Sonmarg, the “golden meadow”, certainly owes its name to the natural beauty of this alpine valley 2740m above sea level, 87km from Srinagar. Around it are the majestic Kolhoi and Machoi glaciers and mountain peaks reaching more than 5000m.
Historically, Sonmarg was a staging post on the silk road between China, Kashmir and the Persian Gulf.
From late April when the road to Sonmarg is open for road transport, visitors can access the Thajiwas glacier, the town’s main attraction. In summer, ponies can be hired to take you the 3km to the glacier (you’ll need to do some serious haggling over the price!). Once there you’ll be offered toboggan rides down the glacier.
Sonmarg is a gateway to Ladakh via the Zojila pass, and is renowned as a base for trekking. The hiking trails offer various degrees of challenge, from simple walks to treks of several days to reach the mountain lakes of Gangabal, Vishansar, Gadsar, Satsar and Kishansar near Naranag.
Twenty kilometres from Sonmarg is Amarnath, one of Hinduism’s principal places of pilgrimage: every year tens of thousands of worshippers make an arduous trek to reach it.