Kashmir Great Lakes is definitely one of the most stunning treks in India. It has amazing alpine lakes, colorful meadows, and steep passes, making it a perfect choice for any trekker looking for a classic Himalayan experience. I truly believe that there are only a handful of treks in India that can compare to the beauty of Great Lakes. The breathtaking blue lakes and the majestic Greater Himalayas truly made me appreciate the beauty of our planet.

I’ve always wanted to go on the amazing lakes trek. Finally, I had the chance to join the Mountain Hikers group for this adventure. I arrived at Srinagar airport, excited to meet my fellow trekkers.

Our journey began in Sonamarg, a popular spot in Kashmir. The drive from Srinagar to Sonamarg was so beautiful, taking about 4 hours. We stayed at Gagangir, just a bit past Sonamarg, in a hotel by the Sindh Nallah River. Due to heavy rain, we stayed inside the hotel that evening. We all went to bed after a delicious dinner and a briefing from Lucky about the next day.

Day 1: Sitkadi to Table Top

The next morning was sunny and clear. We ate a big breakfast and packed our bags. The staff put our luggage in the vehicle and we drove to Shitkadi. We decided to hang out at the meadow for a while to avoid the crowds. After lunch, we began our hike towards Table top or Shekdur. The first few hours were a steady climb. From the top, we could see all of Sonamarg surrounded by snowy mountains. The trail wound through zigzagging paths and led us into a beautiful forest of Maple and Pine trees. Eventually, we reached an open flat field which was our destination, Table top. There was a shepherd’s hut where we enjoyed delicious noodles and Kashmiri kahva. As the sun set, the temperature dropped. After dinner, we all went to rest and sleep. Everyone was looking forward to the challenging trek over the Nichnai pass the next day.

Day 2: Table Top to Meadow ahead of Nichnai Pass

We woke up to the sound of horses wandering freely in the meadow. The sunrise was absolutely stunning. After breakfast, we left the campsite at 10:00 am. The trail was downhill for about half an hour, leading us to a forest of Bhoj or Silver birch trees. Walking through the forest was quite pleasant. On our right, we could see a vast river valley. There were some parts where we had to walk on snow and rocks. We eventually reached our lunch spot. It was so nice to see the river flowing and the fluffy clouds passing over the mountains. The terrain became rockier as we approached the Nichnai Pass. Just as we neared the pass, heavy rain started pouring down. The cold wind made it hard to walk. It was freezing cold. Once we crossed the pass, we found a shepherd’s hut. The owner was very kind and invited us inside. Our guide quickly got some wood and started a fire since everyone was soaked and shivering from the cold. The hut owner served us hot maggie and kahva. The kahva worked its magic, and after resting for a bit, everyone felt more energetic. The rain stopped and the sun came out. We began descending from the pass. There was snow everywhere. We had a blast playing in the snow, and some of us even tried sliding down icy slopes. It was a challenging trek due to the wind and rain, but with the help of the staff and our team, we all made it back to the campsite safely. We watched a beautiful sunset from the campsite. We were exhausted but happy to have witnessed and experienced nature’s different moods.

Day 3: Meadow to Krishnasar Lake

The next morning, we woke up early to watch the sunrise. The whole valley was glowing with sunlight. After a yummy breakfast, we prepared for the hike to Krishnasar Lake. We crossed a pretty stream beside our camp. Some of us rode horses across the stream, while a few of us walked through the freezing water. My feet went numb for a moment, but then the water felt refreshing. There was a large group of sheep by the stream. We took many pictures with them before continuing our journey towards Vishnusar, the first lake of the series! The terrain was mostly flat with a slight incline.

Vishnusar was enormous! The bright blue lake sat below four towering mountains, surrounded by stunning scenery. The snowy peaks and clouds reflected in the clear water. We admired the beauty for nearly an hour before heading to Krishnasar, which was a 50-minute walk away. We enjoyed a hot lunch at our campsite and played games in the dining tent in the afternoon. In the evening, we wandered around the lovely Krishnasar lake. For dinner, the kitchen staff surprised us with fresh trout fish. The daal rice, lady finger sabji, and chapati were delicious! I wanted to take some photos of the night sky, but the moon was too bright and the stars weren’t visible. Still, the views were absolutely stunning.

