The Complete Guide to Arshan Valley Trek

Kashmir is inarguably one of the most beautiful destinations in India. It is rightly called the “heaven on earth”. Be it the vast expansive meadows, alpine lakes or the gigantic mountains, it never fails to mesmerize you. Trekking is the best way to experience the beauty of Kashmir in its purest form. 

Arshan Valley Trek is one such trek which takes you to the less explored part of Kashmir. On this trek, you get to see not one or two but three alpine lakes in just a day. Not just the lakes, on Arshan Valley trek, you experience the meadows of Kashmir, valleys, stream crossing and ridge walk all in just 7.6 km of total trek.

The trek starts from the picturesque meadows of Kashmir surrounded by the big mountains on either side. Halfway into the trek, Arshan Sar leaves you spellbound. From here, the trail becomes a little more adventurous. At the summit, you get the experience of a ridge walk and an aerial view of Zed Nag and Neh Nag lakes.

The trek starts from Arshan Valley Base point, situated in the Anantnag district and is just 5.5 km away from the famous Sinthan Top. This is an easy trek and can be done by both fit beginners and experienced trekkers.

Table of Contents

Just like you, we love trekking! And this is a trek we’ve documented in great detail to help you do it on your own. Drop in comments at the end of the page if you need any help! You will get all the information required to do Arshan Valley Trek on your own.

To navigate through the documentation easily, use this section of the Table of Contents.

  • Highlights
  • Trail Information
  • Best Season to do the Arshan Valley Trek
  • Difficult Sections on the Arshan Valley Trek
  • How to Reach the Arshan Valley Trek
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Emergency Contacts on the Arshan Valley Trek
  • ATMs and Networks on the trek
  • Places to visit after the Arshan Valley Trek

Highlights

1. Arshan Sar       

Arshan Sar is an alpine lake and is the main attraction of the trek. Located at an altitude of 13,143 ft, the visual of the lake and the surroundings is definitely something to watch out for.

The stunning Arshan Sar. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

The lake is surrounded by big rocky mountains which are covered in snow for most times of the year. On a clear day, the reflection of these mountains over the lake is a spectacular sight to witness.

Arshan Sar is also the primary source of the stream flowing downwards, parallel to the trail.

2. Zed Nag and Neh Nag Lakes

The summit of this trek is a ridge. At the start of this ridge walk, you get an aerial view of the Zed Nag lake. Biggest among the cluster of lakes in the Arshan Valley, this lake is also surrounded by rocky mountains. The water of the lake flows to Famber valley which is another beautiful alpine meadow of the region.

The Zed Nag Lake. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad

As you trek to the other end of the ridge, an aerial view of Neh Nag lake awaits to stun you. The smallest of the three lakes, Neh Nag lake is located adjacent to the Zed Nag lake. You can see the entire Zanskar range in the background. You also get a distant view of Mount Nun, Mount Kun and Mount Pinnacle of the Zanskar range.

Neh Nag lake and the entire Zanskar range in the background. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad

3. Manicured Meadows of Arshan Valley

Arshan valley trek starts from the lush green meadows and is a treat for your eyes. These meadows look like they’ve been perfectly manicured. In fact, Arshan Valley is famous for its enchanting carpet of greens and charming flower blooms. Over the years, it has slowly but steadily attracted the attention of intrepid trekkers and adventurers. 

Picturesque meadows on the Arshan valley Trek. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad

Trail Information

Route Map

Route Map of the Arshan Valley Trek. Screenshot on Google Earth Pro

Arshan Valley trek can be divided into two sections:

  1. Arshan Valley Base to Arshan Sar.
  2. Arshan Sar to Zed Nag and Neh Nag Viewpoints.
Section I: Arshan Valley Base to Arshan Sar


Trek Distance: 2.50 km
Trek Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes
Altitude Gain: 11,676 ft to 13,143 ft
Water Source: Trail is followed by the stream till you reach the Arshan Sar. This water is potable.
Trek Gradient: Easy. A gradual ascent through a mud and boulders trail followed by the river till Arshan Sar.

Arshan Valley Base, the start point of the Arshan Valley trek is about 125 km away from Srinagar and is 5.5 km away from the famous Sinthan Top. The journey from Daksum to Arshan Valley is picturesque with stunning meadows and forest sections on either side of the road. Watch out for this.

The trek starts from the dreamy meadows of Arshan Valley. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Continue your trek alongside the stream, until you reach Gujjar’s hut. This hut can be moved according to different seasons. So if you cannot find the hut, follow the gpx file and refer to the stream crossing flag. Here, cross the stream through the boulders to the opposite side. From here, the trail gradually ascends. This leads to the top of a small ridge. 

From the ridge, you see a wide gully in front of you. You also see another stream flowing downwards from here. This is sourced from nearby small springs.

Trail goes alongside the stream until you reach Arshan Sar. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad ParayThe trail that leads to Arshan Sar. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Again, follow the trail parallel to the stream till you reach the point where another stream from the left makes its way through the boulders. This is sourced from Arshan Sar.

