Ganderbal on the tourist map
Noted for its scenic grasslands, lakes and mountains, it is a base camp for trekking to Mount Haramukh and Lake Gangabal
In 2007, Gh Nabi Azad, former Chief Minister of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir, created eight new districts out of the already fourteen districts in the state through a cabinet decision increasing the number of districts to twenty two. Kulgam was carved from Anantnag, Bandipora from Baramulla, Shopian from Pulwama and Ganderbal from the capital district of Srinagar. The following year, almost all district offices started operating from the newly created districts. Residents of these neighborhoods were thrilled and excited as their decades-old dream came true. District administrators stationed in these new districts have been proactive in mitigating public grievances. People breathed a sigh of relief when their problems were solved without traveling long distances like before. Apart from other spheres of life, tourist resorts in these newly created districts have received a great boost by being explored by both domestic and foreign tourists under the new administration. Since I have resided in Ganderbal, one of these newly created districts, for thirteen years, I have stumbled across most of its spas during this term. So let me talk about the spa resorts located in this picturesque area of central Kashmir.
Sonamarg. Sonamarg is 94 km from the capital Srinagar in the district of Ganderbal. The route passes through beautiful places of Ganderbal, Kangan, Gund, Mammar, Rayil, Kulan, Gangangir, etc. Sonamarg the golden meadow is a trekking paradise for its trekking routes with beautiful green and frozen around. The magnificent Thajwas Glacier offers a chance for snow sledding even in mid-summer. Good quality trout are also available here.
Manasbal Lake.Manasbal is the deepest lake in Kashmir. It is 32 km from the heart of Srinagar. The clear and deep water of the lake makes it one of the most beautiful and attractive lakes surrounded by natural beauty, tall mountains that form an effective contrast to the gentle beauty of the lake. This lake is also covered with lotus flowers, home to many water birds, making it a paradise for brides. The only Sainik school in the valley is located right next to the lake.
Gangabal Lake. The sacred Gangabal Lake at a height of 3657 meters is at the base of the snow-capped peak of Harmukh. Its turquoise-colored sheet of water lends a subtle charm to the valley known as the Hardwar of Kashmir. This frozen valley also contains many other lakes, perhaps nowhere in the Himalayas are there so many high altitude lakes in the eastern fringe.
Khirbawani. In the village of Tulmulla is a famous Hindu shrine, the Khirbawani Temple. Its water is said to change colors into different shades like green light, blue light and even blue light. The sacred spring symbolizes the goddess Raganya Devi. The annual festival here takes place every year in June-July. A visit to this famous temple will be an interesting trip.
Naranag. Naranag is a famous tourist place in Ganderbal district, located about 12 km from the main town of Kangan. The dilapidated ruins of the ancient Hindu temple of Narang are an archaeological site that is overrun with local and foreign visitors during the summer months. Noted for its scenic grasslands, lakes and mountains, it is a base camp for trekking to Mount Haramukh and Lake Gangabal. The village lies on the left bank of the Wangath River, which is a tributary of the Sind River. From the main town of Kangan to the tourist attraction of Narang, famous villages en route include Nizampora, Baranbugh, Khanan and Wangath.
Mohand Marg. The grassland also known as “Mohana Marg” is located on the banks of the Sindh River at an altitude of 3400 meters.
This grassland is located at the top of Koaihama range overlooking Sindh valley with panoramic view of Pir Panjal range, Gadsar range and Mount Kalahoi. There is another grassland called Lal Marg near the famous Mohand Marg.
Both meadows have historical significance. Hungarian-born archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein translated the famous book Rajtarangi from Sanskrit to English in the 1930s in these grasslands. Stein spent many summers in the grasslands of Mohan Marg translating the Rajatarangini. After the completion of his works, Stein erected a memorial at the spot to commemorate his achievement which is still intact at the spot.
Apart from these major natural hot spring resorts, the government has also developed a few parks in the district to attract more local and domestic tourists. Some of the most visited parks are Hung Park near Sonamarg, Environmental Parks near Kijpora, another at Manigam on the banks of Sind River and a beautiful and well developed park Qamria Park near Ganderbal Mini Secretariat.
Ganderbal is also the home of many popular and prominent saints, as a good number of God-fearing saints have their final resting place here. Some of the distinguished and popular shrines include Hazrat Baba Ji ra at Babanagri, Mir Hyder ra at Tulmulla, Shah Sadiq Qalandar ra at Lar, Baba Daryawudin ra at Khalmulla, Syed Qamurudin Bukhari ra at Saloora Ganderbal and Baba Hanifudin ra Yarmuqam etc. A huge rush of people around the year is witnessed at these shrines.