Sandhya UC talks about how Indiahikes thought of exploring the greatest alpine lakes of India.
It was an ordinary day. But we were very animated. We were sitting around a coffee table discussing the best lakes we had been to on our treks. We listed many: Kedartal near Gangotri, Vasuki Tal near Kedarnath, Masar Tal on the Mayali pass trek, Roopkund in Uttarakhand, Lam Dal in Himachal, the Samiti and Cholamu lake in Sikkim. We were still counting, but Arjun was strangely silent.
We looked at him quizzically. He said, “This list is pretty useless if you don’t have the great lakes in Kashmir and the Bradsaar lake in it.” We were a bit stunned. We had not even heard of these lakes.
He leaned forward and said, “Look, when you make a list of the greatest alpine lakes trek in India you need to see if the journey to the lake is as attractive as the lake itself. Most of the lakes in your list, except a few, don’t have great approaches.” It took some time for the commotion in the room to settle down.
Arjun explained further, “Honestly, none of you have trekked in Kashmir and its beauty is a notion in your minds. Your imagination of Kashmir is like Himachal or Uttaranchal. If you think like that – you are making a big mistake. Kashmir comes closest to Europe in its beauty of the mountains and countryside. There is a series of alpine lakes tucked in the higher reaches of Kashmir near Sonmarg. To get there you need to trek through forests and meadows. These forests and meadows are so beautiful that they make Himachal and Uttarakhand look silly. The clear water of the lakes is so full of trout that you can actually fish there. And I am not joking.”
He paused for a while, “Unless, of course, you talk of the Bradsaar lake in Uttarakhand.” He warmed up, “The setting of the lake is magical – it sits right in the middle of alpine snow flanks. The water sparkles and it has even got a small beach. But what makes the trek special is the approach to the lake over the forests and highland meadows of Uttarakhand. You haven’t seen such lovely sceneries and pretty campsites in your life.”
We had to see these lakes for ourselves. That’s why the second half of 2011 we dedicated to exploring the Great Lakes of Kashmir and the Bradsaar lake in Uttarakhand. Here are the itineraries we followed.
1. The Kashmir Great Lakes exploratory trek
September 18 – 25. The trek costs Rs 12,475 per person, including stay in Srinagar (both times in houseboats), all transport from Srinagar, equipment and food.
Day 1: Arrive at Srinagar. Overnight in Srinagar. Free to explore.
Day 2: From Srinagar to Sonmarg by car. Start trek. Overnight Shekhdur in tents.
Day 3: Shekhdur to Vashinosir lake.
Day 4: Trek to Krishnasir lake. Overnight at Vashinosir lake.
Day 5: Vashinosir to Gadsir lake and up to Satesir lake.
Day 6: Satesir to Gangabal twin lakes.
Day 7: Trek to Harmukh glacier and rest.
Day 8: From Gangabal to Narayannag. Back to Srinagar. Over night stay.
Day 9: Back to Delhi.
2. The BradsaarLake exploratory trek
October 23 – 31. The trek costs Rs 8,475 per person. Includes all expenses of the trek from Dhaula to Sankri (does not include transport from Dehradun to Dhaula and return)
Day 1: Dehradun to Dhaula base camp drive
Day 2: Trek to Bitri
Day 3 : Bitr to Masundha Dhar
Day 4 : Masundha Dhar to Dhalka Dhar
Day 5 : Dhalka Dhar to Dev Bhasa
Day 6 : Dev Bhasa to Bradsaar Lake and return to meadow below Dev Bhasa
Day 7 : Trek through Rehla, Phitari to Obra/ Supin confluence
Day 8 : Trek to Jahkol and drive to Naitwar/Sankri
Day 9: Return to Dehradun