The beauty that surrounds Shadimarg is always captivating. While coming from Naranag towards Dumail, on the left side of the latter, treading the zig-zag steep gradient track, we can find this jewel on the mountain top. In every season, the entire meadow looks like the veritable piece of paradise.
Whoever visits this pristine place is smitten by ith its fairytale landscape. It is so cathartic, that rejuvenation always reigns supreme. In winter, it looks like a snow-covered wonderland.
It’s a must go place for every trekker; to relive into the lap of its breathtaking beauty. It has so much to offer to the visitors; The soul soothing peace, or the panoramic views. And to cherish this all as lifetime memories.
Snow trekking is Joie De Vivre! Closer to nature, these are the moments with ourselves at our gentler pace and peace. It’s so enchanting when it snows. It casts a magical spell around everything. From last few years, we have started to look beyond Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
We have been successful to find many mesmerising places which have won our hearts. There is no exaggeration or needless embellishment about it. All these places have become cynosures of our eyes. Naranag to Dumail, Marchoi, Shadimarg are worth mentioning places which have become every season ritual for trekkers, to visit and explore for the sublime beauty.
Indeed, in winters also, the entire area becomes a photographer’s paradise. to capture the frames when nature is at its best.
On 2nd of January 2022 ,All Jammu and Kashmir Mountaineering Foundation planned to jaunt a trip to Shadimarg meadow. It was the kind of place which all of us latch on to visit just to get some respite from the mundane and mind numbing COVID -19 life. This winter trek will always remain an abiding memory for me for many good reasons.
We batten down the hatches, as it was going to be troublesome and tiresome trekking experience. We planned everything meticulously as it requires proper timings, and trekking gear to accomplish a snow trek in a short duration. We had to foot quite a distance from Naranag to Shadimarg, so we left bright and early. Every participant reached on the scheduled time and like a happy family.
Our joys knew no bounds the moment we saw the glimpse of snow capped mountains. We were over excited and enthusiastic to get the feel of seasons 1st snow trek experience. Just 1Km before the Naranag, the slippery road took the wind out of our sails when our ‘Kalakharab’ driver couldn’t surmount a bumpy turn as the rear end wheels of Mazda were skidding off. We were on the rocks.
It was a hard quarter of an hour. It almost defeated our attempts and efforts to reach Naranag but then with one truculent tone of voice, everyone was asked to get down. It was all hands on deck! With an unflinching passion and pizzazz, we almost lifted it, and shifted the vehicle with our hands to a safer corner.
We managed to weather the storm and finally heaved a sigh of relief. In an extreme cold and cloudy weather at around 9 a.m we embarked on a snow serpentine trail to Dumail. We winded through, at a slower pace, and spent most of the time in observing the natural marvel. It was altogether out of the world charm and experience. Everything looked so peaceful and profound.
We couldn’t resist our temptations and stopped frequently to capture the magnificent beauty of Pahalnar Wangath river. The canopy of tall snow showered pine and coniferous trees looked so heavenly. We felt as if these trees were decorated for the Christmas celebrations. It was the perfect blend of everything to leave us spellbound.
The Christmas like feeling descended upon us when snowfall started and a fellow trekker Dr.Aqib (trekking with him for the first time) played the song ‘Country roads take me home’ (Sung by John Denver) on his Bluetooth speaker. Throughout the enervating journey, Dr Aqib entertained us with the famous and favourite songs of Elvis Presley, Enrique, George Michael, Brain Adams and Nusrat Fateh Ali. It was a blast from the past. Not for a single moment, he switched off the music.
He was carrying three or four battery backups. In a lighter vein that much of power supply was enough for a family (whose Mohalla transformer is out of service) to sustain its electricity needs for a day or two. On the meandering trail, Dr.Aqib trod with the rhythm of music, swaying his head and tapping his feet gently.
During our frequent breaks and photo sessions, he took out dry fruits and chocolates, from his many hidden pockets and graciously shared them with us. He had been a caring friend who didn’t cop an attitude. With the flow of music and sinking deeper into the alluring beauty of Dumail where Guru Nala from Gangabal and Marchoe river meet, we crossed the wooden bridge and headed towards the steep uphill mound.
At ‘Kaanyana’ which furnishes the spectacular view of the entire valley, we stopped and had a copious cup of coffee. It was there, when group buddy Sohail Khan obsessed with the acting of Shahrukh Khan, started giving poses on a dangerous cliff. He was thrilled to bits. It was a bundle of fun, but frightening as well, the way he stretched and lifted his arms. He took off his jacket and other layers for taking selfies. We also clicked his pictures and action packed slow motion videos. He looked full of the joys of spring !
We backpacked quickly as we were behind the schedule. We were refreshed and ready for the final summit push. On the way, whiff of the pine trees felt so distinct and divine. It was like an aroma therapy to calm our nerves. We buckled down to the task. With a pinch of humour we lifted the spirits of one another, did the hard yards and finally the trail opened into a vast meadow.
We were delighted to have reached the stupendous Shadimarg and at the same time could not stop laughing when Dr. Aqib recieved a call from his patient who was very keen to get his consultation. It was a therapeutic experience to witness the spectacle of Hijjan top ascending through Shadimarg.
Also in the backdrop, on left side, we could behold awe inspiring snow clad Mount Harmukh, Molish top, Chornad, Bouthshari top and on the right side Saltarie top, Salnaye, Jaminard, Purani Ganga, Kokerkany are jutting into the splendid sky.
We were hungry and dead tired on our feet. We took refuge in a quaint Bakkerwal Dohka, where we laid a fire in hearth to give warmth to ourselves. Meanwhile we gorged on our dry lunch and also degusted tandoori chicken, chutneys, momos, chicken rolls and biryani.
Food was bit cold but everything tasted like an ambrosia to us. After relishing our meals, we went outside to click group pictures. It was a treat to watch youngsters, Ayan Ashraf and Adil Mir, doing front flip, hand back flip and giving parkour a burl. The children in us were also reborn.
We somersaulted, dived and frolicked on the snow. We didn’t want those precious moments to pass, but we were running short of time so had to wrap up quickly and started the downhill journey.
By the time we reached back to Naranag, we were at the end of our tethers. But one thing that brought a solace to me was when with a naughty grin, Dr. Aqib revealed, and reminded me, that we had already met on 12th March 2021, while I was heading towards Mount Mahadev.
It was during that short conversation, when I had motivated him to wear proper shoes/gear and do it with an indomitable passion. Since than he had done greater lake’s and many other incredible treks. It was absolute joy to hear that. It is the serendipity of life. We get, what we give. If we are kind to other’s, we are kind to ourselves. So never stop doing your bit.
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.