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Himalayandiaries

Kashmir great lakes trek

KASHMIR GREAT LAKES TREK

Kashmir is known as the crown of India. It is indeed a paradise on earth, due to its unmatched beauty and grandeaur. Kashmir falls in between the greater Himalayan ranges and the Pir Panjal mountains. It has numerous enchanting meadows and pristine lakes. Kashmir has a variety of adventures to offer to a avid trekker, which is beyond ones imagination.
The kashmir great lakes trek is one such beautiful trek. This trek takes you to some of the beautiful lakes situated in the tantalizing mountains and meadows of Kashmir region in Himalayas. Starting from the Sonamarg, at the base of Zozila, it passes through the Kishansar, Gadsar, Vishnasar, Gangabal, Satsar and Nundkol Lakes. You will also encounter some unknown Lakes in the path that accentuate the beauty of this trek. Your trail will end at the village of Narang.

Day 1. Srinagar to Sonmarg.
First you have to reach Srinagar. Srinagar is the capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. There are various means by which one can reach Srinagar. There are flights from Delhi ,which takes about 1 hour to reach srinagar. You can come by road.The jammu Srinagar highway is a magical journey.The valley begins just after you cross the jawar tunnel.You are treated with views of amazing landscapes all the way. Once you reach Srinagar ,we will drive to Sonmarg which is about 3 hours away. From here we walk to the campsite at Satkuri. Overnight stay in tents.

Day 2, Sonamarg -shekdur-Nachnai
Today we start our exiting journey into the mountains. There is moderare walk for about 3 kilometers. Then you come across a lone shop. This is the only shop on the trail. You can refresh yourself with a few snacks and cold drinks. After about ten minutes of ascending you reach a big green meadow. The meadow is sloped towards the valley side. You can view the entire sonamarg village from here. Pine trees grow here in abundance. This place has an himalayan climate which is ideal for pine trees. There is a small water body at a short distance, the water of which is so pristine , that the reflection of the trees is crystal clear. Then its like magic on earth, you enter into a forest of Maple trees. This will be a walk of your life, as the grass below feels like velvet and the trail between the maple trees makes u feel amazing. When you reach the top of the ridge the Maple forest ends. There are many paths in this route, so dont get confused, just stay in sight of your trek leader.From this place you will be able to view the entire sonamarg valley. The streams, the pines, the maple trees and the huge meadow make you realize why Kasmir is called one of the most beautiful tourist locations in the world.
The climb ends here for now. you can view the snow capped mountain of Shekdur from a meadow. There is another 3 hours walk along the meadow. After some time you will see a stream. This has to be crossed over. Nichnai is now not too far off. You walk along the valley, which is quite wide. You can see the mountains on both sides. The gushing waters of the stream makes lot of noise. Its a hours walk along the stream. Then again a meadow appears. This is the camping ground of Nichnai. its been a long walk. Time to relax and relish some snacks. Overnight stay at Nichnai in tents.

Day 3. Nichnai to Vishansar lake (12000 feet)
Start the day early because its a long walk today. The Nichnai pass can be seen from the campsite. We will walk along the left side of the stream. You will feel the ascend getting steeper. It will take about an hour to climb the pass. From the pass you can view the Sonamarg valley.Dont let the climb worry you, make sure to enjoy the beautiful landscapes and feel the crisp mountain air. The altitude of the Nichnai pass is 13500 feet. The pass is surrounded by mountains on all sides. There is a steep climb along the Nichnai pass. The effects of altitude can be seen here. You might have a mild naseua or headache. When you reach the top of the pass, the trail starts to descend. The path is not too well defined and is rugged at places. Make sure to move slowly down the path. After some time you will come to a meadow, which has lots of red flowers. This is a place to view the beauty of the Himalayas at its best. There is a small stream to be crossed. The water of this stream is too cold. Be brave for some time. Facing the cold is mostly a mindgame. You can also see a another small stream. This is a river just coming out of its source the Vishansar lake. After a short walk we reach our camping site. Vishansar lake is just 100 meters from our camping this spot.You can spend the rest of the day leisuring around the place. Overnight stay in tents.

Day 4. Vishansar – Kishansar lake- Gadsar pass- Gadsar.
The next morning take the trail by the right of the lake. After about 45 minutes of moderate ascend, we reach kishansar lake. Kishansar gets its name from the kIshansar peak, which can be viewed from here. As we go higher the lake and the meadows form a wonderful frame for photographs.After Kishansar lake many beautiful meadows can be seen.You follow the path along the ridge. There comes a point from where Vishansar and Kishansar lakes can be viewed togather. At the end of the ridge is Gadsar pass. At an elevation of approx 12700 feet ,it is the highest point of the Kashmir great lakes trek. You walk along a narrow alley for some time and you can see lots of Iris flowers. Just a short walk from here is gadsar. In Gadsar you have to camp in the army area. if you want to go further you have to seek permission from the army.

Day 5. Gadsar to Satsar.
Start the day early. Satsar is 10 kilometers away. Walk towards the stream. You can cross the stream without the bridge. If you think you cannot cross the the stream you can take the bridge, only it will be a more steeper climb. You will go through beautiful meadows again today. This area is high security area so the Army people could ask for permits on the way just before the first lake of Satsar. Satsar is a area of seven lakes. Atleast five of them are always filled with water.This also depends on the season you are visiting the place. This is the place which we are going to camp for the night. Overnight stay will be in tents.

Day 6. Sarsar to the twin lakes of Gangabal.
Start the day early as its a long 9 kilometers walk to Gangabal. The path goes though undulating landscape, and you have to walk up and down initially. You walk along the biggest of the Satkar lakes which comes in the last. After a half an hours walk you will reach a tree covered area. A ridge line will be visible now more distinctly, and you have to start climbing towards the ridgeline. A zig zag path takes you to the top of the ridge. There are two more ridges to cross. The path is rocky and goes though boulders. You will be able to see the biggest of all the lakes Gangabal it all it’s beauty and grace. From here it’s a continous descend until you reach a green patch. On the way you encounter a small stream, which freshens you while the tough descend. You first reach the lake of Nandkol, this place has been a big campsite.Nandkol lake is at the base of the Harmukh peak. There have been complaints in recent past that people throw lots of rubbish here. Make sure you dont do this. There is stream which joins Nandkol with the lake of Ganagabal. Cross the stream by the man made bridge and you reach your camping area. Over night stay here in tents.

Day 7. Gangabal to Narang.

Today is the last day of the trek. Take the trail along the ridge line instead of a the one along the river. When you look back the Harmukh peak looks magestic and impressive. There will be a lot of small wild flowers on the meadow. Watch your steps so you make sure you do not go crushing them as you walk. After some time you will be able to spot some villages and houses. You might get mobile signal and you can give a call back home. that is if you have some battery power left. In the end there will be a sudden drop in altitude as you will drop to about 3000 feet in about four kilometers. Be sure to walk with caution. You will ultimately reach the stony village of Narang. It will feel great to be back in civilization after 7 days. after a short walk you reach the road ,which takes you back to Srinagar. Time to bid goodbye.