Tarsar Marsar Trek

Tour Plan

The Tarsar Marsar trek is a photographer’s paradise that packs so much within a short span of time. The trek is located along the Lidder-Aru Valley in the Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary, a peaceful region untouched by commercialization. The route traverses the foothills of the Kolahoi Peak, the highest mountain of Kashmir. This is a classic Kashmir trek that wows the traveller every step of the way. From lavish grasslands, verdant meadows and coniferous alpine forests to glacial streams, picture-perfect blue lakes and mindblowing mountain views – this remarkable trail makes you fall in love with Kashmir even more.

The Tarsar Marsar Trek is an irresistible allure in the deeper landscapes of the region. Flanked by giant mountains all along with fairytale-like natural settings at every turn, this route has some of the most beautiful campsites and ridge walks in the Kashmir Himalayas. The memorable journey through an unseen side of Kashmir’s wilderness offers a blend of natural wonders, cultural encounters, and an amazing sense of accomplishment.

This is a suitable trek for fit and well-prepared beginners while for avid trekkers, it is a well-packaged, wholesome hiking experience. Overall, the Tarsar Marsar trek in Kashmir is a gifted trail and is perfect for anyone looking for a delightful Himalayan adventure.

Tarsar Marsar Lake Trek Info/FAQ

Tarsar Marsar trek is named after the twin alpine lakes of Tarsar and Marsar located in the highlands of south-east kashmir. They are found in the vicinity of each other tucked between the Dachigam National Park in the west and the Overa-Aru Wildlife Sanctuary and Kolahoi mountain in the East. The trek starts from Aru, a village situated at a distance of about 105 Km from Srinagar and 12 km ahead of Pahalgam town.
The base camp of the Tarsar Marsar Lakes trek is Aru, a tiny village located in a bowl-shaped valley of the same name, just 12 km ahead of Pahalgam town. Aru village can be reached by private cabs or public sharing transport from Srinagar via Pahalgam. On this trek, we will arrange a comfortable car pick up for all trekkers from a designated point in Srinagar. The car will directly transfer you to the EKA base camp at Aru. At the end of the trek, we will again arrange transport to drop you back to Srinagar. These Base Camp transfers are included in our Trip Costs and trekkers do not need to pay separately. The nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi Railway Station which is at a distance of 250 kilometers. One can hire a taxi and take a road trip to Srinagar from Jammu Tawi Railway Station. Jammu railway station is well connected to the Indian railways network to all major cities in India by rail. Direct train services are available from Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Trivandrum. By train one has to reach Jammu and then drive to Srinagar on road, which takes around 7-8 hours depending on road conscious and traffic. The upcoming new train stations and the extension of the railway network into Kashmir including the building of one of the highest rail bridges in the world will enable direct connectivity via trains without any need of road travel.
Srinagar city is well connected to all the major cities in India and can be reached by air, train or road. The most convenient way to reach Srinagar is via flight. Sheikh Ul-Alam International Airport in Srinagar (Code: SXR) is around 15 Kms away from the city centre. Srinagar Airport has regular flights from Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Leh, Chandigarh and other cities. The nearest railway station is Jammu Tawi Railway Station which is at a distance of 250 kilometers. One can hire a taxi and take a road trip to Srinagar from Jammu Tawi Railway Station. Jammu railway station is well connected to the Indian railways network to all major cities in India by rail. Direct train services are available from Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore and Trivandrum. By train one has to reach Jammu and then drive to Srinagar by road, which takes around 7-8 hours depending on road conditions and traffic. The upcoming new train stations and the extension of the railway network into Kashmir including the building of one of the highest rail bridges in the world, will enable direct connectivity via trains without any need of road travel.
The best time to hike on this route is from the beginning of July to the middle of September. The reason being in all the other months, some sections plus the high passes on the route are engulfed in snow which makes them difficult to cross. Depending on the snow conditions, we may also open this as early as the later half of June. The earlier part of the season generally ensures much less crowd and more pristine conditions compared to the later months. The temperatures on the trek range from 15-20 degrees Celsius during daytime and may drop to 4-8 degrees Celsius in the night. If it rains, it may feel colder and so one needs to be prepared in terms of clothing and gear. The months of July to September is when the summers in Kashmir transition to Autumn and Kashmir is at its most vibrant during this period, exhibiting a diverse range of landscapes and the best shades of green with colourful wildflowers all over. Although rains are generally unpredictable in the mountains, it is definitely expected on this trail during this season and afternoon showers are more common, offering a good window to trek during the morning.
