Sonmarg: A treat to all 5 senses!
Located at about 80 Km from Srinagar this place is absolute bliss. Sonmarg was the first of our illustrious multi-destination trip to ‘The Land of the Mystic Lamas – Ladakh’. Thus, the moment we landed at the Srinagar international airport there was a tempo traveller waiting to take us to the place that was a dazzling sneak-peak to what the rest of our journey would feel like.
Thanks to a malfunction in the aircraft’s AC, our arrival at Srinagar (From Bengaluru) was delayed by a couple of hours on 8th June’18: Day1 of our Ladakh Escapade and we couldn’t have a mini-tour of the Summer Capital of J&K as planned. Zooming in and out of the narrow lanes of Srinagar with a view of artistically built sloping roofed houses, traveling through Srinagar to reach Sonmarg was a breeze. The sun in this region sets around 7 – 7:30 around this time of the year, and this was a blessing owing to our delayed flight. We had enough time for a late lunch at Moti Mahal. The rich colors of the food had won us over even before our taste buds reached them! And true to its looks, the food was delectable.
After our sense of taste was satiated, sense of sight was the next in line to be appeased the moment we set eyes on the Jhelum river. The whole journey was mesmerizing with dark-green valleys overlooking the lush green fields.
While darkness engulfed the sky, we had crossed the city limits and could now only breathe unsullied air, and then we heard it – the sound of water racing beside us. The Sindh River, that originates in the Tibetian Plateau flows tirelessly through the Ladakh region of J&K and the entire length of Pakistan to culminate into the Arabian Sea.
After a full day’s travel from our homes in Bengaluru, we finally arrived at “Green Clamping Resort” in Sonmarg. As we descended down the steps to our camps, we heard her again, the Sindh River flowing in full vigor right beside our camps and we couldn’t ask for more. With temperature controlled beds this place had won over our hearts immediately and that was only until we sat at the dinner tables. The flavor-rich spread presented to us made us realize what we were missing in our own cities which boasts of a gazillion restaurants with exposure to global cuisine. The spread was simple but an opulent one, which had freshness in every bite. Although all my fellow comrades were pure meat eaters, they thoroughly enjoyed the vegetarian choice of dinner, and I was ecstatic.
The dawn of Day-2 of our Ladakh Escapade started with the therapeutic sound of the river, the aroma of dew drops on fresh grass, chilly mist gracing the skin, the view of the golden rays seeking attention from behind the green giants, and the taste of the most flavorful breakfast. A friendly and optimistic merchant selling some traditional shawls and dress materials with local embroidery designs was extremely successful in selling his wares to us weak hearted shopaholics. With a heavy heart, we checked out of the resort and were on our way to explore the Thajiwas Glacier.
There are multiple people at this point who will provide tourists with horses for the small trek from the main road to Thajiwas Glacier. It took the organizers some time to find a dozen horses to suffice for our team and when everyone was mounted and ready to go, my ride thought he was participating in a derby and, although we were the last ones to start we were at the front of the line in no time, with me holding on to dear life and voicing (please read as screaming) my choice of wanting to get off this four-legged murder weapon aimed to shatter my peace of mind into pieces. The narrow path which was leading to the valleys of magnificence seemed more like a journey to a conflagration gorge. After what seemed like forever, the caretakers of the horses finally gave in and let me down, and I felt life hugging me and I put as much distance between myself and the horse which now looked so elegant.
We sat at a local tea shop and enjoyed a delicious cup of the suspicious colored Kashmiri Kahwa. It was at this point that the localities thronged us to take the sledge ride down the melting glacier, which looked like a slushy mesh. And our driver had told us that he would take us to a better place for this activity and thus we politely refused them, ignorant of what the consequences would be. Obviously, on the way back ignoring the protests of the localities that I would take too much time on foot, I strode faster than the others who were on horseback. This time I was taking in the grandeur of the place with each step whilst fishing for some interesting information from the people there. This was a decent 8km (Both ways) hike and not at all exhausting. On our return, these same people picked up a nasty fight with our driver for costing them some business. And when everyone had settled scores with our driver, we were on our way to our next destination: Kargil – The land of many emotions!