Day 4: Krishnasar to Gadsar Camp via Gadsar Pass

Today, we reached the top of Gadsar Pass, the highest point of our trek at 13,800 ft. The sunrise at our campsite was absolutely stunning. It felt like a dream watching the sunlight reflect off the crystal-clear water of Krishnasar lake. After breakfast, we carefully navigated the steep and narrow paths.

Our guides kept cheering us on and before we knew it, we reached the top of the pass. Both lakes were visible from up there. Everyone was full of energy. We were so thrilled that we started dancing like crazy at the summit. After taking a break, we began our descent. The whole area was covered in soft snow. Sliding down was the easiest way to go. We made our way down to a wide meadow. The hike felt like a stroll in the park with pretty yellow flowers all around. We had our lunch by Gadsar Lake. This circular lake was the most beautiful and pristine of them all. We were amazed to see chunks of snow falling from the cliffs into the lake. Walking alongside the lake on a downward path all the way to Gadsar camp was truly refreshing.

Day 5: Gadsar to Satsar

We departed from the Gadsar Camp right after breakfast. We crossed a frozen stream and began climbing up a narrow path. The path was very steep for about an hour until we crossed over the hills. Then, the path leveled out and we walked through a huge meadow for nearly an hour. Finally, we arrived at the first lake of Satsar. Satsar means Seven lakes. When we got to the first lake, we noticed rain clouds approaching in the distance. We hurried through a rocky area and made it to our campsite just before the rain started. It rained all day and the temperature dropped. Luckily, our kitchen staff took excellent care of us, providing us with hot and delicious food, evening snacks, and tea to keep us warm and energized. We even watched a movie while sitting inside our cozy dining tent.

Day 6: Satsar to Nandkol via Zaj Pass

After the heavy rain last night, we were unsure about the day’s weather. We started the trek early as today we had to cross over another pass; the “Zaj Pass”. After crossing the river on a wooden bridge and through small rocks the trail led us to a boulder area. It was very difficult to walk on the boulders and rocks which were slippery because of the last night’s rain. The team helped each other on this difficult climb and soon we were on our way to the Zaj Pass. There was lots of snow in the valley and the river was flowing parallel to the trail. Suddenly the entire valley got covered with fog. We kept moving in almost no visibility and after a steep climb finally reached on the top of the pass. The twin lakes of Gangabal and Nandakol can be seen from the top. We waited for a long time to get a clear view but the weather had other plans. The pass was still covered with fog and the lakes were hardly visible though the clouds. We stared descending from the pass hoping to get the clear views of twin lakes on our way down. The sky cleared up soon and we could see mesmerising views of Nandakol and Gangabal lake. Soon, we descended down to the open area and reached our last campsite at Nandkol. It rained again in the evening. Later when the rain stopped, we were strolling around our camp. It was a beautiful evening as finally the sun was out and we also saw a huge rainbow over the river that was flowing next to our camp. This was one of the most memorable experiences of the entire trip. Our joy doubled as after a while there was double rainbow. It was full moon that night and Mt. Harmukh was looking spectacular. I stayed up late to capture the beauty of night sky.

Day 7: Nandakol to Naranag and Srinagar

Today marked the end of our trek. We gathered all the staff members – the cook, kitchen helper, and horse man – and thanked them for their hard work. We took lots of pictures and said goodbye to our camp. The walk to Naranag was long, passing through lush green meadows and ending near a forest. The trail got dusty and the heat made it tough to walk, but the thought of returning to civilization kept us going. Finally, we reached Naranag, marking the end of our adventurous journey through the beautiful parts of Kashmir. Before heading home, we spent a night at the famous Dal Lake.

I’ve visited Ladakh, Nepal, and Sikkim, but nothing compares to the beauty of the Great Lakes. The trek was tough, with rain, cold, and long days of trekking through rough terrain, but the memories of Kashmir Great Lakes will stay with us forever.

Also Visit:

  1. Tarsar Marsar Trek
  2. Nafran Valley Trek
  3. Chadar Trek