Breakthtaking views of Sonmarg

Discovering beautiful Sonmarg: A soulful travelogue

The green meadows, the enchanting rivers, the gorgeous streams cascading from the mountains and the most beautiful valley on earth, made my heart sing. Sonmarg, the ‘Meadow of Gold’ will be cherished forever.

My first solo travel has an interesting story to tell. The idea was more about escaping the daily rut than travel itself. The daily grind of chasing deadlines, the resulting fatigue and the blistering heat of the northern plains was taking a toll on my mental and physical health. To rejuvenate frayed nerves and experience some peace, I planned a trip to Sonmarg in Kashmir. I wanted to get away from the constant stress of accomplishing tasks and adjusting to day-to-day routines. The idea was to soak in the serenity of a place, get up, close and personal with nature and experience tranquillity.

While scrolling through the internet for serene and less explored destinations, I somehow paused at Sonmarg. Having travelled to Kashmir at least thrice before and having missing this place each time, Sonmarg seemed to be the most obvious choice.

“I wanna feel sunlight on my face. I want to go where the streets have no name”, played the famous song by the band U2  on my airpods. Although traveling solo, I was determined to let music accompany me. I also planned to mingle with the locals to experience the rich and warm culture of this part of Kashmir I had missed in my trips earlier.

Having taken the early morning flight, I landed at the Srinagar airport early enough to catch the splendid first rays of the sun. It then took two-and-a-half-hours to drive from Srinagar to Sonmarg. When I finally reached, the clear golden sky and the cool, crisp air brushed against my face, making it the warmest welcome ever.

As if mystically, I had the company of a very knowledgeable and amiable driver. He added much more value to my research on Sonmarg. He constantly briefed me about places as we passed them, sharing stories about how Sonmarg had tremendous significance in the olden times as it was the gateway of the Silk Road or Silk Route which connected Kashmir and China.

Warmest hospitality

The driver coaxed me to halt at a juice shop serving apple juice. Although I had a hearty breakfast in the flight, I could not say no to apples of Kashmir. And just as my instincts told me, I hadn’t tasted such delicious apple juice anywhere else in the world! Before I could thank the driver for this elixir, he took me to a nearby cricket bat making unit. I was quite amazed to see a cricket bat taking shape out of the willow wood growing abundantly in Kashmir. The heart-warming hospitality of my driver and the few people I had already met put me at ease.

Indeed, one can hope to experience outstanding warmth from people, be it at hotels or tourist spots, throughout Kashmir.

I checked into my hotel – a cosy Sonmarg hotel made of intricate wood. There are plenty of hotels in Sonmarg that have a great view of the pristine hills. As soon as I got my welcome drink, the hearty Kahwa laden with dry fruits, I was filled with energy and ready to plunge into the serenity of Sonmarg.

Zero Point

Determined to face my fears and challenge the solitude I had brought with me from the city, I decided to first visit Zero Point. Around 25 km from Sonmarg, Zero Point is the starting point of Ladakh on the highway from Srinagar to Leh.

The two hour journey comprised of treacherous roads with possibility of landslides lurking at every bend. My new found courage reminded me to make way forward, irrespective of unforeseen obstacles sprouting now and then.

As it was peak summer, the snow over the glaciers was melting but once I reached, it was difficult to believe the view in front of my eyes. The white spread of snow was dazzling in the golden glaze of the sun. These peaks were touching the cottony clouds of the azure sky and the resplendent white spread below compelled me to spend more time here. After about an hour of soaking in the divine beauty of Zero Point, I made my way back to the beauty of a colour other than white; that of the green meadows below.

Meadow of Gold

From a white spread to lush green meadows, Sonmarg is straight out of a Bollywood flick. I decided to stroll, run and then simply sit on the green grass, surrounded by mountains all around. The experience was meditative to say the least. Even though I was far away from the city and my family, my mind did  not wander back to the urban chaos even for a moment. Time stood still for me as I kept inhaling fresh air and exhaling all the stress accumulated within.

What broke my magical trance was the sunset spreading its golden aura all around. Sonmarg, also known as ‘a meadow of gold’ is truly a spectacle, with its white, green and golden hues.

Trek to Thajiwas Glacier

Next morning I woke up early and head to the Thajiwas glacier. Sonmarg is a popular place for trekking owing to its greens, the gurgling streams and the rocky terrain that allow one to experience nature in its full glory. I had the option to take a horse ride but I decided to trek to Thajiwas. The 3 hour trail gave me ample space and opportunity to look as much inside as I was looking outside. I was experiencing nature and my existence in its entirety, without any distractions. Deciding to leave behind all that I didn’t require in my life going ahead, I felt fresh and revived from the picturesque but hard trek.

‘Yu hi chala chal raahi..’ played on my airpods as I made my way back to the airport. Carrying back a lifetime’s worth of memories of my first solo travel, I  grinned ear to ear. The green meadows, the enchanting rivers, the gorgeous streams cascading from the mountains and the most beautiful valley on earth, made my heart sing. Determined to living life mindfully and with zeal, I gave Sonmarg a heartfelt thank you for dusting off my exhaustion and making the travel worthy of memories.




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