About the Trek: Tarsar Marsar, The Prettiest Lakes in India
Base Camp: ARU
Highest Altitude: 13,201ft
Average Temperature: Day time: 17°C-20°C; Nighttime: 3°C-4°C
GAR FIRDAUS ZAMIN ASTO, AMIN ASTO AMIN ASTO.
Aru is the base camp of Tarsar Marsar trek, it is a small idyllic village surrounded by lavish grasslands. The village is famous because of some cottages, poplar trees and a rivulet flowing through this village’s heart.
The Aru villagers so heartily welcome trekkers that they surely come again to do another trek. The nature of Kashmir – meadows, rivers, streams, birds, animals and flowers everything is attracting people to visit it. Really, Jammu and Kashmir valley is no less than a paradise which is also known as Taj of India.
Only BSNL network works in ARU with no internet connectivity. Pahalgam is the last place where you will get the internet connectivity.
There are no ATMs in ARU, So if you want to take out the cash its better you do it in Srinagar.About the Exotic Grasslands:
Before, Sundersar campsite, pass through wide Jagmargi grasslands. Therefore, get amazed by its pulchritude because the wide grasslands are surrounded by mountains and a small rivulet flows through the pristine valley blooming with the colorful flowers in yellow, blue and pink shades.
Take a shared cab from Srinagar to Anantnag, it costs Rs 80/- The distance is 58 kms and takes 1 ½ to 2 hours. Then from Anantnag stand to Pahalgam change to another shared cab, the cost is Rs 110/- distance covered is 45 kms in about 1:15 – 1:30 mins.
Change again from Pahalgam stand to Aru village, it takes about 30 mins to cover 13 kms. Cabs are frequent to Aru and easy to get, it costs Rs 20.
These shared cabs run throughout the day and are frequent but ensure you reach Pahalgam before 4pm to catch the last cab to Aru Village.
Private taxis are also available from Srinagar to Aru but are costly and cost Rs 3000.
Altitude: 7,958 ft (2,426 m)
Time taken: 3.5 hours drive.
Srinagar is the capital city of Jammu Kashmir and is also one of the most gorgeous cities of the country. The trek commences in the afternoon; we can arrive early in the morning at Srinagar so as to get a chance to peek at the city. Srinagar lies on the banks of the Jhelum River and is famous for ancient artefacts and house boats, also known as Shikara. We can always take a detour to this city before we start for the Trek.
The first destination of the day 1 is Aru base camp. There is no proper gravel road to the Aru base camp from Srinagar. Hence, we would have to enroot via Pahalgam. Pahalgam is a notified tourist place of Anantnag. It is quite a famous sight for shooting bollywood films.
The distance between Srinagar and Pahalgam is 100 kms. It will take 3 hours or so to reach Pahalgam by car. We should start our journey to Aru Camp from Srinagar at around 2 PM so that we can reach before night fall and camp at peace. Srinagar has two routes to Pahalgam, one through Anantnag and other through Bijbehra. We would be proceeding through the Bijbehra trail because we would experience stunning sceneries of Rural Kashmir, a series of amazing apple orchards, walnut and apricot trees on that route.
Aru would take another hour and a half from Pahalgam covering a distance of 12 kms. The place is laid across the River Lidder and words might fall short when it comes to describing this cute little of a place which lives up to its name. An array of 200 asbestos roofed huts lined perfectly well amidst the lush green meadows, adjacent to the spectacular Lidder, is a sight worth viewing.
Aru is the first place to board for the night. We would not set camps here but rather board cottages as there are plenty available at Aru.
Altitude: 7,958 ft (2,426 m) to 9,131 ft (2,783 m)
Time taken: 6 hours, 10 km
Trek gradient: Easy – moderate. Initial gradual ascent for 30 minutes followed by a gentle undulating walk.
Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles from streams, a few hours into the trek.
Today, we would be covering a distance of 9 – 10 kms in approximately 5 – 6 hours. The trail on way is a pleasant one, with easy uphill ascent. We will have to follow the trail alongside the River Lidder initially, which directly connect to the village up hill. From the village, the road will follow the agricultural departmental fence offering us a sophisticated and clear view of Aru behind.
The trail will lead us into a cluster of Fir trees and then to a large clearing, Dalla near to Gujjar huts. From Dalla, the trail is just a nice, pleasant walk on plain ground through dense pine forest. Twenty minutes into the forest, we would reach a wide fork signalling diversion to Nandkei. Nandkei is a shelter place of Gujjar huts, across the river Lidder. The same trail will continue, the forest evanescing behind and pretty little Gujjar huts and families in the view ahead. They are friendly people on horsebacks taking care of their everyday chores.
From there, the trail picks up an ascent gently. Half an hour later, we will come to two diverging clear streams, safe for drinking. Lidderwat, from here is another hour walk. We have to cross a wooden bridge over the second stream and enter into another pine trees forest. At the pine trees junction the trail upwards and intersects with the River side and the Valley bottom, a magnificent scenery.
From here, across the River side the track bends forwards and runs into a gorgeous fir forest. It will take another half an hour to clear this forest and run into another fir forest. When we finish the second section of Fir Forest line, the trail will finally reach to the lush green meadows of Lidderwat. It would take approx ten minutes for this.
Altitude: 9,131 ft (2,783 m) to 11,039 ft (3,365 m)
Time taken: 5 hours, 5.6 km
Trek gradient: Moderate. Continuously ascending trail for the first 2 hours with a few short level walks. River crossing just before Homwas followed by gradual ascent.
Water sources: You can refill your water bottles at any of the several streams that you cross.
