81-km From Srinagar, Kashmir Region, J&K
Also Known As
Best Time To Visit
In Summer -
May To September
November To February
The drive to Sonamarg is through the Sindh Valley which presents yet another spectacular facet of countryside in Kashmir. Situated at an altitude of 2730 m, Sonamarg ('The meadow of gold') has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh River that meanders through the valley abounds with trout and mahaseer. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier, which is a major local attraction during the summer months.
Sonamarg is the base of a major trek that passes along several mountain lakes -Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. Sonamarg is also the take off station for the drive to Ladakh across the Zojila, a major pass in the Great Himalayan Range, through which the Srinagar-Leh Road passes.
Sonamarg is also a base for undertaking the yatra to the holy Amarnath cave, during Sawan Purnima. For details about the yatra, refer to the Amaranathji Yatra Link.
Accommodation in sonamarg is available in J&K TDC's Huts and Tourist Bungalows. The tariff is Rs. 1400/- for 2-bed room huts and Rs. 300/- per double room in Tourist Bungalow. In addition, there are some private hotels, among which the Hotel Glacier is the best known.
Sonamarg's Importance Is Two Fold
It is the starting point of a major trek passing several mountain lakes - Vishansar, Kishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Gangabal. One trek leads all the way to the Amarnath cave . The other reason for Sonamarg's importance lies in the fact that it is the last halt on the Kashmir side for the drive from Srinagar to Leh .
Walks From Sonamarg
One of the most popular short walks from Sonamarg and a major attraction during the summer months is the 4-km route to Thajiwas, a small valley at the foot of the Sonamarg glacier. A path leads up to the Shakhdar hill, overlooking the glacier from the northeast. It is dangerous to climb the steep slope leading up to the glacier. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier. Often in early summer one will meet groups of Gujar passing through Sonamarg on their way to the alpine meadows for the summer.
This beautiful meadow is right at the foot of the Zoji La pass and thus is the final place in Kashmir. The river from the foot of the Amarnath glacier meets the Indus near Baltal. It stands at a height of 2,743m and during the Amarnath pilgrimage there are tents set up here. It is possible to walk to the Amarnath cave, more usually approached from Pahalgam, in one day. Check about conditions before departing, though. The weather can be treacherous and at other times melting snow and ice make the route very dangerous. There's now a jeep road most of the way to the cave. The turn off to Baltal is at 94-km on the Leh road, and then it's 3-km or so downhill.
If one can take some time out, then take tour of Yushmarg in daytime. Buses on conducted tours run to Yushmarg thrice a week. 47-km southwest of Srinagar amidst pines and firs lies the vale - Yushmarg (2,700m) at the slope of the Pir Panjal ranges. Its is a beautiful pasture as well as a nice picnic spot.
What to Do:
Sonamarg mainly offers trekking adventure.
Trekking can be undertaken to Thajiwas Glacier which is very beautiful.
Sledging at the frozen Glaciers is also offered by locals.
Angling ( a license is required)
You can take long walks in the jungles and explore rich lora and fauna.
Sonamarg is also the base camp to Amarnath Cave for the route of Bal Tal.
Alpine Skiing is also available at high altitudes.
A Popular trek from Sonamarg to Pahalgam can also be undertaken.
HOW TO REACH THERE
Air: Sonamarg is
in Srinagar District on the Srinagar Leh Highway, 81-km from Srinagar.
The nearest airport is in Badgam District, connecting the capital city
with all the major cities in India.
Rail: The nearest
Railhead is at Jammu and from there National Highway NH1A connects the
Kashmir valley with India.
Road: Every sort
of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on National
Highway NH1A. It takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountainous
road, which crosses some beautiful spots and the famous Jawahar Tunnel
linking Kashmir Valley with India. Bus service is available from
Srinagar and Anantnag, which leave at fixed time from the Bus stands.
Taxis and other sort of transport can be hired from Srinagar at
pre-fixed rates. Assistance is available at Tourist Reception Centre,
WHERE TO STAY
Sonamarg has a number of Hotels and lodges of various types, which are open only during summer months. JKTDC has a Dak Bungalow and number of Huts, which are available on hire. The tariffs depend on the type of accommodation to be hired. Accommodation needs to be booked well in advance from Srinagar. Tourists are advised to contact Manager Tourist Reception centre Jammu/Srinagar for booking and tariffs.
TOURIST INFORMATION & ASSISTANCE
The Tourist Office at Sonamarg is within the premises of the Tourist Complex, behind the cafeteria. Tourists are advised to visit the office for information and assistance. In particular, trekking trips into the mountains should be undertaken only after consulting the Tourist Office at Srinagar or Sonamarg for safety and feasibility.