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Tarsar Marsar

Arguably The Prettiest Trek In India

TREK DIFFICULTY

Moderate

TREK DURATION

7 days

HIGHEST ALTITUDE

13,165 ft

Arguably The Prettiest Trek In India

Tarsar Marsar is arguably the prettiest trek in India. This is a title we do not give treks lightly. Especially when its formidable sister trek, Kashmir Great Lakes, is in the picture.

However, Tarsar Marsar is a trek where alpine lakes take a life of their own. It is not just the fact that you get to camp beside these royal blue, snow-fed lakes (you don’t get this camping chance even at KGL). Or the secluded nature of these campsites (a Godsend in today’s trekking scenario!).

You get to circumvent the entire perimeter of Tarsar and Sundersar, offering you multiple perspectives of the very same lake!

Then there is the elusive Marsar, almost always hidden under a shroud of clouds. We see this lake from an overhang, sitting 600–700 ft below. It is a perfect spot to witness the grandeur of the lake, with the sun rising right above it. This is until dollops of clouds waft their way through the U-shaped valley and settle above the lake. The lake disappears from view within seconds!

The Tarsar Marsar trek takes you right to the heart of Kashmir. From the quaint village of Aru to the clearings of Lidderwat. From the rolling green mountains of Shekhawas to the massive alpine lakes. The setting of Tarsar Marsar is such that it leaves you visually stunned for weeks together!

Tarsar Marsar is arguably the prettiest trek in India. This is a title we do not give treks lightly. Especially when its formidable sister trek, Kashmir Great Lakes, is in the picture.

However, Tarsar Marsar is a trek where alpine lakes take a life of their own. It is not just the fact that you get to camp beside these royal blue, snow-fed lakes (you don’t get this camping chance even at KGL). Or the secluded nature of these campsites (a Godsend in today’s trekking scenario!).

Tarsar Marsar - Complete Trek Information

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 Tarsar Marsar 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 these extremely useful.

Tarsar Marsar Videos

Campsites at a Glance

Tarsar Campsite is one of the most memorable experiences of the trek. Picture by Namita Kaith

The setting of Shekwas Campsite cannot be compared to any other trek. It is nestled between three valleys intersecting. Picture by Abhijit

Sundersar Campsite. Circumvent the entire perimeter of Sundersar and it offers you multiple perspectives of the very same lake! Picture by Santhosh

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

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. 

Expert Speak

Arjun Majumdar

Founder & CEO, Indiahikes

Arjun Majumdar

Founder & CEO, Indiahikes

Arjun Majumdar, the Founder of Indiahikes, went on this exploratory trek almost a decade ago. He is a veteran of

the trekking community in India. He’s an expert when it comes to the trek. Here’s Arjun talking about one of The Prettiest Trek In India country.

I have to admit, the Tarsar Marsar is my favourite trek in Kashmir, even more than the Kashmir Great Lakes. I know I have to hear a lot of flak for this. So I’ll right away get down to why I like this trek so much.

What I Like and Don’t Like About Tarsar Marsar Trek

What I Like About Tarsar Marsar Trek

Arjun Majumdar

Founder & CEO, Indiahikes

Arjun Majumdar, the Founder of Indiahikes, went on this exploratory trek almost a decade ago. He is a veteran of the trekking community in India. He’s an expert when it comes to the trek. Here’s Arjun talking about one of The Prettiest Trek In India country. I have to admit, the Tarsar Marsar is my favourite trek in Kashmir, even more than the Kashmir Great Lakes. I know I have to hear a lot of flak for this. So I’ll right away get down to why I like this trek so much.

1. Intimacy of the Lakes

I loved the intimacy of the lakes on this trek that I didn’t get on the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. I was right on the edge of the shores of the Tarsar and Sundarsar, my tent on the grassy glades of these lakes, watching the dark blue aquamarine waters being fed by snow patches.

The sight stayed with me. I went on long walks all alone along the shores of the lakes, my thoughts to myself. These were rare moments on a trek, which I didn’t get elsewhere. Tarsar always gives me these moments.

The intimate experience of camping by alpine lakes. Photo by Namitha Kaith

2. Marsar Lake

From Sundarsar there is a secret passage over a Col that led me to a cliff over Marsar. I timed it right twice, an hour after sunrise, to see something spectacular. Rushing down the valley that leads to Marsar, huge columns of clouds rolled in towards Marsar.

