Kashmir Great Lakes – A journey through Heaven!!!

We had KGL on our mind for some time after seeing few pictures of the godly lakes on Internet! It was just the matter of when the plan would materialize.

Well, after some investigation we came to a conclusion that Mid July is good time to visit the valley owing to the blooming of wild flowers that happens during monsoon!

Once the month was finalized, it was just the matter of booking tickets to Srinagar and registering for the trek!!

Post: 1
Trek Day: 1
Location: Sonamarg, J&K

First day of the trek was just a 3-4 Hr drive from Srinagar to Sonamarg. The pick-up time was 3.00PM, however few members from our batch missed their flights and we started pretty late from Srinagar. Now there was this rule in and around Srinagar that vehicles cannot enter or leave Srinagar at late hours due to security concerns.

No one amongst us was aware of this fact including the driver that was casual on his approach. However, we faced a strict no-go from one of the army check post. They said we cannot leave Srinagar at evening and we must wait till morning before we can leave. Well, the environment became tense amongst the trekkers and no one wanted to miss their trek starting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the driver suggested an alternate route to reach Sonamarg which was more secluded and doesn’t have any army check-points in between. After mutual agreement amongst all, we decided to take this route. We reached campsite late at night, with other trekkers already took the cozyness of their sleepingbags in the tents!

Post: 2
Trek Day: 2
Location: Sonamarg, J&K

We woke up in the morning to witness the beauty of our campsite. It was located right next to a glacier stream with greenery all around.

We had our breakfast, packed our stuff, were introduced with our local guide and we are ready to start our trek!

Post: 3
Trek Day: 2
Location: EnrouteNichnai, J&K

With just couple of hours into trek, we had already gained significant amount of Altitude. It was an indication that it is not going to be an easy trek at all :p

Although, the route was too scenic to think much about the steepness and stuff. Green meadows, tall pine trees, snowy peaks were the company we had throughout!

Post: 4
Trek Day: 2
Location: Nichnai Stream, J&K

We had our lunch somewhere near the stream, with fresh water stream around. With the strong sun throughout the day, most of us were pretty tired already :p

After some lunch and resting for a good amount of time, we followed the Nichnai stream to reach our campsite.

Post: 5
Trek Day: 2
Location: Nichnai Campsite, J&K

Weather was playing hide and seek in the night with clouds and moon-light taking turns at regular interval.

After several attempts, got this image of my tent glowing in the dark!

Post: 6
Trek Day: 3
Location: EnrouteNichnai Pass, J&K

On our briefing yesterday, we were updated that today we need to climb Nichnai Pass at 13100 ft. The pass was around 2 hours from our campsite, but it was quite a steep ascend.

We started in the morning with clouds and wild flowers around us, the weather in the initial part of the day was perfect for trekking. The route was indeed steep and we needed to halt for catching our breadth after walking for few minutes.

Post: 7
Trek Day: 3
Location: EnrouteNichnai Pass, J&K

However, it became sunny right before reaching the pass and that made the ascend even more challenging. Although, the motivation that we need to descend after reaching the pass was the factor that kept most of us motivated to reach the pass quickly :p

Post: 8
Trek Day: 3
Location: Nichnai Pass, J&K

Most of the team reached Nichnai pass within couple of hours from our start in the morning. The view on the other side of the pass was superb with layers of mountain ranges, carpet of wild flowers waiting for us. Plus, it was a descend, cherry on top! isn’t it? 😛

Post: 9
Trek Day: 3
Location: Vishansar Lake, J&K

It started raining right before reaching the campsite. Porters and kitchen staff had already reached the campsite and hot lunch was provided as we reached the camps.

To our luck, it stopped raining after some time and we got the chance to visit the first major lake of our trek! the magnificentVishansar Lake.

We were mesmerised with the beauty of the lake, with no winds it was acting as a perfect mirror. We sat there for an hour or so absorbing the vibes of the place.

Post: 10
Trek Day: 4
Location: Vishansar Campsite, J&K

It rained throughout the night, and it was raining in the morning too…

We had some discussion between trek leader, local guide, porters and trekkers, whether to move ahead or not on such rainy conditions. There was no conclusion at first but later, we started to trek towards Gadsar Pass, however just few minutes into trek few members share their concern on their safety on such slippery route.

Well, it was then decided that we will have our rest day (acclimatisation day) at this campsite. However, the question was if rains didn’t stop and continued till tomorrow then what would be our next step?

Post: 11
Trek Day: 5
Location: Vishansar lake, EnrouteGadsar Pass – J&K

The rain god showed some mercy on us and weather became bit stable by next day!

We started our journey towards Gadsar Pass and got this superb view if Vishansar lake from a different angle!

Post: 12
Trek Day: 5
Location: Twin Lake (Vishansar), EnrouteGadsar Pass – J&K

As we gained altitude, we realised that Vishansar was a twin lake and the lake which we have seen on the previous day was feeded by a lake above it.

We were about to reach the highest point of our trek i.e. Gadsar Pass at 13,750ft and the views of the valley were getting better and better.

Weather took a u-turn at the pass and no one could stay there for a long, it became lot windy and it started to rain too… We thought of taking a group photo at the pass but unfortunately due to the rough weather we couldn’t 😛

Post: 13
Trek Day: 5
Location: After Gadsar pass, enrouteGadsar lake – J&K

The blooming of wild flowers after the pass was one of the best patch we saw in the entire trek. The patch of wild blooming was stretched for kilometresenroute. What a sight it was!!

Post: 14
Trek Day: 5
Location: Gadsar Lake, J&K

Gadsar lake was our stop for lunch break. lunch site was strategically chosen with availability of fresh water stream at the site.

