Veritably called paradise on Earth, Kashmir offers some of the most visually spectacular and adrenaline pumping treks in the entire country. The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is one such expedition that is flanked by stunning beauty and promises the experience of a lifetime. Although this is one of the lesser known treks in the area, it attracts advanced and passionate expeditioners looking for an experience that’s almost therapeutic.
The trek begins at Sonamarg and trails through some of the most picturesque areas comprising a variety of ecological zones of the mighty Himalayas. The trail begins with temperate forests of pine, firs deodars, and spruces, as well as huge expanses of lush green meadows and grasslands. As you go along the trek, you will encounter pristine blue lakes and breathtaking views of snow clad mountain peaks. The trail is also dotted with quintessential rustic villages, unrestrained streams, and craggy terrains, all of which make your trekking experience truly special and unforgettable.
Experience Kashmir’s sheer beauty and nature’s abundance in its most raw and unspoiled form that are otherwise not accessible or motorable, with Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, an absolute must-try trek for adventure seekers.
Maximum altitude: 13,715 ft
Grade: Moderate - Difficult, Level 2
Duration: 7 days
Trekking distance: 72 kms approximately
Trail type: This is a cross over trail through a number of passes starting at Sonamarg and ending at Naranag.
Rail head: Jammu is the nearest railway station
Airport: Srinagar Airport
Snow Season: Around the month of June - July
Service from: Sonamarg to Naranag
Base camp: Sonamarg, which is a 90 kms drive from Srinagar and takes about 3 hours
Best season: During the monsoon from the beginning of July to the middle of September
Region: Jammu and Kashmir
Who can participate: The trek is open for participants between the age of 12 and 55 years and are physically fit. Participants should have experience of any high altitude trek, should be able to carry a 12-kg backpack, and must have enough stamina to cover a distance of 6 kms in 30 minutes without stress.
Itinerary at a glance/ Quick Itinerary
Day 1: Srinagar to Sonmarg, Welcome to the 'Meadow of Gold'
Day 2: Sonmarg to Nichnai via Shekdur, Walk beside the Overlooking Waterfalls
Day 3: Nichnai to Vishansar Lake, The Color Changing Lake
Day 4: Vishansar to Gadsar, The Mysterious Lake of Demon
Day 5: Gadsar to Satsar, Cross the First Glacier of your Trek
Day 6: Satsar to Gangabal, Twin Lakes, The Serene Nature's Delight
Day 7: Gangabal to Naranag, Descend with the Traditional Nomadic Hamlets
Srinagar to Sonmarg, Welcome to the 'Meadow of Gold'
Altitude: 7800 ft
Distance: 90 kms drive
Duration: 3 hours approx
The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek commences at Srinagar from where you will be driven to the starting point of the trek at Sonamarg.
You will depart around afternoon from Srinagar and it will take around 3 hours to reach Sonamarg.
You can spend the first day of your trek enjoying the scenic beauty of Srinagar with its lakes, gardens, and houseboats.
Walk through the Mughal Gardens or take a Shikara ride on Dal Lake.
You will spend the night at the camp site in Sonmarg.
Documents:Government photo identity card: Bring any identity proof in its original as well as photocopied form, this can either be your Aadhar card or passport. It will be required by the forest department for your identification.
Disclaimer certificate: You have to download the PDF, read it carefully and sign it. It is a legal requirement and needs to be handed over to your Trek Leader during the registration at the base camp.
Medical certificate: You need to take care of two individual parts of this, one of which must be filled by a practicing doctor and the other must be filled by you. Without this certificate, you will not be issued permission to trek by the forest department.
You will come across the Naranag Temple in the course of your Kashmir Great Lakes trek which is a famous religious and archaeological site. It was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida of the ancient Kayastha Naga Karkota Dynasty and is believed to be built in the honor of Lord Shiva. You will witness a Shivling and multiple carvings that can be linked with Lord Shiva here. You can also discern characteristics of the Aryan style of the 8th century in the place that mostly lies in ruins today.
Although not known by many, the Kishansar and Vishansar lakes are connected and the same water flows in both. Surprisingly, Vishansar means ‘The home of Vishnu’ and Kishansar translates to ‘the lake of Krishna’. Besides this, both lakes show no signs of algae formation unlike the Gadsar lake which always appears green due to the algae growth.
According to local mythology, Lord Shiva resides at the top of the Harmukh mountain, at a height of more than 16,000 feet. A local folklore states that a man once set out on a treacherous journey up the mountain to meet Shiva and after 12 years of rigorous trek, he could not meet the god but ultimately achieved nirvana.
The Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is one of the most beautiful treks in India that offers magnificent scenic beauty of the surrounding mountains, umpteen lakes, and forests along the way. The trek lasts almost seven to eight days during which time you get to explore about seven different valleys in the region. Each of these valleys and meadows are unique in themselves and have much to offer in terms of visual magnificence. Six of these valleys are also distinct grasslands or high altitude meadows that are inter-linked via high passes.
There is the Shekdur meadow set in the midst of Maples and Birch trees, the Nichnai grasslands that descend into acres of wildflowers alongside a gentle river. There is also the Gadsar meadow that is lined by narrow and jagged mountains on either side with vibrant flowers blooming in the entire area. The trek also encompasses some of the most spectacular and crystal clear high altitude lakes that are known to change color throughout the day.