The Meadow of Gold
Sonmarg towards north
|State||Jammu and Kashmir|
|Elevation||2,800 m (9,200 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
Sonmarg gives rise to The Three Sisters (Kashmir). In its vicinity lies the great Himalayan glaciers of Kashmir Valley namely Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier with some peaks of above 5,000 m: Sirbal Peak, Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak. Sonmarg is situated in a valley at the bank of Nallah Sindh, 87 km north-east from Srinagar. It is a popular tourist destination, nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks. It lies at an altitude of 2800 m above sea level. The drive to Sonmarg passes Nallah Sindh, a major tributary of the Jehlum River in the Kashmir valley. It is upwards of sixty miles long valley and deep rock-grit gorge to open grassy meadow land and village-dotted slopes.
Sonmarg has no permanent settlement and is inaccessible during winter due to heavy snowfall and avalanches. At the 2011 India census, Sonmarg had a population of 392, excluding tourists and those working in the tourism industry. Males constitute 51% and females constitute 49%. These are the permanent residents of Sonmarg though seasonally.
Sonmarg had historical significance and was a gateway on ancient Silk Road along with Gilgit connecting Kashmir with Tibet. The Zoji La pass lies 15 km east and is one of the highest passes for road transport. It still is a base camp for Ladakh on NH 1D, and is strategically important for Indian army for the defence of Ladakh.
Given its high altitude and mountainous terrain, Sonmarg is a locality that experiences the regionally rare humid continental climate (Köppen: Dfb) with significant rainfall. The average temperature in Sonmarg is 6.5 °C, and nearly 932 mm of precipitation falls annually (not counting the heavy snowfall that occasionally falls on the valley floor during winter).
Sonmarg, which means 'meadow of gold' has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh meanders along here and abounds with trout and mahseer, snow trout can be caught in the main river. In late April when Sonmarg is open for road transport, the visitors can have access to snow which is furnished all over like a white carpet. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier a major attraction during the summer months.
The climate of Sonmarg is very bracing; but the rainfall is frequent though not heavy, except for two or three days at a time in July and August with fine spell in between. From Sonmarg, trekking routes lead to the Himalayan lakes of Vishansar Lake, Krishansar Lake, Gangabal Lake and Gadsar Lake, stocked with Snowtrout and Brown trout and Satsar, glacier-fed and surrounded by banks of alpine flowers.
A close by excursion is to Baltal, 15 km east of Sonmarg. This little valley lies at the foot of the Zojila, only a day's journey away from the sacred cave of Amarnath is a base camp for Amarnath yatra. Trekkers can also reach the starkly splendid roof-top of the world Leh, by crossing over the Zoji La pass.
At Sonmarg the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department is organising river rafting tournaments yearly, which has recently seen the participation of teams abroad. A large number of Hindi movies have been filmed in Sonmarg.
Sonmarg is easily accessible from Srinagar or Srinagar Airport (SXR), the capital of Kashmir, in under 3 hours by car or by bus on NH 1D 87 kilometers which leads along Nallah Sindh a key tourist attraction. Sonmarg is inaccessible during winter due to heavy snowfall and avalanches, NH 1D is closed in December every year, the local traffic is permitted only up to Gagangear village, which is the last permanent settlement of this area. Only the Choppers of Indian army lands at Sonmarg during winter carrying essentials for the army camp, and the army personnels are the only people who stay at Sonmarg during these harsh weather conditions. After Kargil war these high altitude meadows have seen heavy deployment of Indian army. The government has given a green signal to dig a 6.5 km long road tunnel, Z-Morh Tunnel, at Gagangear and 14.2 km long tunnel at Zoji La, which will not only keep Sonmarg open round the year but also the road to Dras, Kargil and Leh in Ladakh. This project is still on paper and the construction has not started.
Main attraction of this place is Thajiwas Glacier. Be very careful from the pony and car touts. This will always misguide you and ask handsome amount to access them. Your normal car will not have access to reach Thajiwas Glacier. You must need to hire either pony or four-wheel drive SUV to reach there. It is just about 5 minute drive by car. They may be ask you about Rs.900 for pony per person or Rs.5,000 per vehicle. Always negotiate with them. You can easily negotiate them for Rs.700 for three places (Thijiwas Glacier, Fish Pond & Sarbal Park). In Thajiwas, you will get the snow but tout will misguide you for not having over there. At last if you want to enjoy snow in Thajiwas Glacier, hire a SUV vehicle for Rs.2,000, I'm sure you will see it (snow) over there.
