Kashmir Great Lakes Trek - exploring the jewelled lakes
Kashmir Great Lakes trek is one of the most beautiful treks of India. If there’s a paradise on earth, it is definitely Kashmir. I had an intense urge to experience the beauty of this state since childhood. Against a lot of opposition from my close friends and family, I left for Kashmir alone and joined a group of trekkers in Sonamarg. I was ready to put in all the efforts it takes to capture the purest parts of Kashmir in my eyes. I chose to join a group for a trek to the Great Lakes of Kashmir. These jewelled lakes are hidden from the crowd, between the mountains.
Height: 14000 ft
Route: Sonmarg to Narnag
Distance covered: 63 kms
Difficulty Level: Moderate with several steep ascends and descends.
The Trail: runs through meadows, boulders, rivers, passes, forests with huge pine and maple trees, army campsites. The gradient and the landscape changes at every kilometer.
No. of trekking days: 7 days (includes one leisure exploration day at the twin lakes)
Dates I trekked on: 10th Aug 2013 - 17th Aug 2013 (Failed attempt)
13th Jul 2014 - 20th Jul 2014 (Successful Attempt)
Best time for Kashmir Great Lakes Trek: Mid July to 1st week of August
I reached my base camp site and was completely mesmerized by the bird's eye view of Sonmarg town.
A DELIGHTFUL START!!!
The first day of the trek was a difficult climb, but the sight of the alluring panoramas would not dampen anyone's spirit. They make you greedy for more.
Have I seen this anywhere before? Yes, I have seen a similar site in the movie "Highway", or may be it was the same site? A dream house on the table land.
Even the rocks are colorful in Kashmir!
After two days of strenuous climb, we got the first glimpse of the first lake - Vishnusar.
The emerald water of this untouched, unadulterated lake, made the trek feel like an accomplishment in itself.
Vishnusar lake has a twin lake called Kishansar lake just behind the ridge. Both these lakes are home to fresh trouts. Few locals come here for fishing and feasting on them. Fishing needs lot of patience and skills and it's way more difficult than it sounds, here's a fishing guide for reference.
THE BLOW THAT SWEPT THE DREAMS!!!
We camped just near the lake and once the sun started setting down, the clouds started roaring and bursting. It rained incessantly for 3 days. The rains were so wild that it became difficult for us to even go to the kitchen tent. There was no chance for us to move in any of the directions. We were stuck in our tents for more than 72 hours. While this was a depressing time for most of the members in the group, some of us ended up making life-long friends with eachother. After 3 days, the rain slowed a bit, but the clouds still dominated the skies. The next climb to Gadsar Pass was very steep and through narrow trail. It was a heart-breaking and wise decision to discontinue the trail and head back to Sonamarg.
AND THE MOUNTAINS BECKON ME AGAIN!!
I came back home with a much stronger urge to see more on this trail. I hate to leave any story incomplete.
Come next year, I was back in Kashmir with hopes of successfully completing the trek. I started from Sonmarg base camp again. The day was clear when we started for Gadsar Pass this time. Just after an hour's climb, the rain god bestowed upon us. Fighting against a lot of difficulties (I would write a separate post on this), we managed to cross the pass in heavy rain and I got to see the sapphire Gadsar lake. It looked magnificent with the floating ice sheets on it.
We camped near the Satsar lake, and had maggi with a miliion-dollar-worth view!
The next was a tough day, making our way through boulders and heavily-flowing streams. The final leg of the climb was to cross the steep Zach Pass. The snow covered pass added on to the difficulty of this climb.
After I reached the top of this pass, just when I was catching my breath and celebrating the achievement with myself, a co-trekker asked me to turn around. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this view. This was one of the most glamorous views captured by my eyes and felt by my heart - the twin lakes of Nundkol and Gangbal.
We descended to camp near these lakes. The closer I got to these lakes, the fonder I got for them. We spend one entire day to explore the lakes.These lakes too are home to fresh trouts.
The locals dressed in their Kashmiri dress called 'Phiran', enjoying their hookah.
