In the northwestern corner of India, 290 mi/465 km north of Delhi, the beautiful, mountainous Kashmir area has been a trouble spot since India was partitioned in 1947. At that time, the Hindu ruler chose to be incorporated into India rather than Pakistan, despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population was Muslim.

These days, India and Pakistan contest parts of Kashmir and exchange fire over the border almost daily. Militant attacks are frequent. The Kashmir Valley, Doda district, Srinagar and Kishtwar are especially volatile. Recently, there has been a rise in support for traditional Islamic tenets. Keep an eye on local reports and try to avoid visiting the old city on Friday, which is often when scuffles break out.

In times of calm, though, Kashmir can be wonderful. It contains breathtaking views of the Himalayas, and there's great trekking in the area—much of it can be undertaken by inexperienced hikers (camping equipment can be rented in Srinagar). Many people also rent houseboats in Srinagar; like anywhere in India, price and quality vary widely, so travelers interested in this option should do some research before committing.

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