Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, in Pictures

At first I set about writing a travelogue; but then quickly realised I could do that later and instead share the photographs which had created quite a storm on social media, particularly instagram. All the captions are heartfelt memories 🙂 When I went on this trek, in July-August 2016 I was a bit skeptical especially after having already been on the Tarsar Marsar Trek too in 2015. All my doubts have been dispelled and how!

Now I can safely say, with regards to the effort vs reward ratio, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek offers scenery and landscapes like none other, plus there are the LAKES!

Presenting some of the best photographs from Kashmir Great Lakes Trek.

Day 1

After the mandatory hellos and exchange of greetings, we had started walking away from civilisation. The happy feeling of the first hour of a trek can hardly be described in words. It has to be felt! As I always try to either be in the front or right behind everyone, this time I was walking with the horsemen and this is what I saw when I turned around. Later on the trek we would have Kashmiri folk songs and dancing on most evenings, after dinner.

Day 1 began at Sitkari and ended at Nichnai after ascending the meadows of Shekdur through a birch forest. We had chai at a dhaba on a place called Table Top. It started drizzling after an hour or two of beginning the trek and a water stream or nallah continues till the Nichnai campsite. The rain has caused the proceedings to get quite cold. There is a herd of sheep with a shepherd in the rain, and that creates a beautiful traffic jam. Near the campsite, it is nice to notice sheep and goats playing with the horses. The light in Nichnai is beautiful when it stops raining and snowy mountains around look inviting!

Day 2

We are secondhand people. We have lived on what we have been told, either guided by our inclinations, our tendencies, or compelled to accept by circumstances and environment. We are the result of all kinds of influences and there is nothing new in us, nothing that we have discovered for ourselves; nothing original, pristine, clear. These words suddenly rang a bell when I first read them. Has someone spoken the truth? Come to think of it, the current generation has actually lived a comfortable life (well, the majority of it anyway) and has rarely had to struggle. It is time to break free from the usual and try something different. Haha, now if you allow me a little humour : So, if you are a sheep; don’t just graze anywhere. Trek to the Vishansar lake in Kashmir and graze! (ha ha) The storm clouds had disappeared once we made our way to the first lake on the trek. It was around 4 in the afternoon and a shepherd was wandering with his troops near this gorgeous water body.

Day 2 Aligning earth’s heartbeat with mine at Vishnusar Lake. Morning clouds and it is very cold at 6 am. We have breakfast and tea and leave for Vishansar Lake (both spellings are right) at about 8-830 am when the sun comes out. I realise that both my shoes and jacket are still wet after bearing the brunt of the rain yesterday. It is a non-stop uphill climb to Nichnai pass that is at 4100m. There are beautiful views of the other side from the pass; of colourful wildflowers in blue, red, yellow, white on the trail. We cross numerous glacial water streams on our descent. It is a happy case of serendipity when we encounter a bakarwal with a few sheep grazing on the banks of the Vishansar Lake in the evening.

Day 3

Sometimes I feel humans get too competitive, maybe it has something to do with evolution and the very survival of our species. There are limited resources and all we are trying to do is to get a lion’s share of it; because we’ve been told to not leave anything for the next person. A beautiful moment on the trek, a regular trekker holds the hand of a first timer to bring him across a non stop ascent. I fondly remember an incident from the trek; on the first day when it was raining, a guy who was walking with me contemplated quitting. I kept egging him on and somehow prevented him from taking the decision, ensuring we reach the first campsite and changing our wet clothes. The guy used to almost always lead the party after that day and actually gave the credit for his completion of his trek to me! Human beings are social animals, think it’s time to act on it too. Bring a smile on everyone’s face, help the ones in need and you shall receive help in return when you need it.

Kishansar and Vishansar (Vishnusar) Lakes as seen from the top of Gadsar Pass. It is a surreal moment in the night when some of us are gazing at the stars and suddenly we sight a blazing meteor go past us in the sky! We are speechless and don’t know how to react at the stunning speed at which it goes across the sky. In the morning we start at 8 am, and pass Vishansar Lake and keep climbing to Kishansar Lake. These are both glacial lakes and I am unable to spot a water source for both these lakes. There is no reflection in the waters of Vishansar Lake but the waters of Kishansar Lake are fabulously still.


