trekkers, Kashmir is the ultimate paradise. The terrain from the Shivalik
hills of Jammu to the rugged mountains of Ladakh is a geographer's delight.
Nowhere in the world can one see so much change in geography in such a small
distance 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 folk who can carry
you on their back and still complete the trek in half the time and who claim
to be descendants of Moses.
For those who want to do it in real Alpine style, equipment is readily
available in Srinagar, Pahalgam and Sonamarg, the main take off points and
for those, who are confident about their toughness can eye for Ladakh a true
rugged Himalayas with lofty peaks and endless glaciers.
Major Trekking Region In
Gulmarg makes an excellent base for trekking in the northern Pir Panjal
Range. Nanga Parbat can be seen to the north from several view points,
including Khilanmarg, west and over 1,500 feet up the forested hillside from
Gulmarg. From a distance, the Pir Panjal appears somewhat rounded, but when
you are actually walking up its slopes, you will find that its smoother
peaks rise above evergreen clad slopes that seem quite equal in steepness to
those of the main Himalayas.
To the south of Gulmarg, a pleasant trek would be to walk up the Ferozepur
Nala and beyond to the hamlets of Danwas, Tejjan, and to Samaidan. For this
you will need a porter who knows the way because many stock trails intersect
the route. The walk from Gulmarg to Tosamaidan is considered to be three
stages long. You 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, where a road and bus service connect with Srinagar.
The name Sonamarg means 'Meadow of Gold' and although this could be due to
the profusion of flowers that carpet the meadow in the spring it is also
possible that the name derives from Sonamarg's strategic trading position in
the days when this was a major route into central Asia. The Sindh River
meanders along here and abounds with Trout and Mahseer.
Sonamarg is the starting point of a major trek passing several mountain
lakes - Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. One trek leads
all the way to the Amarnath Cave.
One of the most popular short walks from Sonamarg and a major attraction
during the summer months is the 4-km route to Thajiwas, a small valley at
the foot of the Sonamarg glacier. A path leads up to the Shakhdar hill,
overlooking the glacier from the northeast. It is dangerous to climb the
steep slope leading up to the glacier. Ponies can be hired for the trip up
to Thajiwas glacier. Often in early summer one will meet groups of Gujar
passing through Sonamarg on their way to the alpine meadows for the summer.