Sonamarg is an alpine valley located in Jammu and Kashmir. Translated, its name means 'meadow of gold' and it is rightly called so with the enchanting beauty of flowery meadows, snow-clad peaks, glaciers and pristine lakes. The Sindh or Indus river meanders through the valley nourishing an exotic flora and dense forests of fir, pine and silver birch in its vicinity.
Nestled in the lofty Himalayan mountains at an altitude of 2800m, this famous tourist destination is at a distance of approximately 90 km from Srinagar. The Zoji-la pass, which is one of the highest mountain passes and a gateway to Ladakh lies 15 km east of Sonamarg.
Best Time To Visit Sonamarg
Sonamarg receives heavy snowfall during winter months of December through February and is inaccessible. With spring, the snow starts thawing and eventually the roads open as summer commences in April. April through October is an ideal time to visit Sonamarg, when the weather is cool and pleasant.
The nearest airport at Srinagar is about 100 km from Sonamarg. Nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi (in Jammu). Further to reach Srinagar, one has to travel by road via NH1. It takes approximately 10-12 hours and crossing the famous Jawahar Tunnel, which links Kashmir valley with the rest of the country. On reaching Srinagar, cabs can be hired to reach Sonamarg.
Here's a list of surreal places to visit around Sonamarg.
Nilagrad, 6 km from Sonamarg, is a picturesque meadow that is a confluence where the mountain river meets the Indus. The Nilagrad river is famous for its reddish colour and curative powers. Believers are often seen taking a dip here. It is also a popular weekend and picnic spot.
Kheer Bhavani Temple
This simple yet beautiful temple, made of gray stone, is dedicated to the goddess Kheer Bhavani. The temple is constructed over a natural spring that is known to change colours. According to the belief, the colour changes to a shade of black to warn against some unforeseen catastrophe.
Surrounded by beautiful snowy mountains and dense forests, Krishnasar lake is located around 20 km from Sonamarg. The lake stays frozen during winter. At an elevation of 3800 m, this mesmerizing lake is home to brown trout fish. It is a fishing and angling paradise for the fishing enthusiasts.
Situated at the foot of the massive Zoji-la, 15 km from Sonamarg, Baltal is a well-known camping ground for the pilgrims of the famous Amarnath yatra. With its exotic grasslands, panoramic views of distant snowy mountains, Baltal is a paradise for those in search of tranquillity.
Vishansar is another high-altitude lake that is 18 km away from Sonamarg. The translation of its name means ‘lake of Vishnu', a Hindu god. At an altitude of 3710 m, the lake stays frozen during winter. Fed by several glaciers, the lake is a stunning beauty surrounded by Sonamarg's flowery meadows.
Located at the foothills of Harmukh mountain, Gangabal lake has a religious significance among the Kashmiri pandits. At an altitude of 3600 m and against the backdrop of the spectacular Harmukh mountain, this serene lake is a paradise for nature lovers and photographers.
The stunning Thajiwas Glacier is about 5 km from Sonamarg and is at an altitude of 9100 ft. This silvery spectacle can be reached by either riding on ponies or trekking for less than 30 minutes. A half-day trek can be undertaken to explore the numerous waterfalls, frozen lakes and lush meadows around the glaciers.
Located around 13 km from Sonamarg, this high mountain pass in the Kashmir valley is at an altitude of 4139 m. All the famous lake treks are conducted through the Nichinai pass. Trekking through the arduous terrain comes with perks of witnessing the most stunning views of the lofty mountains, deep gorges, and valleys.