When you hear the word “trekking,” what comes to mind? Walking in the woods, climbing peaks, and possibly making new friends while living a nomadic life beneath a billion stars with no connectivity. When you think about Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, your imagination immediately conjures up images of stunning scenery and natural lakes, but it’s a mistake to believe that Kashmir Great Lakes is just comprised of high mountain lakes.
Here’s a list of 5 enjoyable activities to look forward to or participate in while walking across the valley of Kashmir’s Great Lakes:
1. 12,171 feet:
The popularity of cricket in India is well-known. You would have held that bat-ball in your hand at least once in your life. Maybe you were even a member of a team. I must say, playing from a height of 12,171 feet is a completely different sensation. Even the officially recognised world’s highest cricket ground is located in Chail, Himachal Pradesh, at an elevation of 8,018 feet. So you’ve figured out what I’m talking about. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and a massive alpine lake, finding a pitch at Vishansar was a complete surprise to me.
If you are a non-vegetarian, you have hit the jackpot. Trout can be found in abundance in Vishansar Lake and Gangbal Lake. Fishing is completely permitted, however you must obtain a permit in advance to fish in these lakes. Spend the afternoon relaxing by the lake, learning some fishing techniques from the locals, and then feasting at night. Enjoy the taste!
This ended up being my favourite activity on the trip. When the majority of the folks were relaxing in the common area, I would climb a bit higher and voila! One or two alpine lakes would appear behind a boulder, and I would spot them. This walk includes a number of lakes that no one will tell you about. By taking a little trek here and there, I was able to find at least five secret lakes. Count how many you can find while exploring the valley.
The most amazing walk is from Gadsar camp site to Satsar camp site. The first thing you’ll do in the morning is cross a snow bridge. Enjoy some of the sweetest wild strawberries along the way, and after a one-hour difficult ascent, have a level walk through the meadows on table top mountain terrain. Visit the Satsar Lake, which is concealed between a mountain wall and a snout of water fall on your way to the camp site, and learn about the ‘woppelhar,’ a sour-tasting indigenous plant that grows near the lake and is high in vitamin C.
I won’t promise you a beach, but you will be able to sunbathe at Gangbal. Make the most of your buffer day in Gangbal by exploring the valley. The water will be extremely cold, but how often do you get the opportunity to swim in glacier-fed water? Simply hold your breath and leap; I guarantee you will not be disappointed.
Moments are formed, self-discovered, and forced into existence. I wouldn’t have experienced the simple but unforgettable pleasures of the Kashmir Great Lakes journey if I hadn’t taken a dip, tried strawberries, or played at Vishansar. Next time you go somewhere, whether on a hike or on vacation, and there’s an opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and try something new, I recommend going all in.
You’ve probably seen images of the glistening Great Lakes of Kashmir, and if you haven’t, you’re losing out. Anyone who visits these waters raves about the beautiful, cobalt blue hue, the lush flora that surrounds them, and the sensation of pure wilderness that can be felt throughout this journey from beginning to end.
The KGL trail, which starts in Sonamarg and ends in Naranag, takes travellers to the shores of six spectacular alpine lakes over the course of eight days, travelling 69 kilometres on foot via high mountain passes and neon green valleys. It’s a part of India filled with mystery (local shepherds think a huge octopus lives in one of the lakes) and stunning landscapes, but the lakes themselves remain the highlight of the week with their iridescent hues.
Only a few other lakes I’ve seen are as vibrant as these. Ghepan Ghat, buried away in a valley in the Lahaul district of Himachal Pradesh, is one that comes to mind, with its mesmerizingly blue colour. I’ll never forget the day we discovered it – it was overcast, yet it seemed to shine turquoise. We were taken aback.
The lakes of KGL are no different, and my curiosity had been piqued after viewing the colour of Ghepan Ghat and those in Kashmir. What is it about them that makes them so blue? To discover out, I did some research…
First and foremost, what kind of lakes are the Great Lakes of Kashmir?
Answer? Oligotrophic. I realise it’s a mouthful, but it’s the first step in figuring out why these particular bodies of water are so beautiful, so bear with me as I explain.
One of the ways lakes are classified is by how productive they are. To put it another way, determine how many nutrients are there in the water. Eutrophic lakes get their name from the Greek word eutrophos, which translates to “well-nourished.”
The Kashmir Great Lakes, while teeming in fish, primarily trout, are the polar opposite. Given the low quantities of nutrients in their waters, they are severely oligotrophic. Because the climate makes it difficult for the lake to be “productive,” oligotrophic lakes are commonly found in cold or high-altitude places. They are also high in oxygen and frequently host a large number of fish that require cold, oxygenated water to exist.
Here’s why being oligotrophic helps to the KGL’s beauty: because they don’t support much plant life. The water in these lakes is typically super-clean, as in crystal clear. We can now answer the first half of the problem. Of why these lakes appear the way they do with this information.
The second argument has to do with where the lakes come from, rather than what they do or don’t do.
I started looking into it since it was another thing that had piqued my interest. where do these lakes come from so far up in the mountains? Then came the second half of the solution to the blue-water question. the Kashmir Great Lakes are all fed by glaciers, at least in part.
If you haven’t noticed, glacier-fed lakes are the second half of our blue-water puzzle, and here’s why? When glaciers move, they do it slowly and with a tremendous amount of energy and pressure on the ground beneath them. A layer of bedrock is progressively being ground into a rocky dust so fine that it is often referred to as “rock flour” beneath that vast frozen river.