Kashmir Safety

#1 Mar 18th, 2005, 15:09
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#1
I plan to visit Kashmir this summer and would be grateful for comments on the safety aspect of the trip. My idea is to stay in a hotel in Srinagar and cycle round Lake Dal - and perhaps a little further afield. All the government websites (US, UK, Australia etc) strongly advise against the trip but my hunch is that if I am careful I will be OK. The Kashmir Government website Militancy Data reports 504 civilians killed in 2003 and 479 in 2004. These figures are not encouraging! If cycling is dangerous I suppose I could travel by taxi. Does anyone have recommendations for hotels or taxi firms?
#2 Mar 18th, 2005, 15:24
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#2
i am no great believer in fate but seriously, cycling alone would not make much sense, i case u plan to do so, pleae make sure that a lot odf people know of ur plans in advance. BTW i would recommend a taxi, its much safer
#3 Mar 18th, 2005, 15:34
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The situation in Kashmir keeps changing, so do not take anything for granted. Its best to check up a few days before your trip.
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#4 Mar 19th, 2005, 12:26
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#4
Thank you for the advice - has anyone been to Srinagar recently?
#5 Mar 19th, 2005, 12:41
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#5
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Originally Posted by primrose All the government websites (US, UK, Australia etc) strongly advise against the trip but my hunch is that if I am careful I will be OK. The Kashmir Government website Militancy Data reports 504 civilians killed in 2003 and 479 in 2004. These figures are not encouraging!
Just a question but why is your hunch that it will be OK?
#6 Mar 19th, 2005, 13:53
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Good question! I guess the reasons are (1) unwise optimism (2) recent news about the Muzaffarabad - Srinagar bus service re-starting (3) reports from a few friends-of-friends who have been to Kashmir (and returned!) in the last few months (4) Indian tour operators are convinced it is safe (5) so far as I can tell there have been no tourist casualties for serveral years (6) everyone told me that cycling in India was madness - I found it different from Europe, certainly, but not more dangerous than other ways of using Indian roads. Indian drivers keep their eyes wide open for strays of every kind. European drivers are convinced that it is everyone else's duty to keep out of their way. And people were so friendly it is hard to believe there is a part of India where they want to kill cyclists.
#7 Mar 19th, 2005, 16:34
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Originally Posted by primrose (5) so far as I can tell there have been no tourist casualties for serveral years
Don't think that's true. I seem to remember 28 Indian tourists being killed in a rocket attack last year. It sticks in my mind as I was planning to go to Kashmir at the time, too.

Or do you mean foreign tourists?
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#8 Mar 19th, 2005, 16:51
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#8
Actually, it was 28 injured and 4 killed.

There's a thread about it here.

I think Shimla's advice is the best - keep your ears open and your travel plans flexible right to the last minute. The general feeling that I get from people who've been is 'Go, but keep your wits about you'.

I'm hoping to spend some time in Srinagar later this year, too. Will you keep us posted on how you get on?
#9 Mar 19th, 2005, 16:52
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#9
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Originally Posted by primrose Good question! I guess the reasons are (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)
That's a little more than a hunch then innit. Just trying to get people to get their questions straight you know.

Happy cycling.
#10 Mar 19th, 2005, 17:01
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#10
My hunch is that it'll be OK, too.

Have you read volga_volga's excellent article Missing Kashmir, primrose. Loads of good info in it.
#11 Mar 20th, 2005, 13:30
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Many thanks - I am new to this forum and had not seen Volga's excellent notes. My plan is to visit Kashmir in July and I will let you know how I get on. If you come across any reports from visitors this year I would be most interested.

I can see why Muslims object to visitors from India, if they are seen as imperialist, but do they also object to quiet and modestly dressed European visitors?
#12 Mar 20th, 2005, 15:43
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#12
I am also cherishing a dream to visit Kashmir. But due to unstable situation over there, my parents do not allow to go. I do not know whether the situation is so bad or not.
#13 Mar 21st, 2005, 04:48
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#13
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Originally Posted by primrose do they also object to quiet and modestly dressed European visitors?
I'd be interested to know that, too. Can any IndiaMikers who've been recently answer this?

On one hand, I'd imagine that plenty of Kashmiri's are happy if not desperate to see the tourists return. On the other, if you're British like me, you come from a country that's just waged an incredibly unpopular war against an Islamic nation.

Difficult one, isn't it? I'm still going though.
#14 Mar 21st, 2005, 06:30
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#14
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Originally Posted by neomadd summer or two after nine western tourists were beheaded by militants.
Assuming you're referring to the infamous 1995 incident, only one of them was beheaded I think; a few others escaped and the rest was never heard of again.
Just to ease your minds a bit
Sebastian Junger has a fairly good chapter on the event in his book *Fire*.
#15 Mar 27th, 2005, 17:11
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#15

Srinagar - Gulmarg Feb 05-march 05

Hi Guys,

I spent 5 weeks snowboarding in Kashmir and just got to Manali. Spent most of the time in Gulmarg, with a few houseboat stays.

Here is my opinion: while not a hair on my head was harmed, it is a wierd place, and I was lucky there was some foreigners there to hang with. To get a real picture of the militant activity is really hard, the locals wont tell you the truth. "No problem with militants in Gulmarg ever sir" etc. My first 3 days on a houseboat were a freak out for sure. Srinagar itself has the Greenway hotel which is a burnt out shell, and a few arcades had bullet holes everywhere. The media is chaos, with news very distorted and hard to pinpoint the actual events. Some French and Australian engineers working on the gondola over the past few years told me some pretty gnarly stuff, shootings, kidnappings etc and a few days before we left there apparently was some trouble 15km away involving "militants", but I coudn't find any news about this. All in all its enough to keep you awake at night and after hearing about the shootings near Tangmarg, me and a buddy made a decision to leave. Travelling by yourself in Kashmir is a very paranoid inducing experience, but if you want to go, keep on your toes.

Hope this helps.

By the same token, I had a great time there, the scenery is supurb and I'm sure Kashmir is extremely beatiful in Spring/Summer. While the houseboat owners proclaimed Dal Lake was "booked out" I only saw 2 or 3 foreign tourists apart from the snowboarders.

// Caffiend.

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