Mountain trekking is not just an adventure sport filled with thrill and temptations, but a valuable platform to hone our social skills. There is a lot more to it than meets the eye. There is no scope for ‘couldn’t care less attitude’ when it comes to trek with others.
It requires compassion and conviction to foster an everlasting bond of friendship. Over a period of time, they become our loyal and lifetime comrades (Balayaar).
The source of our support and strength. We can learn and love to be the best version of ourselves by being humble and helpful. Each trekking experience teaches us something new and brings out the best in us.
It help us to delve deeper and develop us in many ways. It nourishes our inner souls. It is never ending soul awakening quest which has our hearts set on to see the marevellous and majestic natural beauty.
The more we explore the more we desire to see. There seems no end to this wanderlust. It requires a lot of efforts and enthusiasm to pursue this passion. The seasoned trekkers,Vloggers and travelogue writers are doing commendable job by making us familiar with the new places which were unknown few years back.
It is really a proud feeling that Kashmir is indeed a blessed land to have such a natural and numerous places which can leave us spellbound. The ceaseless adventure updates on the social media inspire awe.
The information has been quite handy for us to know and reach to these heavenly places. On 6th July 2022, while scrolling my Facebook Account, Prof. Shahnaz Khanday’s lucid write up on Marwanag Lakes caught my attention. It instantly struck a chord.
It gave me an impetus and made me keen to visit the twin lakes nestled in the upper reaches of Breng Valley. What a serendipity and spontaneity that only after 10 days, Street Fighters Club planned a trip. The SFC pioneers Sajad Mir and Abid Amin Bhat well organised everything.
The safety and summit success for the beginners remained their main concern. They had to put a lot of hard work in its accomplishment. From mapping the twin tarns, arranging the transport to managing the arduous trekking, they expended untiring efforts.
On 17th July 2022 after offering Fajr prayers, at 5.30 am, as scheduled, we were ready to begin our journey. But sudden rain shower and delay by the driver almost wasted our one hour. He was a real screwball. Throughout the 90 Kms hectic journey, he was listening to the dull and boring songs on his decrepit music system.
It didn’t bother me much as I remained busy in reminiscing the old memories with my school friend Dr. Ajaz, who had also joined us. We had been also together in Pune from Year 2003 -2005. It was a pleasant surprise to meet him after a gap of 17 years.
We had a very nice and nostalgic time together. He is currently working in Singapore as a professor. He had come home for his summer vacation. He was anxiously looking forward to this day for spending some qualitative time in nature with the SFC team.
We were happy to know that he has been following the SFC Club activities from last two years. It really made our day. Meanwhile we reached at Kachachkoot, where the driver installed fast tag and got the vehicle scanned at Toll plaza.
After that we were stopped at 2 more places for paying the Chungi for the bumpy under construction road. We were shell shocked the way toll keepers behaved.It was grotesque.
It was another add-on when the morning rains and driver’s deplorable behaviour had already brought us down but still we kept our cool and were optimistic to have a beautiful trekking day ahead. We reached Vailoo Kokernag at around 9.15 a.m and brought butter, biscuits and beverages. We thronged the baker’s shop in one go to buy Lavassas (Kashmiri thin flat bread). We boarded the Swaraj Mazada quickly and reached Ahlan Godlan at 9.35 a.m.
The journey from Srinagar to Ahlan had left us dead exhausted. It took us another 5-7 minutes to arrange our backpacks and reconciled ourselves to set out together. After a brisk walk of 45 minutes, we stopped at Jungehdi to relish the moment of glory near the bank of Ahlan stream which is gurgling over the big rocks.
We had a tea break with fully butter layered lavassas. It revitalised us to explore the surroundings. The downpour had turned the greenery on its both sides utterly bewitching.
The rain drops on the verdant green leaves looked like pearls. We got absorbed in the splendour and stream burbling of this veritable piece of paradise. We took the snapshots and left this place with a heavy heart but carried with us so many fond memories.
We tried to move fast but due to incessant rains, the trail had turned into quagmire. We had to squelch ankle deep mud at many places. It was not a difficult ascend but a bit slippery.
