Scenic Kashmir offers a splendid combination of majestic mountains, lovely lakes and dense forests.
"The mountain ranges lend a unique charm to the land, and in this aspect of its natural beauty Kashmir excels even much adored Switzerland. To the traveller from the sun-baked plains of India the whole sweep of towering ranges opens up before his eyes when he steps up the Pir Panjal.
The panorama of the whole range is best seen from the Pir Panjal than from any other part of Kashmir, and so seen it is unrivalled by any mountain panorama in the world."
The remarkable peaks of the Pir Panjal range are – from south to north – the three peaks around the Kounsarnag Lake, the Sunset Peak, Kharmarg, Trathkoti (the highest on this range), Buddh Angan, Shin Mohinyu, and Apharwat.
Further north-west is the Kazi Nag range – the home of the Markhor.
At the far western end of the Himalayas the towering peak of Nanga Parbat aka Dyamir stands as a sentinel guarding the Valley. It is the ninth-highest and the fastest-growing mountain on Earth. Beyond lie the Karakoram ranges also known as Mustagh, with peaks rising over 25,000 ft. Amongst them is the famed K2, the second highest peak in the world. Nanga Parbat, viewed across the valley from the Circular Road at Gulmarg offers an unforgettable spectacle.
Nun and Kun Peaks
After partition and various wars, the highest point remaining within the State of Jammu and Kashmir is the Nun Kun massif (Nun 7,135 m /23,409 ft) in the Zanskar Range. Nun and Kun are two icy pyramid peaks, a hundred kilometres to the east of Srinagar. Nun is the higher of the two peaks, and is the highest mountain in Jammu and Kashmir. The slightly lower peak, Kun, is separated from Nun by a high snowy plateau.
Between the Jhelum and Kishanganga valleys stands the snow-clad peak of Harmukh. According to a local legend, "the gleam from the vein of green emerald in the summit of the mountain renders all poisonous snakes harmless".
The peaks of Kotwal or 'the Guardian' (14,211 feet) and Mahadev (18,013 feet) are visible above the Zabarvan foothills from the Dal Lake. Mahadev forms a splendid backdrop to the Shalimar garden and is the apex of an annual school climb for CMS Tyndale-Biscoe School.
The most picturesque mountain in Kashmir is undoubtedly the Habba Khatoon peak in Gurez. It is named after the poetess-queen of Budshah, the most famous 'sultan' of 15th Century Kashmir.
To the south-east of the Valley the peaks of Amarnath and Kolahoi springing from the same massif are prominent. Kolahoi is also known as Gwash Brari (Goddess-of-Light).
An unforgettable memory of Kashmir is the changing colours of these ranges at different hours of the day. These are peculiar to Kashmir mountains and are aptly described by Sir Walter Lawrence thus :
"It would be difficult to describe the colours which are seen on the Kashmir mountains. In early morning they are often a delicate semi-transparent violet relieved against a saffron sky, and with light vapour clinging round their crests. Then the rising sun deepens the shadows, and produces sharp outlines and strong passages of purple and indigo in the deep ravines.
Later on it is nearly all blue and lavender, with white snow peaks and ridges under a vertical sun, and as the afternoon wears on these become richer violet and pale bronze, gradually. changing to rose and pink with yellow or orange snow, till the last rays of the sun have gone, leaving the mountains dyed a ruddy crimson with the snows showing a pale creamy green by contrast"
P.S : Click this link to read about the First Ascents of Peaks in Kashmir