The meadow of gold: Sonamarg, Jammu & Kashmir
Located at an altitude of 8990 feet above sea level lies the tiny town of Sonamarg. This town lies in the heart of a beautiful valley that is carved by the River Sind. The literal translation of Sonamarg is “meadows of gold” and the town holds strong to the tag with the numerous Alpine trees and the towering Himalayan mountains.
Sonamarg is located at a distance of 85 km from the state capital of Srinagar, en-route to the town of Kargil and is easily accessible by road. The most comfortable way of getting to the town is by hiring a taxi from Srinagar. All the local buses stop at this town for breakfast or an early lunch. The bus is the most economical way of getting to here, but buses are generally over crowded and not very frequent.
Sonamarg is accessible only during the summer months from mid-April to September. On reaching travellers are welcomed by a splendid panoramic view of snow all over the region which looks like a well furnished white carpet. Horses and ponies can be hired from Sonamarg to make the three km hike south of the town to the famous Thajiwas glacier. Bargaining is a skill that comes very handy while getting a ride.
The town of Sonamarg is also the base for many trekking routes in the Himalayan lakes of which the most famous ones are Vishnasar Lake, Krishnasar Lake and Gadsar Lake.
Accommodation in Sonamarg is in plenty and to suit the needs of all kinds of travellers from the budget bikers and backpackers to the luxury travellers. Accommodation options vary from tents to hotels.
There are plenty of dhabas and small restaurants that serve up some really good food at very affordable prices. A must have while eating in the dhabas is the parathas with butter along with a cup of hot chai (tea).
Sonamarg is also a good place to shop for gloves, mufflers or any kind of hiking or biking gear. Things sold here are a lot cheaper than what they are in other places on the route.
The weather at Sonamarg is very unpredictable and it can rain anytime. The weather can change in a matter of few minutes. The best time to visit this town is during the summer months from July to August when the weather conditions are the best.
Sonamarg is a town which is more of a transit point for most travellers rather than a place to stay. Only a handful of travellers spend the night in the town, the rest continue their journey to the town of Kargil.
Sonamarg is surely a town worth stopping over at and sending a few hours experiencing the beauty of the mighty Himalayas.