OT Travel Itinerary: Your Perfect Four-Day Guide To The Gangabal Lake Trek

Now's your chance to hike through the Kashmir valley to see this holy lake in the foothills of Mount Harmukh
Gangabal Lake in the summer months
Gangabal Lake in the summer monthsThrithot/Shutterstock.com

Kashmir is home to hundreds of pristine lakes and valleys, one of them being Gangabal Lake. It is situated in the foothills of Mount Harmukh, which stands at 5,142m above sea level. The trek to it is a delight for nature lovers due to the spellbinding views of the Himalayan mountain range, valleys and forests, which open up picture-perfect vistas all around you.

The lake itself is considered sacred to Hindus, who believe it is one of the abodes of Lord Shiva. The local Gujjar community grazes their sheep on the pastures of the freshwater lake. The total distance of the trek, which starts from Naranag village, is 30km and hits altitudes of over 3,000m. The best time to go on it is from May to September.

Here’s a day-by-day guide to the Gangabal Lake trek.

Day 1: Srinagar To Naranag

The ruins of the Naranag Temple
The ruins of the Naranag Templewebzonevino/Shutterstock.com

The drive to Naranag village takes nearly two hours to cover 50km. It is the base for numerous treks into the mountains, like the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. The village is renowned for its temple which was built in the 8th century. The sleepy town is surrounded by dense forests and breathtaking views of the mountains.

Take a short hike to Dumail to acclimatise yourself while here and chat with the locals.

Day 2: Naranag To Trunkhol

Sheep grazing in the meadows of the Kashmir valley
Sheep grazing in the meadows of the Kashmir valleysumankyal/Shutterstock.com

The climb up to the Trunkhol meadow offers a moderate to difficult challenge, but the views are splendid. Pine forests will line your way until you reach the tree line of Budhsheri at around 3,200m. From here on you will encounter loose stones and rocks and come across a few scattered waterfalls.

The campsite at Trunkhol is situated 3,400m above sea level and gives gorgeous views of Mount Harmukh.

Day 3: Trunkhol To Gangabal Lake

Nundkhol and Gangabal lakes captured in one photograph
Nundkhol and Gangabal lakes captured in one photographPhotographerIncognito/Shutterstock.com

The day's trek will be milder. After passing through blooming meadows and grasslands you will come across the glorious blue waters of Nundkol Lake. This lake is sacred to Hindus and was originally called “Nandi Kund” but both its former and present names mean the same thing: Lake of Nandi. Take a walk around the lake, have lunch and delight in the vistas which surround you.

Continue on your trek to see Gangabal Lake which lies after crossing a small ridge not too far away from Nundkhol. It is home to a plethora of fish species like the brown trout. Drink its cold and clean water, which originates from glaciers, and take in the charming beauty of the place.

Head back to the campsite at Trunkhol to wrap up the day.

Day 4: Trunkhol – Naranag – Srinagar

Dal Lake in Srinagar
Dal Lake in SrinagarAnwesha521/Shutterstock.com

The descent back to Naranag will be sharp so be extremely careful about where you place your feet. Say a fond farewell to the landscape and its inhabitants as you go. You’ll have plenty of time to do this as the trek back downwards takes around six hours.

Drive back to Srinagar from Naranag village with memories of a good time.

Getting There

Jammu Tawi Railway Station is the nearest railhead to Srinagar (249km). You can also take a plane to Srinagar's airport. There are bus and taxi services to Srinagar from Jammu.

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