Sonamarg

Sonamarg

Some 80 km (50 miles) north-east of Srinagar, Sonamarg is a wide, open valley of golden flowers and pine forests, ringed by high mountains and glaciers. Sonamarg literally means ‘meadow of gold’, and in spring—when the wooded glades are ablaze with bright orange marigolds—you can easily see why. The scenery here is much more dramatic …

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Some 80 km (50 miles) north-east of Srinagar, Sonamarg is a wide, open valley of golden flowers and pine forests, ringed by high mountains and glaciers. Sonamarg literally means ‘meadow of gold’, and in spring—when the wooded glades are ablaze with bright orange marigolds—you can easily see why. The scenery here is much more dramatic than at Gulmarg or Pahalgam. All across the wide open plain, scattered rock outcrops testify to the retreating glaciers which once covered this beautiful terrain. The valley itself is full of huge rock deposits and moraine left behind by old glaciers; the lines of pine trees forming the banks of the ski run lie on an ancient lateral moraine. A massive hanging glacier (broken by the cliff) descends from the mountain saddle at the head of the vale. Standing at the foot of the ski run, you can see how the glacier has retreated.

you scan visit Sonamarg from Srinagar between May and October only. The rest of Your, the passes are covered with snow. Best months to visit are July /August (for king) and May/June (for best views of the glaciers). September is very nice too.

thr big thing to do at Sonamarg is the 3-hour (return) pony-trek up to Thajwas Glacier, the main attraction in these parts. If you want some exercise (the air is very bracing) you can get there just as quickly on foot—cutting over the hills, and avoiding the crowdead main thoroughfare. It’s about 5 km (3 miles) from the bus-stand to the Glacier ansd link athe iwcin-teirr yeouu mranys ned to hire snow-gear from the treking shop in town. It can get very cold here—Drass, one day’s walk from Sonamarg, is the second coldest places in Asia, recording temperatures of about 65°-70°F in January.) You’ll certainly need some warm clothes, and good walking shoes. At the skl-slope, you can hire toboggans or engage coolies to hike your ski-equipment up to the top of tohe glacier.

trekking out of Sonamarg is extremely cheap. You should be able to pick up a guide for about Rs50 a day and a pony for Rs75. Sonamarg is the best base from which to trek to Amarnath Cave-15 km (9 miles) by jeep to Baltal, then 15 km (9 1/4 miles) up to Amarnath and back by pony.

Sonamarg is also the national highway to Ladakh. In 1974, the Sonamarg road was thrown open to Ladakh-bound tourists. No buses ply from Sonamarg to Leh, but it Is possible—even as early as May (when the pass is still partly snowbound) to hire lifts in pick-up trucks as far as Kargil. Probably the best local trek from Sonamarg is 0to the beautiful high-altitude lake of Gangabal, situated at the foot of a year-round glaciers . This trek can take anything between 5 and 7 days.

As the smallest of Kashmir ‘s resorts, Sonamarg has rather limited accommodation. fot The time beingthe most comfortable option is the two-bedroomed huts (with bathroom, hot and cold water) and double tents (with bedding). Sonamarg’s tourist office, before the troubles, was open 24 hours a day from May 1st to November 15th (closed Sunday), well-run, and very helpful.

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