The exploration team members of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek share their thoughts after returning.
Shashikiran P B
“There is a trance like quality to this trek; the magic that is cast on the first day of the trek only deepens in intensity as the trek days pass by and will remain as an oasis for eternity.
The first day of the pristine green meadows changes overnight into a barren valley, sinister and wild in its beauty. The trick is quite a charming one. The third day dawns on a heavenly lake that surely makes one suspect the presence of gods in the vicinity, no kidding! The next day presents views that are meant only for the gods and some of us who brave the odds, to rest, after an endless journey through cliffs, valleys, meadows, devious mountaneous corners, and rivers to cross. The next morning presents the unconquerable and numbing climb to present, at the zenith, an unbelievable glimpse of the twin lakes at the foot of a majestic glacier. A rest day at the lakes is followed by a 4k feet climb down in 4 hours. Huh?
To borrow a line from an ex-Nasa astronaut ‘Indiahikes did not insist on having philosophers enrolling on this trek. But, everyone who enrolled turned into one’. One more thing to add: The last day saw us clean a great deal of debris at the Gangabal lake in an inspired moment. It was quite disgusting of the tourists, Indians and foreigners alike, to have left their imprints on this terrain with plastic waste.”
“Kashmir great lakes trek is like an epic – it has multiple characters, highpoints, complexity in how it evolves, suspense of whats next and great proclamation of the wonder of life. It validates Kashmir’s mythical status as heaven on earth.
The landscape goes from lush bollywood-style meadows to stark grand canyonish barren mountain flanks in some parts. The valleys are soul expanding with inviting shades of yellow, red and lavender flowers. And the lakes are truly great. The final lake, Gangabal, is divine in the serenity it invokes.
There are difficult stretches which will confront you with what they hell were you thinking when you signed up for this trek, specially the unending climb to get to the Harmukh valley. But the grand view when from the summit wipes all signs of tiredness. Kashmir’s beautiful people and Indian army jawans offer more possibilities for memorable connections. Go visit while its still pristine and magical…”
Coming from where I reside, any shade of green or white is fine by me and a trek in most of India would serve either or both of them in varied amounts. But what I experienced in Kashmir exceeded any and every thing that I was expecting.
All the minor details apart, the trek helped demolish a lot of preconceived notions that most Indians have about the place (security being the foremost) The trek itself; as is with all treks; was a very refreshing experience with a good amount of changes in views, nice long walks,a bit of climbs and a whole lotta lakes.
The lakes and their sheer numbers being one of the best and unique parts about this trek.
Even the altitude was more or less not too extreme, save a couple of mountain passes.
The blue is bluer in Kashmir I heard someone say.
All in all this trek, the route and the region is definitely not a one-time see.
One phrase can describe my feelings about the Great Lakes Trek in Kashmir. Thank you! To the Creator, to life itself, and Indiahikes for this spell-binding trek. I am in a state of inebriation and am sure this high will never wear off! 🙂
Sandhya UC of Indiahikes aptly summed this up: if this happens to be a trekker’s first high-altitude trek, then the rest of their treks will pale off in comparison!
Spread across seven days of sheer joy, this trek is truly invigorating to the heart, body, mind, and soul.
Walking through the Maple forest and meadows on day one itself is so exhilarating that your imagination and expectations from the rest of the trek surge much ahead of you. But nothing that you can picturise or dream of will prepare you for the brilliance, magnificence, and sheer beauty that unfolds further down. The duality of the landscape—mountain-meadow, river-lake, glacier-forest, wilderness-habitat, bloom-barren land, snow peak-barren peak—this for me is undoubtedly the best and the most delightful part of the Himalayas. Makes you blissful and helps connect to the divine presence both in the inner and outer world. Life seems to be an endless celebration of the beauty of Nature!
The seven grand lakes (and their many babies, as our guide put it) are splendid and enthralling. The vast, placid, aqua-green waters are a sight to behold. Each lake is unique in its location, access, and beauty! The 36 hours that we spent camping at the Gangabal Lake passed by like minutes because they were spent ogling the Harmukh glacier towering above on one side, the serene lake in the front, and the chugging stream on the other side. Nites felt surreal at the lakes. You can hear the water gently flowing through the streams, gaze with mouth agape at the millions of stars above and the Milky Way, and if you are attentive, spy a planet or two! Oh what fortitude to wrench away from this place and come back to the city. But yes, I am back to tell the tales of my trek and to keep going back to the place that is indeed Heaven on Earth! 🙂
I have drunk from the cup of the Valley
No other cups can even tally
I sleep with the promise that I will rally
To revisit the Valley!
Great, wide, beautiful, wonderful World,
With the wonderful water round you curled,
And the wonderful grass upon your breast,
World, you are beautifully dressed.”
I felt more alive on this trek than I’ve ever been my whole life!
Trying to express what the trek meant to me is like trying to pour an ocean into a cup …or still a wave upon the sands…and I dont think I can…
When I signed up I had no idea at all what I was getting into – I’d never been on a trek before .All I knew is that I wanted to walk till I could walk no more – and sit on a rock every morning and pray while watching the sunrise 🙂 The simple menu I had in mind turned out to be the grandest buffet ever !! It needs a life time to digest!
Strangely my mind – which usually never rests- seemed empty of all thoughts – except when I forced myself to think about what I was thinking – which was nothing!
Feelings were in extremes…extreme wonderment – awe – joy – lightness – freedom of spirit.
I don’t really care where I go now when I die …I’ve already been to heaven 🙂
As for others who wish to attempt this trek – be ready for the pangs of pain,nostalgia,yearning ,longing,restlessness after you return …It takes a while for your soul to come back to you – the pull of the mountains is too strong!
Kashmir trek was the best trek of my life so far. Every corner, every pass of the mountain range used to bring totally different view, like suddenly from meadows to forest, forest to barren lands, sudden climbs, flowing cold water streams to sliding slate stones to pine forests to main attraction the lakes and glaciers J, also army camps and empty shepherd huts . Its heaven on earth and when I say this I recollect our local guide telling sufi poets view on this “agar mein yahan din bitaunga tho oopar wala mere jannat ke dino mein se ye din kaat lega yeh kehke ki thum tho jannat mein din bitha ke aye ho”.
Stories that we used to listen about the local history from the guides the sort of uneasiness they feel from the unrest in the valley and most importantly the impact of heavy security measures on the border to the migratory wildlife. Lucky to see plenty of creatures and birds, from Marmots to restless Himalayan weasel, Gulls hunting for fish in the great lakes and vulchers hovering way too high from the high altitudes where we stood.
Experience of camping near the streams with never ending light music of the stream is beyond my words to capture here, I would just say that one has experience it by visiting the place. How can I forget the crazy dip in the ice cold stream, it is one of the unforgettable moments of my life. In my view one has to be part of this trek to experience the heavenly Kashmir valley.
Other members of the exploratory team were: Azhar Qadri, Imran Ahmed, Kaverappa OT, Sandeep Dinesh Janardan and Sandhya UC