गर फिरदौस बर रुए ज़मीं अस्त ;हमीं अस्तो, हमीं अस्तो,हमीं अस्त

“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here.

About Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

The Kashmir Great Lakes trek is one of the most exquisite and sought-after treks in India. It is like a dream trek and on everyone’s bucket list. Classified as one of the top 10 most scenic and difficult treks in India, it offers trekkers a chance to explore the pristine alpine landscapes, crystal-clear glacial lakes, opulent meadows, and spectacular vistas of the Kashmir Valley.

8 days in this heaven on earth, trekking around 90 plus km in green meadows crossing several streams of River Sindh, 5 Surreal lakes, never-ending boulders, steep ascends and descends, 2 high-altitude passes, and a maximum altitude of 13750 ft, The trek was the experience of a lifetime. One of the most beautiful and challenging treks of India that offers you views of diverse landscapes and towering mountains.

It was a challenge to test yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.

Kashmir Great Lakes Trek Route

 Lush green meadows, towering mountains, mesmerising valleys, pristine high-altitude alpine lakes, tall pine trees, freshwater streams, glacial landscapes and the serenity of Kashmir need no introduction. Hiking over 6-7 days in the tranquillity of Kashmir, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek will leave you spellbound and is an experience of a lifetime. There were times when we all were walking in silence admiring the beauty all over. A trek that challenges you not just physically and mentally, brings in so many emotions to one’s life. I burst into tears after reaching Gadsar Pass at a maximum height of 13750 feet nearly 4250 mts. The rocky Zaj Pass left us in awe, of how could we even do this. Be ready for trekking non-stop for 8-10 hours every day in those valleys, the time will just go by.

A well-planned itinerary for 6-7 days will ensure that you cover the whole route in a reasonable time without straining yourself. Although the steep ascends and descends are challenging, you will still manage to complete your trek in time.

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

Lao Tzu

Lush green meadows, towering mountains, mesmerising valleys, pristine high-altitude alpine lakes, tall pine trees, freshwater streams, glacial landscapes and the serenity of Kashmir need no introduction. Hiking over 6-7 days in the tranquillity of Kashmir, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek will leave you spellbound and is an experience of a lifetime. There were times when we all were walking in silence admiring the beauty all over. A trek that challenges you not just physically and mentally, brings in so many emotions to one’s life. I burst into tears after reaching Gadsar Pass at a maximum height of 13750 feet nearly 4250 mts. The rocky Zaj Pass left us in awe, of how could we even do this. Be ready for trekking non-stop for 8-10 hours every day in those valleys, the time will just go by.

A well-planned itinerary for 6-7 days will ensure that you cover the whole route in a reasonable time without straining yourself. Although the steep ascends and descends are challenging, you will still manage to complete your trek in time.

Day 1 of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek- Sonamarg- Shitkadi

Shitkadi- Day 1 is to reach the campsite from where the trek begins. Three hours from Srinagar by road, we reached Shitkadi, a small village and an Indian Army base camp site in Sonamarg. Campsite located near the banks of the River Sindh, the first campsite was no less than a dream location. The day was for acclimatisation and we walked around 3-4 km in the neighbourhood.

Day 2 of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek- Nichnai Pass

After relaxing and retiring early for the day, day 2 started with a steep ascend towards Nichnai. With the gorgeous green meadows and pine forest overlooking mountains, the very first climb was steep, really steep. This is also the first Army checkpoint where our permissions and i-cards were verified. There was a huge altitude gain as we trekked around 7 hours covering a total distance of nearly 12 km.

Day 3 of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek- Vishansar Lake

The only thing thing motivated us to start day 3, an extremely difficult day was the glimpse of the first lake of the Kashmir Great Lakes, Vishansar. With the views of the green meadows, steep ascends, snow-capped mountains, tiny wildflowers and a bright sunny day, we crossed many streams and rocky terrains. After walking rather climbing for nearly 8 hours covering a distance of 14 km we reached the campsite closer to Vishansar Lake. The quaint and calm Vishnasar Lake left us spellbound. This was my first ever alpine lake and I couldn’t believe whether it was for real. No photos or no cameras can do justice to what we experienced. Dipping your feet in the ice-cold water after a long day trek was nothing less than a blessing.