The moon was just coming over the mountains, and we were happy to watch it rise. A dog began to bark near the houses of the Gujjar shepherds. The river was so still that it caught the stars and magic of the universe among its waters. A night-bird flew silently by. Someone began to sing a lovely melody and everyone sprang up to hum along. Life. After crossing Gadsar pass, the ascent passed through a never ending array of colourful wildflowers. They were there in blue, white, purple, yellow and were so fresh looking that it became mandatory for us to lie in a field of flowers and get ourselves clicked! This is where we had lunch. At this point, the futility of life and usual everyday stuff hit a few trekkers, those who were in their mid 40s. As Murakami says, time is running out; regrets are mounting. Live a life from which you don’t need to escape to really ‘live.’

A place where I slept during lunchtime on the trek. Memories.

Day 3 or 4

Trekking in the mountains can become a rhythmic activity, tick-tock tick-tock… almost matching the footsteps with the breathing and try to be as still as the nature around. The most beautiful lake of the Kashmir Great Lakes trek doesn’t care to announce itself. It was one such moment when you are walking on the trail, aloof of the wonder of a small water body on the left side. Then you walk closer towards Gadsar Lake. A Gujjar shepherd has chosen to make the lake his abode and has pitched his tent on a vantage point overlooking the lake. Also, after having seen almost all the popular lakes in the Himalayas I can safely say each and every one of them has its own charm. Let’s not compare them.

My favourite lake of the trek – Gadsar (sar means lake.)

Day 3 It is a steep climb to Gadsar Pass (4150m) and both the lakes are visible from the top of the pass at about 1030 am. The views are lovely from top of the pass; the valley widens and 2 small glacial lakes are visible. It is a riot of wildflowers on the descent; and interspersed with the flowing streams dotted by sheep and goats resembles a proverbial paradise. We encounter a hut of a bakarwal from Rajouri and he invites us to his home. We cross Gadsar lake and head to the campsite near Gadsar Post of the Indian Army.

Day (do you even care!)

There are some pictures that do the talking. This I feel is one of them. I was there! A bed of flowers, so colourful that it was necessary to do a DDLJ and get myself clicked.

So cheesy, but even the guides were going crazy here!

Day 4

Satsar literally translates to seven lakes. It was a foggy day with most views and mountains obscured with mist and we passed a few small lakes close to our path. When we reached our campsite, there was plenty of time left to climb a steep hill and see this one. One of the most secluded lakes on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. What fun in the rain!

A shepherd dog had started barking on the other side of our campsite and we ran helter-skelter to save our lives!

Day 4 I remember it as being the easiest day of the entire Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. I get my camera battery that I had given for charging at the army guys at Gadsar Post. The campsite is akin to sleeping in the middle of a herd of sheep; since we are surrounded by shepherds. Once we start walking, it is a steep climb – first through a snowy path and then through a field of strawberries. The scenery is lush green and after 2-3 hours when we reach the Satsar Post; it is drizzling and gets quite cold.

The trail crosses multiple lakes and Satsar Post is a pretty site surrounded by yellow wildflowers! After an hour or so, we reach a place called Mangandop. The sheep grazing in the hilly grasslands, surrounded by clouds and high mountaintops with snow on them presents an alluring sight. The visibility is quite poor and a short drizzle begins. It is a long and arduous climb to Zaj Pass as the terrain is quite rocky. There is a little chunk of snow on top of the pass. Sunlight peeps in through the clouds and the pristine sight of the two lakes – Gangabal and Nandkhol Lake are visible. The descent is beautiful especially with the sight of these lakes! When we reach the campsite in the late afternoon it is a pleasing sight to see local Kashmiris playing basketball on the banks of the lake.