Today, we would cover a distance of 6 – 7 kms in approximately 5 hours. We would be doing a lot of ascending and then crossing a river in between and some connecting plain terrains. On day three, the trial starts from PDA huts in line with the river Lidder and takes us to a pine forest.
The track is in straight line, without much difficulty. After sometime, the pine cluster will open up to wide sweeping grassland intersecting towering mountains, creating a cosy valley, adorned with snow patches here and there. The trail diverts into many small valleys and converges upwards toward the Bhakarwal Shelters by the right side of the river.
The trail has many clear streams running along, a good spot to refill water bottles. From here, descend to the river bed and cross the river by hopping over few boulders and then crossing a make shift bridge. We will reach the clearing of Hamvas by following the river side half an hour later.
We shall take short break at the Gujjar huts there where tea and delicious savories are offered. The pathway here is pleasant one; plain grassland, a beautiful comfort to the strenuous journey.
After this, the ascent is little steeper and as we gain altitude, by the hour, we will enter a forest of silver birch also known as Bhoj trees. These trees are considered very old in the region. And well, what can be said about the view; needless to say, it is as usual captivating that will warm wer eyes.
The Shekiwas is an undulating meadow land, reached by meandering paths crossing two green valleys and surrounded by dark snow patched mountains. This is one of the best camping sites of the Tarsar Marsar trek. We ought to have a relaxed night after the stressful hard climb to Shekiwas.
Altitude: 11,039 ft (3,365 m) to 12,449 ft (3,794 m)
Time taken: 3-4 hours, 5 km
Trek gradient: Moderate. Continuous ascent, mostly on gradual inclines.
Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles at a couple of streams.
Today, we would be ascending a distance of 5 kms which would take to complete in 5 hours. The day starts from Shekhiwas Meadow and trails through snake like path in the grassland for quite some time before it reaches Sumbal leading we through a valley. Here, the path to Tarsar takes us on a ridge on top of the stream.
Two hours later, after crossing some spectacular views from different ridges in line with the western trail, we will finally arrive at a conical hill top that might guide to get a glimpse of the pretty Tarsar, the beautiful almond shaped lake. The adrenalin rush walk to reach the lake starts from here; first we would cross the stream with the help of fastened rocks and boulders and then finally on the grassland of Tarsar, the campsite of the day 4. We would find a lot of flat lands to camp by the lake side.
This is going to be our best experience on the trek. Nature can actually be magical and we will realize this at night when the lake turns into a magnificent shade of turquoise blue glistening like precious stones in the lap of snow covered mountains. That is going to be worthy of all the long hiking and walking we have done in the previous days.
Altitude: 12,449 ft (3,794 m) to 12,946 ft (3,946 m)
Time taken: 5 hours, 5 km
Trek gradient: Moderate. Steep ascent in the beginning to the pass, followed by a descent and then a gentle ascent to Sundarsar.
Water sources: Carry sufficient water. You can refill your water bottles from a couple of streams dispersed along the trail.
The other side views of Tarsar are spellbinding and the stretches of grassy valley will leave you speechless because they seem never ending and trekking on the velvety grass of the valley is a bliss. This valley leads to the meadows of Shekwas. But, mostly people descend from Tarsar until the Shekwas leads to Sundersar valley, but climbing this pass saves 3-4 hours.
Start descending through the shepherds’ trail which will take you to middle of the valley. Walk along the stream on the beautiful velvet like grass. En route see Bakkarval shelters lying on left, the trail lies behind these shelters through the boulder area. Further are lushest grasslands you will ever come across and amidst the meadows stream transforms into a large pond which is fed by the snow patches on the mountains.
Cross this section in 30 minutes and come to the meadow’s end. Reach the base of ridge by crossing a stream with the help of boulders, ascend for 15 minutes through a narrow valley to reach the ridge top. Surprisingly a wide meadow pops in front with colorful bed of flowers. The views are enthralling from here and end route of this trek is also visible with a trail leading to mountains.
Follow the trail and reach beautiful grassy land of Sundersar Lake, here you can pitch your tents anywhere on the flat ground, camping here is a delight. Enjoy in the serene beauty of Kashmir and comfortably stay in tents.
Altitude: 12,946 ft (3,946 m) to 13,201 ft / 4,024 m (Marsar Ridge) to 11,500 ft (3,505 m)
Time taken: 7 hours, 9 km
Trail gradient: Moderate. 40 minute ascent to Marsar. Gradual descent all the way to Homwas.
Pass along the shores of Sundersar Lake to get far side and through two passes you can reach Marsar. Take the shorter trail and ascend through the boulder zone, be careful while ascending because there is snow over the boulders which make this section tough. In 30 minutes pass can be reached which is an amazing grassland with gentle trails leading to the flat grounds below.
Reach the flat grounds and cross the small streams along the trail. Climbing to the ridge starts from here which offers heart racing view of Marsar. It is twin of Tarsar but remains hidden under the mist and clouds. Descend to Sundersar and reach there in 40 minutes.
Spend some time at Sundersar valley and get back to Jagmargi valley, witness the grasslands again and admire the natural beauty. Do not cross the Tarsar pass but go through the different trail to Shekwas, from here you can reach Homwas in 30 minutes. Reach there, setup your tents, have delicious food after today’s long trek, retire for the night
Altitude: 11,500 ft (3,505 m) to 7,958 ft (2,426 m)
Time taken: 6 hours, 13 km
Trek gradient: Easy. Gradually descending trail all the way
Descend from Homwas to Lidderwat. The sights of today’s trek are beguiling and you can spot Kolahoi glacier on the way. Come across the Lidderwat pine forest, take a break at Lidderwat and then head to Aru.
Now, Aru is 13 km away and you can reach there in another 4 hours. Vehicles will be arranged for you till Srinagar. Reach late evening 8 Pm
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