Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Sonamarg in the Himalayas

Sonamarg (literally, the meadow of gold) is a tranquil place set in a valley amongst glaciers and placid lakes. The flower-laden meadows, panoramic view of the lofty snow-covered Himalayan peaks and a number of trekking and hiking trails have made Sonamarg a popular tourist destination.

Sonamarg is located in the western part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the northern region of India. It is located at an altitude of 2740 m above sea level amidst the Himalayan range. Sonamarg is 80 km northeast of Srinagar.

Sonamarg is the last stop of Kashmir that leads to the driveway from Srinagar to Leh. Trekking and hiking are quite popular here due to the presence of large number of mountains. Sonamarg is the starting point that leads to major mountain treks and lakes namely Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar, and Gangabal as well as Amarnath Cave.
Sonamarg is also popular for its walkways out of which the major attraction is the 4 km route to Thajiwas, which is a small valley at the foot of the Sonamarg Glacier, covered with pine, fir and birch trees. The Thajiwas range has a large number of camping sites and also comprises many waterfalls and the Thajiwas Glacier.

About Srinagar
Situated at an altitude of 2,740 m above sea level, Sonamarg is about 80 kilometres from Srinagar. Srinagar is the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The state Jammu Kashmir is located on the north of India. The town lies in the heart of valley carved by the Sind river, the "meadow of gold" strewn with the loveliest of alpine flowers and surrounded by towering mountains. The uplands are mantled in fir and pine and stippled with silver birch and sycamore. Sonamarg looks to these on the one hand, and to the river on the other. Glaciers reach down from the Himalaya almost to the campgrounds. There are some campgrounds 3km S of the town towards Thajiwas.  A forest rest house and a tourist hut between Sonamarg and Thajiwas command beautiful views of the surroundings.  The whole mountain range is covered with glaciers. Sonamarg is the base for treks to high mountain lakes such as Vishansar (4084 m), Krishansar (3810 m) and Gangabal.
Travel Attraction Sonamarg - 84 km, from Srinagar
A mountain river meets the Indus at the Baltic colony, Nilagrad, 6-km away from Sonamarg. The water of the river is reddish in colour. The Baltic thinks the water has curative power of many diseases. Inhabitants of the colony visit this place every Sunday to bath in the river.

Bisansar Lake & Krishnasar Lake 
There is a lake in every corner of the Himalayas and there is one at Sonamarg also. The road proceeds from Sonamarg to Bisansar Lake via Nichinai Pass. Crossing the river at Nichinai Pass stands the Bisansar Lake at an altitude of 4, 084m, with its its lovely natural beauty. Beside the lake is the Krishnasagar Lake at an altitude of 3,801m, popular for Trout fishing.

Adventure Sports Sonamarg
Sonamarg means meadows of gold. It is one of the beautiful places, ideal for adventure sports and other fun activities. Sonamarg offers some scenic treks for the intrepid traveler. Hiking is another exciting activity that one can enjoy in Sonamarg. Trekking enthusiasts can opt for trekking trails from Sonamarg to Vishansar and Krishnasar. Fishing another exciting activity that you can enjoy on the Sind River. You can fish for trout and mahseer.
Excursions From Sonamarg
This beautiful meadow is right at the foot of the Zoji La pass and thus is the final place in Kashmir. The river from the foot of the Amarnath glacier meets the Indus near Baltal. It stands at a height of 2,743m and during the Amarnath pilgrimage there are tents set up here. It is possible to walk to the Amarnath cave, more usually approached from Pahalgam, in one day. Check about conditions before departing, though. The weather can be treacherous and at other times melting snow and ice make the route very dangerous. There's now a jeep road most of the way to the cave. The turn off to Baltal is at 94-km on the Leh road, and then it's 3-km or so downhill.

If one can take some time out, then take tour of Yushmarg in daytime. Buses on conducted tours run to Yushmarg thrice a week. 47-km southwest of Srinagar amidst pines and firs lies the vale - Yushmarg (2,700m) at the slope of the Pir Panjal ranges. Its is a beautiful pasture as well as a nice picnic spot.

Reach Sonamarg Via Srinagar
Sonamarg is in Srinagar District on the Srinagar Leh Highway, 81-km from Srinagar. The nearest airport is in Badgam District, connecting the capital city with all the major cities in India.

The nearest Railhead is at Jammu and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India.
Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on National Highway NH1A. It takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountainous road, which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with India. Bus service is available from Srinagar and Anantnag, which leave at fixed time from the Bus stands. Taxis and other sort of transport can be hired from Srinagar at pre-fixed rates. Assistance is available at Tourist Reception Centre, Srinagar.
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