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Great Lakes of Kashmir


Great Lakes of Kashmir

Kashmir Great Lakes is one of the most scenic treks in India.

Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.
(If there is a heaven on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here.) - Mughal Emperor Jehangir (17th Century) on Kashmir

Kashmir.

The name nowadays brings about a sense of disruption and chaos with the political history that has been played out over the years. Generally anyone traveling to Kashmir, will be asked the inevitable ‘Is it safe?’ question. Yes, Kashmir does have a volatile political atmosphere but you will also find some of the friendliest people in Kashmir. Always willing to help, large hearted, ever ready to sing and a wide smile on their faces.  Kashmir has some amazing trails with Tarsar Marsar trek, Kolahai Glacier trek being some of the popular ones. But it is the Kashmir Great lakes trek that really puts the legendary quote by Emperor Jehangir into perspective


The Great Lakes trail starts just before Sonamarg, a 4 hour drive from Srinagar. We landed at around noon and after meeting the group we drove towards our campsite near a stream just before Sonamarg. After tea and an early dinner, we all settled in our tents to get some rest before we hit the trail.


Post a hearty breakfast, we set out on the trail at 8.30 am. After walking on a dirt track for a while, we then started to ascend, walking up the green meadows. We passed some army barracks and a huge Indian flag hoisted from a point where you could see the whole Sonamarg valley. Shepherds with their flocks of sheep and goat passed us all day and little kids from nearby village gave us company on part of the trail. And with the rain beating down on us, it took us a pretty exhausting 6 hours to reach our next camp at Nichnai (3505m).


The next day we woke up to clear blue skies and witnessed jagged cliffs glowing in the sunrise. Breakfast was sumptuous with paranthas and eggs supplemented by cornflakes, toast, coffee, tea and Nutella. Packing our lunch, we left for Nichnai pass , which, at 4000m, was out first challenge. Right at the top of the pass we faced high winds and rain. Taking shelter at the makeshift shop, we got some tea and maggi till the storm calmed down.  Descending, we walked into beautiful meadows of flowers. It was stunning! I had never seen anything like this before. Walking next to the stream, we then realized we had to cross it to go to our campsite. Reluctantly, we took off our shoes to wade through bone chilling waters. The rain came down hard again and as I already had my rain gear on I left the group and headed towards our campsite. As I was nearing our campsite at Vishansar Lake, a huge dog came charging at me! Now the first rule when I dog charges at you is ‘ Do not run!’ Even though every inch of my body was screaming to run, I stood my ground and shouted a big ‘No!’. I used my hands to make myself look bigger and as he charged the second time I again shouted ‘No!’. Thankfully the dog backed off and I reached the campsite in one piece. In the evening, some locals provided for some rainbow trout from the lake and the fried fish was all we could talk over dinner.