The adventurous visits to remote hill stations and far off green meadows always fascinates a nature lover, and over the recent past tangible interest in trekking has developed among the young generation of the valley. People find solace and at the same time relieve themselves of different kinds of anxieties and off themselves from the busy chorus of life.
Kausarnag, A lake with pristine and blue coloured water, filled with lumps of floating snow and surrounded by tall standing snow-capped mountains has fascinated and attracted hundreds of visitors, during recent years.
A high altitude alpine lake located deep in the mountain ranges of Pir Panchal, situated in the South Kashmir district of Kulgam, at a trekking distance of around 26 kilometres from the last motorable village (Aharbal) having an altitude of around 3850 mts. The picturesque lake has dimensions of around two kilometres in length and around 500 metres in breadth approximately. This Oligotrophic lake is surely a staggering piece of beauty and a true marvel of nature.
The trek starts from the famous and beautiful tourist spot 'Niagara falls of Kashmir', Aharbal waterfall, having a good motorable road up to this waterfall. The trail leading up to the lake passes alternatively through green pastures, pristine water bodies, glacial mountains, lush green meadows of breathtaking beauty and the continuous mountain range of thick forests. The fascinating landscape on the way energises every soul.
The first destination after starting the trek all along the bank of fast moving water stream is an attractive green pasture, Kungwattan, a distance of around 8 kilometres from Aharbal. Kongwattan is a favoured place for night camping, and the sleep in the lap of nature is a real ecstasy & full of glamour. This green and unending meadow is always occupied by visitors having different coloured tents pitched all around. It is the beauty and aura of this meadow which fascinates everyone to spend at least a night there. This rare and diversified meadow is surrounded by tall pine and Coniferous trees, which act as a guard. The trek up to Kongwattan is a moderate one but the actual challenge beckons the trekkers as the trail leading ahead is a rocky terrain all along the boulders and a steep ascent which certainly tests the physical fitness of a trekker
Moving ahead along the gushing water stream and inching closer to the lake, the next destination welcoming the visitors is Mahinag. A place having a collection of several smaller water bodies (lakes) in close proximity, is around 10 kilometres from Kongwattan and is certainly the most difficult part of the trek. While reaching Mahinag, the energy drain is obvious, but one thing that refreshes the visitors and keeps them running is the pleasant surrounding and attractive atmosphere and proximity to destination. This place also serves as a good camping site. One thing is commonly experienced among amateurs, which is a funny part; they continuously enquire about the destination whomever they meet on the way, "kootah door chu" - How far is it now? This reflects their desperation and enthusiasm.
Planning and well preparedness are the most important lessons one can take from such visits. Owing to the erratic weather conditions and the threat of wild animals, one must equip themselves with all the necessary gears and be enough knowledgeable about the weather, terrain and most importantly camping sites. The smaller goals and better planning make a trek successful and enjoyable. Similarly camping near the lake can be a bit hard, because of the inconsistent weather.
Around Mahinag and Kongwattan, shepards are seen busy in their daily chore (cattle grazing and collecting firewood) around their kothas. After leaving Mahinag which is situated at the foothills of lofty mountains and to have a glimpse of Kausarnag, one has to climb a tall mountain peak, having a steep ascent which requires great effort/exertion.
After all the hard yards, one can finally have a view of Kausarnag, having smaller icebergs, pristine blue water, clear reflections of mountains and the snow-laden mountain tops all around the lake. Everyone forgets their tiredness and the extravagant view synchronises the minds of visitors to sing the songs of praise for its beauty, surely a photographer's canvas all around the lake. A carpet of wildflowers, of different glowing colours nurtured by the abundance of water on one of its shores add exuberance to its beauty and glamour, which brings ecstasy. The lake is considered as chief source of Veshaw, a tributary of Jhelum.
Once visited, the place has a magnetic attraction that doesn't allow one to leave and the cold air breeze, pleasant surroundings give a soothing touch to the body and soul and one gets lost in nature. Although the route to the lake is tough as one has to traverse through rough edges and rocky surfaces, the desire and desperation, serve as the necessary energy booster.
One must be conscious of the fact, not to fill the surroundings with litter, wrappers etc. It is a responsibility that everyone must perform in letter and spirit wherever one visits. These places are a glimpse of the beautiful creation of God and to respect them should be considered a moral obligation. The valley within a valley is blessed by a huge number of Oligotrophic lakes and breathtaking meadows, all unexplored. The sad part is that they don't exist on the tourism map of our valley and only a few people know about these places. One should visit these kind of remote places to internalise the colours of nature and the beautiful creation of God.
Mir Basit is pursuing Master's in Mechanical Engineering
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.