The trail that leads to Arshan Sar. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Follow the trail parallel to this stream. Soon, you’ll reach a small grassland. This is a beautiful setting. Take some time to soak in the beauty of surroundings. You stand on lush green grasslands, you’ve these rocky, almost barren mountains surrounding you.

A small grassland enroute Arshan Sar. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

From the grassland, you see a small cliff. The stream that you traced till now flows alongside the cliff. Continue to follow the stream. It takes you to Arshan Sar. 

This section is a little tricky. It’s full of boulders and could become very slippery when it rains.

Above the rocky cliff is Arshan Sar lake. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Once you navigate this tricky section, you’ll reach Arshan Sar. The sight of it makes all the struggle worth it. It’s so serene too. Spend some time here. Observe the beauty of the surroundings. Soak in the reflections of the mountains over the clear water of the lake.

The beautiful Arshan Sar. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Section II: Arshan Sar to Neh-Nag and Zed-Nag

Trek Distance: 1.30 km
Trek Duration: 1 hour
Altitude Gain: 13,143 ft to 13,727 ft
Water Source: Arshan Sar is the last water source. Refill your water bottles here. The rest of the trek to and from Arshan Sar is dry.
Trek Gradient: Easy. A gradual ascent through boulders and mud trails.

From Arshan Sar to the summit, there is no defined trail. You’ve to trek through boulders and muddy trails. 

Pass through the lake and continue to trek forward. Stick to the left side of the lake and gradually ascend through the rocky section until you reach the ridge.

Rocky terrain that leads to Zed Nag and Neh Nag lakes from Arshan Sar. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Be mindful while hiking through the boulders as the rocks can shift and make you lose your balance. These are all loose rocks.

Tip: Wear proper trekking shoes and carry a pair of trekking poles for the support.

After crossing the boulder section, ascend quickly through a mud trail to reach the top.

Immediately as you reach the ridge, you are in for a treat. You get an aerial view of the Zed Nag lake which is on the other side of the mountain. This is the biggest of the cluster of lakes you encounter on this trek. The beauty of the lake and its surroundings do not fail to mesmerize you.

Aerial view of Zed Nag lake. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Continue walking on the ridge for another 10 minutes. On the other end of the ridge, you get a bird’s eye view of Neh Nag lake. Along with this, as a backdrop lies the entire Zanskar range. Spend about 30 minutes and enjoy the pretty views of nature around. 

You’ve reached the end of this trek.

Aerieal view of Neh Nag lake with zanskar range in background. Picture by Saliyah Ahmad Paray

Descend through the same route. It’ll take around 2 hours to descend. Keep a Turn Around Time(TAT) of 4 pm so that you’ll be back by dusk.

Note: It’s possible to descend to Zed Nag and Neh Nag lakes. But the descent is a little sharp and cannot be covered in one day. You’ll have to camp beside either Zed Nag or Neh Nag lake. Trace the same route back to the base next day.

Best season to do the Arshan Valley Trek

The best season to do the Arshan Valley Trek is from the end of June to September. This is when the snow has just melted and the meadows are in their best color.

During other seasons, most of the trail remains under snow cover and the trek becomes inaccessible.

Difficult Sections on the Arshan Valley Trek

Arshan Valley trek is an easy trek and can be done by both beginners and experienced trekkers. The total trek distance is 7.60 km and can be covered in a single day. 

Gradual ascent for the most part of the trek makes it an easy and enjoyable one. However you need to keep some of the points in your mind:

  • You need to get well acclimatized before gaining such an elevation ( 13,727 ft) in a single day, to prevent yourself from high altitude sickness.   
     
  • Trail from Arshan Sar to the summit is a little tricky one. It is full of loose rocks that are slippery. The trail is a mixture of rocky and mud trails. Having good strong legs to navigate this section is important.

    Be careful and use proper trekking shoes. Carry a pair of trek poles.

How to Reach the Arshan Valley Base          

The Arshan Valley trek starts from Arshan Valley Base Point which is 126 km from Lal Chowk Srinagar.

Reaching the Arshan Valley Base by Your Own Vehicle

If you want to reach Arshan Valley on your own, use this link to help you set up the navigation on Google Maps. 

From Lal Chowk, head towards Anantnag via National highway. The distance from Lal Chowk to Anantnag is 56 km. It takes about 56 mins to get there.

  • Once you reach Anantnag main town, take Kokernag Route via Dialgam which is also a National Highway connecting Kashmir Valley to Doda and Kishtwar districts of Jammu division. The distance from Anantnag to Kokernag is 27 km. It takes you about 60 minutes to reach there.
  • Once you reach Kokernag, take the Sinthan top route. However it should be noted once you reach Bidihad village 10 km away from Kokernag, there are two routes. One goes left towards Margan Top and another goes straight to Sinthan Top via Daksum and Arshan Valley. If you do not find the route ask the locals about it they will point you in the right direction. The distance from Kokernag to Arshan Valley is 37 Km. It takes about 40 minutes to reach Arshan Valley.