You can hire sledge-cart for Rs.100 to 200 and gum boots for Rs.50 to 100 in May (which is peak time for them).
Amarnath Peak is a mountain with a peak elevation of 5,186 metres (17,014 ft), in Ganderbal district of Kashmir, in the vicinity of Sonamarg. Amarnath Peak is part of the Himalayas, and is located south of Zojila and west of Machoi Glacier. It lies 117 km northeast from Srinagar, 13 km from Baltal in the southeast. It lies 6 km south of Zojila. The melt waters form a major tributary of the Sind River at Baltal.Amarnath mountain is considered as a sacred mountain, it has a cave at its south face at an elevation of 3,800 metres (12,470 ft) known as Amarnath cave. The cave is believed to be the ancient and among most sacred places for pilgrimage in Hinduism. It is the centre for Hindu pilgrims during summer.Baltal, Jammu and Kashmir
Baltal is a camping ground for pilgrims, 15 km north of Sonamarg on the Sind River at the base of Zojila pass in Jammu and Kashmir (India). This little valley is only a day's journey away from and provides a shorter high-altitude alternate route to the sacred cave of Amarnath.Cotoneaster humilis
Cotoneaster humilis is a species of flowering plant in the family Rosaceae. It is native to the northwestern part of the Himalayas, especially Kashmir and Sonamarg districts, where it was found on August 9, 1921.Gadsar Lake
The Gadsar Lake or the Yemsar Lake also called as the valley of flowers is a picturesque, alpine high altitude oligotrophic lake in Ganderbal district of Kashmir valley at an elevation of 3600 metres. It has a max. length of 0.85 kilometres and max. width of 0.76 kilometres.Ganderbal
Ganderbal is a town and a municipality committee in Ganderbal district in the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It has an average elevation of 1,619 metres (5,312 feet). It is bordered by district Srinagar in the south, Bandipore to the north, Kargil in the northeast, Anantnag to the south-east and Baramulla in the south-west.Ganderbal district
Ganderbal is a newly formed district of the state of Jammu and Kashmir of Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. It has 6 tehsils Ganderbal tehsil, Tullamulla, Wakoora, Laar, Kangan and Gund.Great Lakes Trek
The Great Lakes Trek commercially known as Sonamarg-Vishansar-Naranag Trek is an alpine himalayan high-altitude trek in Kashmir Valley in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.Kangan, Jammu and Kashmir
Kangan is a town in Ganderbal district, of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is situated across the Nallah Sindh and spread over a 50 km long gorge valley, with population of 1,20,934 and literacy rate of 52.8% and sex ratio 868 per thousand males. It is one of the beautiful places surrounded by various picnic spots like Sonamarg and NaranagKashmir Valley
The Kashmir Valley, also known as the Vale of Kashmir, is an intermontane valley in the portion of the Kashmir region administered by India. The valley is bounded on the southwest by the Pir Panjal Range and on the northeast by the main Himalayas range. It is approximately 135 km long and 32 km wide, and drained by the Jhelum River.The Kashmir Division is a revenue and administrative division of the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir. The Kashmir division borders Jammu Division to the south and Ladakh to the east while Line of Control forms its northern and the western border. The division consists of the following districts: Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, Ganderbal, Kupwara, Kulgam, Pulwama, Shopian and Srinagar.Kolahoi Glacier
Kolahoi Glacier is a valley glacier in the northwestern Himalayan Range situated 26 kilometers north from Pahalgam and 16 kilometers south from Sonamarg, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Kolahoi glacier lies at an average elevation of 4,700 metres (15,400 ft). The highest peak named after the glacier is Kolahoi Peak has an elevation of 5425 meters. The origin of the glacier is below the cirques on the north flank of Kolahoi Peak. It is the main source of Lidder River and its waters become the tributaries of the Jhelum River. Its water serves the population of Anantnag district, where it is mainly being used for drinking and agricultural purposes. The water finally discharges itself into Jhelum River near Khanabal Anantnag.
Kolahoi Glacier is among the victims of global warming, and has shrunk in area from 13.57 km2 in 1963 to 10.69 km2 in 2005 or a loss of 2.88 km2 in three decades. In 1974 the glacier was about 5 km long and is known to have extended for at least 35 km during the Pleistocene. According to another report, Kolahoi is a hanging glacier and hollowed inside. It is a matter of great concern for Kashmir Valley. Many expeditions have failed here.
