Drive to Sonamarg, the unforgettable experience

The journey from Srinagar to Sonamarg is one of a kind. It was my first Himalayan week-long hike, and it was also my first journey to northern India. I had planned this trekking adventure for the summer. So,  flew from Bangalore to Srinagar early morning (reached Srinagar 2 days in advance and stayed in a boathouse). Our hiking company, Indiahikes had arranged for cabs to be waiting for us. We took this cab to Sonamarg, which was a considerable (half-day) journey away.

Going around Srinagar and Dal lake

When in Srinagar, take a walk around Dal Lake, enjoy a Shikara boat ride to the flower market early in the morning, and stay in one of the boathouses. Also, they do visit the hilltop Shankaracharya shrine. There are many other places to visit around Dal lake like the King Hari Singh fort, Mughal gardens, the carpet industry, old market, etc. With a charge of ₹1000 to 1200 a day, the local auto driver can take you around including the shrine and the fort. Fort has an entry ticket of ₹ 50 which is to be purchased at the tourism office near the Sikh temple.

The journey to Sonamarg

You may take a public bus to Sonamarg from the TRC bus stop at Dal Lake, or you can take a shared cab directly next to the bus stop. You may also take a cab from the airport, which may be costly. The drive will take about 2-3 hours. By the way, Dal lake is the starting point to another famous trek in the region – Tarsar Marsar lake, another beautiful trek.

We stopped thrice on the way to Sonamarg.  One was near Dal Lake, a place where hikers gather (and this is where I joined). The second was at a village outside of town on the route to the campsite. We just contacted the local driver that we needed to stop near a medical store to pick up a few medications that we would need while hiking. And the third location was around an hour out from Sonamarg.

srinagar sonamarg highway
Srinagar Sonamarg Leh National Highway

This is where we picked up some Kashmiri apples and had tea from a nearby tea stand. The tea tastes distinctly diverse here. In comparison to regular tea, the flavor is much more akin to a combination of salt and butter. Something out of the ordinary that you should attempt. It was a whole different experience. We followed the same way back and enjoyed the famous Kashmiri Kahwa tea. Beautiful sceneries, pine trees, streams, rivers, bridges, snow patches, and so on may be found along the trip to Sonamarg next to the Sind river.

Sonamarg and its stunning scenery

Sonamarg during day time
Sonamarg during daytime

Sonamarg is a popular tourist destination recognized for its stunning scenery. The national highway continues towards the battle zone of Kargil, through some of the most perilous roads and crossings, including the Zozilla pass, the famed Lamayuru moonland, and eventually Leh. My weeklong high altitude national-level mountain biking expedition took place in Lamayuru.

Finally, just before reaching Sonamarg, we took a left turn immediately before the bridge and had to walk for approximately 10 minutes to reach our base camp. Hanging glaciers, Sonamarg village, and many more attractions are accessible from Sonamarg valley. I had some time and didn’t want to spend it inside my tent, so I spent the majority of it outside photographing.

Sonamarg at night
Sonamarg at night, campfire far away by the locals behind the pine trees. Long exposure shot.

At the Campsite

We arrived early in the evening and had plenty of time to explore the area. I came to a shepherd’s cottage and spent the rest of my time shooting the scenery. Your memory card and batteries will always be insufficient. Fortunately, I had brought four spare camera batteries along with my camera. That’s just what I needed. By the way, it is important to keep your camera gear light while traveling.

By this time, everyone had arrived, and it was time for dinner. I learned about all of the hikers in our group and spent some time photographing in an unflattering light. The final photo in the video below was taken at about 2 a.m. Sonamarg valley is an ideal place to capture start trails. The next day we hiked uphill from Sonamarg to Nichnai.

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Watch the full video below and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel since I will be publishing more videos as well as my other days spent trekking. Hope this content was useful, in case you like it and want to add this place to your travel bucket list, then do leave a comment so that I can share more tips. Or if you have already been to Sonamarg, how was your experience? Did these photos of mine bring back some memories? Leave a comment.

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