by Mir Basit Hasan
One must pay a visit to these surreal beauties and experience the unexplored beauty of nature, the excitement and the memories will be everlasting and promising.
The proverb that ‘to walk in nature is to witness a thousand miracles’ seems perfect when one walks into the wilderness of nature to experience its true colours. While walking into one such marvel of nature, known as TchorNag (Choharnag), surely mesmerizes everyone because of its ecstasy.
The name TchorNag is an amalgam of two Kashmir words – Tchor means four and Nag spring. So the name is actually given to a collection of four lakes situated deep into the mountain range at an altitude of about 14500 feet above sea level Oligotrophic nature with unparalleled beauty.
They are located at a trekking distance of almost two hours from Margan top, which itself is a vast meadow of green carpet and the high and tall mountains guarding the area. Adding to its existing exuberance and beauty, a canal cutting through the centre of the meadow is a treat to watch. There is a myth, which the locals believe, regarding these four lakes; it is said that these actually consist of a mother having three sons who lived in close proximity.
Margan valley or Margan top, part of district Anantnag, is a spot of breathtaking beauty. It is situated at a distance of 70 km from main Anantnag town and some 46 km from the famous picnic spot of Kokernag. The road leading from Kokernag via Vailoo is a unique experience all the way to the Margan valley or top. Famous picnic spots like Daksum, Verinag, and Kokernag come along the way of this beautiful trip.
The road which had been recently macadamized passes through the continuous mountain range alternatively followed by forests having pine and deodar trees and mostly barren and rocky tall mountains. The road looks fascinating but at the same time a scary one because the last 15 to 20 km are continuous ascents and zigzags much like that of Zojila. With more than 10 hairpins in a stretch lasting 20 km, this long and curvy journey is sure to send your head for a spin. Take caution of the blind curves which do not do any favours to one. There is the vantage point from where you can get an unhindered view of the eight-level zigzag roads on the adjoining hills. This geometry of curves is matchless and makes thrilling experiences for visitors.
Under the PMGSY, the whole road has been macadamized in an area that has accessibility issues. However, the stone shooting threat looms always, because the rocky-mountains sometimes start sliding naturally.
The road passes then through small valleys which are bounded by a continuous mountain range with greenery all around up to the Margan valley, also called as the gateway of Warwan valley a part of district Kishtwar. One can park their cars in the beautiful meadow of Margan valley which is a base for trekking to the exuberant TchorNag lakes. A temporary hut has been converted into a hotel where one can have a spice of local dishes apart from tea and other refreshments.
After trekking a steep ascent for about an hour and a half, the first lake was visible and was shining in its full bloom and vigour. The glittering sight of blue waters is a staggering piece of beauty to be welcomed by. The pristine view of the lake forces one to sing the song in praise of it.
The second lake, which is circular in shape, is situated straight ahead towards the west at a distance of some 400 meters. This one is considered to be bigger in size and better in beauty, although all the lakes are unique. This lake, in the bright sunshine, looks a piece of the ocean which shows blue colours on its nearer side while the farther side appears to have a grey colour of water – an incredible experience to have. Covered by long-standing mountains, it gives a perfect reflection upon looking into the lake. One could always think of spending more and more time at this charming and pleasing site but the crush and curiosity of more forces one to look for other lakes also.
After covering a distance of around 600 meters, along the boulders and marshy and dumpy meadows straight furthermore towards the west, another lake similar in nature and beauty appears.
The mother of these lakes, as the locals prefer to name it, is truly a rare and diversified beauty of nature. It is located deep at the foot of a tall standing mountain, with greenish coloured water. A top view of this lake is a thing of overwhelming joy and a perfect place to click some landscape pictures.
Upon walking down to the lake, echoing sounds are a must to be tried because the lake is located a bit deep than the other ones and covered all around. The echoing sounds are nice to hear and experience, one can call as loud as he can just for fun.
One thing that is unique here is that there is no outlet for this lake and the source is also a mystery. Where that huge amount of water seeps nobody knows, truly a miracle of nature. This lake is most mysterious in its nature because it remains covered under the shrouds of thick clouds most of the time. Our first view at the lake was a completely different one because the thick and running clouds make its visibility impossible; it seems there is nothing under these clouds, but luckily it got cleared soon.
All these three lakes lie straight ahead within a distance of around 1200 meters. To visit the fourth lake, one has to walk back to the first lake and then turn left towards the north at a distance of around one km. This one resembles the first one, as it is circular in shape and having bluish watercolour. Such is the elegance that a person gets sunken into its beauty. The 360-view from a mountain top is attracting and alluring one. The best time to explore this extremely breathtaking piece of beauty is from June to September; also in these months camping at night is an awesome experience one can have.
Agony and apathy are that much is not talked about these lakes; neither are these lakes being promoted explored by the tourism industry in such a way like others are endorsed. As long as these places remain neglected, nobody will visit them and a little will be known about these gorgeous set of lakes and ravishing valley, and surely this place has a huge potential to be one of the best tourist places.
Walking into that kind of wilderness and gorgeous diversity of scenery refreshes everyone and such is the beauty that everything seems picture perfect. Less human inhabitation has helped in a way that no litter or garbage is seen. One must pay a visit to these surreal beauties and experience the unexplored beauty of nature, the excitement and the memories will be everlasting and promising.
(Basit Hassan a resident of Tral, is pursuing masters in mechanical engineering)