The Golden Meadow – The Indian Panorama
Sonamarg is a picturesque hill station in Jammu and Kashmir, located 80 km northeast of Srinagar. At an altitude of around 2800 km from sea level, Sonamarg is known for its snowy fields, surrounded by majestic glaciers and serene lakes that cast subtle spells over travellers.
Sonamarg is enveloped by the great glaciers of the Himalayas – the Kolhoi Glacier and the Machoi Glacier – and gives rise to the famous Three Sisters Valley of Kashmir. Towering over this charming hill town are peaks like Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak, Machoi Peak and Sirbal Peak which make Songamarg a popular place for adventure sport tourism.
Sonamarg serves as a base camp for trekking routes that lead to mountain lakes such as Gangabal, Vishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Kishansar. The Sonamarg Valley is split into two halves by the Thajiwas Range – on one side is the fir-covered Thajiwas spur popular for camping. The other side is home to stunning waterfalls and the Thajiwas Glacier which is the main attraction of this place. Sonamarg remains inaccessible during winters as the NH1D connecting it to nearby places has closed due to heavy snowfall and avalanches.
Thajiwas Glacier, Overview from Sonamarg
Thajiwas Glacier which lies at a distance of 3 km from Sonamarg in Kashmir is an exquisite beauty located 3000m above sea level covered in snow all year round. The glacier is one of the most significant assets of Jammu and Kashmir and a must visit for all nature and trekking lovers. One can experience the beauty of the glacier by trekking from Sonamarg. There is also the possibility of renting a pony to go to the glacier. On the way to the glacier, tourists witness the beauty of the silver-shine frozen lake as well as all the greenery surrounding it. The contrast of the two is what makes it enchanting to the eyes. On the way, tourists also come across Gujjar tribes who have set up camps there and earn their living there.
On top of all this, alpine meadows are scattered all over the Thajiwas Glacier along with numerous waterfalls that make the area appear like a paradise on earth. This makes the glacier one of the most famous and visited tourist attractions in Sonamarg. Tourists can also go sledding during the summer season. The glacier is a perfect place for hiking as well as camping.
This glacier offers the perfect escape from the scorching heat of summers as well as a peaceful environment to restore all your senses. The beautiful scenes of horses grazing in the meadows, fir trees and pines growing in the nearby forests, the small streams covering the place and the local Gujjar children playing cricket in the surroundings are what make the glacier a feast for the eyes . It remains covered in snow all year round, so winter visitors need not worry. Set up camp, have tea and enjoy the breathtaking surroundings.
Zoji La is a high mountain pass located in Dras near Ladakh at an altitude of 3528m above sea level. Connecting Kashmir to Dras and Suru Valley, Zoji La is known as the one of the most dangerous mountain roads in the world. Translating to “mountain pass of blizzards”, it remains closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall and avalanches.
Considering the altitude and the places it travels to, Zoji La Pass is known for its extraordinarily beautiful views and landscapes. Parts of the pass, in particular, can be a little dangerous, so this one should only be descended with an experienced driver who is used to such steep and playful turns and roads.
A little outside of Sonamarg, Lake Vishansar is a high altitude alpine oligotrophic lake. At an altitude of 3710m, it is a sparkling blue lake surrounded by lush green meadows, alpine flowers and white and silver mountains at a tantalizing distance. Popular as the Lake of Vishnu, Lake Vishansar is known for the many species of fish it hosts, especially the all brown one.
Vishansar Lake freezes over completely during winter while in summer it is shrouded in lush green meadows. The scenic lake is a major attraction among trekkers in the Kashmir valley.
White River Rafting
Rafting is one of the most popular activities in Sonamarg. One can take a long rafting expedition starting from Baltal and ending at the Shutkari Bridge in Sonamarg. With a variety of stretches available, one is sure to have a fun rafting trip, whether a novice, an adventurer or an experienced rafter.
The Nilagrad River is a highly revered river, located 6 km from Sonamarg. The reddish water of the river is believed to have medicinal properties which make it a popular tourist attraction. Many locals come here every Sunday to bathe in its waters. The scenic beauty around the river is soothing.