Tag Archives: Thajiwas Glacier

Sonamarg, Kashmir – The Golden Meadows of India

If there is a heaven on earth, then it’s in Kashmir! Have you heard that? Probably yes! Even we have heard that and don’t know to which part of Kashmir, people refer as heaven. We visited Srinagar and Sonmarg during our 13 days road trip to Leh Ladakh from Delhi. And trust us Sonamarg which means the “Golden Meadows” or “Meadows of Gold” was no less than heaven.

Sonamarg - The Golden Meadows of IndiaThe green meadows on the banks of the Sindh River and the cold rustic mountains leading to Kargil from Sonamarg were completely striking. The valley enthralled us in its beauty and made us say it is a complete destination in itself.


Sonamarg lies 86 kilometers from Srinagar at an altitude 8950 feet. Till day, the place is mostly visited by pilgrims during the Holy Amarnath Yatra and by road trippers as a stopover link between Jammu and Leh.  Even we had the similar impression for the place to be just a stopover. So, after strolling at Dal Lake, Srinagar for an hour we turned our steering to reach further.

Related: Attractions on Srinagar Leh Highway

Dal Lake, Srinagar: Sonamarg, Kashmir-The Golden Meadows of India
Dal Lake, Srinagar

We reached the small town Sonamarg around 7:30 pm and it was already pitch dark. The only thing we could see in the darkness was snow-capped glistening mountains on one side and lots of resorts in a row on another side. So, the first impression was another hill town. Sad!!

But as I woke up and opened our room window, my jaw dropped down in a big Wow! I couldn’t believe my eyes and mind. The meadows in front seemed to be vast and exceptionally beautiful in the shade of light and dark. And from there we made our mind to explore Sonamarg first before heading further to Leh.

First morning look of Sonamarg after rain - The Golden Meadows of India

The valleys of Sonamarg have much to offer to nature lovers. If one side of the mountains is dotted by tall alpine trees making unique patterns than on another side there are snow clad Himalayas. Out of these majestic Peaks, one is Thajiwas glacier which seemed to be quite near but not that near. The clouds engulf the valley anytime making it look a green hamlet in the clouds.

Sonamarg - The Golden Meadows

Sightseeing in and around Sonamarg

Sonamarg – the Golden Meadows, has not many attractions. It is a place to be with nature. We recommend to find a nice spot for yourself, enjoy serene beauty, breathe fresh air and listen to the music of water.

The Golden Meadows - Sonamarg

Also Read: The complete Kashmir Itinerary

Apart from this, visit the Thajiwas Glacier, which now days is also known as Bajrangi Bhaijan Point (after the release of Bajrangi Bhaijan movie). The base of the glacier can be reached through union taxis or ponies. The drive till glacier base is memorable and fun but the ponies dung leaves you breathless on the way. We found the union rates to be bit high and touts were annoying.

Thajiwas Glacier in Sonamarg

Drive through Baltal to Zojila Pass, which lies 24 kilometers ahead from Sonamarg. At Baltal, view the gushing picturesque Sindh River flowing down in the gorge and hundreds of colorful tents set up nearby for Amarnath Pilgrims.

Drive towards Baltal from Sonamarg, kashmir

Amarnath Yatra Base Camps at Baltal near Sonamarg
Amarnath Yatra Base Camps at Baltal near Sonamarg

The Zojila Pass lies at 11, 649 feet. The road to the pass is highly curvaceous and narrow. So, the drive is thrilling for nature and adventure lovers. At one point, green Valleys are suddenly taken over by barren huge mountains and one can see huge snow walls around. One can enjoy snow sports like sledding, snow bikes and a trek to the barren mountain, at Zero point.

Snow wall at Zojila Pass - Sonamarg Sightseeing

Also read: Ladakh-The land of high Passes

Zero Point at Zojila Pass - Sonamarg Sightseeing

Just 4 kilometers from the city lay a highly reverted Nilagrad River. The water of River is believed to have some medicinal values. Sonamarg also acts as a base for some of the treks like Krishansar Lake trek, Vishansar Lake trek, Gangabal Trek, Kashmir great lakes trek etc.

Accommodations in Sonamarg

Sonamarg has various types of accommodation options ranging from budget hotel to luxury hotels to riverside camps. We suggest choosing a hotel which has glacier way. We stayed at Hotel Imperial, a mid-segment range property, which had a glacier view.

mperial Resorts - Sonamarg

You can also check the various options here.

Local Cuisines

The Golden Meadows might look like a small place but there are plenty of restaurants and hotels to enjoy the food. One can try a range of Indian, Punjabi, Chinese and Kashmiri food. We say, when in Kashmir, do try the local Kashmiri cuisines and drinks which includes Syoon Olav (Meat with Potatoes cooked in spicy gravy), Marcha-Wangan korma, Nadir-Haaq/Gogji/Monji (lotus stems cooked with Spinach or Radish)Muj Gaad (Fish with Radish)Modur Pulaav (Sweet Pulao)Kaanti (lamb pieces in red-hot gravy) and Matschgand (minced lamb meatballs in spicy red gravy) and Kahwah or Qahwa (green tea with cardamom, cinnamon etc).

