Pahalgam is located at 34.01°N 75.19°E / 34.01; 75.19. Pahalgam holds a central position in the Lidder Valley. It has an average elevation of 2,740 metres (8,990 ft).
Pahalgam has Sub-Tropical Highland climate with long and cold winter with short and mild summer.
As of 2011 India census, Pahalgam had a population of 5922. Males constitute 56% of the population and females 44%. The average literacy rate is 35%, lower than the Indian national average of 59.5% with male literacy at 49% and female literacy at 17%. About 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.
Pahalgam is administered by the Pahalgam Development Authority, headed by a Chief Executive Officer who functions as the administrator of local town area committee.
The area holds a rich cover of vegetation, the dominant forest consisting of conifers which account for over 90%. The principal species are Cedrus deodara, Pinus griffithii, Abies pindrow, Aesculus indica etc. The major shrubs are Indigofera heterantha, Viburnum spp., Sorbaria tomentosa etc. the ground cover is very rich and dicotyledonus herbs dominate: Rumex patientia, Primula spp., anemone spp., etc.
There are many species of rare, endangered and protected species. The main species are hangul, musk deer, serow, brown bear, Leopard, rhesus macaque, grey langur, Himalayan mouse hare, etc. Wild bears still roam much of the area, and local villagers are on constant alert for their presence. Due to the constant threat of illegal border crossings, the Indian army is always patrolling the area and is on constant high alert. As the local population cannot carry firearms, this has saved the bears from being hunted to extinction. With the abundance of fresh trout in the rivers and local farm animals, they have plenty to eat. Monkeys also populate the area. The area houses a good population of pheasants and upland birds apart from other species, both resident and migratory. The common birds are griffon vulture, monal, snow cock, koklas, blue rock pigeon, Kashmir roller, European hoopoe, jungle crow etc.
Kolohoi Glacier, situated up the Lidder Valley, just below Kolhoi Peak is currently a hanging glacier. It is accessible from Pahalgam via Aru and is known to have extended for at least 35 kilometres (22 mi). According to the mountaineers from Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering, in 2008, the glacier receded by half since 1985 and it is not safe to study because it is hollow and has 200-foot-deep (61 m) crevices.
Betaab Valley is a valley located 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from Pahalgam. The valley got its name from a Bollywood movie Betab that was shot here.