Its the time of the year when trekking lovers should be ready for the two of the most beautiful treks in mid-Himalayan region- the ever popular Valley of Flowers trek and the newly popularised Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. When the major trekking season in Himalayan region takes a monsoon break in August-September, these are the two most sought after treks. Camps alongside the stream Kashmir Great Lakes trek, read: Thajiwas is the perfect acclimatisation There is still big difference between the two. Valley of Flowers is largely a single day trek, as there is no camping allowed inside the Valley. So, one has to start early morning from Ghangaria, do as much of trek inside the national park as possible (depends on individual fitness and capability) and return back to Ghangaria in t...Read More
Kashmir, we know less about: Charar-e-Sharief
In the previous post on Kashmir, we travelled to Aishmuqam Dargah of Hazrat Zain-ud-Din Wali, who was principal disciple of Sufi saint Sheikh Noor-ud-Din Noorani. Now we are talking about the shrine of the saint himself at Charar-e-Sharief. Well, name Charar-e-Sharief might not be as unknown as the Aismuqam, but its importance might be. Charar-e-Sharief shrine Also read: Kashmir we know less about: Aishmuqam Dargah Recent past Actually, being a journalist, the first time I heard about Charar-e-Sharief was all because of negative reasons, way back in 1995. It was then, when the shrine as well as the town was in siege for 66 days because of a stand-off between army and terrorists lead by Mast Gul. It all ended even badly when the whole town as well as the shrine were put to fl...Read More
Asia's biggest Tulip Garden at Siraj Bagh in Srinagar, Kashmir is now open for the year. Normally the garden opens with the start of April. But this year it has opened a week earlier owing to favourable weather conditions. We can also say that because the winter winded up a bit early and it brought the spring before time in the valley, hence the tulips also started blooming early. Hence the garden at Siraj Bagh on the banks of the Dal Lake was thrown open for the tourists on 25th March, a week earlier than last year. These are images from the park from the first day itself. Blast from the past: Tulip garden at heaven!Not all the bulbs have bloomed, still some to go. It would be full by the start of April. It is indeed once in a lifetime chance to see more than a million tulips of differRead More
When getting down becomes the toughest part : Gangabal to Naranag
When it comes to last day of a trek, we often expect it to be a relaxed day, more so when it is all down hill. But don't think so when you are on Kashmir Great Lakes trek. To my surprise, last day trek from Gangabal to Naranag actually turned out to be one of the toughest day of the trek. Also read: Thajiwas is a perfect acclimatisation for Great Lakes Trek Weather has been perfect accept for the first night rain. It has been bright and sunny. Well, it was known before hand that last day has to be steep descent. But excitement of finishing the trek did overcome the challenge. Moreover we didn't expect it to be that tricky affair. Also read: Kashmir Great Lakes- First day trek to Nichnai This is one of the trickiest descent I had faced in all these years of trekking.Read More
Satsar to Gangabal : Photo journey to the climax!
After a satisfying fourth day, it was time to move towards the climax on the 5th day of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. It was supposed to be the last day of climb. Satsar campsite is at an altitude of 12,000 ft and Gangabal campsite is at a an altitude of 11,500 ft but on the way we have to cross the Zach pass at an altitude of 13,400 ft. How to prepare? Read: Thajiwas is a perfect acclimatisation for Great Lakes Trek So, lets travel through the day's trek in photos. Starting right from the first light of the day- Its early morning after a wonderful night of stargazing. You just can't imagine, how this sky looked like in the night. Its cold still, but all ready to move. Its getting brighter and campsite is buzzing with early morning activities. Also Read: Kashmir Great Lakes-...Read More
How often we trek and come across some very beautiful natural scenes as we have never seen before. But then there are few scenes which will freeze in your memories for ever. What, if such a view comes in front of your eyes all of a sudden, in a very unlikely manner. That's how it happens when trekking from Satsar to Gangabal during the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, we have to climb three ridges one after another in a tough climb. And after three hours of energy sapping trek we reach to the top of Zach pass at 13,400 feet (also mentioned locally as Gangabal Pass), and all of sudden a view opens up like a canvas- Harmukh peak right in the front and twin lakes of Gangabal and Nandkhol at its base. A perfect vista to fill ones eyes... so close, yet a bit far. What a fitting climax to a unb...Read More
A tale of seven lakes : Gadsar to Satsar
The best thing about six day Kashmir Great Lakes trek is that every day, you get a new landscape around and that prevents it from getting monotonous. Also read: Thajiwas is a perfect acclimatisation for Great Lakes trek Having already covered the first three day, we move ahead to the next campsite. Fourth day trek is from Gadsar to Satsar. First two days of trek were without passing through any lakes but next two days were all about lakes. Third day, we passes as many as five lakes on the way including big ones like Vishnusar, Kishansar and Gadsar. This fourth day was also all about lakes. Actually name of the next campsite is Satsar which means seven lakes. Also read: Kashmir Great Lakes- First day trek to Nichnai The altitude for the day hovered around 12K feet....Read More
Paradise regained : As beautiful as it can be!
With the perils of trekking in rain quite exposed on second day, third day turned out to be an absolute beauty. It started with a dose fog and ended with a light drizzle, but in between it was bright, sunny and extremely picturesque. After having completed the Kashmir Great Lakes trek, I can safely say that out of the six days of this arduous trek, third day's trek from Vishansar (or Vishnusar) camp to the Gadsar camp is arguable the best- in both the respects- ease of trek and beauty of the trail. As a icing on the cake, the weather also remained favourable throughout the day. Also read: Kashmir Great Lakes- Romancing the rains at Nichnai Pass It is only after the Vishansar or Vishnusar camp that we actually get to experience the lakes part of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. ThisRead More
Kashmir Great Lakes : Romancing the rains at Nichnai Pass
Trekking in rain might seem however romantic but it is quite challenging when you are up in Himalayas constantly over altitude of 11K ft and you have to cross a pass in chilling wind. In last almost two and half decades have trekked in rain at numerous occasions. However beautiful it might look in the beginning, but if it prolongs than it is certainly going to trouble. It does more to all those who are ill-prepared for the happening. Well, continuing with the Kashmiri Great Lakes trek, second day trek was from Nichnai camp to Vishansar camp. Rain had started the previous evening even before we reached Nichnai camp from Sonamarg. It kept raining the whole night continuously. It was quite damp and chilly. It was quite certain that we won't be having an early departure in the morning b...Read More
Shashi Kapoor was certainly one of most watchable Bollywood actors of his times- pure grace and handsome to the core. Personally I had one great memory of this star, one of the lifetime, which I never had with anybody else. It was of watching him on the sets of a film. His passing away yesterday took me back to that incident four decades back. It was summer of 1977 and I was in Kashmir with the family, my first trip to the paradise. I was quite young that time. Forty years have passed since than but I still remember it very well. We stayed in Srinagar, courtesy my uncle who was the commanding officer of the Army unit at that time. We had gone to Sonmarg, Khilanmarg and Pahalgam. Those were peaceful times in the valley. And it was during one of these excursions that we had a chance encouRead More