Tosamaidan will always evoke certain off putting feelings, but nothing or no one could overshadow its exquisite beauty and historical background. It might be unsettling but let’s remember it for many good reasons and do our bit to heal its past wounds. There are multiple stories behind the origin of a name Tosamaidan. It is believed that Mughal emperor Jehangir visited this place and was so much smitten with its beauty that out of exaltation he exclaimed ‘Tu Shahe Madian’ for this veritable piece of paradise which means King of Meadows’. It latter on got transformed into Tosha which is very expensive, velvety Kashmiri shawl with which its spectacular landscape may be compared. Like its glorious past, its conspicuous presence is also noticeable. In Srinagar city we can also see the prominent Pir Panjal Range which bulwarks around the pristine Alpine lakes of Tosamaidan. And on the top of Makhdoom Sahib Shrine, we can instantly establish a spiritual connection and lavish our attention on it. This magnificent piece of beauty always leave us spellbound. Just one look is enough to fall for it and desire to visit this place someday in life.
Tosamaidan is the happy hunting ground for the intrepid trekkers to strut their stuff. It’s in their bucket list and almost everyone wants to go on a glide-path to discover the beauty and bounties of nature. It was a long overdue for me as well to visit this place, so at the very go when I was informed by my friends in Street Fighters Club that they were planning to go for a snow trekking to Tosamaidan on 13th Feb 2022, I joined them. On that day we started early from Srinagar and reached there by 9.30 am. It was a tiring and tiresome journey from Sethran to tread on a 4ft to 5ft soft snow. We were almost dead on our feet once we reached at the base point of Tosamaidan, beyond that it was impossible to go and could have been an unwise decision, so we halted there for an hour and had our lunch. The beauty of snow capped peaks was captivating but we were helpless to move further. Moreover, we were also running short of time. It was decided then and there to visit this place again on a Greater Lakes expedition.
Not a dime a dozen can do it, when it comes to “Greater lakes expedition”- It requires tiring efforts to plan, and execute the things. As I live and breathe, here again we were blessed under the banner of Street Fighters Club to experience this annual catharsis. Last year in July 2022, I had to miss it as I was caught off guard by the insidious Covid -19 scourge. I was out of whack and for two months had one hell of an experience. I struggled hard to grasp a nip of fresh air but by the grace of Allah finally I could recover. This year I was very much enthusiastic to trek Greater lakes. The fastidious team leaders of SFC namely Sajad Mir and Abid Amin Bhat put everything in an apple pie order. As Greater Lakes expedition requires painstaking efforts for the preparation, only 20 fine fettle trekkers could be managed to take on board. On a pleasant morning of 4th June 2022, we embarked on our dream destination. It is around 53 kms journey from Srinagar to Tosamaidan. We started early and bright. At around 10 am we reached rustic Setharan village, where 4 team members straddled on the horses. It was done so that others could sit comfortably. The two Tavare vehicles could not stop rattling on the bumpy road for an hour. We were restless. It was a nightmarish ride. We reached our first pit stop at around 11.15 am. We had a tea break and quick nap in between till the horses reached there. We were astonished to know that it had been a back breaking horse ride for the four brave men. The flamboyant Muzy Lala known for his witty repartee was about to have a serious fall, who out of excitement couldn’t control himself, when he saw us cheering for him. He fumbled a bit and almost had a narrow escape.
We put our backpacks on the back of horses which could carry them upto Basecamp Gaditar. Mr Sajad gave the briefing about the trail that lay ahead and also discussed the precautionary measures to be taken on the way, and with this we sallied forth on the next leg of our trip. The SFC coach Mr. Abid Amin Bhat was leading from the front and the back end was managed by Mr. Sajad. It was a thrilling experience to go beyond the base point of Tosamaidan. Within 20 minutes we reached Dum Dum where ziyarat of Sheikul Alam (R.A) is located. He had offered nimaz there and his footprints are still engraved on the stone. It was shared with us that many times one villager by the name Rehman Mout from Sethran tried to take this sacred stone to his home for keeping inside a ziyarat but next morning he would get puzzled to find it again at Dum Dum. This place is serene, sacred and soul soothing. It is worth mentioning here that Alamdari Kashmir (R.A) had spent 12 years in Tosamaidan. He had visited every nook and corner of it. We can feel the spiritual tranquility which is still encompassing this majestic place,the moment we hear his name.
After trekking for a while we reached Kadlibal which furnishes sumptuous view and sky touching deodars at a distance give it a heavenly touch. The vastness of Tosamaidan consists of other long lush green meadows of Watadar, Nagnibal, Duriyan and Hafwas which lies in a direction towards which we had to go through picturesque trail. These largest meadows are used for the high land pasturing for sheep and cattle. On the right side of the trail is babbling brook by the name “Kahteh” which originates from Aabeh Narreh passes through these wavy meadows. This gives it the perfect setting to get absorbed in nature’s purest form.
