Yusmarg, about 47kms from Srinagar, is a hidden treasure of Kashmir. If you ask a local, they will only tell you its nothing but Paradise. Unlike the more popular destinations like Gulmarg and Sonamarg, people are conspicuously absent from Yusmarg.
Like every other tourist, I had not heard of Yusmarg so it was never a part of my itinerary. I woke up one morning with zero plans for the day so took my bag and camera and just went straight to the bus stand. The earliest bus was to Yusmarg so I got onto it and there I was, strolling in the heavens. As simple as it sounds, I literally had zero plans for the day but as I hopped onto the adventure of Yusmarg, I can very safely say that it was one of the best days of my entire trip.
It is believed that Jesus passed through this valley of Kashmir and when you take a look at this beautiful valley, you just cannot disagree. The three – four hour drive to this place is an enjoyment in itself. Grassy pastures stretching to acres of land, the dense forests full of pine trees, with the backdrop of splendid snow capped mountains leave you almost speechless. For the lovers of long walks in picturesque locales, Yusmarg is the place to be. It mesmerises the tourists with its scenic meadows, spectacular peaks and sparkling reservoirs.
I rented a hut house to stay in Yusmarg. Considering its beauty and peace, I couldn’t stop myself for staying there overnight. The owner of the Hut House was an aged man who made sure that the food was not extremely spicy so that I can eat properly. My visit to Yusmarg was filled with such profound wisdom; I was surrounded by people who cared more about my safety and comfort than I did. The view from my room was dramatically eye pleasing. Living in a wooden cottage on a flower-filled meadow, waking up to golden sunrises with the background view of snowcapped mountains and pine forest was nothing but breathtaking.
- Dudh Ganga:
The entire Yusmarg is so beautiful that just one or two famous places to visit doesn’t do justice. I visited the Dudh Ganga first. It is about 2 kms of trek inside the jungles from the valley. If you aren’t a fan of trekking you could enjoy a horse ride along the valley to this place. The white foam formed by the unbridled gushing of water, earned Dudh Ganga its name. Frothing and crashing on its way over the rocks, the river makes the little milky white foam. Flowing through high altitude peaks, the river offers a picturesque view to be savored.
- Nilnag Lake:
The next place to visit in Yusmarg is the Nilnag Lake. It is about 4kms trek from Yusmarg and is a high altitude lake nestled amidst dense pine forest. As you trek inside the jungle and reach to a certain altitude, you can see the entire lake. The blue sparking water of this lake surrounded by the picturesque snowcapped mountains and gnarled towering pine trees just magnify the beauty of this region. Reckoned as an idyllic Yusmarg tourist place to visit, Nilnag is a reflection of the sheer beauty of Kashmir. Just sit back, grab your camera and take as many pictures as you can because trust me, a view like this cannot be seen everywhere.
- Visit the Gujjar Koath or local houses:
Along your trek in Yusmarg, you will see the beautifully built wooden/mud local houses. The people of Yusmarg are extremely humble and hospitable. Every house you visit, you will not return without having the famous noon chai that provides you warmth and some crispy biscuits. The locals told me that the temperature of Yusmarg becomes unbearable in winters therefore, they migrate during the season. Not just in winters but overall the temperature in Yusmarg is pretty unpredictable. It is sunny in morning and out of the blue it will start raining and nights are pretty too cold. The temperature drops to 1 degree so if you are planning to stay overnight, please pack some warm clothes or you will freeze like how I did.
- Star Gazing:
The best and the most amazing reason to stay in Yusmarg is to stargaze. Imagine sitting in a stretched meadow with some tea to keep you warm and just as you look up, you see a sky full of shooting stars. As the night grows darker, the magical white strokes of white appear in the glittering sky and you witness the miracle in awe. It is way more magical than it sounds. Even if you are not in photography, you will not be able to take your eyes off the mesmeric sky!
My visit to Yusmarg was so overwhelming that even today, I miss this valley the most. If you are going to Kashmir, I really hope you add this place beforehand in our itinerary because this place is not going to disappoint you. Trust me!