Sonamarg is a hill station in Ganderbal district in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.Sonamarg gives rise to The Three Sisters (Kashmir). In its vicinity lies the great Himalayan glaciers of Kashmir Valley namely Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier with some peaks of above 5000 meters: Sirbal Peak, Kolahoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak. Sonmarg an alpine valley is situated at the bank of Nallah Sindh, 87 km north-east from Srinagar, it is a popular tourist destination, nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks. It lies at an altitude of 2800 metres above sea level. The drive to Sonamarg passes Nallah Sindh, the largest tributary of the Jehlum River in the valley of Kashmir. It is upwards of sixty miles long valley and deep rock-girt gorge to open grassy meadow land and village-dotted slopes.
Traversing through the 'Meadow of Gold', Sonamarg Hill Station in the state of Jammu & Kashmir, it is not difficult to lose track of time being lost in the scenery of Nature's artistry. Try to peek into the valley and depth of it along with gravity would seem to be drawing. The pointed conifers make the whole mountain appear pointing towards sky trying to attain some more height in the process. The white of snow matched with brown patches of earth has no match when it comes to subtle yet sublime color of landscape.
Some of these most delicate details are intricately woven in the valley. These elements are divine enough to allow its viewers enter in a kind of trance, as momentary as it might be.
Situated at an altitude of 2800 m, the place is surrounded by numerous five-thoudsander peaks, which only furthers the enigma of the meadow and the valley. Tourists swarm in the valley to witness this wonder of Nature as a part of Sonamarg tourism.
Once upon a time, the place acted as a part of ancient silk gateways, but now the place is primarily known for the adventure opportunity as well as viewing various glaciers, high altitude lakes, Indus River, and many other wonders to get indulged in.
1) Amarnath Cave:
It is reckoned that Baba Bholenath call out to his devotees to Amarnath cave, where he generously showers blessings and grant prayers and wishes of the people. Perched at an elevation of around 3,888 m and 45 kms away from Pahalgam, Amarnath Temple is believed to be the earthly abode of Lord Shiva.
Legend has it that the Amarnath Cave was chosen by Lord Shiva to reveal the secret of creation of the world and immortality to his consort Goddess Parvati. After leaving behind all his ornaments, he entered this holy cave along with Goddess Parvati with the intention to let out the secret. It is believed that while he was letting out the secret, a pigeon’s egg over heard it and became immortal. It is also believed that the pair, which was born out of the egg, can still be seen in the cave.
Considered to be a sacred Hindu pilgrimage, Amarnath is famed for the natural formation of Shiva Linga from the snow. A large number of devotees throng Amarnath during the months of June and August. This pious journey, which is also dubbed the holy Amarnath Yatra, begins from Chandanwadi (16kms from Pahalgam) and via Pissu, Sheshnag and Panchtarni. It concludes at Amarnath Cave situated on the Amarnath mountain. There is also another route for the Yatra starting from Jammu and via Udhampur, Patnitop, Kud, Ramban, Banihal, QaziGund, Anantnag, Srinagar and Baltal, the journey finally concludes at the holy cave
2) Vishansar Lake:
The Vishansar Lake or the Lake of Vishnu is a high altitude lake situated in the vicinity of Sonmarg. The breathtaking natural beauty and the picturesque surroundings make it one of the best Sonmarg tourist places to visit. The lake, which freezes during the summers, is the haven for brown trout and masher fishing in summers. Attracting both fishing enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, Vishansar is conducive to the advancement of Jammu & Kashmir tourism. Avid adventure aficionados set out from Sonmarg to accomplish a rigorous trek of 35 kms leading to the alpine lake. Vishansar invigorates and at the same time inspires to connect fervently with nature.
Any alpine beauty can be put to shame when compared to this lake and region that surrounds it. At 3600 m, the place is as much a charmer as a trekker could expect.
