Literally translating into the land of gold, Sonmarg is a town near the banks of the Indus River, luring tourists to visit the heart of delight and tranquility with its snow-capped mountains and flower-laden valleys. Sonmarg, from Srinagar, is less than a 100 kilometers travel, making it easily accessible from the capital of the state of Paradise on Earth, that is, Jammu and Kashmir.
The Srinagar International Airport is roughly 80 kilometers from Sonmarg. From the Srinagar International Airport, one would have to either take a bus or a taxi that are easily available at the airport or the bus stands at Srinagar. There is no other plausible way to get to the town of Sonmarg.
At a height of 2800m above sea level, Sonmarg is the perfect tourist destination for those looking for an ideal vacation with rejuvenation, adventure, and nature. Sonmarg is only 80 kilometers from Srinagar, en route Ladakh, and with its towering glaciers, clear lakes, sun-kissed mountains and gorgeous meadows, it beckons every heart that longs for a break from the chaos of the city life.
Situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, Sonmarg is a dream when compared to other cities of the state. It has a seamless stretch of endless harmony along with an overwhelming number of options for adventure-seekers. One can also take a stroll on the countless pathways and engage with the local culture. Sonmarg is also an ideal spot for couples looking to unravel from their busy lives and spend quality time together.
Tourists can choose from a wide variety of attractions to visit like Amar Nath Temple, Vishansar, Krishansar, Gadsar and Gangabal lakes, Zojila Pass, etc. There are also several adventure activities like white water rafting, camping, fishing, trekking, etc. The Sonmarg Travel Guide will give you all the details needed to have a flawless weekend in the town. Read travel information about Sonmarg here.
There are innumerable places to visit in Sonmarg ranging from temples to lakes to scenes.
This pass is the second highest pass on NH-1D and acts as an important link between Ladakh and the Kashmir Valley. It is located at a distance of 25 kilometers from Sonmarg but remains closed during winters. This mountain pass has the historic significance in association with the war between India and Pakistan. Zojila Pass is a beautiful location to take some picturesque photographs.
If you’re traveling to get away from the city life, Gadsar Lake is just the right spot to go soul-searching and unwind. With a beautiful view of the frozen Satsar and Baltan Lakes, one can be surrounded by the tall mountains, sun-kissed meadows and a whole lot of alpine flowers.
With only a distance of five kilometers to cover from Sonmarg to visit the Thajiwas Glacier, it is a favorite spot for camping among locals and tourists. The meadow at the bottom of it is covered with Pine and Fir trees along with a number of natural waterfalls around it. This is where nature is booming in Sonmarg.
The Baltic community that stays here believes that the waters have curative powers. Over the weekend, people swarm the banks of the river for a dip in the healing waters. With lush meadows all around, it also makes an ideal picnic spot. This river is red in color and join the Indus River at the Nilagrad. It is situated only 6 kilometers from Sonamarg and is a must-see.
This beautiful lake is surrounded by snow-laden mountains and alpine forests, forming a picturesque landscape that is wonderful for photographs. It stretches up to a kilometer, with a width of more than 500 meters. During the winter season, the water on the surface freezes and forms a crystal clear layer. Krishnasar Lake can be reached by taking the scenic trek route that passes through Nichinai Pass. This lake is also famous for trout fishing as it contains thousands of brown trouts.
Also known as the ‘Lake of Vegetarians’, the lake contains green water which is more beautiful than it sounds. It has several waterfalls and goes without saying that it is yet another location for a photograph with a gorgeous view of the mountains and flower-rich meadows. There are also several treks and hikes organized by this location and fishing is another reason tourists flock here. During the winter season, it stays in a frozen state, whereas lush vegetation encompasses it with the arrival of summers.
Kheer Bhawani Temple:
Situated in the middle of a natural spring in Sonmarg, the Kheer Bhawani Temple is an attraction to visit because of its greystone architecture that is smooth and accurate. Traditionally, devotees offer milk and kheer to the deity in the temple. There is also a rumor that the water turns black as a warning against a looming calamity.
Amar Nath Temple:
Amarnath's natural stone lingam becomes encrusted with ice and is believed to wax and wane with the phases of the moon. Seen as symbolizing Lord Shiva, it's in an isolated mountain cave at 3888m, 14km from the nearest road. Taking the pilgrimage to it is a powerful experience, and the route is very beautiful. It is a Hindu shrine and is located at a distance of 22 kilometers from Sonmarg. On the way, you will also find Baltal which is a camping ground for pilgrims on their way to the temple.
