Celebrated ‘Autumn in Kashmir’ is not only making ‘Aatish-e-Chinar’ dotted landscape enchanting for sightseers, but also, for a change, making the frosty heights of the valley compelling for trekkers.
SADDAM HUSSAIN, founder of Mountain and Dreams, a trekking company, has just completed the Tarsar-Marsar Trek with 19 trekkers.
The trekkers, he said, belonged to different parts of India, majorly from metropolitan cities of Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi.
Despite Kashmir witnessing less number of tourists during the Covid-plagued season, the growing hiker footfall has come as a relief for travel agents, trekking companies and houseboat owners.
These tourism players have been reeling under the financial burden due to back to back lockdowns in the valley.
After the onset of the pandemic, Hussain’s Mountain and Dreams recently organized its first trekking event in Kashmir.
“Many precautions were taken during the treks without causing any trouble to the hikers,” Hussain said.
People were quite skeptical about traveling but when they came for the treks, their fear was gone, he said.
Hussain is again going for a trek on November 2 for which his batch is almost full.
“The government should’ve opened tourism a bit early so that we could’ve benefited more from it,” he said.
With just one month left for trekking season in Kashmir, Hussain is getting many calls from people to book beyond the October 25 deadline.
Like Hussain, many trekking companies have started taking batches for treks. Srinagar-based tourism players are yet to maintain a count on what they called the “growing trekker footfall” in the valley.
Notably, as a “trekker’s delight”, Kashmir Valley provides unadulterated beauty of colourful meadows, gushing streams, and perennial rivers with the mighty Himalayas in the background to the hikers.
Kashmir has a mixture of short and long treks—currently witnessing hiking fever.
Kashmir Great Lakes
One of the most popular treks, the trail of the Kashmir Great Lakes separates trekkers from the civilization and put them into the wild meadows and the most ravishing lakes of the region.
Located at an altitude of 11,500 feet, the pine forests, fields of wildflower, and the Himalayas add more beauty to the pristine lakes.
Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, the cascading lakes of Satsar, and the twin lakes of Gangabal and Nunkol are seen on the trek.
It takes around seven-eight days to complete this trek and is suitable for beginners who are always on the look for easier treks to start with.
Tarsar Marsar Trek
Imagine camping beside the snow-fed twin lakes with green meadows and white-carpeted mountains!
Trasar Marsar is one such trek that makes it possible.
It’s the perfect place for nature lovers and photographers to escape from the bustling cities. The sparking lakes reflect the clear blue skies on a sunny day.
The trek has three alpine rivers- Tarsar, Marsar, and Sundarsar along with splendid meadows, Chinar tree forest and the Lidder river.
Being an easy trail, the trek is suitable for beginners and it takes around seven days to complete this trek.
Kolahoi Glacier Trek
As the highest glacier of the valley, Kolahoi glacier trek is a delight to the eyes.
The trail crosses different rivers originating from the glacier and comes across river banks encompassed with pine forest and gushing mountain water.
The transition from river banks to valleys of the Himalayas is welcomed by the lush green forest of the valley.
Located at an altitude of 4700 meters, Kolahoi glacier trek is an arduous one and should be done by experienced trekkers.
Aharbal Kounsarnag Trek
A major trek in the Pir Panjal mountain range, Aharbal Kounsarnag trek starts from Aharbal waterfall, also known as “Niagra Falls of Kashmir”.
Kounsarnag lake is located in the Kulgam district and is about 3 km in length and a large portion of a mile at the widest.
The lake is at an altitude of 3760 meters and it takes around seven-eight days to complete the trek.
Vishansar is an oligotrophic alpine lake formed at an altitude of 3700 meters. It’s the home to rare migratory birds coming in summer from Siberia.
The trekking to Vishansar starts from Sonmarg and provides a mesmerizing trekking experience. Trekkers can observe over 50 small and large alpine lakes during their Sonamarg-Vishansar-Bandipora trek.
The highest point of the trek is Nichnai Pass (4000 meters) which is crossed to reach the destination at the twin alpine lakes of Vishansar and Krishnasar.
Trekkers come across wildflowers, streams, trout fish and views of Zagibal mountain during their journey.
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