The elder members of the family had told me tales of the various springs and lakes that our lovely Kashmir Valley is endowed with. There were several of these alpine lakes that could only be accessed on foot, despite the fact that many of them were conveniently reachable by car. They did so because they were situated relatively high up in the valleys and mountain passes. Only on foot or on horse could you travel there.
In 2021, I made the decision to go on my first long trek to Kashmir. I travelled alone on this journey.
I decided for Tarsar Marsar Trek, a pair of lakes located high in the Kolahoi hills. August was the scheduled month for the trek. Kashmir’s high-altitude treks are only accessible from July to September.
I was going to set my base camp in Aru, close to Pahalgam. Aru Valley is a town of lush, sloping meadows filled with flowers and pine trees, and it is very scenic.
From Srinagar to Aru, the trip took three hours. I also met two local Kashmiri guides named Faizaan and Muzaffar who were extremely familiar with that side of the Himalayas.
I departed the base camp with all of my extra luggage. As I ascended in altitude, the weather would become colder. So I dressed in layers, put on my hiking boots, brought a trekking pole, and wrapped a waterproof poncho over top.
I spent roughly 7 hours climbing from Aru to Lidderwat. The journey was really beautiful, with fluffy clouds that were so close you could nearly touch them, cows joyfully grazing on the moist green meadows, and gorgeous alpine vegetation all around.
My sleeping tents were at my campsite when I got there. There were three people each sleeping tent. The restrooms had dry toilets. A little pit was freshly dug at each spot.
The following morning, the rain had stopped. That day, the ascent was quick, and by afternoon, I had arrived at my camp in Shekwas. Near the Kolahoi hills, the entire walk followed the Lidder River.
Gujjars and Bakerwals are occasionally seen grazing their sheep. They reside in small huts with a little vegetable patch in front of each house. These nomads only stay there during the summer, moving to Aru or Pahalgam before the winter. The lakes freeze and the passes are absolutely impassable.
I felt positive that morning. It involved a journey to Lake Tarsar. The 5 km trail was finished in 5 hours. Near the lake, I set my tent.
At five in the morning, the group of helpers would start their day. At six in the morning, tea was served. At 7 am, breakfast was provided. I was advised to bring a mug and a tiffin box. Lunchtime was the most exciting part of the day. There is no more ideal location for lunch than this: a lush meadow with a creek nearby and some boulders to lean against.
The Kolahoi mountain’s peaks enclose the Tarsar Lake. A mountain separates it from Marsar Lake, another lake that is similar to it. These two lakes are collectively known as the twin sisters. At Lidderwat, Tarsar drains into the River Lidder, and Marsar drains away in the other direction.
The most exciting part of this trek was usually my hike from Tarsar over a very steep slope to get a distant view of Marsar. The two hours of uphill and downhill walking were the most difficult of the entire journey.
Since the majority of the return trip was downhill, I left Tarsar at 8 am and arrived in Lidderwat by midday.
The route was generally level, with just a few little inclinations in the terrain, some boulders that required manoeuvring, and several Lidder tributaries that required crossing over logs of wood. The most nerve-wracking crossing was when I had to pass through the Lidder between Lidderwat and Shekwas.
A sizable green meadow with some Gujjar dwellings is called Satlanjan. Even though this was almost the final section of the journey, I found it to be the most picturesque. I absolutely adored the stroll, which had Lidder on one side and the mountains on the other.
The final day came, b y 7 am, I had finished packing. I started the downhill to Aru. It was pleasant to experience the same track that I had struggled with while climbing up. I arrived in Srinagar in the afternoon.
In addition to taking you to exotic places, trekking teaches you perseverance, patience, resolve, and most importantly, how to adjust to change!
I had to change my plans slightly because the disturbance in Srinagar delayed the start and kept me from going to Sundersar.
Hi, My name is Aekansh Somani and I love to explore and trek.