The mesmerizing scenery of Gangabal Lake with the Harmukh Mountain in its backdrop is something that attracts every photographer. Gangabal Lake, also known as Gangbal Lake, is a quiet water body at an elevation of 3600 meters. It is 2.5 kilometers long and a kilometer wide. This lake is referred to as Harmukut Ganga by Hindus and in order to preserve their cultural heritage, Kashmiri Pandits organize a traditional pilgrimage at this site. In September every year, the pilgrimage lasts for three days. To reach this lake, visitors can take a horse ride or a laborious uphill trek that commences at Sonmarg.
As we mentioned before, there are several lakes where brown trout are in abundance which is famous for fishing. The Indus River, Vishansar Lake, and Krishnasar Lake are some lakes that are known for trout fishing and are filled with trout and mahaseer fish. One can use the fish caught for a well-cooked meal or let it back into the waters. The woods are right by the lakes, so we would recommend you take a break and have a quiet stroll between the green trees.
If you’re looking for a peaceful night by the sound of gushing waters of the rivers or lakes, camping is a must. However, make sure to carry all the required equipment from Srinagar as such equipment is not available in Sonmarg. Do not wander into the forests alone in the dark as there are some dangers and be careful while camping.
Skiing and Sledging:
When you visit the Thajiwar Glacier, make sure to go sledging or snowboarding as it is one of the main attractions of Sonamarg. Sliding down the snow filled mountain pumps up the adrenaline and brings great joy. Take in the mesmerizing view of the mountains and trees that are lush during summer and covered during winter. Keep at mind prices here, including the taxi, are inflated. Bargain well. However, Sonamarg is not a place for a novice. The frozen glaciers also make a great area for ice skating. Enjoy a snowball fight, make a snowman or just roll and frolic around.
Sonmarg is considered as the trekking enthusiast’s paradise with its countless trekking trails and breath-taking scenic beauty. Nature in and around Sonmarg and the trails are a must-see, most of them leading to the Thajiwar Glacier in a matter of a few hours. There are also several other trekking trails to the lakes mentioned in the article. If you’re not scared of heights, don’t have breathing problems and have enough stamina, trekking is surely an activity for you. You can even opt for the Great Lakes Trek.
This is one of the most rejuvenating activities in Sonmarg as tourists can hike up several mountain passes. However, we recommend that you have a local guide with you at all times because the trails can become a bit confusing in the dense forests.
White Water Rafting:
This has always been an adventure that every person who experiences it gets a kick out of. Sonmarg offers an exciting river rafting adventure across the Indus River with woody forests and mountains on either side. The activity is not restricted to experts alone – any beginner can also enjoy the rush of speeding down a gushing river with ice cold water splashing on them!
Sonmarg is an exciting destination for all kinds of tourists looking for some tranquility or adventure. It also has a number of festivals and events to look out for! Here are some:
Spring Snow Festival:
Starting on the 24th of December every year, the Spring Snow Festival is a three-day event of fun and frolic with events like skiing, snow cycling, sledging, snow kayaking and more. It is held in association with the tourism section of the Worldwide Youth Hostel, Sonamarg. It ends on 26th December.
In the month of December and January, there is a fifteen-day celebration held by the Tibetan Buddhists of the area. The rituals originate from the Bon tradition that emerged before Buddhism that is still followed by some people today. Apart from offering incense to the deities, locals also consume a native barley beer called the Changkol at the Losar parties. Read about Tulip garden festival Srinagar here.
Tourists usually stay in Sonmarg for two or three days, preferably a weekend. The best time to visit Sonmarg is between May and October before the weather becomes unbearably cold. However, the beginning of the winter season is perfect if you want to indulge in winter sports. In summer, the town is laden with flowers and is extremely vibrant while in September it receives quite a bit of rainfall. Read about Shalimarbagh Srinagar here.
Sonmarg’s food variety is limited, however, they do include many options from the Kashmiri cuisine. Local cuisine includes Syoon Olav (Meat with Potatoes cooked in spicy gravy), Marcha-Wangan korma, Nadir-Haaq/Gogji/Monji (lotus stems cooked with Spinach or Radish), Muj Gaad (Fish with Radish), Modur Pulaav (Sweet Pulao, usually as a dessert), Kaanti (lamb pieces in red hot gravy, usually eaten as a snack and not part of the main course) and Matschgand (minced lamb meatballs in spicy red gravy).
If you wish to make a few purchases, Main Market is the best option. There are also a number of accommodation options near Main Market, but if you’re feeling adventurous, feel free to stay in camps with basic amenities. The hotels near Main Market start off at about 6000 Rupees for a night per person and can go up to 20,000 Rupees per night per person in luxury hotels.
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