‘Sonmarg jao to Bajrangi Bhaijaan ki shooting dekhna zaroor’ ..this was a statutory advice given by everyone we met enroute srinagar to Sonmarg. Why not after all Bollywood star Salman Khan was in Kashmir shooting for his latest flick and when he came on TV, he swore by Sonmarg’s beauty. The hype was up, the interest built, expectations high and a deep rooted desire to see the most beautiful part of Kashmir, the meadows of gold, the Sonamarg.
The drive was early, it’s a day trip from Srinagar. The morning was dark and cloudy and as we went round Dal lake, the place looked serene and calm.
The road soon took us out of the city, through the outskirts of Ganderbal towards NH 1 D. The drive is through yet another spectacular facet of country side in Kashmir, this time it is the Nallah Sindh, the largest tributary of the Jehlum River in the valley of Kashmir. The route passes through Kangan (40 kms) and Gund of the Sindh Valley. Spectacular views of the Harmukh range dominate the horizon all along. It is upwards of sixty miles long valley and deep rock-girt gorge to open grassy meadow land and village-dotted slopes. The total distance took about 2 hrs with pit stops for tea and clicks.
Located at an altitude of 2800 m (9200 ft), the place is a perfect destination for nature lovers and is an enchanting place to visit and spend some days with nature and tranquillity. For adventure seekers, the place is irrefutably a heaven with various adventurous activities such as mountaineering and trekking on offer. Sonmarg Travel Guide is full of references of the naturally blessed ambience and lush greenery. Zoji-La Pass, Thajiwas Glacier, Vishansar Lake, Nilagrad River and Gangabal are the famous tourist attractions of the city.
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, Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak.
Main attraction of this place is Thajiwas Glacier. The bus and taxi stand at Donamarg market is the most you can go with your vehicle, after this starts an ordeal with touts who latch on your vehicle as soon as you enter the town. The only options you have to move towards Thajiwas glacier is a pony ride or a Tata Sumo (don’t ask why Sumo) car ride. Bring out your negotiations skills as you will need it most here. Rounds of give and take, and you emerge vindictive for getting the trade which started at 10k got finally settled for 2.5k but only till you actually get in the car and reach the point in under 5 minute that you realise you paid Rs2500 for a 5 km joy ride. Did someone say atrocious ? It was the most expensive taxi fare per mile. The other two point that was added to the glacier package ie Fish Pond & Sarbal Park are shown you on the drive itself. And do remember to keep by a solemn oath – do not argue with the local guides. Period