Sonmarg(Meadow of Gold) is a trekker's heaven that has adventurous routes with beautiful green water & frozen lakes around. The vale is believed to be bestowed with mystical water which turns everything into eternal riches. High altitude makes it cold even during summers. It is advisable to always carry warm clothes and rain proofs.
Sind River a natural hatchery of Trout, here angling is great fun, provided the permission is obtained from the fisheries department. Ascending river makes Sonmargideal for River Rafting, it is done in full swing by youths,corporate executives and even old members with their families at different levels in the Sind river Arrangements can be done through travel agents in Srinagar or Sonmarg Development Authority (SDA). More adventure sports like Paragliding is getting lots of takers during Summer.More assistance is available at the tourist office.The rugged countryside market makes one feel the thrill of adventure. Island retreat, a park amidst river Sind enroute Sonomarg, is a real treat as a short stopover. The roaring Sind creates a constant cool breeze; it is hard to get off from such heavenly environs.
Important Contacts in Sonmarg
The drive to Sonmarg is through the Sindh Valley which presents yet another spectacular facet of countryside in Kashmir. Situated at an altitude of 2730 m, Sonmarg('The meadow of gold') has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh River that meanders through the valley abounds with Trout and Mahaseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, which is a major local attraction during the summer months.
Sonmarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several mountain lakes -Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. Sonmarg is also the take off station for the drive to Ladakh across the Zojila, a major pass in the Great Himalayan Range, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes.
Sonmarg is also a base for undertaking the yatra to the holy Amarnath cave, during Sawan Purnima. For details about the yatra, refer to the Amaranathji Yatra Link.
Pahalgam is base camp for the pilgrims of Amarnath, and for Trekking expeditions to Sonmarg, Wadwan and Suru Valley etc.
Places of Interest
The everlasting Thajiwas glacier, 3km from Sonmarg, provides a chance to enjoy sledge ride on the snow even in mid-Summer Ponies are available up to the glacier from Sonmarg. Superb campsites in Thajiwas area makes it a prime location for school camps and trekkers in summer.
Sonmarg road passes through the village of Ganderbal.
5km from Ganderbal is the shrine of kheer bhawani at a village called Tulmul.(Tulmul means "of great value").The sacred spring at the temples symbolizes godess ragnya Devi.It is believed that MahaRagnya appeared before ravana after his devotion to the Goddess.Ravana got image of goddess installed in Ceylon.It is said that when Ravana finished his worshipgoddes accepted his offer of Kheer(Rice Pudding)sincethen goddess is called Kheer Bhawani.Due to Ravan's licentious life MahaRagnya commanded Hanuman to shift his image from Ceylone and place itat Tulmul.An annual festival,Jesht Ashtami,is held during May-June,when according to beliefs,the goddess changes the colour of the water.A trip to this temple will be worthwhile.
32km from Srinagar,off the Sonmarg-Ganderbal road,this 4km long and 1.2 km wide lake is famous for water nuts,lotus roots 'nadru'and lotus flowers that blossom in early july.Manas means mountains and bal a lake side.This lake serves as home to many aqatic birds,making it a bird watchers paradise. It is considred the deepest lake in Kashmir as deep as 12.8 m at some places .The beautiful shikaras floating over the lake offer a wonderful ride.A well laid park in front of the lakes makes it a pleasurable picnic spot for locals and tourists alike.
Ancient ruins of shrines near Wangath 50 km from Srinagar west of Kangan. Some of these temples were built by Jaluka son of Ashoka in 3rd century while others are dated to pre-Korakota periods.The Vishnu temple at the site is said to be constructed by emperor Lalityaditya.
The famous Gangabal ts from Sonmarg across the Sind river with the steep Nichnai Pass at 4080 m. Rough trek af 15 km from Sonmarg will certainly make you stop of the first visible campsite in the area. Passing via Vishansar Lake at 3680 m and further to Krishansar Lake at 3819 m (14km), a marvelous campsite urges you to stop overnight. A 23 km trek to Gadsar
Lake, 3900 m, passes through steep climbs followed by a rapid descent, whereafter the magical Gadsar Lake appears, mostly full of broken glacier masses. A trek of 17 km via Satsar Lake, 3600 m, passes through Gangabal valley, where the view of Harmukh Peak is breathtaking.Few kilometers walk will take you to Gangabal Lake 3570 m at the foot of Harmukh. A plain campsite amidst the valley is an unforgettable experience.
From Gangabal, a 17 km tough descend leads to Naranag ruins.5km further down is Wangat 2050 m, from where a metal road leads back to Sonmarg via Kangan and to Srinagar .
You can easily hire a registered guide and ponies from Sonmarg for this 4to6 days Gangabal trek which is open for the trekkers and explorers throughout mid Summer.
Amarnathji Yatra (Route II)
Baltal,15 km from Sonmarg at an altitude of 2743 m,is the base camp of Amarnathji yatra.The meandering trek of 14 km from Baltal, leads to Holy Cave.You can easily return the same day by early evening to Baltal where ample tents are available at affordable cost. Ponies and dandies are available at the fixed rates from registered ponywalas and dandiwalas respectively at Baltal. Medical facilily, telecommunication and other necessary amenities are available at Baltal during the yatra period organized efficiently by the concerned state authoriies. Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board and some private companies now operate Helicopter Services for Yatris from Baltal and Srinagar during the yatra period at reasonably fixed rates. The advance reservation for helicopter service is recommended, however the confirmation of the flights entirely depends on the weather conditions and the technical feasibility of the choppers.
The state government schedules Amarnathji Yatra every year from end June to mid-August.
During the Yatra period yatries must carry adequate packed dry eatables, warm clothes, rain proofs, prescribed medicine and sturdy pair of shoes. A set of oxygen inhalers to be carried along is highly recommended, as the presence in high altitude during yatra causes breathlessness to even normal and healthy pilgrims particularly at the Holy cave.
Tourist Information & Assistance in Srinagar
The Tourist Office at Sonmargis within the premises of the Tourist Complex, behind the cafeteria. Tourists are advised to visit the office for information and assistance. In particular, trekking trips into the mountains should be undertaken only after consulting the Tourist Office at Srinagar or Sonmarg for safety and feasibility.