Our Quechua shoes were mud spattered but one amateur was wearing duck back shoes was spared from the trouble as he could easily wash it once he reached near to the stream. We had to tread carefully towards the left side of the stream on the loose boulders and big wooden logs.
After a while we reached at a spot from where we had a panoramic view of the entire downhill. We did our usual stuff and moved ahead. The canopy of pine and fir trees is beguiling, as on the way, it is heart wrenching to notice the large scale deforestation of the entire area.
Once we reached ‘Guterwan’, we were taken back at the sight of the tipper parked near the Gujjar Kothas. We wondered how come the driver had managed to drive it this far. It was obvious, and distressing to notice the result of large scale green gold loot. We were gutted but gathered courage to move towards our destination.
It was enervating to trek another few kms of steep incline upto Alembredi (Ariyenbror). All the 26 participated reached there at a time. The symmetry of Kothas on the green grass terraced layers of this forest patch is graceful and gripping.
We interacted with the inhabitants of the place who we found very gentle and generous. After our brief interaction, we sallied forth for the final stretches of the trek. We had a cramped schedule, so Mir Afaq one of the fastest trekkers of the valley, and another coolest guy Abid Amin Bhat took the lead.
The rest of team was managed by Sajad Mir who is the power house of energy. I, along with my friends Sohail Khan and Arsalan Khan, had a fascinating and fun filled mountain moments.
We clicked the pictures, climbed the big rocks and captured short videos. We savoured our time at Inderwal and other prominent spots of the vast lush green meadows embroidered with beautiful yellow flowers.
We enjoyed the walk, wilderness and wonderful fairy-tale landscape. We lavished our due attention on the rib ticking, on-camera comedy between Zahid Kota, Muzzy Lala, Mir Arshid, Tanveer and Imran Sheikh. They kept us all in the fits of laughter but we cautiously negotiated through the rough rocky terrain and clambered up the final vertiginous ridge.
At around 2.30 most of us reached lower Mawarnag (Elevation-3824 Mts). We were refreshed and felt asleep by the cool breeze which swayed from the turquoise blue lake. The tapestry of wild flowers, Pink and Magenta of Matchrin Chai (Persicaria Afinis) or Muus Loour as called by Gujjars, felt like as if many portions of the bank were decorated with the Persian carpets.
After a power nap of 45 minutes, we were too hungry to wait for others and straight away crammed down Mutton pulav, Egg Burji and Chicken curry.
We had our fill and decided to ascend Mawarnag 2 located at an elevation of 3886 Mts. It took us another 20 minutes to stride across the rocks and splash across the mire upto the bottom of mound of Mawarnag lake 2. Its top furnishes the spectacular view of the lake.
It was exhilarating. We were also pleased to meet an ace environmental documentary filmmaker Jalal Jeelani. It was a treat to watch him doing what he does the best.
The majestic matterhorn overlooking the pristine lake was enveloped by the drifting clump of clouds. It looked so calm and captivating to watch the spectacle. The cool breeze and breathtaking beauty touched our souls. We felt as fresh as a daisy. We loved to lie on its banks and soak up the astounding atmosphere. We had our peace and quiet. Though it was irresistible to leave this place but unreliable weather and time constraints were the worrying concerns.
We descended back in a jiffy to spend some time at lower lake. We had another lunch session with the delicious Keema and Kababs. We had a brief interaction with Jalal sahab who joined us to grace the occasion. It was a taxing task to successfully summit both the tarns but food and friends were legit awesome to make it tempting and trivial to rise up against the odds.
At around 5.45 pm, we started our downhill journey and by 7 pm it was pitch dark in the frightening forest. We almost ran as fast as our legs could carry us, and safely reached back by 8.15 pm. On this trek day we had both delightful and dreadful experiences.
We SFC team members firmly believe that J and K Forest Deptt and Tourism Deptt will take note of our observations and come up with remedial/developmental measures to save this place from further deforestation and destruction.
Though it’s hoping against hope but we have kept our fingers crossed that they will do their bit to restore the lost glory.
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.