Kashmir is heaven on earth, a Shangri-la, a place to visit before you die; a place rhapsodized by poets as enchanting and hypnotizing. Nestling as it does in the Himalayas, Kashmir is full of mountains, rivers, springs, lakes, gardens flowers, forests and orchards that take on different hues according to seasons. In winter Kashmir can be inhospitable and simply must be avoided. The best time to visit Kashmir and view it in all its glories is from the period March to October.
March is the beginning of the spring season when plants and trees come to life and blossom with abandon, transforming the landscape into a riot of colors and scents. Flowers bloom, the air is full of butterflies, bees and sheer joy of life in celebration of renewal. You indeed feel you are in paradise.
March gives way to summer which, unlike the rest of India, is delightfully cool. You have an abandon of luscious fruits tempting you to try them out. From apricots to apples, from peaches to strawberries, there is no lack of fruits and you might just be tempted to subsist entirely on them. There is a slight nip in the air in the evenings but still, it is pleasant and you can even take a late night walk or go for a row on the moonlit Dal Lake.
With the arrival of September and as autumn starts to set in, the hillsides and forests start to take on colors of sunset: gold, yellow and orange with a splash of red and pink here and there. The air is full of rustle of falling leaves and the ground is a multi-hued carpet crunching delightfully under your feet. The evening air is now decidedly cooler but still you can venture out, wrapped in light woolens, smell the fragrance of night flowers and admire the stars adorning the inky black skies.
October and the air is decidedly chilly. Your breath steams and the ground may be covered with a light icing of snow with the ground showing up here and there, reminding you of a lovely frosted cake. Wrap yourself in heavy woolens and, on a day when there has been heavy snowfall the night before, have fun throwing snow balls on each other. The sun shines in sparklingly clear air, reflecting from the snow capped mountains, an ode to the glories of God, barely warming you but making you feel very much alive.
When people ask you which the best time to visit Kashmir is, you generally think of seasons. From another perspective you could ask yourself which is the best time in your life to visit Kashmir. When you are young, you feel like clambering about, climbing mountains and exploring the valleys and wild rivers in spring and summer or play about in the snow in winter. When you are a bit more mature you may want to have your beloved by your side and cover her with flowers in spring, watch her as she delicately samples the tempting fruits in summer, spend cozy hours together in autumn and winter. In the winter of your life, Kashmir still dazzles and you would want to admire the many hued splendors of this marvelous Valley that tempted conquerors from far, and truly stands out as a tribute to the creativity of God and perhaps will forever!