Modur Pulav - Sonamarg, Kashmiri Cuisine
Modur Pullav

How to Reach Sonamarg

Sonamarg can be reached by air, bus, car, and train. The nearest airport is at Srinagar and railway station is at Jammu. From Srinagar, one can hire a shared or individual taxi, or reach by bus. The best option according to us is self-drive from Srinagar to Sonamarg.

Condition of roads: well constructed graveled road

Best Time to visit Sonamarg: Summers from May to October

Expected Temperature– 7 – 20-degree Celsius in summers and -8 to-18 degree Celsius in winters

So, Sonamarg was an absolute land of beauty and magic. It left us completely mesmerized. Throughout our drive Sindh River accompanied us, and the only change was in the background – sometimes a pitch green carpet on mountain slopes and sometimes the white snow-laden.

Sonamarg - The Golden Meadows of India

Do you also feel Sonamarg – The Golden Meadows is a real paradise or heaven. And, if you have any more stories of this land, please share it with us. We will be happy to listen to them.

You can also read about our other series of Leh Ladakh below

Hemis Monastery

Nubra Valley: The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh

A day at White Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh

Ladakh-The land of High Passes

All you need to know about Leh Ladakh Inner Line Permit

6 must visit Leh Ladakh Palaces before they disappear

A Walk with Indian Soldier at Kargil War Memorial

Leh Ladakh Road trip from Delhi – 13 days itinerary


Attractions on the Srinagar Leh Highway

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The cool breeze started caressing our face when we opened the car window, our eyes popped up seeing the enchanting 180 to 360-degree views of the landscapes around. There was a strong urge to stop every now and then at each spot indefinitely. Such is the real beauty and benefits of road trips.  Road trips have always fascinated us.  And being road trip lovers, we did an epic 13 day, 3500 km road trip from Delhi to Leh Ladakh. The massive changing landscapes, crowning shaded mountains, and the virgin beauty of Ladakh left us completely stunned. It was a lifetime experience for us to drive on the Srinagar Leh Highway and its beauty is just beyond words.

Srinagar Leh Highway

If we tell you to stop at each of these places or villages in between, to check the attractions out, we will be absolutely wrong.  In fact, the whole journey is a big attraction in itself. There are high passes and glaciers, natural and manmade wonders, centuries-old monasteries. And if you are a photo-bug like us, you will have a strong urge to stop and click pictures at every curve, while traversing on the Srinagar Leh highway. But stopping at each point is just next to impossible. So, here is a brief overlay of what one must visit.


We broke our journey from Sonmarg to Leh in two days, to sense and feel the actual beauty of Ladakh. The first day we traveled from Sonamarg to Kargil and second day Kargil to Leh. Also, read complete Leh Ladakh Itinerary from Delhi

Attractions on Srinagar Leh Highway

(Day 1 from Sonamarg – Kargil)

  1. Thajiwas Glacier

The Thajiwas glacier lies just 7 km away from Sonamarg. The trail offers splendid views of green and frozen lakes around it. One can climb it by ponies and also try a sledge ride in mid-summer there.

Thajiwas Glacier: Srinagar Leh Highway

  1. Zoji La

The first high altitude pass, Zoji La lies 9 km from Sonamarg and is at an altitude of 11,575 feet. The pass remains covered with snow throughout the year and even in the months of May-August, you can see 8 – 10 feet of snow wall around it. Just a kilometer ahead, there is a snow point where snow never melts and one can enjoy snow games there.

Snow Wall at ZojiLa- Ladakh,the land of high passes, on Srinagar Leh Highway

Also Read: Ladakh – The Land of High Passes

  1. Drass War Memorial at Drass

Drass lies 39 km from Zoji La and is famous for the Drass War memorial which is built as a tribute to the martyrs of Kargil war. One gets teary-eyed seeing how our brave Indian soldiers fought and laid their lives to sway back our Indian Flag there. Remember to spot the Elephant ridge, Tiger Hill, and Tololing Hill in the backdrop of Drass War Memorial. Also, see Amar Jawan Jyoti and 100’s of memorial stones at Veer Bhumi.

Vijaypath at Drass War Memorial /Kargil War Memorial: Srinagar Leh Highway

Also Read: A walk with Indian Solider at Kargil War Memorial

  1. Kargil

The city Kargil lies 65 km away from Drass and is famous for rich apricot plantations. There is a Kargil war memorial and the Kargil heritage hut here too. Do visit these to see the traditional and cultural attires and crockery of the various tribes of Ladakh valley.

We stayed at Hotel Zojila Residency in Kargil. We must say, the ultimate place to relax and unwind; with the Suru River flowing around it.

