Sonamarg (‘The meadow
of gold’) has, as
its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh
River that meanders through the valley abounds with trout and
mahaseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas
glacier, which is a major local attraction during the summer
Sonamarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several
mountain lakes –Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and
Gangabal. Sonamarg is also the take off station for the drive to
Ladakh across the Zojila, a major pass in the Great Himalayan
Range, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes.
The Meadow Of Gold
At a height of 2,740m, Sonamarg is the last major
in the Kashmir valley before the Zoji La pass into Ladakh . At
the pass the green, lush Kashmiri landscape abruptly switches to
the barren, dry landscape of Ladakh. Sonamarg is thus not only a
good base for treks but also a jumping off point for trips into
The name means 'Meadow of Gold' and although this could be due
to the profusion of flowers that carpet the meadow in the spring
it is also possible that the name derives from Sonamarg's
strategic trading position in the days when this was a major
route into central Asia. The Sindh River meanders along here and
abounds with Trout and Mahseer.
Sonamarg's Importance Is Two Fold:
It is the starting point of a major trek passing several
- Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. One trek
leads all the way to the Amarnath cave . The other reason for
Sonamarg's importance lies in the fact that it is the last halt
on the Kashmir side for the drive from Srinagar to Leh .
Walks From Sonamarg
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
HOW TO REACH THERE
Air: 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
Rail: The nearest Railhead is at Jammu and from there
National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with India.
Road: 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