Beat The Crowd: Lesser-Known Winter Getaways In Jammu & Kashmir

Beautiful lakes, green meadows, snow-capped peaks, and the heavenly kahwa. Jammu and Kashmir is rightly known as "Paradise on Earth." Here's a look at some breathtaking off-the-beaten-track places you can visit on your next trip
Aharbal Falls in Kulgam district's Noorabad region is mesmerising
Aharbal Falls in Kulgam district's Noorabad region is mesmerisingShutterstock

Jammu and Kashmir, the crown jewel of India, is often synonymous with stunning snow-clad peaks, shimmering lakes, and charming hill stations like Gulmarg and Pahalgam. While these destinations are breathtaking, they can get crowded, especially during peak winter. But Jammu and Kashmir holds a treasure trove of lesser-known winter getaways for the adventurous traveller seeking a quieter, more authentic experience. Here's a look at some of them.

Aharbal Falls

Aharbal Falls, which gushes down and falls melodiously in isolation, is a hidden gem. Also known as the Kashmiri Niagara Falls, Aharbal is located in Kulgam district's Noorabad region. It is situated in an alpine valley surrounded by pine and fir trees on the Vishav River, a tributary of the Jhelum. Aharbal is easily accessible from Srinagar, and it takes around two hours to go there by vehicle or bus through Shopian. A different path to Aharbal will take you through Kulgam.

Reaching There

Aharbal Waterfall is around 65 kms from Srinagar and can be reached only by road. Srinagar is well connected to the rest of the country by flight, train, and bus services. You can hire a taxi or take a public transport.


Flanked by a few tiny towns, Astanmarg is a meadow atop the Zabarwan mountains. You climb up the hill on a narrow, steep road until you reach the point where the road terminates, giving you an incredible view of Srinagar and Dal Lake. If you are an adventure seeker, you can go paragliding in Astanmarg. Visit the place during sunset and it's truly magical. You will also get a lovely view of the entire city—Dal Lake, the Golf Course, and the mountains of the Zabarwan range surrounding it from all sides.

Reaching There

Astanmarg is 10 kilometres from Shalimar Bagh, 13 kilometres from Nishat Bagh and Dal Lake, and around 26 kilometres from Lal Chowk in Srinagar. Hire a taxi from Srinagar to reach Astanmarg.


Machhedi is 35 kilometres from the town of Billawar in the district of Kathua. Surrounded by stunning mountain ranges, it is reminiscent of one of Kashmir's most prestigious picnic destinations. It has a moderate climate throughout the year. The location is notable for its lovely summers and chilly winters. The majestic pines, deodars, walnut and pear trees, and diverse flora add to the area's allure. 

Reaching There

Billawar is 270 kms from Srinagar and 110 kms from Jammu. You will get a bus to travel to Billawar or you can hire a cab.

Dehra Ki Gali

The Pir Panjal range has many valleys, including Dehra Ki Gali
The Pir Panjal range has many valleys, including Dehra Ki GaliWikimedia Commons

Located in Rajouri district at 6,600 feet within the Pir Panjal range, the valley is charming with a lush green cover, colourful flowers, and small wooden huts where you can have a cup of kahwa. The Pir Panjal pass connects the districts of Poonch and Rajouri. This destination sees snowfall through the winter months and boasts of a dense plant cover that delights and draws many.

Reaching There

Dehra Ki Gali is 45 kms from Poonch and around 33 kms from Rajouri. You can hire a cab or take a public road transport.


The state tourism department has established Suchetgarh border post as a tourist destination. On the border is a magnificent banyan tree, said to be more than 100 years old, which gives shade to both India and Pakistan. This area has two incredible wetlands, Gharana and Abdullian, where thousands of indigenous and migratory birds converge during the winter.  

Reaching There

Located 28 kilometres from the centre of Jammu, you can get to Suchetgarh via the road from Jammu to Nai Basti-Gulabgarh. It follows the railroad line set up before 1947, and you can see several ancient structures along the way.

Sarthal Valley

The dense tree cover at Sarthal is nature's heaven
The dense tree cover at Sarthal is nature's heavenYash Raina/ Wikimedia Commons

This undiscovered heaven is nestled amidst stunning mountains and rivers shimmering in the sunlight. Its natural splendour has earned it the moniker "Mini- Kashmir." A location rich in surprises, the valley sheltered within Jammu's Kathua district is home to several waterfalls and streams. You can even witness seven waterfalls in one place.

Reaching There

Sarthal Valley is around 223 kms from Jammu. It is 50 kms from Bhaderwah and around 25 kms from Bani. Regular bus services are available from Jammu and Kathua to Bani. Start early in the morning so that you can be back before nightfall. You can also hire a taxi.


Chatpal, surrounded by the mountains of southern Kashmir, is dotted with unending stretches of dense woods, natural streams, and wildflowers. Take leisurely walks, chat with the Gujjar-Bakerwal people over cups of kahwa, and observe herds of sheep grazing freely in huge, open meadows. During the peak winter secan ason, you may even organise a ski excursion to this remote hamlet. 

Reaching There

Chatpal is around 85 kms from Srinagar. Located in Shangus district, Chatpal is a short trek ahead of Chitergul on the Anantnag-Chitergul road. You can avail the shared jeep from Achabal to reach Chitergul. You can hire another vehicle here to reach Chatpal.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Outlook Traveller