View of Kargil & River Suru from Hotel Zojila Residency - Srinagar Leh Highway
View of Kargil & River Suru from Hotel Zojila Residency

Attractions on Srinagar Leh Highway

(Day 2 from Kargil- Leh)

  1. Mulbekh Monastery/ Maitreya Buddha at Mulbekh

The Mulbekh monastery lays 45 km from Kargil on the Srinagar Leh highway. It is famous for the 7th-century old carved statue of Lord Buddha. This Maitreya Buddha sculpture is 9 meters tall and is believed to be the former Buddha.

Mulbekh Monastery - Future Buddha: Srinagar Leh Highway
Mulbekh Monastery – Future Buddha
  1. Namika La

Just 16 km ahead to Mulbekh, lays the second highest pass, Namika La.  It is at an altitude of 12139 feet and is known as the “Pillar of the sky pass” because of the pillar-like object rising towards the sky at the pass.

View from Pass Namika La: Srinagar Leh Highway

  1. Fotu La

Fotu La, one of the most picturesque pass, lies at an altitude of 13,478 feet and is 36 km from Namika La. This pass too has relay station of Bharat Prasar. Read more about  Ladakh – the Land of High Passes.

Fotu La top: Srinagar Leh Highway

  1. Lamayuru

After descending 14 km from Fotu La, you reach the most scenic surreal village, Lamayuru. The village is known for its absurd landscapes i.e. moon lands and centuries-old Lamayuru Monastery.


Lamayuru Moon lands

These bizarre Landscapes resemble the lunar landscape of the moon; hence named Lamayuru moon lands. Locals too say they shine extraordinarily during the full moon nights. For best views of moon lands, one can climb the meditation hill.

Lamayuru Moon Land on Srinagar Leh Highway

Lamayuru Monastery

The whitewashed monastery on the hilltop amidst these lunar landscapes is one of the largest and oldest Gompas of the region. The foundation stone of the Gompa was laid back in the 10th century by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa, after drying up the lake in the valley. The Monastery is still a house to almost 150 monks and is famous for the dance masked festival.


  1. Magnetic Hill / Gravity Hill

Gravity Hill or Magnetic Hill in Ladakh is a perfect example of Optical Illusion. 30 km from Leh there is a stretch of the Srinagar Leh highway itself, where the surrounding slopes and valley layout give the impression that the downhill road is actually an uphill road.

Magnetic Hill on Srinagar Leh Highway

Most of the people are aware of the fact, but still, hey fascinate to turn off their car engines and leave them in neutral, to see their cars moving. Even we stopped our car here to experience it, no less than others.

  1. Gurudwara Pathar Sahib

The Gurudwara Pathar Sahib is a beautiful shrine 25 km before Leh. The shrine has a huge boulder with imprints of Guru Nanak Dev Ji and demon foot.

Boulder with Guru Nanak figure at Gurudwara Pathar Sahib on Srinagar Leh Highway

There is an interesting story behind this shrine. During Guru Nanak Dev Voyage to Ladakh, he was meditating here and seeing him lost, the demon thought of attacking him.  The demon rolled down the rock from the hilltop to kill the divine soul but as soon as the rock approached him, it got converted to the soft molten wax. Seeing this, the demon got more ferocious and he pushed the rock further with his feet with full strength. Instead of Guru getting injured, the demons’ foot got injured himself. Soon, after this demon realized that he is a mortal soul and he stopped disturbing him.

Same Boulder with Demon foot on other side at Gurudwara Pathar Sahib on Srinagar Leh highway

Tibetan Buddhists idolize Guru Nanak Dev Ji as a Guru Gompa Maharaja and as Nanak Lama.

  1. Indus Zanskar River Confluence, at Village Nimmu

The confluence of river Indus and Zanskar on the Srinagar Leh highway is another mesmerizing sight in itself. It lies 6 km from the village Nimmu and is a photographer’s delight.

Indus Zanskar Confluence on Srinagar Leh Highway
Indus Zanskar Confluence

Apart from this, we mentioned earlier too, that the whole journey on Srinagar Leh highway is an attraction in itself. So, stop wherever you can, enjoy and get soaked in the beauty of the Ladakh.

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Attractions on the Srinagar Leh Highway, India

You can also read about our other series of Leh Ladakh below and the road trip to Spiti Valley.

Nubra Valley: The Valley of Flowers in Ladakh

A day at White Lake Tso Kar in Ladakh

Ladakh-The land of High Passes

All you need to know about Leh Ladakh Inner Line Permit

6 must-visit Leh Ladakh Palaces before they disappear

A Walk with Indian Soldier at Kargil War Memorial

Leh Ladakh Road trip from Delhi – 13 days itinerary

Story of Gata Loops

Dos and Donts for Ladakh Road Trip

Hemis Monastery: Biggest & Wealthiest Gompa in Ladakh

Sonamarg, Kashmir – The Golden Meadows of India

Bhuttico Kullu Shawls & Accessories – The Gift of Valley

Leh Palace

10 reasons why everyone should travel India

The colored Tibetan Prayer Stones – Mani Stones