By Danish Ahmad
Kousarnag- located roughly 141 miles from Srinagar, is considered one of the attractive sites. Every year, thousands of trekkers make the grueling trek across the rough, mountain terrain, braving rain, snow and landslides. The trek is via the famous waterfall of Aharbal and takes three to four days on foot.
Image clicked by Umer Asif
The ideal time to visit the oligotrophic lake is between July to September. The adverse weather conditions, arduous length of the trek and high altitudes demand a complete medical check-up of people with some medical history.
It was middle of the June 2014 when I planned a trekking trip with my colleagues to Kousarnag. We were a group of seven people almost of the same age. We thought it would be adventurous to sleep in tents and cooking our own food. The day we left in the morning was Sunday with a pleasant weather.
We travelled by car to Aarbal which is also a tourist destination, from this point journey by foot starts as their as road connectivity ends. Then it was the time to gear up for trekking, we started with very pleasant weather but as we go for trekking the weather was changing indiscriminately. It was one of my favorite memorable experiences in my life.
Image clicked by author
We were close to Koungwattan the place where we have a plan for base camp when the first shower of rain started. We didn’t stop, we were heading towards our destiny. The meadows and flouring waters provide natural setting for camping in Koungwattan. After setting up a base camp at Koungwattan, I and my colleague Ali Mohammad visited the nearby army camp for registration which was very important according to our group leader Mudasir Ashaq.
When we enter the camp I asked the officer ‘‘Sir our group is going to visit Kousarnag these are our ID cards, we want your green signal.’’ ‘‘The weather conditions are adverse, as per our reports the routes are cladded with snow. I think you should visit next time’’ Army officer replied. “Sir we are very passionate about Kousarnag, if we are not going to do this today we can’t make it ever’’ said Ali Mohammad with a smile. I can still remember the officer patted on my back as he replied ‘‘Wish you a good luck, have a safe and happy journey’’.
After completing all the formalities of registration we lit fire and we took lunch. As we were heading towards our destiny, we met some people who were coming back from Kousarnag. “Kashmir valley is an extremely beautiful surrounded by high mountains and offers numerous exciting and adventurous trekking routes, Kousarnag is one such destination,” says a tourist from Jammu who often comes to Kashmir for his adventures. We met with another group of senior citizens who were also heading towards the same destiny. I remember one of my friend said ‘‘Look he is my father’s age, some people are really inspiring”, as he pointed his finger towards an old man. One of the men within their group was a tour guide; he knows all the routes of the Kousarnag, so we started following him.
Image clicked by author
The places that come between the routes are no less than fantasy lands. The sights are simply magical. The crystal clear waters that come from the top of mountains reflecting the blue shades of sky give a fantastic look and make one feel like one is in wonderland. If you have not visited Kousarnag yet, it would be a mistake to miss such sights. A stream flows high up from the mountain which is fed by glaciers flows in such a way that gives feeling of heaven. Except for the few local tribes called Gujjars, who take their cattle for graze on the terraces, the mountains are uninhabited. After crossing some snow clade mountains, we setup a tent near the stream for the night to sleep. As we slept, the sounds of the gushing waters of the Veshav River made our sleep well.
When I woke up next morning it was very sunny, I washed my face with very chilly water. We had breakfast with bread and tea and we start moving ahead. I remember when I was crossing the river on which the snow was frozen; I heard the sound of water that was flowing beneath the frozen snow. It was very fearful experience I ever had in my trip. As we were going high and high we were struggling with the routes.
After about four hours of trekking we finally were very close to our goal, i still remember when our phones were out of network and suddenly one of my friends phone start ringing. We were very happy as we made call to our parents. One of the best jokes that ever happened in our trip was when one of us made a call to his father, ‘‘Hello Daddy I am calling you from Kousarnag we finally managed to reach there.’’ ‘‘Come back home now, what are you waiting for’’ his father replied with anger and fear.
Image clicked by author
The hindrances during this trip were snow clad routes, scarcity of oxygen, lack of mobile networks and sign boards.It was a very joyful moment when our group leader shouted, ‘‘Hooooo Kousarnag Is There”.
I can’t even express this rejoice in words. Everyone was happy; you can imagine how it would sense when you will find a large spring on the top the mountain. It was covered with a thick layer of snow and in some places where there was no snow it was frozen with ice. One of our group mates said, “Hay guys I think almighty is here, don’t pollute the water.’’ The water was as cold as frozen ice. After staying an hour we marked our signs and names on every big stone “Pathan Guys” our tagline.
Now it was time to depart from there, so we left. The downhill trip was very easy. Finally we reached to our base camp.