Trekking routes around Pahalgam to reopen

Pahalgam is the starting point of some of the best that trekking can offer in the Himalayas. Trekking to Kolahai Glacier is a dream come true – and their are potential treks to across the ranges to Sonamarg and even Ladakh for the brave. Besides, there are many day treks originating in Pahalgam for the novices, like hiking to Basisaran or to Chunasar and Mansar lakes, or not to forget to Sheshnag or all the way to Amarnath Cave.

These trekking routes have been for all practical purposes closed to tourists and serious trekkers due to the security situation. Basically no one would venture. Well, all that seems to on verge of a massive change, going by this news item covered by Arif Shafi Vani of GreaterKashmir:

Srinagar, May 13: The breathtaking snow-clad mountains of Kashmir that were closed for the past 18 years for ‘security reasons’ would soon be thronged by foreign mountaineers and trekkers, if all goes well.   
 To attract tourists and promote adventure sports, the government has given green signal to the Tourism department to market the traditional trekking and mountaineering routes, including troops-dominated peaks of Sonamarg and Pahalgam.
 The routes were unofficially closed with the onset of militancy in early 90s. The mountaineers, mostly foreigners, could not freely undertake trekking on routes like Kolahai, Tattakuti and Gangabal due to heavy presence of troops.  
 “The traditional mountaineering and trekking routes of the Valley will be opened for promoting the adventure sports, which is gaining popularity among the tourists. We have to keep on experimenting and offer something new to the tourists to attract them to Kashmir. Some famous peaks have the potential to make the Valley one of the best mountaineering destinations,” joint director Tourism, Sarmad Hafeez told Greater Kashmir.
 Hafeez said a team from International Mountaineering Federation (IMF) recently made on the spot assessment of the Valley’s trekking and mountaineering destinations. Another team, Access and Conservation Commission visited trekking spots in famous tourist resort of Aru in Pahalgam.
 “The team was highly impressed and promised to go for massive promotion of the routes. As a first step, the IMF has decided to celebrate its golden jubilee year in the Valley and 90 mountaineers from various countries are scheduled to participate in the event,” Hafeez said.
 Officials said high-profile mountaineers and trekkers are scheduled to participate in the IMF celebrations, which includes trekking, here from May 15.
 The Tourism department has set up tourist trekking hire shops on various peaks. “We are receiving inquiries from various countries about out preparedness to host their mountaineers. We are geared up to host any mountaineering event. The mountaineers, trekkers or tourists intending to trek the peaks will get all facilities, including the gear and equipments at nominal charges,” Hafeez said.
 Rauf Tramboo, general secretary of the JK Ski and Mountaineering Association, said, “Heavy domination of peaks by troops scares trekkers and mountaineers. We have to seek permission from the Army to undertake trekking. Ironically, in most of the cases the request is rejected on trivial grounds and it discourages the trekkers. Government needs to look at this aspect.”
 Tramboo said the travel advisories from different countries during past decade had also forced the trekkers to remain away from the Valley. “As Jammu and Ladakh were exempted from the advisories, it remained a hub for global trekkers. I hope that the magnificent mountains of the Valley would soon get its share of trekkers,” Tramboo said. 
 Carin Fisher, a consultant on tourism to the state government said the restoration of trekking routes would boost inflow of tourists to the Valley.
 “Kashmir has been projected as a trekking paradise. The initiative of the state Tourism department to restore trekking is timely in view of the similar facilities in neighboring states. But there is dire need to market it,” Fisher said.

4 thoughts on “Trekking routes around Pahalgam to reopen”

  1. Pahalgam – our starting point for all our Kashmir treks
    Pahalgam is an ideal base for longer treks to the Kolahoi Glacier and Amarnath Cave. It is most crowded during July and August when thousands of pilgrims converge on the town on their way to the cave shrine of Amarnath, a 45 km trek away. Pahalgam itself is little more than a single street on the banks of the Lidder. The Lidder Valley is full of streams and is surrounded by mountains and glaciers. The experience of village life can be fully realized here in this remote beautiful town and its surrounding villages. If you are interested in trekking in this region, this will be your first stop. Horse rides in the mountains are very popular and are also used for trekking long distances. It is the usual custom to be invited for tea and to sit with the people of Pahalgam. Visitors have experienced the events of life here like attending weddings and enjoying holidays with the rest of the villagers.
    Himalaya House

  2. I am interested to know what the current possibilities are for trekking the Pir Panjal west and north of Srinagar.

  3. Pahalgam offered me exciting trekking opportunities and I still remember the best known trekking route… it was.. Pahalgam – Chandanwari- Sheshnag- Panchtarni- Amarnath Cave Temple- Sonamarg. Oh yes! I also tried horse Riding in Pahalgam. Ponies can be hired directly or through the Tourist Office. Tariff boards are displayed at all important locations.

    Unbelievably Golf is quite dominant in Kashmir. Pahalgam has a 18-hole golf course, which can be used by tourists. Golf sets can be hired from the Tourist Office. On my rest days, I used to try Golf at Srinagar and Gulmarg. The course at Gulmarg is nothing like I have ever seen before. The ground is located at a very high altitude of 3730 metres above sea level. It was intresting for me to know that it is the highest green golf course anywhere in the world. The layout of the course too is strikingly different from most golf courses – hardly any stretch is flat – the land slopes and inclines along the complete area of the course which has a par of 72.

  4. After months of dry spell, plains in Kashmir Valley Monday witnessed heavy rains while upper reaches of Valley received fresh snowfall.
    According to Meteorological department, Srinagar today received 18.6 mm rain, Qazigund 5.6 mm, Pahalgam 9.06 mm, Kupwara 10.4 mm, Kokernag 8.7 mm.
    The Met officials said the tourist resort of Gulmarg recorded 6 inches of snowfall while moderate snowfall was recorded in upper reaches of Sonmarg, Gurez, Maschil and Sadhna Top in North Kashmir and in Pahalgam and Pir Panchal range of South Kashmir.
    To meet any eventuality arising out of snowfall and rains, Government said it had kept 57 snow clearance machines on stand-by across the Valley while control rooms have been set up in all districts.
    The fresh snow has brought smile on the faces of the officials of the Public Health Engineering Department who for past one month have been warning of major water crisis in the valley. Last month minister for PHE, Taj Mohi-ud-din, had urged people to make judicious use of drinking water as water level in all the rivers, including Jhelum, Sindh and their tributaries, had come down considerably owing to the dry spell. The minister had proposed the idea of installing water meters to charge the consumers according to water consumed. Water meters are otherwise unheard of in the valley.
    Almost all water schemes in Kashmir valley have been affected by the drying up of water sources.
    “The rains would surely being relief,” said Chief Engineer PHE, Kashmir, G M Dar. In Dachigam Nalla, which feeds water to the city, he said, there was 30 per cent increase in water level and it would help the department to cater the needs of down town areas of the city.
    The installed capacity for Srinagar city is 57 million gallons per day but presently due to worn out machinery and dry spell the department has been able to provide 44 million gallons per day. The total requirement is 67 million gallons per day.
    “We pray that the rainfall continues for few more days. It will recharge the groundwater and help us to come over the crises.

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