4) Buddhist Temples:
Ashoka and his descendents are credited with flourishing and spreading the Buddhism teachings in the world. Jaluka, son of Ashoka is known to have built temples associated with this religious faith ruins of which could be seen 17 Km from Gangabal.
Not more than even one kilometer away from Lake Vishansar is another gift of nature to the eyes situated at 3710 m altitude. This lake is also popular for conservation of Himalayan trout.
Surrounded by majestic mountains and lush green meadows, Gadsar Lake confines itself to sheer beauty and serenity. A high altitude lake, it is becoming a popular camping site for several trekkers. The multi-hued patches of flowers, which dot the lake offer most splendid view of the region. The sparkling water of the lake also renders options of brown trout fishing. True to its names, Gadsar Lake or the Lake of fishes is acclaimed as a fine fishing spot.
Surreal landscapes, perfect camping sites and ample fishing opportunities make Gadsar one of the prime Sonmarg tourist places to visit. The resplendent beauty of Gadsar not only attracts travel aficionados but also inspires to delve into the secrets of nature.
Baltal takes credentials for being an exceptional camping site for Amarnath pilgrims on the foothills of Zojila Pass. It is located 15 kms away from Sonmarg and on the humble banks of River Sindh. Baltal valley radiates serenity and tranquility, and takes great pride in being the shelter for the avid pilgrims. A horde of multi-hued camps pitched throughout the valley offers a breathtaking view of the place. The tranquil ambiance propounds unmatched divinity, which in turn invigorates and inspires devotees to carry on their journey to the sacred Amarnath cave. An essential Sonmarg tourist place to visit, Baltal valley redefines Jammu & Kashmir tourism.
8) Gangabal Lake:
The Gangabal Lake braces spectacular view and exceptional serenity. Situated on the foothill of Mount Haramukh, it is a high altitude lake. Also known as Harmukut Ganga, Gangabal is considered as sacred as Haridwar. A haven for trekkers, the alpine lake and its scenic surroundings offer immense delight. The lake is also quite popular as a venue for open brown and rainbow trout fishing. The best view of the lake can be attained from the Zach Pass perched on the opposite hill. Amongst the best Sonmarg tourist places to visit, this sparkling lake open venture for thriving Jammu & Kashmir tourism.
9) Nilagrad River:
A Mountain River which later joins Indus River at Baltic Colony, it flows at some small distance from Krishnasar Lake and Vishansar Lake.
10) Nichnai Pass:
Coming to this mountain pass which is located at an altitude of 4139 m give a clear sight of lakes Vishansar and Krishnasar, a feat for trekkers.
11) Thajiwas Glacier:
Thajiwas Glacier exemplifies the charm of Sonmarg. Located at a distance of 3 kms from the town, it is the most easily accessible glacier in the region. Confined to gentle ice-slopes in the summers, Thajiwas Glacier dwindles in the valley of Sonmarg.
12) Zojila Pass:
A high mountain pass between Srinagar and Kargil, Zojila pass or simply Zoji pass is termed as the gateway to the majestic Ladakh. Ranking second in terms of high altitude passes in India, Zojila lies at a height of around 11,500 ft from the sea level. While driving towards Zojila, travelers are expected to be centered between Kashmir basin on one side and Dras on the other. Besides the lush green Dras valley, Zojila also overlooks snow capped summits and dense jungles. Owing to its sensitive location and a rough topography in the principal Himalayan mountain range, driving through Zojila is often a challenging one. Its location in the Himalayas also limits its access for the tourists. As a result, Zojila remains closed in the winters due to heavy snowfall and is open for tourists only in the spring.
A great asset to Jammu & Kashmir tourism, the glacier entails delight to the adventure seekers and nature lovers alike. The campsite on the foot of the glacier makes it an idyllic base for trekkers. A ride up the hill on ponies or a leisure walk can lead up to best Sonmarg tourist place to visit. With its intrinsic natural beauty and exceptional vistas,Thajiwas glacier beckons enthusiasts across the world.