Chari Sharif, Yusmarg, Shupian, Aharbal & Aharbal Falls,
Kongwatan, Sindh Valley, Dachigam, Anchar Lake, Gandarbal
Chari Sharif / Chrar-e-Sharief
Situated on the road to Yusmarg, this is the site of the shrine
or Ziarat of Sheik Noor-ud-Din, the patron saint of Kashmir. The
valley also has the Ziarats of a number of his followers.
Standing in the Pir Panjal hills, out beyond the airport, at an
altitude of 2,700 metres, the meadow of Yusmarg is reputed to
have the best spring flowers in Kashmir. The beautiful valley is
at the foot of the Sangisafaid valley on the northern slopes of
the Pir Panjal range. Near to Yusmarg is the picturesque Nila
Nag Lake where there is a forest rest house. Yusmarg has tourist
huts and is a good base for treks into the surrounding hills. To
reach the Nila Nag one can walk 19-km from Magam, across roads
on the way to Gulmarg. The path then follows down from Nila Nag
to Yusmarg and from there the road runs to Yus, where a track
leads off towards Sangam and Sunset Peak, up the valley of the
Khanchi Kol. Sunset peak is the highest mountain in the Pir
Panjal range at 4,746 metres. Other popular treks over here
include those to Sangisafaid and Dodha Patri.
Lying in the crook of a bend of the Pir Panjal range, at the
foot of several passes which lead out on to the plains, this
fairly large town is an important centre of trade, the centre of
the wool industry of the valley, and is famous for its apples.
It lies on the Rembiara River and has several rest houses and a
couple of guesthouses. It is also the base for treks to
Konsarnag, to Yusmarg and to the Aharbal falls. The first stage
on the trek to Konasarnag is the drive to Kongwatan.
This was another popular resting place for the Mughal emperors
when they made the long trip north from Delhi to Kashmir. It's
in an area famed for its apples and also has an interesting
waterfall. It's also the start of the popular trek to the
The falls are about 13-km from Shupian, from where there is a
motorable road and a trekker's route leading through dense pine
forest. The falls are said to be the best in Kashmir. The road
leads over a high bridge at Kongwatan from where a magnificent
view of the awesome gorge created by the Vishav River can be
seen less than 2-km further on are the foot of the falls, where
the river drops more than 15 metres over a distance of 3-km. The
road continues on here a further 3-km to the top of the falls
where from a rock outcrop one can look down around 60 metres to
the river rushing below.
The road continues a further 6-km to the village of Sedau, where
the trek to Konsarnag begins. The first stage is a climb of
about four hours to Kongwatan, an upland meadow. From here it is
a further 10 to 15 hours walking to Konsarnag.
This is a charming meadow just a short distance from the river.
Among the pines near the river bank there is a small sulphur
spring and also a forest rest hut. The lace is inhabited by
nomadic Gujar shepherds, said to be descendants of the biblical
Abraham and Isaac, or Gujar Rajputs, who come each summer from
the plains with their flocks of cattle and buffalo to spend July
and August in the high meadows. They wear black clothes adorned
only with a small cap, embroidered and set with 'Kari' shells.
The caps of the women project over the neck to protect from
sunburn. The women are very agile and seem to do all the work as
well as taking care of the children.
North of Srinagar the Sindh valley is an area of mountains,
lakes, rivers and glaciers. The Sindh River flows down from the
Amarnath and Haramukh glaciers into the Anchar Lake. The Leh
road from Srinagar follows this river to beyond Sonamarg. The
Zoji La pass marks the boundary from the Sindh valley into
Dachigam National Park
This wildlife reserve was, at one time, the royal game reserve
but animals within its boundaries are now completely protected.
There are said to be Panther, Bear and Deer, besides other
smaller animals, in the reserve. There is a good chance of
seeing the endangered Hangul, Langur Monkeys and perhaps other
species. It's very quiet and uncrowded.
Although this large lake is no great distance from Srinagar and
easily reached by bus, it is rarely visited. A daily bus leaves
Srinagar for the lake early in the morning and returns late in
the afternoon. In winter it is home for a wide variety of water
birds including Mallard, Pochard, Gadwall Snipe and Teal.
Just beyond the Wular and Manasbal lakes turn off from the Leh
road, this pleasant little town marks the point where the icy
Sindh River leaves the mountains and enters the plains.
Gandarbal is the official headquarters of the Sindh valley and
was originally called "Doderhom". It has a bazaar, a post office
and two hospitals.
About 5-km from Gandarbal, in the village of Tullamulla, is the
shrine of Khirbhawani, the Goddess Ragni, the Hindu guardian
Goddess of Kashmir. The marble temple, built by Maharaja Pratap
Singh, stands in a small spring. It is an irregular, seven sided
structure and is said to be surrounded by 360 springs, most of
which have run dry or been silted up.
The village is a floating garden surrounded by swamps. Its many
islands are covered with willows, poplars and wildflowers, while
the island on which the spring stands is covered with Chinar,
Mulberry and Elm trees. The nearby village named after
Khirbhawani has almond groves where the best quality almonds in
Kashmir are said to grow. Gandarbal can be reached from Srinagar
by road or one can go there by boat along the Mar Canal, or take
a six hour round trip via the Jhelum River and Anchar Lake.
There are many excellent camping places along these routes.
Wullar Lake (also spelt as Wular) is the largest fresh-water
lake in India is 60-km from Srinagar. Spreading over a 125-km
area, the lake, by drawing off excess water from the Jhelum,
acts as a natural flood reservoir. Interesting ruins in the
centre of the lake are the remains of an island created by King
Zain-ul-Abidin. With its turbulent waters perpetually wind
ruffled, its exciting variety of avian life and the sheer beauty
of its setting, Wullar represents nature at her most untamed.