Difficulty

Moderate-Difficult | Level 2

Duration

8 Days

Highest Altitude

13,800 ft

Age

12 to 55 years

Duration

8 Days

Age

12 to 55 years

Difficulty

Moderate-Difficult | Level 2

Highest Altitude

13,800 ft

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Trek fee

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Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

The Most Beautiful Trek In India

Kashmir Great Lakes is one of the most beautiful treks in India. No question. It validates Kashmir’s mythical status as heaven on earth.

This is because the trek is set on a canvas that’s larger than life. It is situated 75 km northeast of Srinagar. Every day is a 360° panorama of wild, rugged mountains, rolling meadows, and turquoise alpine lakes.  And you get more than six of these lakes and five very different valleys to explore!

The range of landscape makes it a moderate-difficult trek spanning over six days. This means it has long trekking days with steep ascents and descents with no easy exit points. So, it’s not meant for a beginner who hasn’t been exposed to high-altitude treks.

Having said that, the challenges are worth it. Each day is postcard-perfect, with a new alpine lake to look forward to. What makes these lakes even prettier are the snow patches that feed these lakes. You see them sliding off the serrated mountains into the lakes. Sometimes you’ll see milky white icebergs floating on the lake’s inky blue surface.

And then there are meadows of Kashmir. These meadows come in every shape and size, sometimes many in a day.

After this trek, every other trek feels as though it is a movie on a small screen. Kashmir Great Lakes, however, is an IMAX 3D experience – such is the grandeur of the trek.  If you have not done this trek, put it on your bucket list!

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Kashmir Great Lakes Videos

Watch these videos to prepare well for your trek.

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Quick Itinerary

Elevation chart of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek

Day 1

Drive from Srinagar to Naranag

Drive Duration: 2 hours | Drive Distance: 50 km | | Pick-up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar

Transport will be organised at 8 am from Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar. The cost of the cab is Rs 500 per person and needs to be paid directly to the driver.

Day 2

Trek from Naranag to Gangabal

Trek Distance: 13 km | Trek Duration: 7 hours | Altitude Gain: 7,800 ft to 11,486 ft

Moderate day with a steep ascent from Naranag followed by a mix of ascents and descents to Gangabal

Day 3

Trek from Gangabal to Satsar via Zaj Pass

Trek Distance: 9 km | Trek Duration: 6 hours | Altitude gain: 11,486 ft to 11,985 ft via 13,276 ft

Difficult day with a steep ascent for about 45 minutes and then a steep descent followed by boulder hopping for half an hour. Similar to the previous day, ascending and descending trail all through. 

Day 4

Trek from Satsar to Gadsar

Trek Distance: 11.5 km | Trek Duration: 4 hours | Altitude loss: 11,985 ft to 10,706 ft

Moderate day starting with level walk followed by steep ascent for 1.5 km

Day 5

Trek from Gadsar to Vishnusar via Gadsar Pass

Trek Distance: 16 km | Trek Duration: 8 hours | Altitude gain: 10,706 ft to 12,011 via 13,715 ft

Moderate-Difficult day starting with long walks on the wide stretches of meadows followed by a steep ascent to Gadsar Pass and then steep descent

Day 6

Trek from Vishnusar to Nichnai via Nichnai Pass

Trek Distance: 13.5 km | Trek Duration: 7.5 hours | Altitude Loss: 12,011 ft to 11,607 ft via 13229 ft

Moderate day with level walk followed by a steep ascent to the Pass. Moderate descent all the way to Nichnai

Day 7

Trek from Nichnai to Sonamarg. Drive to Srinagar.

Trek Distance: 11.6 km | Trek Duration: 6.5 hours | Altitude loss: 11,607 ft to 8735 ft

Drive Distance: 80 km | Drive Duration: 3-4 hours

Moderate day with gentle descent and ascent for 4 hours followed by a steep descent all the way to Shitkadi.

Please note: The distance between campsites may vary by 100 meters depending the weather conditions and the route you take. The altitude may also vary by 100 feet for similar reasons.

Day 8

Buffer Day

For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances of the trek and the situation in Kashmir. The buffer day is mandatory to keep in your itinerary.

If the buffer day is used,  you have to pay us Rs 1,800 per day +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day.

IMPORTANT POINTS

- Advisory Note: There are often uncertainties when it comes to trekking in Kashmir. If you're planning any trek in Kashmir, ensure you book flexible flight tickets, that allow you to reschedule your flight at no added costs. These are easily available with most airlines.

- In case of emergencies, we will reroute treks to other trails. Please ensure you're mentally prepared in case such situations arise.

- For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances of the trek and the situation in Kashmir.