Day 5

The revered peak Mt. Harmukh stands tall with Nandkhol Lake at the base. I had met with worried faces at Srinagar airport. The locals didn’t exactly approve of travel in Kashmir during the curfew. I had hitchhiked in almost a dozen vehicles to reach Sonamarg from Srinagar. All for this!

Clicked from the classily named Zaj Pass (Locals also spell it as Zach Pass).

Day 6

The lost sheep. After having tried various shots all day with the camera. I was strolling aimlessly on the banks of Nandkhol lake chatting with Kashmiris who had camped too. They were taking their time off from the curfew situation and like everyone wanted some peace and nature love. Trout fishes in these lakes are a prized catch. The best photograph of the day was clicked from an iPhone!

Aimless walks by a lake in Kashmir.

Day 7 

This is the final lake of the trek, Gangbal Lake. I could barely believe my eyes when I saw that colour of water. There is a small temple sort of shrine on the banks of the lake. Contemplating, although I know life doesn’t really have a perfect answer. You can live it in many different ways and the satisfaction entirely depends on your frame of mind.

Playing basketball, cricket and football on the banks of Nandkhol Lake remains an everlasting memory as do Kashmiri songs and dancing with the cooks and helpers.

Day 7

This small hut sort of tent makes me want to believe in the simple joys of life; when a random smile makes you happy, when something you have cooked turns out alright, an unplanned holiday becomes an epic memory. Since when did we start taking life so seriously? There are no questions and no correct answers, so throw away the to-do list and instead figure out what makes you really happy. Also, this is Nandkhol Lake with Mt. Harmukh in the background.

It was one of those speechless moments. Local Kashmiris camped by the lake and enjoyed angling and their time away from the curfew.

It was easy to forget the troubles of the valley while on the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek and I was astounded to see colossal ruins of 8th Century Hindu temples in Naranag.

Hope you like this photo-story, I may do a day wise post of this fantastic trek soon. Interested folks can email me if they are looking for a local Kashmiri operator (who helped me on this trek.)

A few of my personal favourites among memorable posts, other than Kashmir : 

Autumn Colours in the Himalayas

Failures on the Road – Chapter 1

Romance of the Manali-Leh Road

Stunning experiences from the most remote monastery in the world

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76 thoughts on “Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, in Pictures”

  1. 1. I loved all the pictures, but second last was the one I loved the most. 2. Other things I like about your blog: great language, passion for traveling reflects. 3. One of the very best among all blogs is where you wrote about a secret village not mentioning its name. I wonder if there are other such villages you traveled without giving out its name publicly. 4. All the best for your travels!

    1. Thanks Nehal for this fantastic comment! It is so kind of you to take time out and make a detailed summary.

      Sharing my journeys, slowly with the world… I don’t write as much as i travel and there are so many of these places to be written about.

  2. As pretty a sight as it can get of the lake flanked by mountains! This is indeed heaven.

    I always wish Kashmir was not a troubled part of India. But then that’s why the trouble is!

  3. Surreal. I have seen some of these on Instagram and watching them again here was an absolute delight! Some of them seem unreal. what a beauty!! <3 Hope to see it someday. I have heard this is one of the best treks in India from a friend who has trekked the Himalayas all her life.

    1. Thank you for the appreciation!! I really can’t believe all the beauty that exists on this planet, and if I really saw this with my own eyes.

      I would agree with that; in fact when I was on the trail I remember thinking – on a reward to difficulty ratio, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek was arguably the most beautiful in India!

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  5. Dear Shubham,
    Many people visit the mountains as merely tourists but your captions can open up new vistas for them. I personally liked the pictures and also the fact that you got all types of weather on your trek – mist, sunny, cloudy. This is a trek I have been wanting to do since two years but I chose other places. Now your story has inspired me all over again for this trek and also to focus on the spiritual self while on the trek!

    If you could tell me more about the travel company and the time of the year you made the trek it would be of great help. My email is pulkit.maheshwari@gmail.com

    1. Wow! Thank you so much Pulkit for the generous appreciation. I was really lucky to be on this trek and even luckier to see the landscapes in changing weather as you mentioned. Will be glad to share the information with you.

