trek that is popular among both the treks and the pilgrims is the Amarnath
trek that takes one to the sacred cave of Lord Amarnath, one of the holiest
naturally occuring shrines of Hindu faith. The stages of the yatra are
carefully controlled by the Indian authorities. The first stage of the trek
is to Chandanwadi, the second to Sheshnag and the third over the Mahagunas
Pass to Panchtami. Many pilgrims visit the cave from Panchtami and return to
Sheshnag the same day, walking back to Pahalgam on the fifth day.
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.
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.
Trek From Sonamarg To The Valley Via Gangabal
A fine trek west of Sonamarg is to cross the Nichinai pass to Gangabal
Lake. As always, you would do well to have a local to accompany you. To
reach the trailhead, go 2 miles down valley from Sonamarg toward Srinagar to
the bridge below the tightly clustered houses of Shitkari village, where the
road crosses the Sind River. Across the river from this small village, begin
walking on the true Right Bank to the lakes called Krishan Sar and Vishan
Sar, and beyond to Gangabal Lake near Haramukh, the highest peak in the
vicinity of the Kashmir valley.