In September 2018 a group of nine trekkers went on an expedition to summit the Kolahoi Peak. After successfully summiting the peak, the group was caught in rock fall near Burdalaw region on the glacier during their descent, due to which team lost two of its members: Adil Shah, founder of Alpine Adventures group and Naveed Jeelani who was a junior administrative officer from Srinagar. Their bodies were later retrieved from the glacier after two days due to bad weather.Kolahoi Peak
Kolahoi Peak is a mountain with a peak elevation of 17,799 ft (5,425 metres), in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, in the vicinity of Sonamarg. Kolahoi Peak is part of the Himalaya Range, and is located between 15 km south of Sonamarg and 21 km north from Aru, Pahalgam. To its north flows the Sind River and the glacier of its name Kolahoi Glacier is the source of Lidder River. in the vicinity of Kashmir valley.
Kolahoi Peak rises from the Kolahoi Glacier is a pyramid-shaped peak with ice falls and ice fields at its bottom. The rock formation of the peak is extraordinary stable with aretes and ridges.Krishansar Lake
The Krishansar Lake is an alpine high altitude oligotrophic lake situated in the vicinity of Sonamarg, less than one kilometer from Vishansar Lake north westwards at an elevation of 3710 meters. It has a maximum length of 0.95 kilometers and maximum width of 0.6 kilometers.Machoi Glacier
The Machoi Glacier is a 9 kilometer long glacier in the north eastern Himalayan Range situated 8 kilometers east from Sonamarg on the right side of NH 1D at Zojila in the state of Jammu and Kashmir of India. It lies at an average elevation of 4800 meters.
The highest peak named after the glacier is the Machoi Peak that lies at the eastern end of the glacier, at an elevation of 5458 meters. The glacier is the source of the Sind River that flows westwards, and the Dras river that flows eastwards.Machoi, like many other Himalayan glaciers has been melting at alarming rates due to Global warming.Machoi Peak
Machoi Peak is a mountain with a peak elevation of 17,907 ft (5,458 metres), in Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. Machoi Peak is part of the Himalaya Range, and is located between Amarnath cave and Zojila. It lies 105 km north east from Srinagar, 25 km from Sonamarg in the east. It rises from the glacier of its name Machoi Glacier is the source of Sind River in the vicinity of Kashmir valley. Machoi Peak rises from the Machoi glacier is a pyramid-shaped peak with ice falls and ice fields at its bottom and ridges.Sind River
The Sind River or the Sindh River is a river in the Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir state of India. It is a major tributary of the Jehlum River and is 108 kilometres long.Sind Valley
The Sind Valley is a Himalayan sub-valley of the Kashmir Valley in the Indian union territory Kashmir. The entrance of the Sind Valley lies 33 kilometres (21 mi) northeast of Srinagar the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a 65 kilometres (40 mi) long gorge valley with an average width of 1 kilometre (0.62 mi).Sirbal Peak
Sirbal Peak is a mountain with a peak elevation of 5,235 metres (17,175 ft), in Ganderbal district of Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the vicinity of Sonamarg. Sirbal Peak is part of the Himalaya Range, and is located between Sonamarg and Baltal. It lies 102 km northeast from Srinagar, 5 km from Sonamarg in the east. Sirbal Peak lies 6 km west of Zojila. It rises from a glacier 5 km ahead from Sonamarg on left side of NH 1D. The melt waters from the glacier add to the flow of Nallah Sindh.Sirbal Peak is visible from Sonamarg head towards north and from Nichinai pass towards east.Tulail Valley
The Tulail Valley is a Himalayan sub-valley of Gurez in the State of Jammu and Kashmir in India. The Valley lies 120 kilometres (75 mi) northeast of Bandipore and 200 kilometres (120 mi) from Srinagar the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.Vishansar Lake
The Vishansar Lake is an alpine high altitude oligotrophic lake situated in the vicinity of Sonamarg at an elevation of 3710 meters. It has a maximum length of 1 kilometer and maximum width of 0.6 kilometers.
|Climate data for Sonmarg|
|Average high °C (°F)||−5.4
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−8.4
|Average low °C (°F)||−11.3
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||95
|Source: Climate Dat|
Jammu and Kashmir topics
|Districts and divisions|
Municipalities of Jammu and Kashmir