Kashmir is the ultimate paradise for enthusiastic Trekkers. The terrain of the hills here are a Geographer’s delight. Nowhere in the world can you see so much Geographical Diversity of flora and fauna; Alpine pastures saddled among snow clad peaks with pure oxygenated air; high-altitude lakes of Kishensar, -Vishensar and Gangabal full of Trout. Your constant companions would be the nomadic shepherds – the Gujjars – the tough and sturdy mountain folks who can carry you on their back and still complete the trek in half the time and who claim to be descendants of Moses. One can go back-packing on one’s own or take on a ‘five star’ trek in the Mughal fashion with camp cots, tables and chairs and bearers in waiting.
Trekking forms an integral part of the adventure sports flourishing in the hilly tracts of Kashmir. It’s only recently that adventure tourism has got its long-due attention from the tourism industry. A considerable part of the tourists who visit Kashmir like to trek, if just to glimpse at its matchless natural beauty.
The major trekking regions in the Vallery of Kashmir are:
An excellent base for trekking in the northern Pir Panjal Range, one can see Nanga Parbat from here from several viewpoints. One such viewpoint is Khilanmarg to the west of Gulmarg. From a distance, the Pir Panjal appears to be rounded but while trekking one realizes that it seem quite equal in steepness to those of the main Himalayas. To the south of Gulmarg is a pleasant trek of the walk up the Ferozepur Nala and beyond to the hamlets of Danwas, Tejjan, and to Samaidan. One needs a guide for trekking here as many stock trails intersect the route. The walk from Gulmarg to Tosamaidan is considered to be three stages long. One may return by way of Riyar and Khag villages or continue south toward Sunset Peak and then walk into the foothills along the Romushi Nala to Yusmarg.
Sonamarg is the starting point of a major trek passing several mountain lakes that include Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. One trek even leads all the way to the Amarnath Cave.
A popular short walk from Sonamarg, which is a major highlight of the place in the summers, is the 4-km route to Thajiwas, a small valley at the foot of the Sonamarg glacier. It leads up to the Shakhdar hill that overlooks the glacier from the northeast. Climbing the steep slope leading up to the glacier can prove to be dangerous and one may hire opt for ponies for the trip. In early summer, one may also spot the nomadic groups of Gujar passing through Sonamarg on their way to the alpine meadows for the summer.
Trek From Sonamarg To The Valley Via Gangabal Lake :
To the west of Sonamarg, is a fine trek where one crosses the Nichinai pass to Gangabal Lake. Accompanied by a guide, the starting point of the trek is the bridge in Shitkari village, where the road crosses the Sind River. One starts across the right bank of the river to the lakes called Krishan Sar and Vishan Sar, all the way to Gangabal Lake near Haramukh, which is the highest peak in the vicinity of the Kashmir valley.