Trekking forms an integral part of the adventure sports flourishing in the hilly tracts of Jammu and Kashmir. However, Ladakh takes away the prize of being a trekker's paradise despite of its harsh weather conditions and snowfall. It is only recently that adventure tourism has got its long-due attention from the tourism industry but now, a considerable part of the tourists who visit Kashmir like to trek, if just to glimpse at its matchless natural beauty. The major trekking regions in the Kashmir Valley are: -
A long trek, equally that is popular among both the trekkers and the
pilgrims is the Amarnath trek that takes one to the naturally formed
shrine of Lord Amarnath, one of the holiest pilgrimage spot for Hindus.
As many accidents have occurred here in the past, all the stages of the
yatra is 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. However, many pilgrims visit the cave
from Panchtami and return to Sheshnag the same day, walking back to
Pahalgam on the fifth day.
An excellent base for trekking in the northern Pir Panjal Range, one
can see Nanga Parbat from here from several viewpoints. One such
viewpoint is Khilanmarg to the west of Gulmarg. From a distance, the Pir
Panjal appears to be rounded but while trekking one realizes that it
seem quite equal in steepness to those of the main Himalayas. To the
south of Gulmarg is a pleasant trek of the walk up the Ferozepur Nala
and beyond to the hamlets of Danwas, Tejjan, and to Samaidan. One needs
a guide for trekking here as many stock trails intersect the route. The
walk from Gulmarg to Tosamaidan is considered to be three stages long.
One 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.
Sonamarg is the starting point of a major trek passing several mountain
lakes that include Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal.
One trek even leads all the way to the Amarnath Cave.
A popular short walk from Sonamarg, which is a major highlight of the
place in the summers, is the 4-km route to Thajiwas, a small valley at
the foot of the Sonamarg glacier. It leads up to the Shakhdar hill that
overlooks the glacier from the northeast. Climbing the steep slope
leading up to the glacier can prove to be dangerous and one may hire opt
for ponies for the trip. In early summer, one may also spot the nomadic
groups of Gujar passing through Sonamarg on their way to the alpine
meadows for the summer.
Trek From Sonamarg To The Valley Via Gangabal Lake
To the west of Sonamarg, is a fine trek where one crosses the Nichinai
pass to Gangabal Lake. Accompanied by a guide, the starting point of the
trek is the bridge in Shitkari village, where the road crosses the Sind
River. One starts across the right bank of the river to the lakes called
Krishan Sar and Vishan Sar, all the way to Gangabal Lake near Haramukh,
which is the highest peak in the vicinity of the Kashmir valley.
Trekking In Ladakh
The cast cold desert of Ladakh, with its high altitudes and sparse
population, is considered the state's most difficult trekking region.
With the lowest altitude around 11,000 feet, there can be breathing
problems to some and acclimatization prior to the trek is essential.
Ladakh has been variously described as 'moonland' and 'frozen desert'.
At Leh and Kargil in Ladakh, the trek bases, one may hire porters and
ponies. The trekking season extends from July to September. At an
altitude of more than 9000 ft, Ladakh offers adventure amidst beauty,
which surpasses any other mountain range. Tucked between two of the
world's greatest mountain ranges, the Himalayas and the Karakoram, its
snow-clad peaks, translucent lakes, barren terrain and mystic culture
has attracted tourists and explorers from all over the world.
There are numerous popular treks in Kashmir.