Things to do in Yusmarg, Kashmir
Things to do in Yusmarg: Digital Detox in Majestic meadows world!During my visit to Kashmir, a few moons ago, I was recommended by many to visit Gulmarg, Sonmarg and Phelgam. However, there was a certain traveller I happened to meet on the train, who co-incidentally hailed from Jammu, also recommended that I should visit Yusmarg. An avid traveller himself, you could see the gleam in his eyes as he recalled memories of the beautiful paradise. That’s what is beautiful about travelling; you meet so many people and hear their interesting stories along the way which becomes part of your own travel story. I am just glad I chose to travel to Jammu via train.
First Glance of Yusmarg:
Yusmarg lies in the Badgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, some 50 odd kms from Srinagar. The cab travels at its own leisurely pace around the hills blanketed with a sprawling stretch of meadows, white milky streams and clear lakes mirroring the snow-capped mountains. The flower strewn pathways, colourful huts and ponies across the meadow make for a beautiful postcard memory of Yusmarg.
The word Yus is derived from Youza or Jesus and Marg meaning Meadow which together forms “Yusmarg”. It is believed that Jesus had once passed through these meadows.
How to reach Yusmarg:
You can hire a cab from Srinagar to reach Yusmarg. There are direct flights to Srinagar from all the major cities of the country.By rail, Jammu is the nearest station with shared cabs available to Srinagar at a cost of Rs 1000. It’s a long journey with the driver putting the pedal to the metal quite often. So, fasten your seat belt, grab some mountain sickness remedies and enjoy the ride till Srinagar.
Where to stay in Yusmarg:
Even though Yusmarg is near to Srinagar, it doesn’t see too many tourist footfalls. The locals from Srinagar visit Yusmarg and return within a day, mainly on weekends. Similarly, many tourists also prefer to visit only for a day while only a handful of those tend to stay back and explore further. JKTDC Hutment Complex is the only stay option available in Yusmarg. Green and brown colored huts are artfully constructed on the green lush meadows overlooking the lake and the deep pine forest. The huts are spaced out allowing each of its residents’ ample space of their own. The amazing landscape dotted with colorful huts seem like a painter’s efforts on a life-size canvas.
The tariff is reasonable, and the rooms are large enough to swing a cat.They come equipped with a heater, extra blankets, a warmer & a geyser making it a comfortable stay. Among all the pros, the only con is that the place is prone to frequent power shortages. So, ensure your gadgets are charged before you leave Srinagar, or carry a power bank or two.
Digital Detox in Yusmarg :
Yusmarg has limited network connection which was a blessing in a disguise. Waking up in the morning without an alarm, no Instagram or email notifications & no phone calls, I relished the two most peaceful days of my trip. It was an imposed digital detox that I sub-consciously wished for. Life seems perfect when you are waking up to the whiff of fresh mountain air, the sun shining in through your window and a hot cup of Coffee. The place is great to do a little soul searching and to get rid of that writer’s block.
How many days to spend in Yusmarg:
This offbeat destination is best discovered at your own pace. Take it slow & soak in the unadulterated beauty of this place. I would recommend two days at the very least to have a leisurely stay; one day to laze around inside the warm, comfortable lakeside huts and another day to follow the hiking trails at the nearby hills. I wanted to stay here longer if not for my return travel plans.
Things to see and do around Yusmarg:
Yusmarg is a hikers’ paradise. Take a short stroll to the nearby lake for some absolute serenity or just lay back amongst the flower-strewn meadows. Also, try striking up conversations with the locals and you will be amazed by their stories; simple and yet so touching. They travel miles just to buy their daily necessities, yet they will always greet you with a smile. Do not be surprised if they invite you for kahwa or a full course meal at home, they are very hospitable.
Doodhganga: A couple of kms to the West, flows a rough river with bubbling froth cutting through the rocks; Doodh Ganga. The trail is simple to walk on, but pony rides are also available for a mere Rs.150. The vacant spaces on the banks of the river are a great spot to put down that picnic basket.
NeelNag: 4 hours of patchy trails through a deep forest would lead you to Neel Naag Lake. The pristine blue waters with a mirror-like reflection of the green surroundings and the blue sky is simply magnificent. A guide is recommended as the Tourism department insists one hiring one.
Stroll down to the lake and experience its soothing calmness with birds chirping for a musical background score and the mountains reflecting in the clear water. Sturdy shoes with good grip are a necessity during the rains and snowfall. Also, if possible, avoid a Pony ride to Neel Naag as you will only be able to view the lake from a distance and not close enough.
Charar-e-Sharief : The shrine of saint Sheikh Noor-Ud-Din or Nund Reshi, Charar-e-Sharief is one of the most ancient shrines in the valley. Located at a distance of about 13 kms from Yusmarg, this near 600-year-old heritage site is definitely worth a visit.
Food options: The food options are minimal with only the tourism hotel and just a few food stalls around. I would recommend to try the homely food prepared at the tourist guest house. Served with warmth and love, the food tastes even more satisfying when served in their stunning crockery.
Meat dishes are a preference here, but based on preferences, meals are cooked as per request. From a simple dal fry to the homelier mix vegetable, the food is plain delicious.
Also try Maggi and Kahwa at the small eateries just a few paces before the lake and soak in the view while you enjoy the grub.
Amazingly friendly locals, reasonable prices and the allure of a road trip adventure, Yousmarg has several reasons to be one of India’s idyllic offbeat destination.
Best Time to Visit: April to September. Kashmir is beyond all the beautiful pictures you would have seen on social media. Experience the beauty which is beyond pictures and poems.
For real time updates on best time & travel options, get in touch with the J&K Tourism Department.
I was welcomed by J&K Tourism at Yusmarg; however, as always, all the opinions and the beautiful pictures above are my own.