- It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a photocopy of their photo id along with the mandatory documents of the Medical Certificate and Disclaimer form. This is required for trek permissions before and during the trek.

- If the buffer day is used,  you have to pay us Rs 1,800 per day +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day.

- Please note that you will be staying in tents on all days of the trek. Trekkers need to make their arrangements for a stay in Srinagar at the end of the trek.

Please note: Twin-sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.

Elevation chart of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek

PRO-TIPS

Onward Travel

Your trek starts at Naranag. Don't forget to visit the Wangath Temple ruins where the trek starts

The road head meets at Kangan and you follow the Sindh River from Srinagar during your onwards journey. The drive is again 2 hours

Return Travel

You'll love the drive from Shitkadi! It follows the Sindh River all the way. The view gets especially pretty around 40 minutes before you reach Srinagar There are lovely paddy fields on your right.

Day 1

Drive from Srinagar to Naranag

Drive Duration: 2 hours | Drive Distance: 50 km | | Pick-up point for Indiahikes trekkers: Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar

Transport will be organised at 8 am from Sheikh Feroze Tours & Travels, Sathu, Barbara Shah Chowk, near Flourmill, Srinagar. The cost of the cab is Rs 500 per person and needs to be paid directly to the driver.

Day 2

Trek from Naranag to Gangabal

Trek Distance: 13 km | Trek Duration: 7 hours | Altitude Gain: 7,800 ft to 11,486 ft

Moderate day with a steep ascent from Naranag followed by a mix of ascents and descents to Gangabal

Day 3

Trek from Gangabal to Satsar via Zaj Pass

Trek Distance: 9 km | Trek Duration: 6 hours | Altitude gain: 11,486 ft to 11,985 ft via 13,276 ft

Difficult day with a steep ascent for about 45 minutes and then a steep descent followed by boulder hopping for half an hour. Similar to the previous day, ascending and descending trail all through. 

Day 4

Trek from Satsar to Gadsar

Trek Distance: 11.5 km | Trek Duration: 4 hours | Altitude loss: 11,985 ft to 10,706 ft

Moderate day starting with level walk followed by steep ascent for 1.5 km

Day 5

Trek from Gadsar to Vishnusar via Gadsar Pass

Trek Distance: 16 km | Trek Duration: 8 hours | Altitude gain: 10,706 ft to 12,011 via 13,715 ft

Moderate-Difficult day starting with long walks on the wide stretches of meadows followed by a steep ascent to Gadsar Pass and then steep descent

Day 6

Trek from Vishnusar to Nichnai via Nichnai Pass

Trek Distance: 13.5 km | Trek Duration: 7.5 hours | Altitude Loss: 12,011 ft to 11,607 ft via 13229 ft

Moderate day with level walk followed by a steep ascent to the Pass. Moderate descent all the way to Nichnai

Day 7

Trek from Nichnai to Sonamarg. Drive to Srinagar.

Trek Distance: 11.6 km | Trek Duration: 6.5 hours | Altitude loss: 11,607 ft to 8735 ft

Drive Distance: 80 km | Drive Duration: 3-4 hours

Moderate day with gentle descent and ascent for 4 hours followed by a steep descent all the way to Shitkadi.

Please note: The distance between campsites may vary by 100 meters depending the weather conditions and the route you take. The altitude may also vary by 100 feet for similar reasons.

Day 8

Buffer Day

For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances of the trek and the situation in Kashmir. The buffer day is mandatory to keep in your itinerary.

If the buffer day is used,  you have to pay us Rs 1,800 per day +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day.

IMPORTANT POINTS

- Advisory Note: There are often uncertainties when it comes to trekking in Kashmir. If you're planning any trek in Kashmir, ensure you book flexible flight tickets, that allow you to reschedule your flight at no added costs. These are easily available with most airlines.

- In case of emergencies, we will reroute treks to other trails. Please ensure you're mentally prepared in case such situations arise.

- For all your travel plans include a buffer day to accommodate bad weather on the trek/political instability. This depends completely on the circumstances of the trek and the situation in Kashmir.

- It is mandatory for trekkers to carry a photocopy of their photo id along with the mandatory documents of the Medical Certificate and Disclaimer form. This is required for trek permissions before and during the trek.

- If the buffer day is used,  you have to pay us Rs 1,800 per day +5% GST. The money will be collected by the Trek Leader only if we use the buffer day.

- Please note that you will be staying in tents on all days of the trek. Trekkers need to make their arrangements for a stay in Srinagar at the end of the trek.

Please note: Twin-sharing tents may not be available in May, June, July and August. This is because raw materials for making tents are sourced from different countries. But their export has been affected due to international unrest. This has led to a global shortage of tents. Having said that, you'll still have comfortable space as these tents have been designed to accommodate three trekkers.