Day 4 of Kashmir Great Lakes trek- Kishansar Lake- Gadsar Pass- Gadsar Lake

We were just going with the flow. Each day felt more difficult than the previous day but there was no dearth of majestic views that kept us going. We were heading towards Gadsar Pass which is at a height of 4250 mts. None of the days in the Kashmir Great Lakes trek were shorter or any way easier. Just about walking for half an hour practically on the ridge, we witness another marvel in the mountains, Kishansar Lake. The breathtaking views of the twin lakes- Vishansar and Kishansar were more than enough to motivate you to reach the Gadsar Pass. The steep ascend towards the Gadsar pass will drain you. There was an elevation gain as we reached the height of 13750 feet. The views of Vishansar and Kishansar lakes from the Gadsar pass will leave you awe-struck. After trekking for nearly hours and almost 16 km we reached our next campsite. The descent was through ridges and meadows making it a little better than the ascend. Just before reaching the campsite, you witness another marvel- Gadsar Lake. At the foothills of towering hills laced with literally snow-white glaciers was the enchanting Gadsar Lake. Surrounded by tiny beautiful and colourful flowers in yellow, lavender, and white, we just didn’t want to leave that heavenly location.

Day 5 – Kashmir Great Lakes trek – Gadsar to Satsar

Each day felt even more challenging than the previous day. Day 5 was more of crossing rocky trails and boulders. I needed a lot of help from my guides and it became litter better to cross the boulders if someone was holding my hand. A group of 7 lakes which is why it is called Satsar ( seven –lakes), is located in a narrow alpine valley surrounded by lush green valley. This is also home to many shepherds and you can see thousands of sheep all around making the valley full of life. We parked ourselves at the foothills of Zajbal. An adventurous evening with thundering showers felt no less than a cloud burst. In no time the campsite turned into a murky one with almost zero visibility. It was also the coldest evening of all the days but we enjoyed and made a swanky reel on  ‘Jhumka, hai Jhumka’. To my surprise, all the boys jumped to participate and it was so much fun.

Day 6- Kashmir Great Lakes trek – Satsar to Gangabal

As we come closer to completing the trek, it feels like it is going to be easier. Nothing closer to our respite, this day too was another challenging day crossing Zajibal Pass full of boulders and streams. An exhausting day of trekking through rocky terrain led us to the largest lake of the trek, Gangabal. The campsite was a little away from Gangabal Lake, near Nundkol Lake. The stunning reflection of Harmukh Peak standing tall at a height of 5300 mts, in Nundkol Lake was so calming and relaxing. Some of our trek-mates even took a dip in Nundkol Lake and felt rejuvenated. I couldn’t dare !!!!!

Day 7- Kashmir Great Lakes trek – Gangabal to Naranag

The last bit of our trek with mixed feelings of excitement of completion and disheartened that it will get over today. After a strenuous descent of 13 km almost sliding down through Bodpathri pine forest with lush green meadow views we reached Naranag village in almost 8 hours. The slippery path of sand and pebbles was quite a task. After descending for nearly 5 hours we could see some civilisation and vegetation. And there we go, at an altitude loss from 11500 feet to 700 feet we reached Naranag village and the exit point of the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek. 

The overwhelming experience of a lifetime, the Kashmir Great Lakes is not just a trek, it’s an emotion, and it’s therapeutic.

Difficulty level of Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Most of the trek companies mention the difficulty level of Kashmir Great Lakes as moderate to difficult. Well, this can be very subjective. Although the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek is considered one of the top 10 most beautiful treks in India, it should be taken seriously. None of the trek companies or any other sources have the correct figure of the total distance covered in days or the maximum height we reached.

A rough figure estimated by one of our trekker friends from one campsite to the other, we covered nearly 92 km in 6 days. That means we walked an average of 15 km every day. There were days where we trekked around 10 km but the next day it was compensated with 20 km.

For a trekker up to the age of 30, the trek is doable with a regular fitness regime. I did KGL at the age of 53 and IT WAS TOUGH FOR ME, even though I prepared well for the trek! Even for the trekkers in their mid-thirties and forties, the trek was difficult.

There are 2 passes, Gadsar and Zaj of the highest altitude, that is estimated to be 4250 mts or approximately 13750 feet. Steep ascends and descends, walking on boulders for hours, crossing streams, walking on edges of deep valleys and the weather conditions make the trek challenging.

However, the beautiful meadows, lush green hills, towering mountains adorned with glaciers, sparkling freshwater streams and good company keep you going.




