you need further assistance to plan your itinerary for offbeat travel to kashmir?

Tell us about your requirements. Give us as many details as you can.
A destination within India that you are planning to travel to
e.g. Kerala, Coorg, Ladakh etc.
Mention Adults and Children separately
DD/MM/YY
Even if you don't know the exact date, give us an idea of the month/season.
Please use this space to provide any additional information that you think might help us to design your itinerary. Specific activities that you would like included, plus transport requirements should be mentioned here.
To understand your/ your family's interests better, we would like to have a conversation with you. Suggest a time when we can discuss your trip.
Our charges for the Itinerary Design Service are as follows
For a trip between
3 days-1 week: 2500 INR
1-2 weeks: 5000 INR
Charges for longer trips will vary as per the trip

More ideas for your offbeat travel plans for Kashmir

Guide for offbeat travel to Kashmir, India

South Kashmir circuit: Non touristy fit for all travelers

Chatpal an offbeat gem hidden in Kashmir

Lolab valley, undiscovered Kashmir

Kokernag, a garden outing in Kashmir

Tourist attractions around Dal lake in Srinaagr, Kashmir

Need help planning your trip to Kashmir?

Tell us your requirement.

The following two tabs change content below.
Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

Latest posts by Sandeepa Chetan (see all)

51 Comments

  1. Hi, Thank yu for the beautiful article,
    Is october end good time in Yusmarg? after yusmarg what do you suggest phalgham or sonmarg?

    Please help!

  2. Pingback:Travel blogging and why we love it · SandeepaChetan's Travel Blog

  3. Yusmarg is truly magical! Glad I chose Yusmarg over Sonmarg and Pehlgam. Loved my stay here 馃檪

    • Yusmarg almost feel like the Cinderella – a beautiful stepsister to Gulmarg and Sonmarg 馃檪 Wonder why it hasn’t caught the fancy of the tourism sector in Kashmir!

  4. I am planning to visit Kashmir in November this year.
    Any idea how would it be ?

    • In November, Kashmir will be cold and you might even be able to catch some snowfall. It will be beautiful.

      • Thanks Sandeep. I was reading that since its in between autumn and winters, it might not have its beauty.
        But I really ant to visit Kashmir and November suits me the best. What do you think , its good to go ahead ?

  5. Pingback:Amarnath yatra: Trek on a pilgrimage · SandeepaChetan's Travel Blog

  6. Pingback:People of the valley: Kashmir · SandeepaChetan's Travel Blog

  7. Pingback:Guide for offbeat travel to Kashmir · SandeepaChetan's Travel Blog

  8. Amazing!
    I’m planning to may first week, will weather be good?
    I don’t want sharp sunny days. 馃檪

    • May is generally a good time to be in Kashmir. Yusmarg, being in the mountains should be pleasant. It was perfect weather even in June when Srinagar was quite hot in the day. But like our guide had said, you can never be certain of the weather 馃檪

  9. S Mandal

    How to book hotel/resort at YusmargY

  10. Hi Sandeepa Chetan! Loved your blog! And need some guidance.
    We will be going for the Kashmir great lake trek around independence day this year. After the 8day trek is finished, we wish to spend some time in less crowded places (unlike Sonmarg, gulmarg etc.). We thought of Pahalgam, but it will be really crowded due to the Amarnath Yatra I suppose. After reading your blog, we decided on Chatpal or Yusmarg. Which will be better,as per your opinion, given that we will be just returning from a 8 day trek? Is the KTDC accomodaaccom at Yusmarg good?

    • You are right about Pahalgam being super crowded at the time. Given that you would want some “comforts” after the trek, we will recommend Yusmarg over Chatpal. The tourism board’s cottages, as well as the JKTDC accommodation, are right there on the meadows. There are more relaxing spots on the Yusmarg meadows that you can go to without trekking too much.

      • Thanks! Could the booking be made from Srinagar or do we have to book over internet/telephone?
        p.s. I am literally bowled over by each of your Kashmir post. Trust me I have read many “blogs” but the heart you put into your writings are unforeseen to me.
        Keep up the work guys. ?

  11. djthewayfarer

    Hi Sandeepa & Chetan, Beautiful writeup & brilliant pictures. This is indeed a heavenly place to be. I recently been to Kashmir in last week of December 2017 and did it as a day trip because couldn’t get accommodation in peak winters.
    Just a little update that it is accessible in peak winters too 馃檪

  12. Balaji Subramanian

    Hi Chetan, can you please let me know where you got the guide in Yusmarg

    • The tourism officer at Yusmarg arranged one for us. The guide, Rasheed Dar lived in the settlements right on the Yusmarg meadows. In fact, the previous day, we went on an unguided trek. The tourism officer arranged for us to rest in the house of a family who lived in a village along the way.

      • Murali Ravi

        Hi Chetan

        Your blogs are so inspiring and informative.

        I and 2 others are planning to reach Srinagar on 26th April and stay until 7th May, I do not wish to stay in the crowded places like Sonamarg and Gulmarg, rather try some offbeat places to enjoy the peaceful meadows and homestays.

        Can you suggest some places? Is it required to rent a car? We are thinking of renting bikes for our duration of stay.

        I’ll be thankful if you can recommend a suitable itinerary.

        Thanks

  13. Prasad Mantri

    Excellent pictures and informative write up.I am also photographer and arranging photography tours from last 8 years.
    I will planned to arrange photography tour to Amarnath Yatra in July. That time i also add Gurez Valley. So pl send me Gurez valley information and photofraphs.
    Thanks.
    Prasad Mantri.

  14. sagar bansal

    recently visited kashmir and yusmarg made vlog about it beautiful place.

  15. Vivekanand P Mudur

    Excellent pictures and informative write up. Many many Thanks. Hi, I liked your blog n pictures, I am a photography enthusiast aged 61 years from Mumbai, would like to know whether accommodation in Yusmarg, Chatpal or in Daksum available in the 3rd week of October’16. will these places be snow laden? Actually I want to record/capture fall colours & leaves shredded trees in nature. Alternatively, you may suggest any other place in Kashmir or Himachal or Ladakh. My trip duration would be 15days max Mumbai to Mumbai and would be travalling all alone.

  16. Any threat of terrorism there?

  17. I am in awe of these pictures ! Such a serene and beautiful countryside. It’s great that we learn of new places through the blogging community.

  18. Thanks for the useful post, one day day i will be there.

  19. Very nice pictures and a nice post. I have pinned some of your pictures . I can promise I will keep on travelling back to your blog for more. Keep up the good work. We had been to Kashmir recently but not to Yusmarg . Seems we missed it.

  20. travellingslacker

    Awesome vistas… yet again!

  21. abhiray59

    Gorgeous photography.

  22. Kishor Dashpute (@ConsultKD)

    Yusmarg – Wow -So gorgeous!! very well written

  23. But it is also sad that life is so hard in a heavenly place like this.

  24. Just wonderful! After looking at those images do I really need a reason to stay there? 馃檪 It looks heaven.

  25. Compelling enough to make anyone plan a trip soon. Hope to visit sometime! The pictures with the tiny yellow flowers look so happy 馃檪

  26. 2travellingsisters

    Wow!!! After one look at the pictures we had this place to our must visit list. So gorgeous!!

  27. Joseph Chikeleze

    Thanks for this post. I look forward to spend my holiday here some day

  28. My god! So beautiful… Complete paradise haan 馃檪

Like the Article? Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.