Meet my co-trekkers in the fantasy land :)
The feeling of contentment after the successful second attempt made it all worth!
I repeat, no words, pictures or emotions can do any justice to the beauty of Kashmir.
Visit this site for more information on Kashmir Tour Packages.
Excellent photos & writ up...My compliments.
The pictures are breath taking. And so is your story. Have you saved the near death experience part for your next blog? The emerald blue lakes with ice sheets floating looks like jewel. You failed to complete the trek the first time due to weather conditions and returned again the next year. Only a truly passionate traveler does it. I thought it must be a boring trek. But after your blog I am tempted to do this. It looks like a photographer’s paradise.
Gorgeous post and lovely pictures. Thank you for sharing.
Havneet Pal Singh
Great blog coupled with some awesome pictures. Keep it up
Beautifully written and equally supported by awesome pics.
paraiso .....truly mesmerizing views ...
It's only when the spirit awakens that such adventures are possible-Excellent pictures and write up...
I definitely think your an inspiration to many people. I definitely want to do a trek like this next year. Which month of the year is it best to do this when its not too cold and not too hot...thx
proud of you!
Absolutely loved the photographs! Gadsar Lake is my favourite and your photograph with the ice sheets is stunning.
People have written zillions of words to best describe the beauty of Jammu & Kashmir; however the truth is that the power of words can never comprehend the mysticism that this state possesses.To seek a perfect romantic getaway, whereas the adventure enthusiasts are often seen here with a determination to create history. The Ainch Mountain offers the opportunity to get a panoramic view of the Vale of Kashmir from its top. There are number of natural trails in the region that offers good opportunity for trekking.
Hi medhavi..what month you did this trail?..it would be great if you can write best time to visit each of the places you visited.
Great pictures and story telling...Visual treat to see the beauty through your lens and writing..Would love to visit and capture the beauty..
Wonderful post...Seems like a must do..have been wanting to do it..lets hope the situation is good this time around...which agency did you choose..
Very nice blog. The pics are beautiful. It seems like a dreamland.
Amazing shots your pictures speak more than thousand words though I am in this business but till now KGL is still in my to do list....
mam you did it independently or with some tour company??
This is one of the best blogs I have ever read.. One picture speaks thousand words.. This is exactly what your blog depicts.. Ur journey has been described very precisely using few words but the pictures explain your journey in detail...People write all rubbish in their blog what they did, what they did not which is very boring to read... it was so refreshing to read ur blog..
Amazing pictures of beautiful landscpaes of Kashmir great lakes trek and the most epic are Alpine lakes which are providing mind blowing views.
kashmir, the haven on earth is my favorite destinations and trekiing there was just like icing on the cake... really enjoyed my trek.. camping was also something I was looking forward to and it turned out to be awesome as well.... planning to go for another trek soon..
Hi Medhavi, got to know about your website through twitter. We follow each other :-). Very nice website and really good to know about you. This trek specially i am trying to do from last 2 years but could not. Through your blog i got a glimpse of it. Amazingly beautiful pictures. Kashmir is without a doubt heaven on earth.
Thanks for the in-depth wonderful article you turned out here Very Informative Loved It Thankyou Soo Much For Sharing It.
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Namaste! I'm Medhavi Davda.
I travel to Evolve..
In Nature, I confide..
I find my calling in the Himalayas..
In the Oceans, I meditate..
A High-Altitude Trekker & PADI certified SCUBA Diver, I love exploring the heights and depths of the planet with my regular doses of mountains and oceans.
Discovering myself & life through nature, adventures, travels, sports and dance has been an addiction since my existence!
Quite fond of the natural & cultural diversity of India, I've travelled extensively in my own country before exploring international destinations.
I had left my 9+ yrs of career in Software Industry in a quest to make a living out of my passions. I packed my basics in my car (gave away the rest) and lived in different parts of Himachal Pradesh for 16 months. This invaluable time taught me to experience life from a broader perspective.
I'm currently living in Mumbai to work with an Adventure Travel company as a product manager for Scuba Diving. I continue living a minimalistic life.
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