What pops up in your mind when your hear word ‘trekking’? Walking in the wilderness, climbing peaks, living a nomadic life under a billion stars with no connectivity and perhaps making new friends. When it comes to Kashmir Great Lakes, your mind automatically starts imagining the picturesque sceneries and natural lakes, but it would be a mistake to think that Kashmir Great Lakes is all about the high mountain lakes.
Here is a list of 5 fun activities that you can expect/do while trekking through the valley of Kashmir Great Lakes:
1. Cricket Ground at 12,171 feet:
The craze of cricket in India needs no introductions. For once in your life, you would have surely held that bat-ball in your hand. Maybe you even played on a team. You might have played this game on plains, on the terrace, on road or even inside the hostel corridors (I did). I must tell you, it is an entirely different experience to play at the altitude of 12,171 feet. Even the officially recognized world’s highest cricket ground is at the attitude of 8,018 feet at Chail, Himachal Pradesh. So, now you can guess what I am talking about. Surrounded by snow-clad mountains with a humongous alpine lake in the vicinity, spotting a pitch at Vishansar was a total surprise for me. How could I have missed the chance of playing?
2. Fishing at Vishansar and Gangbal Lake
If you are a non-vegetarian, here is a jackpot deal for you. Vishansar Lake and Gangbal Lake have abundant trout fishes. Fishing is totally legal, but you need to get a permit beforehand for fishing in these lakes. Spend your afternoon chilling by the lakeside, learning some fishing skills from locals and enjoy the feast at night. Savor the flavor!
3. Spot Hidden Lakes
This turned out to be my favorite activity during this trek. When most of the people used to chill at the common place, I would climb a little here and there and voila! I would spot one, sometimes two alpine lakes sitting hidden behind some boulder. There are numerous lakes in this trek that no one will tell you about. I myself discovered at least five hidden lakes by taking a small hike here and there. Explore the valley and see how many you can count!
4. Have Wild Berries and Wild Shoots
The walk from Gadsar camp site to Satsar camp site is the most amazing one. Snow bridge crossing is the first thing in the morning that you will do. Treat yourself to some of the sweetest wild strawberries on the way, and after a steep climb of one hour, enjoy the flat walk on table top mountain terrain that encompasses the meadows. On reaching the camp site, visit the Satsar Lake that lays hidden behind the mountain wall and a snout of water fall, and discover the ‘woppelhar’, a sour-tasting local plant that grows near the lake that is rich in vitamin C.
5. Take a Dip in Glacier Lake
I’ll not promise you a beach but yes, you can have sun bath at Gangbal. Going to Kashmir Great Lakes and not taking a dip in one of the lakes would be a sin. Utilize your buffer day at Gangbal to take in all that the valley has to offer. The water will be really cold, but then how often do you get a chance to take a dip in a lake filled with glacier water? Just hold your breath and jump, I bet you won’t regret it.
Moments are created, they are self-discovered and they are made to happen. If I wouldn’t have taken a dip, or tried strawberries or played at Vishansar, I wouldn’t have discovered the small yet unforgettably fun elements of Kashmir Great Lakes trek. Next time when you go anywhere, be it on trek or travel, and there is a chance of going a little out of your comfort zone to experience something new, I would suggest, go all in.