PRO-TIPS

Onward Travel

Your trek starts at Naranag. Don't forget to visit the Wangath Temple ruins where the trek starts

The road head meets at Kangan and you follow the Sindh River from Srinagar during your onwards journey. The drive is again 2 hours

Return Travel

You'll love the drive from Shitkadi! It follows the Sindh River all the way. The view gets especially pretty around 40 minutes before you reach Srinagar There are lovely paddy fields on your right.

Campsites at a Glance

At Indiahikes, we are very particular about choosing terrific campsites. For the Kashmir Great Lakes trek too, after a lot of back and forth, we have settled on these terrific campsites, which trekkers have come to love.

Smooth green grass, almost manicured, a few lone maple trees and a few horses enjoying the graze are what Satsar meadows look like where your campsite is. Picture by Sachin

Shitkadi is right next to the NH1 highway. You get to see the Kolohoi glacier in the backdrop with the Sindh river flowing right next to you. Picture by Nimesh Mittal

Your last campsite would be the Nichanai campsite. Nichnai grasslands show you how massive and rugged meadows can be. Picture by Sachin

Why I Believe Everyone Must Trek: A Note from the Founder

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Trekking transforms lives. It has completely changed my life. When I see my colleagues at Indiahikes, all of them have been impacted greatly. The transformations have been profound and irreversible. 

I see it in our trekkers too. I have seen them change professions, careers or start a new life. I have seen them get in and out of relationships, and start new projects. These are life-changing experiences. 

I have seen children building resilience. I have seen families come together. When I see those above 55, I see them rediscover passion and a sense of purpose. These are not small gains.

In the mountains new professions, new economies and new businesses have opened up. Our staff no longer go to cities to earn their living. Their income has increased. Above all, they are happiest working in this world. Trekking has been truly transformative.  

Everyone must trek. It transforms lives far more than you imagine. 

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Sandhya UC, Co-Founder, COO

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map a few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the Women of Worth Award by Outlook Business in 2017.

Here’s Sandhya talking about the most beautiful trek in our country.

What I Like and Don’t Like About the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

What I Like About the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Sandhya UC, Co-Founder, COO

Sandhya is a founding partner at Indiahikes. Over the past ten years, she has explored and put on the map a few of the greatest Himalayan treks in India, including Kashmir Great Lakes and Kedarkantha. She is a TedX Speaker and has been awarded the Women of Worth Award by Outlook Business in 2017. Here’s Sandhya talking about the most beautiful trek in our country.

1. The magnificent mountain scenery on the trek

Most treks in the Himalayas are very scenic. But Kashmir Great Lakes is on a scale of its own. The mountains of Kashmir are like that. They have a larger-than-life presence around you. I would not be exaggerating too much if I say that a trek in Kashmir is like watching on an IMAX screen while everywhere else is on a normal TV screen. Kashmir — you feel it everywhere.

The larger-than-life scale of the mountains, meadows, and lakes on the trek of KGL. Picture by Rajshree Sarada

2. The variety of the valleys and meadows

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek has 7 trekking days. And coincidentally you are also trekking in 7 different valleys.  What’s more, each of these valleys, spread themselves out each day of the trek. Every valley gives hard competition to the valley before and the valley after.

Trekkers rejoice trekking through the meadows after crossing Nichnai Pass and going through the wide valley. Photo by Rajshree

3. The unforgettable walks in the meadows

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek has 7 trekking days. And coincidentally you are also trekking in 7 different valleys.  What’s more, each of these valleys, spread themselves out each day of the trek. Every valley gives hard competition to the valley before and the valley after.

Among the 7 different valleys you trek, 6 happen to be distinct grasslands or meadows. These high-altitude meadows and grasslands are connected via high passes. One would expect the meadows on either side of a pass to be similar. But they aren’t.  Each one of them is a world of its own and has a charm of its own.

The first grassland is the Gangabal expanse. When you see the valley below from Zaj pass, you are almost looking at the world map in green. Gangabal in blue looks like Africa! Nandkol lies by its side. 4 other lakes also dot the green landscape.

The climb from Satsar to Gadsar Pass is like getting transported to the “windows wallpaper” valley of Satsar. Smooth green grass, almost manicured, a few lone maple trees and a few horses enjoying the graze are what Satsar meadows look like. I have never seen greener grass anywhere else.

The Gadsar meadow is more dramatic. It is narrower with more jagged mountains lining on either side. A big Gadsar occupies the central landscape but leading to it are many smaller lakes. Flowers bloom in the entire valley in wild abandon.