Sunlight glinted over the top of the clouds throwing wonderful shadows as they rolled in at an angle. The sight was so spectacular from my vantage point above the cliffs, that I almost wanted to applaud. Within fifteen or twenty minutes the clouds blanketed Marsar, taking the lake out of sight.

Even without the rolling clouds, the sight of Marsar took my breath away. Easily, it was one of the largest lakes with the deepest blue waters that I had seen in Kashmir.

The elusive Marsar lake was caught on camera as soon as the clouds parted. The lake left me dumbfounded the first time I had a glimpse of it. Photo by Harisha NV

3. Tarsar Lake

The sight of Tarsar as I climbed to the Tarsar pass is one of my favourite sections. I think the best photos of the lake come from this section. I just loved sitting on a ledge, high above the lake, watching the long stretch of blue waters of Tarsar as the morning sun catches it at its best. Every time I do this trek I take out those few minutes to do this. I think most trekkers enjoy this bit a lot.

The dreamy Tarsar Lake.  You get to circumvent the entire perimeter of this lake, offering you multiple perspectives. Picture by Sudheer Hegde

4. The Plains of Jagmargi

My favourite top secret section of the trek is the plains of Jagmargi. You get them an hour or so before you reach Sundarsar. I suddenly found the rushing stream going dead quiet, forming giant crystal clear pools. On my left were vast grasslands, stretched out in a big oval arch.

Somewhere in the far distance, like a western movie, the grasslands touched the foot of rugged hills — a sight I have not seen on any other trek before — an entire big sweep like this.

Sheep and horses grazed peacefully. As I passed by I caressed some of the sheep and they didn’t move an inch. But what stunned me were the flowers. It was a carpet of wildflowers, purple, white, blue and yellow, nurtured by the abundance of water. I couldn’t trek. Because every step I took would crush flowers under my feet. It took me a long while to cross this section.

Wildflowers abound in the meadows of Jagmargi. Photo by Rajesh Kallaje

5. Shekwas Campsite

Give me the Shekwas campsite for a day and I will trade two campsites from any other trek. I just love the setting! Nestled in the junction of three green valleys (name another trek where you see three valleys intersecting — it is very rare!), a ridge climbs right outside the camp.

I remember I took off my shoes and climbed, and climbed and climbed on those soft grass. I climbed endlessly until the camp was a dot below, perhaps a thousand feet, yet the ridge had a long way to go.

From this viewpoint, I saw what we call Kashmir, a heaven on earth! Sweeping mountains, great grasslands in the valleys, and an undulating landscape that can only be made by a divine source. To top it each of these valleys had a river running through them with the sun setting on its glinting surface. I sat on a small outcrop of a rock for a long time until it was dusk.

The settings of Shekwas campsite can not be compared with any other trek. Picture by Abhijit

6. The Variety of the Trek

Aru is almost too idyllic to be true. Picture by Santhosh.

What I Don't Like About Tarsar Marsar Trek

1. This is a hard one. In every trek I can pick flaws, but Tarsar Marsar is a trek that is absolutely flawless.

It is not hard on the legs, it has a lovely drive getting to the base camp. The base camp is worthy enough for a few days of stay! The trek has tremendous variety.

It shows you Kashmir for what heavenly it can be. Plus three beautiful lakes, where you camp next to two of them! All in all, it is a complete package. To me, it edges out even the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Not by a lot, but surely by a wee bit. 

Indiahikes Features

You’re guarded with our trek again philosophy

If you are unable to complete a trek, or if you love a trek, you can repeat it with us anytime. You don’t have to pay us for it. See our thoughts behind this here.

Daily 3-time health checks keep you safe at any altitude

Our thrice-a-day oxi-metre checks keep altitude sickness at bay, never allowing you to reach a point where you need evacuation.

Join any group, they are all women-friendly groups 

With around 30% of our trekkers being women, all women, including those travelling solo are comfortable to join any of our groups.

Request Jain/Vegan-friendly food

Our kitchen teams understand your needs as a vegan (or a Jain). We will take special care of your food, even in the remote Himalayas. 