Tip: Remember, the route Daksum to Arshan Valley Base is hilly with deadly blind curves and chances of stone shooting, so keep your attention on the road and drive carefully.

Reaching the Arshan Valley Base by Public Transport System               

Reaching Arshan Valley Base by public transport is slightly more difficult than using a private vehicle.

If you plan for public transport, add a buffer day into your itinerary.

You have two options for public transport - taxi or bus.

Taxi :
  • You can take a shared taxi from taxi stand Lal chowk Srinagar via national highway for Anantnag. It will cost you Rs 130 and about 60 minutes to reach Anantnag.    
  • Once you reach the Anantnag taxi stand, take another shared taxi for Kokernag. It will cost you Rs 100 and takes about 50 minutes to reach Kokernag.   
  • From Kokernag take another taxi to Sinthan Top. But ask the driver to drop you at Arshan Valley Base which is 6 km before Sinthan Top. The distance from Kokernag to Arshan Valley Base Point is 37 km and takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes to reach. It costs you Rs 100.
Bus :

Bus option is also available at the SRTC terminal.

  • Take a bus that is headed towards Anantnag via the national highway. The bus takes about 1 hour 20 minutes to reach Anantnag and costs Rs 70.
  • From Anantnag Bus stand, take a bus to Kokernag. It will take 60 minutes to reach Kokernag and costs Rs 50. 
  • From Kokernag you have to travel via taxi. Because the bus service is available only till Kokernag.

Note: Direct bus service till Arshan Valley base point is not available. You will have to travel via a mix of bus and taxi to reach the base. 

Note: Public transport is not available as per timing. Instead, it is based on seat availability. Once all the seats get occupied, buses leave for their intended destination. There may be a variation in timing given in the document due to traffic jams and seat demand.

Pro Tip: If you have added a buffer day to your itinerary, taking a bus is a good option, as it is inexpensive.

Frequently Asked Questions

Permission and Camping

You don’t need any permission to do the Arshan Valley Trek. 

If you want to camp, descend to Zed Nag Lake and camp there. The water of the lake is potable. The land here makes for an ideal campsite.

Stay Options near the Trek 

Some private hotels near Arshan Valley are Paradise Retreat Daksum, Paradise Retreat Hotel Bidihar, Kokernag Resort Hotel, hotel club Kokernag etc provide accommodation for tourists.

However, you can also pitch your own tents at Arshan Valley.

Timings on the Trek

There are no specific timings as such on the trek. But it’s better to start as early in the morning as possible so that you can come back before dusk. Keep a Turn Around Time(TAT) of 4 PM so that you can be back before it gets dark.

Food and Water Source on the Trek

Food:  Many small eateries at Daksum are just 22 km away from Arshan Valley. They provide both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food for visitors.

However, if you are looking for big and fancy restaurants then Larnoo village is the last reliable source.

Water:  The stream sourced from Arshan Sar flows downwards beside the trail. The same stream serves as the primary source of water throughout the trail.

Tip: However, if you are not comfortable drinking water from streams and springs, carry purification tablets or paany bottle to purify the water.

Emergency Contacts on the Arshan Valley Trek

Nearest Hospital and Police Station               

Hospital: Sub District Hospital Kokernag  is 39 km away from Arshan Valley.

Primary Health Centre Larnoo is 30 km away from Arshan Valley.

Government district hospital Anantnag (01932222170) is 63 km away from Arshan Valley

Police Station: Police Station Bhatpora Larnoo is the nearest police station to the Arshan Valley Trek.

Police Station Kokernag is 39 km away from the Arshan Valley Base.

Police Station Anantnag (01932222866) is 60 km away from Arshan Valley.

Forest department: In case of any emergency, contact 0194-2455027

ATMs and Networks on the trek           

ATM: Larnoo and Vailoo Kokernag have the closest ATM services to the Arshan Valley trek.

Mobile Networks: BSNL gets good network coverage throughout the trek. Airtel gets connectivity on some patches of the trek. Other mobile networks do not get any connectivity throughout the trek.

Note: Only postpaid SIM cards work in Kashmir. 

Places to Visit after the Trek

           

  1. Kokernag Botanical Garden: It is a famous tourist destination in Kashmir valley. Popular for its     springs, flower beds, evergreen shrubs and chinars, the place is crowded throughout the year.
  2. Pahalgam: Pahalgam is a popular hill station located in the Anantnag district of Kashmir. Pahalgam also serves as the base camp for many treks including the famous Tarsar Marsar Trek, Kolahoi Glacier Trek and Tulian Lake Trek. It is just 16 km away from Chandanwadi. 

   3. Yousmarg: Yousmarg is located in the Budgam district which is also a hill station. Yusmarg is also base for many Pirpanjal treks like Danizab Meadow Trek and Trusar lake trek.

4.  Mughal gardens of Srinagar: Located in the heart of Srinagar around the shores of dal lake. Mughal gardens are famous for Mughal architecture.

Trek Contribution 

Trek explored and documented by Saliyah Ahmad Paray. 

Trek edited by Manasa N L.

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