Imagine having your lunch with a view of such a lake right in front of you. Yess… that’s the perk of KGL trek!

It was quite a tiring walk till this point and we had more than couple of hours of trek still left to reach the campsite :p

Post: 15
Trek Day: 5
Location: Right before Gadsar Campsite, J&K

It started raining sometime after we left the lake and we walked through the colourful valley with a constant drizzle from above.

Few hundred meters before reaching the campsite we saw this soaked marmot peeping out from its borrow. Everyone took few moments of pause to get a good glimpse of it !

Post: 16
Trek Day: 6
Location: Gadsar Campsite, J&K

All the campsites on the trail were one level above the other in terms of beauty, we can say it was the magic of the valley!

It was like a perfect morning on a trek with a view of snow on mountains, cool winds, clear sky, sight of grazing animals. What else to wish for!

Post: 17
Trek Day: 6
Loaction: Gadsar Campsite, EnrouteSatsar Campsite – J&K

We started our trek by crossing this natural glacier bridge, there was a river flowing beneath this piece of ice :p

As stated by our trek leader we needed to transverse to other side of the mountain today with initial part of the trek involved some steep patches but magnificent view of the valley awaiting for us.

Post: 18
Trek Day: 6
Location: EnrouteSatsar Campsite, J&K

After an hour of mild ascend, there arrived a patch of steep ‘S’ shaped ascend which was even difficult for the mules :p we could see mules sliding on the ascend due to its steepness. So you could imagine our status :p

Mid-way on the ascend, there was this lovely vantage point looking onto the valley. Most of us clicked our photos at this very place 🙂

Post: 19
Trek Day: 6
Location: EnrouteSatsar Campsite, J&K

Once we crossed the high point for the day, it was mostly flat walk on the other side of the valley.

Although, the valley was much wider with lot of grazing sheep!!

Post: 20
Trek Day: 6
Location: EnrouteSatsar Campsite, J&K

Although there were numerous sheep, but most of them were too shy to run away from a distance.

After lot of efforts, we could manage to get a profile picture of this sheep grazing on the carpet of wildflowers.

Later we crossed couple of shallow lakes on our right to reach the Army Check post at Satsar. Our campside was around 30 mins from the check post.

Post: 21
Trek Day: 6
Location: Satsar lake, J&K

We reached the campsite, had our snacks and left for Satsar twin lake, unlike other campsite the twin lake was around 30 mins hike from the base.

Owing to this most of the trekkers decided to stay at the camps and only few of us moved to see the lakes! The first view of the lake was pretty normal, however when one goes further towards the second lake, the view changes completely.

It felt totally worth going to the lake, although it started raining on our way back !!

Post: 22
Trek Day: 7
Location: EnrouteNandkol Campsite, J&K

We started our walk in the presence of mild shower. I personally felt today’s terrain the most difficult in terms of risk involved in walking across big sharp wet boulders!

It took more than an hour to cross this rocky patch before we started our ascend towards Zaj pass at 13000Ft. We found snow at Zaj pass (the only pass with snow on the trek) and also encountered chilly winds with rains, which forced us down the pass without spending much time at the top.

Post: 23
Trek Day: 7
Location: EnrouteNandkol Campsite, J&K

We were told that we can get view of 4 lakes from the pass and also the view of Harmukh glacier, but unfortunately it was too cloudy the whole time to see any of these.

However, we got lucky and right before we could descent completely we got a window of a bit clear weather and we could see this Bean Shape Gangballake !! We were just thinking if it would have been clear weather, how majestic this view could have been!!

Post: 24
Trek Day: 7
Location: Gangbal Lake, J&K

With lunch enroute, we reached the beautiful campsite at bank of Nandkol lake.

Everyone quickly dumped their rucksacks and went to explore the biggest lake of the trek – the mighty Gangbal Lake!

It takes 15-20 mins of get at touchable distance of Gangbal lake, the lake seems more majestic upfront. The presence of grazing sheep made the environment more scenic.

Post: 25
Trek Day: 7
Location: Nandkol Campsite, J&K

Being our last night on the trek and it was celebrated in a different way, local porters, guide and kitchen staff from different trek groups joined together to perform traditional singing and dancing act. We joined them too and it was fun!!

Later, when everyone left to sleep, couple of us decided to stay back and experiment with our cameras 😛

P.S. It was a long exposure shot with steel-wool lighten up 🙂

Post: 26
Trek Day: 8

Location: EnrouteNaranag, J&K

The weather was still to be clear, and the initial part of the trek day was in rain and through the clouds.

Here, we need to closely follow the previous member of our group otherwise it was too easy to get lost in this mist.

Post: 27
Trek Day: 8
Location: EnrouteNaranag, J&K

Once we descended a bit, the view became much clear and scenic. Imagine this being your home in middle of paradise 🙂

Although, the route later was covered with full of slush making the descend extremely slippery!

Post: 28
Trek Day: 8
Location: EnrouteNaranag, J&K

The last patch of our trek was surrounded with dense pine forest and the way was too steep even to descend.

We could see many locals were climbing up this route, I am not sure how they were managing it on such steep slippery slopes!

Post: 29
Trek Day: 8
Location: Naranag Ruins, J&K

After hours and kms of walking we finally got glimpse of tar roads and vehicles and civilization… it was kind-off mix feeling. Relief on one side but the sadness of leaving the mountains behind on the other side.

Well, by the time our transportation for Srinagar was arranged and we decided to quickly visit the ruins of Naranag. It was believed to be an ancient Shiv temple with just it ruins left to admire.

Our trek was over but its memory will remain with us forever!!