Be comfortable and sustainable with bio toilets

We have specially designed bio toilets to ensure you have no sight or smell in toilets, at the same time making sure the toilets cause no harm to the fragile ecosystem we trek in.

Fresh, nutritious food at every camp

We’ll admit it. Our love for food surpasses our love for minimalism. Expect freshly cooked, multi-cuisine food at all camps, designed to meet your nutritional requirements and keep your taste buds happy!

View of Tarsar lake

Picture by: Atinderpal Singh

Trek Trivia

Things Nobody Tells You About Tarsar Marsar Trek

Did you know that the name of the Tarsar Marsar Trek is linked to life and death?

The name Tar and Mar in Kashmiri roughly translate to life and death. There is famous local folklore in Kashmir on why these lakes were named as such. Do ask your guides for the story.

Locals say that one can find true peace at the Tarsar lake. It joins one place to another and makes you feel at ease. On the other hand, it is believed that Marsar lake is the opposite. 

Sundersar, the second lake on the Tarsar Marsar trek, is more locally known as Chandrasar because of the crescent moon-like shape of the lake. On this trek, you get to visit 3 beautiful lakes that give you a deep insight into Kashmir.

Did you know about the ancient tribe at Lidderwat?

The true start of the Tarsar Marsar trek begins at Lidderwat. Lidderwat is not just a place. It's a junction. 

At this junction, there's a family of Gujjars. Gujjars are an ethnic agricultural and pastoral community of India. There's something extremely special about them. They've mostly earned a living by keeping cattle and selling milk, and wool.

As the winters begin, the Gujjars vanish by September and go down to Jammu. They are mostly here from the three months of July to September. Make sure to interact with them and find out more on the trail. They are usually in their Pathani suit.

Did you know that Marsar lake is connected to the mighty Dal lake?

The Marsar lake which you'll come across on the Tarsar Marsar trek is connected to Dal lake. All alpine lakes have runoff. Marsar's runoff connects to Dal lake. 

It goes towards Dachigam National park. This national park is between Dal and Tarsar Marsar. 

It is a true scenic beauty, and a privilege to witness the aura of the Dal lake. The Marsar lake is small in size. The mysterious vibe and blue colour of the lake are a sign to behold. However, the beauty of this lake will captivate your heart. 

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.

5 Reasons Why Indiahikes

We are India’s safest trekking organisation

When we brought out new trails in Indian trekking, safety came with us. Back in 2012, we were the first to introduce microspikes, and two years later, pulse oximeters became standard thanks to us. Nobody does safe treks like Indiahikes. In the mountains, emergencies don't care who you're with – everyone knows that when trouble hits, you look for the yellow tents of Indiahikes.

We are pioneers of treks in India

We are pioneers in trekking. Since 2007, we have brought out treks that have become India's most famous treks: Roopkund, Rupin Pass, Buran Ghati, Kedarkantha, Kashmir Great Lakes, Tarsar Marsar, Brahmatal, Phulara Ridge—the list goes on. In 2023 alone, we brought out five new treks in Indian trekking. We know treks better than anyone. This comes directly from the reason why Indiahikes was born: to bring out trek information and enable trekkers to trek on their own.

We are India’s largest trekking organisation

More than 25,000 people trek with us every year. We are the largest trekking organisation in India. 24% of our trekkers come back to trek with us every year. Over 4,000 students from the top educational institutions trek with us every year. Aside from this, families with children choose to trek with Indiahikes knowing that our treks are the safest. We have taken over 8000 children trekking so far, and the number continues to grow.

Our treks are transformative

We focus on designing transformative experiences. Our trek leaders conduct thought-provoking exercises that help you reflect and contemplate. This impact stays with you for a long time. Trekkers return feeling energised, more confident, or developing abilities to deal with difficulties. Many have changed careers, rethought their core values, become more humble, shown gratitude to others, or started a new fitness journey.

We are India's most sustainable trekking organisation

Since 2012, we have pioneered sustainable practices that have become standard in trekking. Using eco-bags, our trekkers have cleared over 120 tonnes of litter from the mountains. We do not carry packaged foods; instead, we serve freshly made food. We do not light campfires; we carry coal to light angethis to keep you warm. Our bio-toilets not only keep our toilets odour-free but also enrich the soil. When you trek with us, you leave mountains better.

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