Trekking becomes enjoyable and exciting when we are accompanied by the happy go humble group buddies. In this trek, I traversed the trail with doyen of SFC, Ex Physical Education Director Islamia College Altafur Rehman Sir, Mir Arshid (Founder Foreshore Atheletes), Sajad Kralayari (Discover Kashmir YouTuber) and congenial Akeel Fida. Since Tosamaidan offers so much to photographers to capture the nature in its all glory. We stopped at all the places where we could get the best frames. The beauty of Tosamaidan is so immense that even professional photographers cannot do justice to it. In addition to photography, we shared our experience on the trails and travails that lead us through the challenging treks of Kashmir. Meanwhile on our way to campsite, it started snowing and we had to scurry for shelter underneath the big rocks which saved us for the rest of the day.
In mild snowfall, everything looked so pleasant and divine. The temperature dropped instantly. The swaying of wild flowers and the floating clouds in the sky rejuvenated our souls. After a brief halt, we geared up and at around 3.30 pm we reached Gadtar 1. We offered Zohar prayers and then pitched the tents for night stay. The arrangements made by Mr. Sajad and Mr. Abid were superb. We were served with the scrumptious food. Post our lunch, we had a siesta and at around 5.30 PM decided to trek the right side of the Greater Lakes and visited marvellous Damamsar. We remained adamant and determined to reach Chinamarg sar as this route holds the historical significance. It was used by Mughals to reach Poonch from Srinagar via China Gali. The name given to this pass as China Gali is because of the fact that Chinese soldiers had been to this place. There are also few stones on which Chinese language is inscribed. These could be the reasons how it has derived its name. Due to this impetus the agile and adventurous trekkers of SFC summited it despite many obstacles. It was already getting pitch dark, we used headlights to reach the base camp quickly.
We were done for the day. We had tea that soothed our nerves. We felt energetic and offered the prayers. Those who had headache, cramps and upset stomach were attended by Dr. Syed Tanveer (Phd scholar). He had been quite handy with his medical kit. Meanwhile, dinner was ready. The SFC team had been gracious hosts. The delicious food was served in Kashmiri platters (Tramis). After dinner, due to extreme cold we quickly got into our sleeping bags. In our tent, the fellow trekker John Deko who couldn’t join us due to back cramps caused by horse ridding, had prepared a ‘Shisha’. We smoked few piquant flavours and within no time fell asleep.
On the breezy 5th June 2022 morning everyone woke up early. We were mentally prepared for the tough day ahead. We had a copious breakfast. We were not in a scurry. As scheduled we left at around 7.30 am. We planned to cover the maximum number of lakes that we could manage to trek upto 1 PM. We reached Gadtar2, than went on to see Navkansar ,Navkandar lokut, Kharasar, Kharagali Sar 1,2 and from there we passed through the dauntingly steep ridge, walked over the long stretch of rocks to reach Bodhsar. We felt exhilarated to witness the vastness of this Alpine lake. It looks so pristine. This lake is also known as Bandersar. There is a story doing rounds that in a distant past, a marriage procession with travelling band performing opera songs (Bandh Pather) were passing through this area. They were misled and drowned by the fairies inside the lake. They were granted salvation by Sheikul Alam (R.A) who was invoked by the decrepit mother of groom and finally this marriage took place after 12 year’s of captivity. It has been confirmed from many sources that even today on Thursdays and Fridays, one can hear the ‘Wanwun’ (wedding songs) at this place.
The key to successful trekking is time. One should always adhere to the time schedules. Bearing this lesson in mind, we left Bodhsar and reached Lokut Sar within 10 minutes. From there to reach Pathrisar we had to cross and climb steep rocky terrain. Under the scorching sun, the uphill climb was enervating. We couldn’t afford to flounder which otherwise could have caused the rocks to hurtle. Going forward, we tread carefully and at many places we had to scramble over the rocks. It seemed as if there was no end to the rocky ascend. Finally it took us around 45 minutes of hard effort to reach Pathrisar. At its first glimpse our exertion disappeared. We felt as if we had reached the zenith of this journey. Its beauty enchanted us to the extent that we couldn’t stop praising it. We spent half an hour at this place. The pall of clouds muffled across the sky. Due to vile weather, the phlegmatic Altafur Rehman Sir didn’t approve to trek upto Pamsar. Amid an intermittent hailstorm and through the difficult ridges, we buckled down and scuttled back towards the basecamp as fast as our legs would carry us. Come rain or shine, we reached back on time. We pulled it off and celebrated our trek success with love and laughter. We didn’t forget to offer the prayers before having a hearty meal. We followed “No Trash No Trace” mission in letter and spirit. It was done and dusted!.We descended back with the indelible lifetime memories.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK