Unexplored trekking routes of Kashmir
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A walk through breathtaking lakes, snow peaks and meadows
Kashmir has the potential to become a prime trekking destination, as it has some of the best unexplored trekking routes in India. Once considered to be one of the favourite destinations for foreign tourists, Kashmir received a serious setback nearly three decades ago, due to the volatile political and security situation. However, as peace slowly returns to the valley, the tourism industry is getting a fresh boost. Hundreds of thousands of Indian tourists and many foreign visitors, too, throng the state for their vacations.
Among these are mountain lovers who wish to discover the state through its virgin treks. Along most of the treks, mainly through cloud-kissed mountains, one can discover freshwater lakes, huge glaciers, mesmerizing waterfalls and unending velvet green pastures. Providing an excellent opportunity to be in direct contact with the people and their habitat.
To trek in Kashmir, it is not necessary to be an experienced hiker, rather someone interested in exploring the woods and hills.
Most of the treks there are moderate in nature, although the puzzled terrain sometimes makes it difficult, especially for the first timers. Hence, to adore the astonishing sceneries, it is recommended to take a local guide for better navigation and also prepare the trip before jumping into the expedition. The best time for this sport is from June to mid-October.
Among many tracks to explore, here are the most beautiful and adventurous trekking routes in Kashmir.
Trekking in Khilanmarg
Start from Gulmarg, a popular ski destination in Baramulla district, three hours drive from Srinagar, in the northern Pir Panjal range. Walk towards the high snowy mountains of Khilanmarg, some 1500 feet’s (around 500 meters) above Gulmarg. This moderate trekking routes takes 3 to 4 days to complete.
Then, from Khilanmarg, one can have a view of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world, and the steep ranges will give you more than a feel of Himalayas. After that, trek along the Ferozepur Nala stream to the hamlets of Danwas, Tejjan, and to Tosamaidan.
The next day, take your way back to Tosamaidan, an exotic meadow in Budgam district, through the Riyar and Khag villages, along the Romushi Nala stream, to Yusmarg hill station. From there, take the bus back to Srinagar, only two hours drive away.
During this trek, in the vicinity of the Afarwat Peak, the track comes very close to the LOC (line of control that acts as border between India and Pakistan). One has to be very careful not to lose his track and be confronted with military controls.
Sonamarg, Naranag Trekking
Experience a festival of blue lakes, called Sars in Kashmiri. The trek starts from Sonmarg, a hill station in Ganderbal District, wherefrom all arrangements for this 8-day long trek can be made. A moderate one, it can be sometimes packed with weather challenges and surprises, in a nice up and down slightly slippery stone itinerary.
First, a 9 km track, takes you to Nichnai meadow, through dense forests with Maple and Pine trees and the unique Bhoj, a white Birch from the Himalayas that has spreading branches. Then, the next day, walk 12 km on green meadows to reach the first natural lake, Vishansar. Camp overnight and explore the Vishansar and Kishansar lakes the next day.
Start early morning to reach Gadsar Lake at 13,750 feet (4191 m) height.
Traversing through a ridge and a stream, you reach Gangbal twin lakes at 11,500 feet (around 3,500 m). Then, enjoy the final trek through yellow flowers to Naranag Lake at 7,450 feet (2100 m), which is just a few hours walk to the main road leading to Srinagar.
Pahalgam Sonamarga Trek
To add more adventure to your trekking experience in Kashmir, take the Sonamarg-Pahalgam trek, or the other way around. It is a five days tough trek that requires a good physical condition.
The trek starts from Pahalgam, a famous tourist destination, in Anantnag district. On the first day, trekkers cross Pahalgam and Aru valleys, with a scenic view of Ledder River. Its glaciated waters flow through Pahalgam valley and meet Jehlum River, at the village of Sangam, which means “union”.
The next day, spending a night in the abode of Aru valley, you will encounter the Nafran valley, which offers a beautiful combination of green meadows, pine trees and a mountain stream.
On the third day, reach Harnag, a natural lake and cross the Harbhagwan Pass. The next morning start your walk towards Baltal, a glaciated mountain route to Amarnath cave (a holy cave for Hindus).
On the fifth and final day, reach Sonamarg where transports to go to Srinagar are easily available.
Get Set and Go
Prepare your backpack and get ready for adventure, with these less explored treks. They will bring you extra memories, through unique sceneries but also encounters with Kashmiri people, always eager to share their culture and welcome a trekker in need for a short halt.To View the article buy our magazine
Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir