Splendid, peaceful and welcoming – This is how we will describe our stay at Yusmarg, a bit unexplored but certainly one of the best tourist places in Kashmir. Most people visit Yusmarg for a day trip from Srinagar but this place has a lot to offer than a walk up the hill or a horse ride over mountains. Being peaceful and calm, Yusmarg is one of those places where you must consider to stay overnight.There are some good treks that you can easily cover in couple of hours and will come back feeling refreshing.
Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Huts, where we stayed, have beautiful views which is further augmented by the hospitality of the staff. Kashmir Tourism Staff will take care of everything to make your stay comfortable. Huts are located on a small hill facing a lake and big meadow which stretches to few kilometers before merging with Pine forest. Usually people visit Yusmarg for sightseeing and spend their time in this area enjoying a walk up the hill or horse ride through Pine forests.
We visited Yusmarg in November second week and it had snowed heavily the previous day making it quite cold. Everything around was freezing. There were few tourists and we were the only one staying overnight at Yusmarg Huts that day. We reached at around 3 PM and immediately left for a trek to Doodh Ganga river. It is a relatively small trek that we covered in 2.5 hours (both ways) including around 1.5 KM walk through the meadow and then another 1.5 KM walk down the hill to reach the river.
We enjoyed and explored as we walked through the forest by side of a stream flowing down the mountain that finally merged into Doodh Ganga river. At times, it was slippery due to the snowfall on previous day. Finally, after walking down for around 30 minutes, we reached to the river. Md. Gulam, our guide, guided us to a big boulder right in the middle of the river where we sat and enjoyed the silence of the forest and the sound of water flowing down. After spending some time by the side of river, we started walking up again as it was getting dark.
After a good candle light dinner (as there was no electricity), we slept with a plan to get up early and embark for another trek to Nilnag lake. When we stepped out in the morning for our trek, it was all frozen around us. There was a white layer on the ground as dew from previous night had frozen on grass leaves.
Sun was no where to be seen and there was still snow at places still solid from the snowfall that had happened a couple of days ago. Water on grass had frozen during the night creating wonderful structures.
In next 5 hours, we completed our trek to Nilnag lake. Nilnag lake is located around 5 KMs from Jammu & Kashmir Tourist Huts and it was pleasure walking through the silent pine forest exploring our way to reach the picturesque lake. You may read more about our trek to Nilnag trek here.
There is also another one full day trek ( approx 10 KMs one way) that leads to the frozen lake of Sang-e-Safed, which is covered by ice even during summers. We had to give a skip to this trek due to limited time with us and also bad weather conditions from the snow fall.
Stay at Yusmarg/Yusmarg Hotels
Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Huts are the best place to stay at Yusmarg. You would love the huts for their views, location and tranquility but more than that, you would be pleased by the hospitality of the staff. Md. Shaukat will take care of everything right from food to arranging an LPG room heater (in absence of electricity), electric blankets to make you feel warm and a guide for your treks. Huts can be booked through Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Office. For our Kashmir trip, we were guided by Md. Shafaqat at 07006823575. He is Tourist Officer for Yusmarg and is helped us through out our Kashmir Trip. He helped us prepare our Kashmir itinerary, book our stay and guided us all the time.
How to reach Yousmarg
Srinagar to Yusmarg distance is around 45 KMs and you can hire a taxi to reach to Yusmarg. Additionaly, you can also take public transport (shared taxi) to reach to Yusmarg.
In case you want to use public transport, you will not get shared taxi from Srinagar to Yusmarg directly. You first need to reach Charar-i-Sharif and from there you will get a taxi to Yusmarg. From Srinagar, Taxi to Charar-i-Sharif leave from Iqbal Park Taxi Stand and charge ₹ 50 per person (~30 KMs and 1 hour). From Charar-i-Sharif, you will get a shared taxi to Yusmarg that charge ₹ 30 per person (~15 KMs and 45 minutes). However, these taxis drop at around 2 KMs from the tourist huts at a place known as Nagbal. You can pay extra to the same taxi and he may agree to take you up to the huts else you can walk up the road in case you do not have much luggage.
Shared taxis are convenient but they do not start till the point all seats are occupied. We had to wait for an hour in Charar-i-Sharif before our taxi was full and set out for Yusmarg.