- Sonmarg is a Hill-station located at 2743m above sea level and 80 KM from Srinagar and is about a 3-hour drive
- This place was in the ancient times called as the Gateway on the silk route connecting China and the Gulf countries with Kashmir
- The name translates to ‘Meadow of Gold’
- This place serves as a base camp for the pilgrims that throng the Amarnath Temple
- As peaceful as the place seems to be, there has been unrest in the past due to militants and hence there is a prominent presence of the Indian Army
- This is the last stop in the Kashmir District and Ladakh starts beyond this point
- The Sindh River travels about 3200 Kms before ending her journey at the Arabian Sea and you can find yourself in her company almost throughout the way
- The Jhelum river you’ll see in Srinagar is a tributary of the Sindh river
- Non-vegetarian food option at Moti Mahal (Srinagar): Mutton Rogan Josh, Chicken Bartha, Afghani Chicken
- Vegetarian recommendations at Moti Mahal: Paneer Tikka
- The hike to Thajiwas Glacier
- You can find many people standing with horses between Hotel Sonamarg Palace and Hotel Sonamarg Glacier
- My advice would be to just do it on foot!
- Do taste the Kashmiri Kahwa – A local and traditional green tea preparation native to regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Central Asia and Kashmir Valley of course
- Baltal Camping Base: One can find many tents set up during the Amarnath season and can walk to Amarnath Caves from here
- Try the egg curry at the Green Clamping Resort
- Breathe as much fresh air before you return to the city
- Share this article all over the internet
- Praise any political party unless you wanna return home in a different shape
- Write about your trip to Sonmarg to counter mine
You Can Contact
- Me! We’ve been lucky to get acquainted with some really nice people who ensured that our trip goes smoothly. Well, ensure is too strong a word, because one can never have a fully smooth vacation here. So I’m going to settle with “People who tried their best”
- Please drop me a message/comment if you need any help with the itinerary or bikes or even a cab
|Sunscreen (SPF 50+)||Extremely High||No amount of SPF can spare you from the tan, so embrace it with pride!|
|Thermals||Low||You can make the decision based on the time of the year you’re visiting|
|Rain Jacket||Low||You can make the decision based on the time of the year you’re visiting|
|Shades||High||These are very useful|
|Moisturizer||High||Without this, you’ll end up looking like you’ve acquired the grey scale disease|
|Jackets/Sweater||High||The quantity depends on your threshold to withstanding the chills|
|Clothing ( Also includes Nightwear, Innerwear)||High||Of course, you need clothes! But you can decide what you want to wear. But mind the climatic conditions.|
|Woolen socks and Gloves||Medium||These are really helpful in the night if you’re not lucky with temperature controlled beds|
|Toilet Paper||Low||Most of the places (Including camps) have these|
|BSNL/Airtel Post Paid Sims||Low||These are the only ones that work|
|Hiking Shoes||Low||Useful if you are very particular about hiking. Any shoes with decent grip should also do|
- The best season to visit is between End of May to September and November to February depending on whether you want to experience the summer or the winters
- Do observe the camps on your way from Srinagar to Sonmarg to the left, some of these are the refugee camps set up for the Kashmiri Pandits who’ve been under threat since the genocides during late 1989 and early 1990. But be careful who you’re talking to about this
- Very carefully engage in conversations with the localities to learn about the local situation (because I ain’t divulging any information here)
- Bike trips are the most recommended
- However, cars are also available for those that aren’t comfortable on just two wheels
- This is definitely a must visit despite all the news about the turmoil in this state. Sonmarg being a tourist region mostly remains unaffected
- There will be many local vendors trying to sell you their wares, be careful not to fall prey to their demands. Bargain if you have to
- Be mindful of the perilous roads!
This small valley town,
Is all clad in a green gown!
With every breath of air that you inhale,
An abundance of freshness you unveil!
Waking up to the sound of Indus River
Makes you want to stay there forever!