When Sandhya UC, COO and co-founder at Indiahikes, went on a Kashmir Great Lakes Trek exploration in 2010, little did she know that her trip to Kashmir was going to change the entire trekking scenario in the beautiful mountainside.
She went with eight others trekkers on this exploration, which took her to glacial lakes. And she was astounded by the beauty. Here, she writes down why it’s her favourite trek.
How it all started
“When we announced the Kashmir exploratory trek people got excited. We got some fresh job applicants too! They said, “If this is your kind of work, we want to be a part of it!”.
Our tryst with the Kashmir great lakes trek began three years ago. In fact, it all started with his post: The greatest alpine lakes exploration.
Back then, we did not know much about this trek, leave alone Kashmir. We just knew that Kashmir was supremely beautiful. So, the trek had to be beautiful too. Our idea was to simply go to high altitude lakes. We thought that was enough to make the trek superb. We did not know what else to expect.
I did manage to see one or two pictures from some foreign trekkers. The pictures were out of the world. Frankly, I did not quite believe that the pictures were real.
Changing the trekking scene in Kashmir
The final Kashmir Great Lakes Trek exploration team consisted of only nine trekkers, though we had made arrangements for 10.
Somehow, people were very hesitant to step into the unknown. Nevertheless, we set out. Little did we know that our exploration was going to change the trekking scene in Kashmir forever.
As we drove to Sutkari, our base camp near Sonamarg, my only instruction to our team was: We are doing an absolutely new trek. What we take back and show is going to be the way the world sees this trek.
Within an hour, I knew that this was by far the most beautiful first day of any Himalayan trek that I had done.
Each day of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek exploration was picture-perfect
By the second day, we were in the greenest and widest valleys I had ever walked on. Rivers and streams followed me everywhere.
On the third day, Vishnusar lake was bluer, clearer and prettier than any other lake I had ever seen. Every day we would camp by a lake. I would think, okay, this must be the best day of the trek. When the trek ended at Naranag, I could not decide which was the best day! Even Naranag was picture-postcard perfect!
Coming back from the larger-than-life exploration
When we came back and wrote about our experience of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek exploration, I was not surprised at the explosion of interest in the trek. Everyone wanted to see this magical Kashmir. True to our words, Kashmir opened up to trekkers. A whole new world of trekking in Kashmir started. To put things in perspective, last year, there were more than 600 Indiahikers trekking in Kashmir.
When I look back at the Great Lakes trek, I always feel it is created on a larger than life canvas. All our other treks are like watching a movie on a small screen. The Kashmir great lakes is like watching a movie in IMAX 3D. It is in a different scale of grandeur.
The Kashmir great lakes trek is like a pilgrimage. I don’t think I can ever tire of being there.