Alpine lakes are a unique feature of the mountainous regions around the world. They are located in high-altitude areas, several thousand metres above sea level and fed mainly by glaciers. India is blessed with quite a few of these miracles of nature. Among its many natural wonders, the lakes of Kashmir hold a special place, mesmerising visitors with their serene beauty. Among these is the Chirsar Lake in Kulgam in Kashmir.
Located at an altitude of around 3,500m, Chirsar in Kashmir is a serene milky blue glacial lake with the stunning backdrop of the Brahmasakli peaks. The blue waters that flow into the lake come from the glaciers here. Situated at a distance of around 18 km from Halan Kulgam, it lies in the lap of the Pirpanjal mountains, in Kulgam district.
Chirsar is a 24km trek from Halan Kulgam with an elevation gain of 1,300m. To get there, you have to drive to Hallan, Manzgam. From here, you have to hike to the lake. The trail goes through Junction Alasmad, Chiranbal, and Kadalbal where you can find a few local shops to pick up snacks. Be careful while negotiating the slippery snow and rocks that dot its eastern shores in the winters. You will find several beautiful meadows with streamlets making their way into Chirsar.
The Level Of Difficulty
The trek can be done in one day for those who are fit. Or else, factor in a one-night-two-day itinerary. The difficulty level is between moderate and difficult.
Aharbal Falls, which gushes down and falls melodiously in isolation, is a hidden gem. Also known as the Kashmiri Niagara Falls, Aharbal is located in Kulgam district's Noorabad region. It is situated in an alpine valley surrounded by pine and fir trees on the Vishav River, a tributary of the Jhelum. Aharbal is easily accessible from Srinagar, and it takes around two hours to go there by vehicle or bus through Shopian. A different path to Aharbal will take you through Kulgam.
A short distance from the Manzgam is the gorgeous Chiranbal meadow, interspersed with luxuriant forest trees with towering mountains. Bifurcated into hear (small) and bon (big), Chiranbal offers a spectacular panoramic view. The Zajinar River flows nearby. You can camp here and soak in the beauty of the surroundings.
Situated about 4,000 ft above sea level, Kounsarnag lake is surrounded by Pir Panjal peaks on three sides and is the source of River Veshav. The tranquil, and striking hues of blue of the lake against the rugged terrain of the peaks above is a treat for the senses.
Kulgam town is about 68 km from Srinagar and 17 km from Anantnag. The nearest airport is Sheikh ul-Alam International Airport Srinagar (SXR), around 68 km away. The nearest railway station is at Anantnag, around 15 km away. Other nearby stations are Jammu Tawi and Udhampur railway stations. Kulgam is connected by regular buses from major cities like Srinagar and Jammu.