A wide grassland, descending gently laden with wildflowers, a gentle river flowing in the middle is what the Vishnusar grassland is all about.

The Shekdur meadows also known as tabletop sets amidst Maples and Birch trees are where you end. Nichnai grasslands show you how massive and rugged meadows can be. Just leave Vishnusar campsite and you enter a meadow that you don’t want to end.

Personally, for me, it is the meadows on the trek that take the cake and are my top reason to love KGL.

The Meadows on the last day of the trek after the Gangabal campsite. Photo by Vishwajeet Chavan

4. The lakes

You cannot talk about Kashmir Great Lakes Trek without mentioning the lakes. When I saw one or two pictures of the lakes before my exploration, I thought they were photoshopped pictures from some Scandinavian country. I did not believe such lakes existed in the mountains of our country. These crystal clear high altitude lakes change colours all through the day.

Starting from clear at dawn to sea green to light blue to inky blue by evening. The twin lakes Vishnusar and Kishansar, the sea-green Gadsar with ice floes, the sight of gigantic Gangabal along with its twin Nandkol are some of the best lake scenery you will see in the world.

The twin lakes of Gangabal and Nandkol taken from Zaj Pass on a clear day. Photo by Prasanth Premchandran

What I Don't Like About the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

1. The dhabas on the trek

In the last 4-5 years a lot of dhabas have sprung up on the trek. Especially in the beginning and towards the end. My ideal trek is away from civilization. I go out to getaway. Even a hot cup of tea on a tiring trail will not make me root for a dhaba on a trail. Thankfully they are only on the periphery of the trail.

2. The garbage on the trail

This is a total bummer on the KGL trail. For a very long time, the campsites around the first and the last lakes on the trek are littered with camping leftovers. No matter how many sacks of litter our trekkers pick from Gangabal and Nandkol or Vishansar, these camps get littered by the short campers who come to the lakes.

The trail to Vishnusar around Nichnai and the trail down to Naranag in the pine forest are also littered. I sincerely hope better sense prevails in those who come to these lakes.

3. Unexpected challenges on the trek

Thanks to the lovely green meadows, trails lined by mountain flowers and the aquamarine lakes, everyone assumes the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is a walk on the grass. The reality is far from it. It is a moderate-difficult trek.

Long trek days and high passes to cross are a reality every day. There are quite a few rocky sections to negotiate too. You get them 3 or 4 times on the trail when you least expect them. I would say these unexpected challenges make the trek even more spectacular.

The setting of meadows, horses grazing beside you and the glacier waters flowing is a set taken for endless wallpaper moments.

Picture by: Suresh Kerkatta

Picture Perfect

Know Your Trek

We have always wanted trekkers to be well-informed before they go on a Himalayan trek. Knowledge is the difference between a safe trek and a dangerous one. It’s also the difference between a wholesome experience and a superficial experience.

Use this section to learn about the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. It has in-depth information about each day of the trek, what to expect, and how you need to prepare for it. Many years of expertise have gone into this content. Trekkers find that extremely useful.

Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

PRO TIPS

Why fitness matters on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

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On Moderate-Difficult treks like Kashmir Great Lakes, you’ll walk for about 8-12 km each day. Gradual to steep ascents and descents are common on all days. Expect to reach high altitudes of 15,000+ ft. There will also be technical sections (such as rockfall zones, near-vertical sections, glacier walks), which our technical teams will help you navigate.

Your goal is to comfortably run 5 km within 32 minutes.

How to Get Fit for Your Trek

Note: If you are above the age of 58 years, you'll need to submit a Treadmill Test report within 7 days of registration.

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Trek Trivia

Things Nobody Tells You About Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Naranag Temple

The Naranag temple was built by Lalitaditya Muktapida of the ancient Kayastha Naga Karkota Dynasty. It is believed to be built in the honour of Shiva. Multiple carvings which can be linked to Shiva are found here, and so is the Shivaling.

Another field of study also believes it to be dedicated to the Nagas (divine snakes in Hindu mythology). These Nagas were widely worshipped in ancient times in the region which is now Kashmir. These were also said to be the primary religion during that time. The Karkota dynasty members were religious devotees of the Nagas.

One of the most famous archaeological sites in India, it is built with the characteristic Aryan style of the 8th century. Now lying mostly in ruins, it is still a beautiful archaeological and religious place.

Leaving Mountains Better

Green Trails is our promise to leave the mountains better. We have removed over 1 lakh kilos of the waste left behind by others on trekking trails. Yet this is a small percentage of what we do. Green Trails dives into reducing the use of resources, reducing our carbon footprint and bringing about a change in the daily practices of our trekkers too.

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