I have not seen heaven till now, God was kind enough to show me one! This introduction of heaven will remain with me forever. After seeing Pahalgam and Gulmarg, our next destination in Kashmir was Sonmarg. Sonmarg is also known as the “Valley of Gold”. 82 km from Srinagar, Sonmarg is truly a heaven on earth. The amazing beauty of Sonmarg keeps you occupied until you leave the place.
A little about Sonmarg
Situated at an altitude of 2470 meters, Sonmarg, the meadow of gold lies in the heart of a gorgeous valley carved by river Sindh. Snow-blanketed mountains and the leisurely wind that blows are the best parts of Sonmarg. Lofty peaks with snow-white glaciers that slow down to the camping site encircle Sonmarg.
Sonmarg is known as the best camping site. Sonmarg connects to Amarnath and sometimes also acts as the base camp. This place is quite amazing, simply put. The place not spoiled by tourists, also not spoiled by locals is the most scenic place.
Things to keep in mind while visiting Sonmarg
Sonmarg has extreme fierce winters and the time we visited Sonmarg was the perfect winter period. There was no other option than clothing yourself with 4-5 warm clothes. Sonmarg, with a population countable in the 100s, is not polluted and has a mesmerizing beauty. The area of Sonmarg is under the control of the Indian army and hence discipline is at the heart of Sonmarg Locals.
The journey from Gulmarg to Sonmarg
We started off from Gulmarg to Sonmarg, bright and fresh, early in the morning. It was quite cool, but I refused to pull up the window glasses of the cab. I did not want to miss seeing a single sight and wanted to capture the scenic scenery in my eyes. And I did find many like that. I very rarely capture photographs, because seeing the view with your own eyes has different magic.
On our way, we passed through the lush green paddy fields, caught glimpses of snow covered mountains, were charmed by seeing the snow that comes down the steep mountains, stopped by the streams of crystal clear water and saw a lot of small houses amidst the hills.
Pony rides to Thajwas Glacier
Tourist vehicles are required to stop at a certain point in Sonmarg and then you have to take a pony ride to climb the mountains to see those breathtaking views. The site where we stopped had the best view and I wanted to spend my day over there. Then we took a pony ride and started climbing.
I got a mature, obedient pony called Lulu and his master was of 13 years. I was already aware of the instructions of how to seat and balance myself on a pony as I had already taken a pony ride in Pahalgam. We also hired some snow jackets and ski boots and skates.
After a long climb, we reached that place – Thajwas Glacier, it was the best feeling, one that cannot be described. I saw the view of most breathtakingly beautiful snowcapped mountains. I wanted to go close to that snow and put my hands on it. After enjoying my heart out in the snow and in the galore of mountains, we began our return journey. On the way down, we saw a number of yaks and little goats jumping over the streams, which made it an enriching sight.
Lakes in Sonmarg
Lakes in Sonmarg are the loveliest part. The high altitude lakes like Vishansar and Krishnasar are beautiful. The crystal clear waters with ice flakes are perfectly enriching. The waters are way too cold to dip your hand into it. But, do you know, I washed my face, hands and legs with the chilled iced water anyway!
After the lakes, was Gangabal, the next tourist site. Also called as Harmukh Ganga, Gangabal is sacred to Hindus. We spent some time at this sacred place which had a lot of monkeys. Tourists here were busy feeding those monkeys. Gadsar lake is also in the vicinity of Ganagabal.
Zoji-La pass is one of the most dangerous passes of the world and is the gateway to Ladakh. The Zoji-La pass is located at 3,540 meters above sea level. We saw a lot of trucks and heavy vehicles passing this narrow road. It just feels – Ugh!
Baltal cave which lies at the foot of Zoji-La pass is considered to be the sacred cave of Amarnath. We had one camping around Baltal, the place with most scenic mountains and ice-fed lakes around.
Sonmarg is truly a must-visit place. Sonmarg has a number of hotels and lodges. You can also hire huts and cottages or straight away go for tenting in between the mountains. The nearest airport is in Badgam District and the nearest rail junction is at Jammu.
I suggest you all not to miss Sonmarg when on a Kashmir trip. I have not been to Switzerland, but I have seen India’s Switzerland! Go and indulge in the beauty of Sonmarg!