Arshan Valley Trek
Arshan Valley Trek
Kashmir is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque destinations in India, often referred to as “heaven on earth.” Its vast meadows, crystal-clear lakes, and towering mountains never fail to captivate visitors. Trekking is the best way to experience the beauty of Kashmir in its purest form, and the Arshan Valley Trek is a must-do for those looking to explore the region’s lesser-known areas. This trek offers a unique experience, with three alpine lakes within a day’s reach. In addition to the lakes, the Arshan Valley Trek features meadows, valleys, stream crossings, and a ridge walk, all within a 7.6 km distance. The trek begins in the stunning fields of Kashmir, surrounded by towering mountains. Arshan Sar, located halfway through the trek, is a breathtaking sight. The trail becomes more adventurous from this point on, culminating in a ridge walk and panoramic views of Zed Nag and Neh Nag lakes. The trek starts from the Arshan Valley Basepoint, located in the Anantnag district, just 5.5 km from the popular Sinthan Top. This easy trek is suitable for both beginner and experienced trekkers.
Best Time for Arshan Valley Trek
The best time to embark on the Arshan Valley Trek is during summer, specifically from June to September. This window offers the most favourable conditions as the snow has recently melted, unveiling a picturesque landscape with vibrant meadows. Attempting the trek during other seasons is often impractical because most of the trail is obscured by snow, rendering it inaccessible.
Highlights of Arshan Valley Trek
The breathtaking Arshan Sar Lake is the crown jewel of the trek, nestled at a staggering altitude of 13,143 feet. The visual splendour of the lake and its surroundings is truly awe-inspiring. Towering rocky mountains embrace the lake, perpetually blanketed in snow, creating a dramatic backdrop that reflects beautifully on the lake’s surface on clear days. Arshan Sar is the primary source of a crystal-clear stream that flows parallel to the trail, providing a serene and picturesque accompaniment to the trek.
The Arshan Valley trek begins amidst picturesque meadows, offering a visual feast for the eyes. The rolling green hills resemble a well-manicured garden, making the valley a haven for nature enthusiasts. As word of its beauty spreads, adventurous spirits and thrill-seekers are increasingly drawn to explore its captivating landscapes.
The culmination of this journey is a scenic ridge that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. As you begin your ridge walk, you’ll be treated to a bird’s-eye view of the expansive Zed Nag Lake, nestled among rugged mountain peaks. This lake is the largest in the Arshan Valley and is fed by the crystal-clear waters of the Famber Valley, another picturesque alpine meadow in the region. As you continue along the ridge, you’ll be rewarded with an aerial view of the serene Neh Nag Lake, the smallest of the three lakes in the area. Located adjacent to the Zed Nag Lake, Neh Nag Lake offers stunning views of the majestic Zanskar range in the background, including the towering Mount Nun, Mount Kun, and Mount Pinnacle.
Arshan Valley Trek Detailed Trail Information
The starting point of the Arshan Valley trek, Arshan Valley Base, is approximately 125 km from Srinagar and 5.5 km from the well-known Sinthan Top. The journey from Daksum to Arshan Valley is adorned with breathtaking meadows and forest sections on both sides of the road, making it a picturesque experience. As you continue your trek alongside the stream, you’ll eventually reach Gujjar’s hut, which may change locations depending on the season. If the hut is not visible, look for the stream crossing flag. You’ll need to cross the stream using boulders to reach the opposite side. The trail then gradually ascends, leading to the top of a small ridge.
As you stand atop the ridge, your gaze falls upon a vast gully stretching before you. A separate stream flows downwards from this location, its source originating from several small springs in the vicinity. Following the trail that runs parallel to this stream, you’ll eventually reach a point where another stream, fed by Arshan Sar, flows through the boulders. Trace the path alongside this stream, and soon you’ll arrive at a picturesque grassland. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty of your surroundings, with lush green grass beneath your feet and rugged, rocky mountains rising around you.
As you venture forth from the grassland, your gaze falls upon a small cliff, alongside which the stream you’ve been following flows. Continue to trace the stream’s path, and it will lead you to Arshan Sar. However, this section can be somewhat challenging, with its boulders and tendency to become slippery in rainy conditions. Persevere, and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of Arshan Sar. The tranquillity of the surroundings is a welcome respite, and the reflections of the mountains on the lake’s clear water are a sight to behold. Take a moment to appreciate the beauty around you and soak in the serenity of this natural wonder.
There is no clearly defined path from the village of Arshan Sar to the summit. Instead, you’ll need to navigate a challenging terrain of boulders and muddy trails. Pass through the lake and continue to trek forward, sticking to the left side of the lake as you gradually ascend through the rocky section. Be cautious while hiking through the boulders, as the loose rocks can shift and cause you to lose balance.
Once you’ve crossed the boulder section, ascend quickly through a mud trail to reach the top. As soon as you get to the ridge, you’ll be greeted with a breathtaking view of the Zed Nag Lake, which is located on the other side of the mountain. This is the largest of the clusters of lakes you’ll encounter on this trek, and the lake’s beauty and surroundings will leave you in awe.
Continue walking along the ridge for another 10 minutes, and you’ll be treated to a bird’s eye view of Neh Nag Lake, with the stunning Zanskar range serving as a backdrop. Spend some time taking in the sights and enjoying the natural beauty around you before making your way back down.
How to Reach For Arshan Valley Trek
The journey of the Arshan Valley hike commences at the Arshan Valley starting point, located 126 km from Lal Chowk Srinagar.
By Your Own
To arrive at Arshan Valley independently, begin at Lal Chowk and proceed towards Anantnag using the National highway. The distance between Lal Chowk and Anantnag is 56 kilometres, with a travel time of approximately 56 minutes.
After arriving at Anantnag, take the National Highway via Dialgam that leads to Kokernag, also connected to the Doda and Kishtwar districts in the Jammu division. The journey takes approximately 60 minutes and covers a distance of 27 km. Once you reach Kokernag, proceed towards Sinthan top, and at Bidihad village, which is 10 km away, you’ll find two routes. One leads to Margan Top, and the other goes straight to Sinthan Top via Daksum and Arshan Valley. If you’re unsure, locals can guide you in the right direction. The distance from Kokernag to Arshan Valley is 37 km, and it takes around 40 minutes to reach.
By Public Transport
Getting to Arshan Valley Base via public transportation is more challenging than using a personal vehicle.
If you intend to use public transportation, include an extra day.
You can choose between two public transportation options: taking a taxi or riding the bus.
You can take a shared taxi from Lal Chowk Taxi Stand via the national highway to get to Anantnag from Srinagar. The journey takes around 60 minutes and costs Rs 130. Once you arrive at the Anantnag Taxi Stand, take another shared taxi to Kokernag, which takes about 50 minutes and costs Rs 100. From Kokernag, hire a cab to Sinthan Top, but ask the driver to drop you off at Arshan Valley Base, which is 6 km before Sinthan Top. The distance from Kokernag to Arshan Valley Base Point is 37 km, and the journey takes around 1 hour and 50 minutes, costing Rs 100. Alternatively, you can take a bus from the SRTC terminal.
Board a bus destined for Anantnag via the national highway. The journey to Anantnag will take approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes, with a fare of Rs 70.
Once you arrive at Anantnag Bus stand, catch a bus to Kokernag. The trip to Kokernag will last around 60 minutes and cost Rs 50.
To proceed further, you must arrange for a taxi from Kokernag since the bus service only operates up to that point.