High in the mountains at places difficult to access, lay hidden places that truly depict the meaning of heaven on earth. Pristine hills and lakes beckon you to stop and lose yourself .The clear, sparkling water ensure you think of nothing else but the beauty around. So mesmerizing are these places that it is not surprising they are called the abode of gods.
Harmukh Mountain is said to be the Kailash of Kashmir and the journey to reach the base takes you through multiple lakes and beautiful meadows. Popularly known as The Great Lakes Trek or Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, the starting point is a small village in Sonmarg.
As you start to climb, the beautiful valleys become visible and it is only an indication of what is to come.The trek starts through a meadow and takes you through thick forests of maple, pine and bhoj trees. Once you bid adieus to the forests you will not see a single tree until the last day. From here on it is just the mountains, meadows, streams and lakes. The day ends at the camp in Nachnai, where the gurgles of the river and view of the valley keep you company as you relax and rest the tired limbs.
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The destination for the next day is the twin lakes of Vishnusar and Krishnasar. To get here you need to traverse through Nachnai pass. The walk is mainly through the meadows and if you happen to be trekking post monsoons, the meadows look like the valley of flowers with pinks, yellows and blues covering the complete trails. The gradual ascent ensures that you aren’t very tired and have enough time to enjoy the walk. The Vishnusar campsite is again a meadow right next to a river, if you can brave the cold you can take a dip here. The evening can be spent walking up to the lakes and taking in the beautiful of mountains reflecting on the blue waters. These lakes are known for the trout found here and as well as for the fact that they are the source for River Neelam. The campsite is also a good place to observe the Himalayan marmot.
The trek on day 3 takes you past the twin lakes towards Gadsar pass. As you climb the steep ridge do look back to get a bird’s eye view of the twin lakes. Once you cross the Gadsar pass trek becomes relaxed and you are back to walking in the meadows with Gadsar and couple of smaller lakes keeping you company. The campsite for the day is close to an army camp and all trekkers need to report here before camping.
After a well deserved night’s rest you will proceed towards Satsar, the walk continues to be among the meadows and ridges. If you happen to walk with some of the locals ask them to point out wild berries to you and the joy of eating fresh berries high up in the mountains cannot be described in words. The night halt can either be at Satsar or slightly further by a stream. The height of the camp site gives you a view of the mountains at sunset and this is sight to behold.
The fifth day’s trek from Satsar to Gangabal and Nadkol Lake has a change of scene, the meadows give way to boulders and you will need to carefully hop on these and proceed further. The boulders soon disappear and you will once again be back to walking in the ridges.Shortly after on a clear day the mighty Harmukh along with the 4 lakes become visible. If the sights of the other lakes were captivating then this one will take your breathe away.
A steep descent later you will be at the base of Harmukh Mountain and the camp site is right next to Nandkol lake. Gangabal is a stone throw away from here. The location and the view is fitting for the last night of camping.
The last day of the trek is to Naranag, a tiny village about 50 kms from Srinagar. While the day starts with walking in the meadows, quite early the pine forest appears and the steep descent starts. This can be stressful for the knees and you need to take breaks to rest them. As you descent, signs of civilization becomes visible and tourist of ponies will greet you. Curious few who ask about the trek will wonder if the place you describe actually exist of if there are a figment of your imagination.
Some pictures on Kashmir Great Lakes Trek
Best Time to Visit : June – September
Height : 13750 ft.
Level of Difficulty : Moderate
About the Author
Aishwarya Belliappa is a nature lover from the Land of Coffee, Kodagu. Being close to nature has fuel her curiosity to learn about nature’s way and explore new places. As the foodie in her ensures that she makes time to try new cuisine at the varies destinations she travels to.
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