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Yusmarg – A Guide to Kashmir’s lesser Known Gem

The Roaming Shoes
Yusmarg – A Guide to Kashmir’s lesser Known Gem

Yusmarg (or Yousmarg) – A name I had come across sporadically when it came to Kashmir. While Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Pahalgam are included in almost everyone’s Kashmir itinerary, Yusmarg is considered relatively offbeat. This little gem of Kashmir is bestowed with unparalleled natural beauty and is ideal for people seeking solitude in nature.

So let me tell you, Yusmarg is not your regular tourist destination to tick off points of interest. But the kind of place to slow down and soak in the beauty of nature – to take walks in the unsullied forests, to talk to the welcoming and cheerful locals, to lie down in the meadows and have little picnics surrounded by wild flowers. If these are the things your heart is set on, then Yusmarg is for you.

Things to do and experience in Yusmarg

As I said in the beginning, Yusmarg is not like the other tourist places of Kashmir. So there is not much for sightseeing. But it offers ample hiking opportunities depending on available time. Even the Valley itself is scenic enough to explore by foot.

When you are in Yusmarg for a day or two, here are a few things you can do to make the best of your time.

Visit Charar-e-Shariff

It’s one of the oldest Sufi shrines of Kashmir and holds high religious importance. The original wooden shrine that was built approximately 600 years ago was burnt down in a fire in 1995. So the the one standing in its place is actually the rebuilt structure. The shrine looks beautiful from outside and the numerous pigeons living on it keep flying around at intervals creating a spectacular sight. But it is the peaceful and emotion evoking interior of the Shrine that I loved specifically.

Rejuvenate by Doodh Ganga River

This beautiful river gurgling through the pebble strewn bed gets its name from the milky white colour of its water. Rimmed by tall Pine and Cedar trees, the river valley is immensely scenic. Its the kind of place where you sit down, dip your feet in the ice cold water and forget all worries. There are a few shops by the riverside that provide Maggi and Chai (tea) to enhance the whole experience.

To reach Doodh Ganga, you can either hire a pony or hike through the forest for half an hour. Since we do not like pony rides, we decided to take a ponywala as our guide instead. He took us to a wild cherry garden inside the forest before visiting the river. The pony owners, being locals in the area can also help you see a few other interesting sights when you have limited time.

Enjoy a picnic in the meadows

The green pastures of Yusmarg dotted with Summer flowers are idyllic for enjoying a picnic. And thats what a lot of locals do when they visit Yusmarg. While majority choose the JKTDC Cottages compound and nearby areas, we decided to go beyond the Gujjar Huts to an area shaded by the towering trees. Indeed that’s the place that had caught our attention the previous day due to the abundance of Yellow flowers and a tranquil surrounding. Sitting there listening to the chirping of birds and sipping on Kahwa languorously while the passer-by flashed a smile every now and then – life felt perfect in those moments.

Interact with the locals

We found the locals of Yusmarg really warm and welcoming. Little children flash innocent smiles while being curious and ask for photographs when they notice the camera. The Gujjar people staying in the mud huts are some of the warmest, inviting strangers in to their little homes for tea. We had to politely decline though due to shortage of time and bid goodbye after making little conversations. Their huts reminded me so much of my maternal Grandparents home from childhood.

Even the pony owners of Yusmarg are polite and were never too overbearing. The one we took as a guide was a very nice and genuine fellow who told us so much about the life of Gujjars and the flora and fauna of the region. Read More…..

The Roaming Shoes
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