How to prepare for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Well like all other high-altitude Himalayan treks, one needs to prepare well for KGL too. Long walks in meadows with challenging terrains, boulder climbs, and steep ascends and descends need a well-planned fitness program.

Why do you need to prepare well? Well, never take mountains lightly. Even though there are green meadows, the oxygen levels are low in high altitudes and breathing becomes difficult. You will never know when the AMS can hit you. Cold, cough, fever, nausea, loss of appetite, fatigue, breathlessness, and stomach upset, are the common symptoms which many of our co-trekkers faced despite being fit. One can start feeling any of these without even realising that AMS has hit them. Well, I am not a fitness coach or an expert to tell you what exercises you can do or how to prepare for the trek, but below are a few things which helped me

  • Pranayama– I am asthmatic and on the inhaler. Pranayama helped me in breathing especially when oxygen is less.
  • Strength Training – I swear by this. I have been training regularly for my runs. Not even a single day I had any soreness or fatigue or any muscle joint pains. I am sure all because of my commitment to my strength training. Thrice a week strength training is very important.
  • Cardio– This included long walks, runs and yoga. I made sure I did this thrice a week. Long walks were like 15 km with a 5 kg backpack, running anywhere between 10-15 km, and practising Surya Namaskars ( 54 to 108)
  • Staircase Climbing – I hate it and love it once it’s done. I stayed on the second floor and tried climbing 60 times up and down but it got boring. I went to my friend’s place who lives on the 24th floor J yes it helped I along with my friend climbed 24 floors 4 times and came down a couple of times.
  • Short hikes– I call them practice ground. A couple of short hikes like Netravathi Pak, Kaiwara Trek, and Nandi Hills helped us well in preparing for the high-altitude trek. Nandi Hills climb near Bangalore has 2500 steps and we tried doing it twice in one go. Phew!!! It was quite an effort.

Some (youngsters) may not agree with me, but I do take my high-altitude treks very seriously and prepare well for them. Training helps in overcoming the major hurdles physically, emotionally and mentally. It makes you stronger. Give at least 3-4 months of training before your trek.

Staying in tents during the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek – Managing stay, nature calls, personal hygiene

Many trekkers especially women who do not have any exposure to staying in tents wonder how it is to stay in tents. They restrict themselves by not going to the treks where they have to stay in tents for 6-8 days. Yes, it can be challenging for newbies but it’s an experience. Depending upon your choice you can choose to stay in tents in double or triple occupancy. Usually, the trek companies offer triple sharing which sometimes becomes a little congested if you are big built or have a big bag. Staying in a tent teaches you how to manage yourself and your belongings. The best organising capabilities are learnt by staying in tents.

There are a lot of queries about how to attend the nature calls, and how about personal hygiene like brushing teeth, disposing of sanitary napkins etc. Well, there may be a little discomfort but it is not difficult. There are separate loo tents (also called pits) placed a little away from the main campsite. Menstruation waste should be tightly packed in a separate bag and disposed of after the trek. (PLEASE DO NOT LITTER) or best is to use cups.

What should I pack for the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek?

Your trek company will give you the list of ‘Things to carry’ and trust me you will not need more than that unless anything you use or need them.

