If your travel plans come with a check-list of experiencing absolutely everything that Himalayas have to offer and you plan to tick ALL of them off in a week or two, chances are, you are heading to Kashmir.
Yup, the OG paradise on earth that always manages to live up to its glorious titles and testimonials no matter how many times you visit.
Here’s the thing, Kashmir is not just Srinagar and a few adjoining hilly wonderlands. It is Srinagar and 100s of hilly wonderlands that you can’t possibly cover in one trip. No way.
Not in a week, not in a month. Even the locals who have been travelling for over 50+ years agree that in Kashmir, there is more to see, than can ever be seen.
Kashmir is not only quite big but almost the most popular/scenic locations are not accessible by cars. You either have to trek on foot for at least a few hours or ride a pony/mule all the way up which is, honestly, quite brutal for both of you.
However, if you want to skip all the legwork and enjoy a relaxing vacation or an idyllic romantic honeymoon in this Himalayan wonderland, make way to the ultimate luxury retreat which embodies the heart and soul of Kashmir.
Less than 50 kms from Srinagar city, The Khyber Himalayan Resort and Spa is situated in Gulmarg’s famous pine forest. Nestled on a hill, the resort offers fabulous views of the snow-capped Affarwat peaks. Frequented by VIPs and top Bollywood stars, this resort offers a thoughtfully curated, all-round experience of Kashmir that you might otherwise miss out on.
Bollywood buff or not, Kashmiri heritage, culture and people would have made their way to your mind and heart through 60% Bollywood movies, Geography textbooks or honeymoon pictures of your parents. If you are not a local and don’t have Kashmiri friends who would invite you to their homes, the perfect opportunity to come as close as you possibly can to the Kashmir’s heart and soul is to reside at the Khyber and soak in all things Kashmir.
I mean, look at this place. What is not to love in this heavenly abode?
The moment we stepped in to the lobby, we found ourselves in the heart and soul of Kashmir. The panoramic views of Pir Panjal and the crisp mountain air scented with Pine from the surrounding forest welcomed us with open arms as we walked up to the front terrace. The warm Kahwa served on arrival soothed our nerves and frozen fingers as we took a long breath of the saccharine scent of saffron.
The woody interiors coupled with stone slabs on the outer walls imparts a true Himalayan essence to the Khyber experience. All the weariness from travelling so far from home wears off the moment you spot a bathtub in your room with pristine views of pine forests and snow clad peaks. The ever hospitable staff and management are always around for the tiniest of things. Like lifting up the blinds so you can enjoy the best view or taking extra few pictures just in case because the first two shows your bad side.
The room was tastefully designed with ornate artwork and walnut furniture like royal Kashmiri residences. Soaking in to the warm waters, you might just realise that “this is totally the highest point of my Kashmir tour!” But then, you dive in to the heated pool with sky-high views of adjoining forests and hills.
Then you keep debating which experience is better for the rest of the trip. Shucks!
If you ask us, both are equally, divine.
Don’t forget to enjoy the most relaxing spa of your life at The Khyber Spa by L’occitane. This luxe experience offers the most stunning views of the forests and wipes out all the stress about the mails piling up in your inbox with holistic treatments inspired by the rituals of Provence, France. All the luxurious body oils will give you a bright Himalayan glow which you will be flaunting at work for a week or two.
The Khyber is the ‘Juhu’ of Kashmir so you might come across a celeb or two for obvious reasons (best property in Kashmir) duh. Our advice? Just keep it super casual and let them enjoy their vacay/shoot.
Clove, the resort’s fine-dining restaurant offered exactly what you crave after hours of sight-seeing or sleep.
Coz relaxing in the lap of luxury can be tiring too, TBH.
This multi-cuisine restaurant serving almost every dish ever is indeed a blessing because there are very limited options around you. Thankfully, the best restaurant in Gulmarg just happens to be a few steps from your room. Or maybe just order in if you feel too relaxed to get up after a swim or a super luxe spa session. We totally get it.
Our voracious appetite for all things Kashmir guided us away from my regular continental brunch choices to traditional Kashmiri Wazwaan. Which is a selection of dishes prepared with Kashmiri spices and enjoyed at events, like weddings. The royal platter included four kinds of meat preparations along with a paneer and much-needed boiled greens. It also included the unrivalled showstopper- Roghan Josh which was crafted to perfection with perfectly balanced flavours.
As you can make out from my satiated smile here.
While many agree that winters is the best time to visit Gulmarg, we found Monsoons to be quite pleasant with clouds settling on top of snow capped peaks and silver fir trees. Strolling barefoot on dewy Lavender gardens is also a delightful monsoon experience that you will cherish in Gulmarg apart from famed tourist activities like the Gondola ride and pony trek up the hills. The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa also happens to be only 10 mins away from the world’s highest golf course which you definitely can’t miss.
Kashmir has many gems to offer but we highly recommend The Khyber experience to every lifestyle enthusiast who seek the shining crown of Kashmir among other gems.