Trekking in Kashmir
Trekking in Kashmir is a prime way to understand why the region is known as heaven on earth. Snow-covered mountains, forested hills, velvety meadows, tranquil valleys, deserts, mighty glaciers, passes and hissing rivers are all present here in plenty. Many tours agencies take travellers on well-organised trekking tours to places deep in the mountains. There are various types of hiking expeditions conducted here, depending on difficulty and duration, and you can pick them as per your desire.
• Weather in Jammu City: Jammu and Kashmir shows a huge variation in weather patterns as the altitude of different regions within the state is not the same. The city of Jammu is located at around 1073 feet above the sea, and has a humid sub-tropical climate. June is the hottest month with average highs of over 40 degree Celsius while January is the coldest with average lows of 8 degrees.
• Weather in Srinagar: In contrast, Srinagar, which is at an altitude of around 5200 feet, has a sub-tropical highland climate. Here the temperature sometimes, but not always, goes beyond 30 degree Celsius in summers. Winters are harsh with heavy snowfall, and the temperature regularly goes below zero degrees.
• Topography of Jammu and Kashmir Regions: In its southernmost part, Jammu and Kashmir contains the fertile Northern Plains. The Pir Panjal range of the Lower Himalayas acts as a natural boundary between the plains and the Kashmir Valley. Parallel to the northern edge of the valley run the Great Himalayas, which in turn separate the Kashmir Valley from Ladakh.
• Topography and Climate of Ladakh: To the north of the Himalayas, three more mountain ranges, namely Zanskar, Ladakh and Karakoram, run across the breadth of the Ladakh Plateau. Most of Ladakh is above 10000 feet altitude, and experiences low temperatures even in summers. In Dras, the coldest place in India, temperatures plummet to -40 degree Celsius in the peak winter season.
Great Lakes: Among the trails to choose for trekking in Kashmir, the Great Lakes excursion is quite famous. It takes you through the Himalayas to some of the most beautiful glacial lakes in the region.
• Trail: The hike starts near Sonamarg, which in itself is a highly picturesque tourist destination. From here you trek up till the Nichnai Pass, and the journey takes you through jungles, on meadows and past scenic river valleys. The next phase of your excursion will take you down rocky slopes to Vishansar Lake. From the top of Gadsar Pass, where you will reach after trekking through the next day, you will get bewitching views of Krishansar and Vishansar Lakes.
You will continue the excursion to Satsar, the land of seven alpine ponds. Further on the expedition, you will visit the twin lakes of Nundkhol and Gangabal, which are located at the base of the holy Mount Harmukh. Your wonderful walking journey will end in the beautiful village of Naranag.
• Vegetation: The first part of trekking in Kashmir will take you from Shekdur through dense jungles of pine and maple trees. A large section of the trek goes through meadows of lush grass, with no trees growing there due to their altitude. Around the lakes, the grass will diminish to expose barren rocky slopes. On the way from Satsar to the lakes of Gangabal, you will journey deep through coniferous forests of spruces, firs and deodars.
• Fauna: Hangul, a species of deer, and snow leopards are the two rarest animals that you may sight during the hike. If you are lucky, then you may also get to see brown and black bears, who graze on the meadows after waking up from their hibernation. Scavengers like cinereous vultures, griffon vultures, Himalayan vultures and lammergeiers also reside in the high reaches.