Sonmarg gives rise to The Three Sisters (Kashmir). In its vicinity lies the great Himalayan glaciers of Kashmir Valley namely Kolhoi Glacier and Machoi Glacier with some peaks of above 5000 meters: Sirbal Peak, Kolhoi Peak, Amarnath Peak and Machoi Peak. Sonmarg an alpine valley is situated at the bank of Nallah Sindh, 87 km north-east from Srinagar, it is a popular tourist destination, nestled within the imposing Himalayan peaks. It lies at an altitude of 2800 metres above sea level. The drive to Sonmarg is through yet another spectacular facet of country side in Kashmir, this time it is the Nallah Sindh, the largest tributary of the Jehlum River in the valley of Kashmir. It is upwards of sixty miles long valley and deep rock-girt gorge to open grassy meadow land and village-dotted slopes.
Sonmarg, which means ‘meadow of gold’ has, as its backdrop, snowy mountains against a cerulean sky. The Sindh meanders along here and abounds with trout and mahseer, snow trout can be caught in the main river. In late April when Sonmarg is open for road transport, the visitors can have access to snow which is furnished all over like a white carpet. Private vehicles are not allowed. Visitors have to hire taxi and it is controlled by taxi mafia. Ponies can be hired for the trip up to Thajiwas glacier a major attraction during the summer months.
The climate of Sonmarg is very bracing; but the rainfall is frequent though not heavy, except for two or three days at a time in July and August with fine spell in between. From Sonmarg, trekking routes lead to the Himalayan lakes of Vishansar Lake, Krishansar Lake, Gangabal Lake and Gadsar Lake, stocked with Snowtrout and Brown trout and Satsar, glacier-fed and surrounded by banks of alpine flowers.
A close by excursion is to Baltal, 15 km East of Sonmarg. This little valley lies at the foot of the Zojila, only a day’s journey away from the sacred cave of Amarnath is a base camp for Amarnath yatra. Trekkers can also reach the starkly splendid roof-top of the world Leh, by crossing over the Zoji La pass.
At Sonmarg the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department is organising river rafting tournaments yearly, which has recently seen the participation of teams abroad. A large number of Hindi movies have been pictured in the serene beauties of Sonmarg.
Sonmarg is easily accessible from Srinagar or Srinagar Airport, the capital of Kashmir, in under 3 hours by car or by bus on NH 1D 87 kilometers which leads along Nallah Sindh a key tourist attraction. Sonmarg is inaccessible during winter due to heavy snowfall and avalanches, NH 1D is closed in December every year, the local traffic is permitted only up to Gagangear village, which is the last permanent settlement of this area. Only the Choppers of Indian army lands at Sonmarg during winter carrying essentials for the army camp, and the army personnel is the only people who stay at Sonmarg during these harsh weather conditions. After Kargil war, these high altitude alpine meadows have seen the heavy deployment of the Indian army. The government has given a green signal to dig a 6-kilometer tunnel at Gagangear and 14-kilometer tunnel at Zojila, which will not only keep Sonmarg open round the year but also the Ladakh, this project is still in papers.
The main attraction of this place is Thajiwas Glacier. Be very careful from the pony & car touts. This will always miss guide you and ask handsome amount to access them. Your travel car will not have access to reach Thajiwas Glacier. You just need to hire either pony or local car to reach there. It is just about 5-minute drive by car. They may ask you about INR 900 for pony/person or INR 5000 per car. Always negotiate with them. You can easily negotiate them for INR 700 for three points (Thijiwas Glacier, Fish Pond & Sarbal Park). In Thajiwas, you will get the snow but tout will misguide you for not having over there. At last, if you want to enjoy snow in Thajiwas Glacier, Hire a car for INR2000, I’m sure you will get it over there.
You can hire sled-cart for INR100-200 and gumshoes for INR50-100 in May (which is peak time for them).