  1. Documents – There are many Army checkpost points and forest departments where your identification is checked. You will be required to carry the following documents mandatorily.
  • Government Photo ID Card– You need to carry an original and a copy of any of the Government photo identity cards like Aadhaar or Passport copy for all security reasons.
  • Medical Certificate– This form is to be duly filled and signed by an authorised practising doctor. This is a certificate of medical fitness that you are fit to do the trek, any medicines you are taking or if you are suffering from any ailments.
  • Disclaimer form- filled in by the trek company with information like your personal details, emergency contact numbers etc.
  1. Trek Gears- The comprehensive list will be given by your trek leader, however for a ready reference you can find the list below.
  • Trekking Shoes- Kashmir Great Lakes Trek requires a lot of walking, climbing, crossing boulders and streams. The ankle-support sturdy shoes with a good grip are a must to carry. You can see the video or read the blog on how to choose the right trekking shoes. There are a lot of companies like Decathlon, Columbia, North Face etc. who have a wide range of trekking shoes in different price ranges to choose from. Also, carry slippers/ sandals to wear then at the campsite. You feel like removing shoes after the trek.
  • Backpack- A good sturdy 50- 60 litre backpack is required for KGL to carry stuff for 7 days. You can either choose to carry it yourself or send it through porters. The bag should be strong with back and shoulder support. Decathlon and Adventure Worx have good bags to choose from.
  • Day Bag- This is the bag which you will be carrying along with you throughout the trek. This bag is necessary to carry drinking water, rainwear/ wind-cheater, a warm layer, snacks, a packed lunch box, any medicine you need, a camera, cap, head-torch, camera, power bank etc.
  • Trek Poles- Normally people use a single pole, but I use a pair. Trekking poles are a must for stability and balance. Kashmir Great Lakes trek has steep ascends and descends, these poles are very helpful and make the trek comfortable and less strenuous.
  • Clothes- Thumb rule in the mountains is to wear clothes in layers instead of heavy jackets. Weather conditions in the mountains are unpredictable and change every few hours. Trekking in the daytime can be as warm as plains and evenings at the campsite are cold, windy and chilly.
  • 3 dry-fit t-shirts (preferably full-sleeves and collared)
  • 2 trekking pants, insulation layers( A fleece, a down or a padded jacket)
  • Thermal wear (both top and bottom- I did use them for nights)
  • A pair of full-sleeved t-shirts/pants for the night. (This is optional).
  • 3 pairs of socks, 1 pair of woollen socks
  • Caps ( sun and woollen both) and Balaclava
  • Raincoat / Poncho- I felt a raincoat was better for me as the Poncho comes only in one size and that is too big for short-frame people. Although it protects you from top to bottom including your bag.
  • Undergarments – 4-5 pairs are good ( I like to change more often J )

      3.  Accessories –  various accessories are must-to –have for the Kashmir Great Lakes trek like sunglasses, headlamp, rain-cover for bags, extra plastic covers ( to keep soiled and wet clothes), and power bank for your phones and cameras ( as there is no electricity for 6 days).

   4.  A Toilet Kit– Keep it as basic as it can be. A toothbrush, small toothpaste, soap, tissue roll, lip balm/ Vaseline, moisturiser, sunscreen lotion, roll-on deo, and a small talcum powder.

   5.  Cutlery– For a sustainable and responsible trek, carry your cutlery and wash them yourself. Disposable cutlery is a big NO in the mountains and it will be difficult for the organisers to carry steel cutlery for the entire group. Most of the campsites are near the river sources hence it becomes easy to wash. Carry steel cutlery as the water is very cold and it is difficult to remove oil and masala stains from the plastic boxes and cutlery. Okay so carry a plate/ lunch box, spoon and a mug.

6.  Medicines– Keep all the medicines handy. You will not need the whole dispensary. Carry basic and your medicines. Medicines for colds, coughs, stomach upset, fever, vomiting, body aches, and pain relief spray or gel are enough. The Trek leader will also give a list of medicines. Some of us also took Diamox to prevent AMS, though it is said one doesn’t need it at that height.

Carry only what is necessary. Do not overload your bags.

Post trek issues

As I always say, I am not a doctor or an expert to give any solutions. I share my experiences and how I handled my trek issues (both pre and post). Various issues we as the group came across during and post trek were swelling & numbness in feet, tingling in hands and feet, body ache, fatigue, lethargy, sunburn/ tanning, blisters, knee pain and loss of appetite.

These are the common symptoms and usually occur after or during the high-altitude treks and when you are trekking continuously for 8-10 hours. We can also call them AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) and it can hit anyone, I mean even a fitness person can suffer from them. It has nothing to do with age or fitness level. How to control or overcome these-

  • Stay hydrated- Drink plenty of water like 3-4 litres every day during the trek
  • Eat well – eat your carbs, proteins, and nuts during and post-trek
  • Swelling and numbness- is due to wearing shoes for long hours. It subsides in 3-5 days. Since I am a High BP patient, the tingling and numbness took more than 6 days. Walking or being active helps.
  • Lethargy and fatigue- are very obvious after such a gruelling trek. Give yourself time. The body will automatically tell you once recovered.

Best time to visit Kashmir Great Lakes Trek

Due to extreme climatic conditions, the Kashmir Great Lakes is open only for 3-4 months from June to September. We trekked at the end of August as by then the rains also subsided and it was time for winter to set in. Although we did experience a shower it was for a very short time. Thankfully we did not walk much in the rain. June- July are the months of heavy rains and it can be challenging to trek as well as stay in tents.

