Thajiwas glacier at an altitude of 9,186 feet is a striking silvery scene set against emerald meadows and a clear blue sky. In summers, you can take a half-day hike to numerous waterfalls around this glacier. The road will be long and the journey hard but the captivating views make it worthwhile. On the way, have a friendly match with the local Gujjar kids who are almost always ready for a friendly snowball fight!
Kheer Bhawani Temple
The Kheer Bhawani Temple, situated in the middle of a natural spring, is often visited by tourists out of curiosity. Devotees offer milk and kheer to the resident deity. Popular with all tourists, it is especially revered by the Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley. The architecture of the temple is simple yet beautifully created using smooth grey stones. Rumour has it that the waters turn black as a warning for any looming calamity.
Situated in the Himalayan mountain ranges, Gadsar Lake is a high altitude lake that is known for its stunning natural beauty. It covers 0.85 km long and 0.76 km wide area in the outskirts of Sonamarg – the golden meadow. Having an elevation of 5000 metres above the sea level, it is counted amongst the highest lakes in Kashmir.
The name of this scenic water body translates to 'the lake of fish', which is justified by its huge trout fish population. Owing to the bloom of alpine flowers around the lake, the region is referred to as the 'valley of flowers'. During winters, the lake remains frozen and gets covered with a crystal-like sheet of ice.
The site serves as a popular trekking base and trout fishing centre, which is why it is an integral part of the tourism circuit of Sonamarg.
Nilagrad near Sonmarg is where a mountain river, red in colour, meets the mighty Indus River. 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 picturesque meadows around, it’s also an ideal picnic spot.
Baltal near Sonmarg is the camping ground for pilgrims of the Amarnath Yatra. From mid-June to August, approximately 40,000 devotees make their journey to the cave where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of everlasting life to his wife Parvati. The physically fit can trek the distance of 26 kilometres to the holy cave while others can use the helicopter service from Baltal to the Amarnath cave.
At a short distance from Sonmarg, Yusmarg makes for a perfect day picnic with views of the mountain range.The Baltic colony of Nilagrad is where the water of the river is reddish in colour. This is where a mountain river meets the Indus. The Baltics bathe in this confluence every Sunday and believe that the water possesses curative properties!
While in Sonmarg, don’t forget to visit a walnut orchard. See the freshly plucked walnuts drying under the sun or sample the green ones hanging from trees.
The beautiful Baltal Valley is nestled along the banks of the Sindh River near Sonamarg. This valley lies on the foot of Zoji La – the high mountain pass in the Himalayas of Kashmir. The reason behind the popularity of this valley is that it is a major camping ground for pilgrims of the famous Amarnath Yatra. It provides a shorter and alternate route to the sacred Amarnath Cave, which is why many base camps are set up at this site.
Blessed with Sindh's meandering waters, sprawling greens and traces of snow, this valley is considered as a paradise for nature lovers. It commands a wonderful panorama of the distant mountains that are enveloped with snow.