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  7. Awww Paradise on earth. Great photography. A very refreshing post. Aiming to see it all in real soon.

  8. Great photography in the blog. did a fabulous job for writing the blog and keep writing in the future. so thank you so much for that.

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    Hi ….I m speechless and almost felt like crying in joy….have gone in a few Himalayan treks…none so lethally attractive… do you think I it still is safe to be there….I see batches from all leading trek companies are full…

    1. Hey! Wow, that comment made my day. I can’t say about the political situation in the state but the trek route is quite safe. Hope you get to see it someday 🙂 Best wishes.

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  13. Needless to say, your clicks are amazing and I loved all your comments. Hope to visit soon. Can this be done with kids ?

    1. Thanks Swati for the constant appreciation. Best wishes for you to undertake this trek. Depends on whether the kids have prior trekking experience and the kind of terrain they have experienced earlier?

      1. Last summer we did the Lambri trek from Jalori pass. Climbing down cliffs and slopes, they (in fact all of us) needed some help but we managed it :). How many hours in a day did you walk (on an average) ?

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  16. Amazing pictures and a wonderful read! I have seen those photos on Instagram already, but still feel like looking at them again and again. Feeling a great urge to go to the trek. Can we have a post with the details of planning and execution of the trekking trip, along with the cost and all? Thanks!

    1. Yay, thanks! Hehe, I totally get what you mean, this trek is really really beautiful! Hopefully I will write the post this year, even though for this trek it is recommended to go with a trekking company that basically means that everything is taken care of. 🙂

  17. Vinoth kumar (@ignoredframes)

    Excellent photos.. Can you share the contact of the local group. It will be nice instead of going with commercial group.

  18. Hello shubham, I am planning on going for Tarsar Marsar trek this July. However, your article has got me thinking. My first choice was Kashmir great lakes trek but since I am going with my wife and sister I chose tarsar marsar. Is Kashmir great lakes too strenuous a trek for first time trekkers ?? Please share your opinion.

      1. Can you please give details of trek organizer ? contact number of the company who arranged the trek for you.

  19. Wonderful write up. I read you have done the aTarsar Marsar trek also. Can you help me choose between the two:)

  20. Hi, I am planning for a trek in kashmir in August. Confused between Kashmir Great Lakes and tarsar marsar. Which is better? Which one will you recommend?

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  25. Hi Shubham, These are like voww pics. Your pics are too good. Kashmir great lakes is my favourite trek till date. I liked it so much that i did it twice. Lovely pic of the Gadsar pass where one can see Vishansar and Kishansar lake in one frame.

    1. shubhammansingka

      Thanks Nazir! So so glad you liked the photographs. I had the pleasure of browsing through your website and loved the experiences 🙂

  26. Shubham,
    Beautiful pictures and your write-up make them more lively. Anyone who goes through this blog would want to go for this trek.

    I’m planning for this trek this year and would like to know the group with which you did this trek. I liked that fun time you had with the group during your leisure time , which I think would really add joy and fun to the trek.

    My email address: soumyajagadishwar@gmail.com

    Once again…. Very well ‘captured’ and ‘written’!!

    1. shubhammansingka

      Thanks so much Soumya for the kind words. So glad you liked checking the post out. Let me know what dates are you planning to go for and I’ll try and connect you with a trekking group.

  27. I have done Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. Reading this blog has refreshed my memories. Very soon I will do it again. Thanks for this inspiring article. Check my blog for trekking tips to Kashmir Great Lakes Trek which I wrote after my trek.

  28. I have done Markha Valley Trek. Reading this blog has refreshed my memories. Very soon I will do it again. Thanks for this inspiring article. Check my blog for trekking tips to Markha Valley Trek which I wrote after my trek.

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  32. I loved your pictures and observations! Looks like a great trek to do 🙂 I am interested in visiting Kashmir this summer. Is July-August the best time to go? And is it possible to walk alone or do you need to join a guided group? Thanks for response,


    1. shubhammansingka

      Thanks Barbora! It is indeed a memorable trek. I’d recommend a guided group / a guide.

      Happy Travels

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