How to reach

Kashmir Great Lakes trek keeping in mind the the rotation of sun and difficulty level usually starts from Shitkadi. Shitkadi is a small village in Sonamarg approximately 80 km from Srinagar and takes about 2 and a half hours to reach. The trek companies usually arrange the transfer from Sirnagar to Shitkadi. The trek ends at Naranag, a small village just an hour from Srinagar. Plan your arrival a day in advance and departure a day later just to avoid any delays.

How to reach Srinagar

By Air

Being a valley, Kashmir is not accessible by train. The best way to reach Srinagar is by Air. There are direct and connecting flights from most of the major cities of India. All the major flights fly out of Srinagar International Airport.

By Road

Srinagar is well connected via road from all the major cities. Enjoy the lush greenery, majestic mountains, and river streams all along the route.

By Rail

The nearest railway station is Jammu Tavi which is around 250 km and takes about 7 hours to reach Srinagar via road from there. Jammu is well connected with most of the major cities of India and all major trains ply from Jammu.


Any high-altitude trek can never be completed without a supporting team. I would like to thank my Trek Leaders Vini Katyal and Praveen from Treks Unlimited for having faith and confidence in me that I can do this trek. It’s also important to have a good team of co-trekkers, always supportive, encouraging, and just being there, always. It gives so much confidence and assurance to have wonderful guides and a support team who look after you throughout the trek without any inhibition or losing your temper.

The trek route and the security is well managed by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism

I dedicate my trek to all these wonderful people who are now family!!!!!

“ It was so encouraging to know when a couple of my young co-trekkers called their mothers to tell them that they are trekking with someone of their mother’s age and they can also do it with a little preparation’. And that’s the solemn goal of ‘ Tanhadiltraveller

FAQs for Kashmir Great Lake Trek

Although I have covered most of the topics still there are some frequently asked questions.

  • Can I do the Kashmir Great Lake Trek Solo? –  I am not sure about the permission for solo trekking but it is always advisable to trek in a group in such treks.
  • Do we need permission to trek in Kashmir? – Yes! Kashmir is a sensitive area and there are various army checkpoints. The trek company will assist trekkers with all the necessary permissions.
  • Is it safe to trek in Kashmir?- Of course! If you mind your own business and trek as guided, Kashmir is very much safe for trekking.
  • Do we get electricity anywhere while trekking? – No, the trek is completely in the pristine altitude and meadows. There is no electricity throughout the trek. Carrying a well-charged headlamp is mandatory.
  • How do I charge my mobile/ Camera? – Carrying a 20000 / 30000 Mah power bank is good for charging your phones and cameras. You can also invest in a Solar power bank if you are a regular trekker.
  • Do we get mobile connectivity?- most of the networks don’t work. At some places you get Jio / BSNL signals and only if your phone has a post-paid connection.
  • What kind of food did we get?– Hats off to our crew and guides who pampered us with great food. The breakfast was usually bread and eggs or poha. The lunch was packed in the form of rice or stuffed paranthas. We were served with pakoras (( fritters) the moment we reached the campsite along with hot tea. Dinner was sumptuous with rice, roti, daal, 2 vegetables, salad, and dessert. There were days when we had hot puri-bhaji and Chole- Bhature. Non-veg is generally not served keeping in mind to keep the environment clean and not to dispose of any leftovers or bones. Also, it is good to trek with a light stomach.

It’s only when you challenge yourself, that you will know your limits and trust me if you prepare well, you can do anything. It makes you physically stronger and affirms that you need to get out there to bring out the adventurous and experience the adrenaline rush. Scaling heights always touches you emotionally and mentally. It makes you stronger and more confident.

‘KGL is not a trek but an emotion. One week spent on this most awaited dream trek has been nothing short of an amazing & enthralling experience to witness and conquer those huge mountains and walk through the mesmerising lush green meadows and mind-boggling landscapes of Heaven on Earth.’

To sum it up, the Kashmir Great Lakes trek is a spectacular voyage that offers an exceptional opportunity to experience the magnificent nature of  Kashmir Valley. With good preparation, this trek can be a truly memorable experience for trekkers and adventure seekers.

Other Himalayan Treks : Kareri Lake Trek | Kedarkantha Trek 



 “We don’t stop hiking because we grow old, we grow old because we stop hiking.”