Discovering the culture
Both Jammu and Kashmir have regional influences from Central Asia and Persia. Of course, many influences also stem from religion, including Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism. As a result, modest clothing for men and women is typical. Traditional, flowing outfits with head coverings might be worn during festivals and other special occasions, for example.
Unlike other Indian communities, Kashmir Hindus use meat as a main source of protein. Alongside this entree, locals usually add rice to their plates. Also, breads in many forms are popular, such as naan bread.
One of the most popular highlights of Jammu and Kashmir is the festivals. Occurring several times annually, each festival has a specific purpose that's often associated with a religious milestone. Typically, music, songs and elaborate costumes are part of the celebrations where locals and visitors enjoy the revelry.
Best time to visit
Unlike other parts of India, Jammu and Kashmir offer fun and relaxation almost any time of year. Essentially, plan out your itinerary so that you can match it to the proper season. For nature lovers, visiting between March and May is optimal. Explore blossoming gardens and enjoy cool weather, for instance. In truth, a vacation during the spring allows you to skip the crowds that are common during the summer.
Between June and August, the summer months provide warm temperatures and plenty of things to do. Because everything is open during the summer, you have many adventure choices. Luckily, the temperatures don't rise too high in the summer, which makes it a popular time to explore.
Although the monsoons arrive between September and November, autumn remains a beautiful time to visit Jammu and Kashmir. The trees change color and hotel prices tend to drop, for instance. Alternatively, try a winter visit. For snow fans, frolicking in the wintry weather is a dream with the Kashmir Valley as a backdrop.
Things to do
Jammu and Kashmir are truly outdoor paradises. When you arrive, consider one of the dozens of activities available on the water, in the sky or across the land. First, try fishing, river rafting or a Shikara ride on Nigeen or Dal Lake. If you're ready for a high-flying adventure, paragliding is available, too. With hiking, biking and horseback riding available, your adventures can be as thrilling or as relaxing as desired.
Ideally, carve out some time to see the hill stations surrounding the area. These structures stand tall above the valley. Typically, these landmarks are open for tours, hotel stays, shopping and more.
Also, your stay in Jammu and Kashmir should include a look at the local flora and fauna. Depending on the season, bird watching is a treat with native trees offering refuge for these talkative animals. Be observant during these adventures because many native plants will flower all around you as well. Alternatively, a day trip to any of the local gardens is a lesson in Kashmir botany.
Lastly, spend some time at the historic forts and museums. In just a few hours, you can learn a lot about this unique community. In the end, you'll understand the culture and history of Jammu and Kashmir through an immersive experience during your vacation.