Kashmir is known for its cashmere – “Sex and the City”-popularized pashmina in particular – and Pahalgam is no exception. Along MM road are over a dozen shawl, stole, and scarf sellers, the best of which is Kashmir Kalla Emporium across from the Pahalgam Hotel. Below are several alternatives to the ubiquitous wool hawkers.
Fresh Milk Shop (5a-11p, no phone.) Habibullah took over from his father a few years ago, but this tiny blue storefront still serves up the area's best milk, cheese, and yogurt, same as it has for over 40 years. Try the sweet kesar (saffron) lassi (Rs 15) and praise nature’s glorious bounty.
Smiling Gifts (428437, 9am-9pm, summer) Satisfy your plastered paper jones at this 50-year-old papier-mache fantasyland, where brightly colored hookahs (Rs 400-600) and ducks jostle for shelf space with keychains, bells, lamps, jewelry cases, and music boxes. The intricate and unusual wood-carved gifts include cigarette holders and tri-level pen and pencil cases.
Pahalgam Color Centre (5am to 8pm daily) Young owner Aishad and his minions have been churning out enough bread for the surrounding villages -- over 2500 Kashmiri rotis per day -- at this former copy-print store turned kiln-fired bakery for 10 years. For a healthy, tasty breakfast at less than Rs 20 pair two with a lassi from the nearby Fresh Milk Shop.