The standard itinerary of Tarsar Marsar Lakes Trek is around 47 km in length. Most of the trail walks beside the famous Aru-Lidder river of Kashmir. With gradual acclimatization and proper selection of campsites, this distance is covered over the course of 6 days from Aru to Aru.
The Tarsar Marsar Trek is considered an easy to moderate trek. Compared to other multi-day long treks in Kashmir, this trail is relatively easy in terms of the distance, terrain and altitudes The trail passes through meadows, forests, high passes, boulder sections and involves river crossings on some occasions. It requires trekkers to walk for 4-5 hours on average every day. The trek includes ascending and descending terrains and a few steep challenging sections too. Although it is recommended for beginners, it requires a moderate level of fitness and prior trekking and camping experience is helpful but not mandatory.
Both the treks offer a chance to explore Kashmir’s incredible scenic beauty in pristine conditions. Both the adventures take you beyond the common touristy circuits and show you an unseen side of Kashmir with spectacular meadows and lakes. Each trek has its own charm but In terms of difficulty, the Tarsar Marsar Trek is easier compared to the Kashmir Great Lakes trek. With less number of Pass crossings, lower distance and more gradual climb, the Tarsar Marsar is a good choice for those without any prior trekking experience. It is more suitable for beginners who want to get a taste of Himalayan trekking in Kashmir. On the other hand, for experienced and avid hikers, who are up for a slightly more challenging and longer trail, the Kashmir Great Lakes Trek could be the one to go for. Whichever trek you choose, both offer a fantastic experience amidst the breathtaking landscapes of Kashmir.
The moderately challenging route of the Tarsar Marsar trek makes it a good choice for families who love to explore the outdoors and mountains. Although the trail is not very physically demanding, it still requires trekkers to navigate a variety of terrain, from wide meadow trails to short boulder sections. Therefore, all members of the family should be reasonably fit and in good health. They should all be willing to make the effort and be prepared for some challenging sections on the route. Prior trekking experience is not mandatory for this trek but families including children (above 10) and seniors (below 60) must come well-prepared. Travellers also should not have any existing medical conditions such as Cardiac or BP-related issues, serious Asthma etc. For all interested trekkers, and especially senior elderly people, it is advisable to consult a doctor before signing up.
The mobile network and connectivity will be limited as you move beyond Pahalgam town. The base camp village of Aru has a BSNL network which may not be very reliable and consistent. As we start the trek from Aru and move deeper on the trail, no phone network or internet connectivity will be available. The trek takes you through some of the remote and isolated regions of Kashmir, where the signal coverage can be sporadic or mostly non-existent. It’s important to be prepared for the possibility of no phone network or internet connectivity during all sections of the trek. Therefore it’s advisable to inform your family and friends back home about the potential communication limitations during the trek days. While you may encounter limited or no phone network and internet connectivity during the Tarsar Marsar Lakes Trek, the experience provides you an excellent opportunity to disconnect from technology and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the surroundings.
When visiting Jammu and Kashmir, it is important to note that prepaid mobile connections issued outside the territory do not work. Only local prepaid sims and Postpaid connections will work. All postpaid connections of major network operators will have good reception and data connectivity in most destinations of the valley. Airtel, Jio, Vodafone and BSNL – all provide good connectivity and internet data networks in the main areas of the valley with BSNL having the widest coverage and Airtel having the strongest connectivity. Recently, Jio has penetrated well and is now offering great connectivity to even some very remote areas of the region. Srinagar generally has decent phone connectivity with major mobile network operators such as Airtel, Jio, Vodafone Idea, and BSNL providing coverage. Wi-Fi is also available in many hotels, cafes, and restaurants. However, please note connectivity in remote areas or during certain weather conditions may be weaker or intermittent.
On the Trek, you can either choose to carry your own backpack or you can use our backpack offloading service free of charges, without any extra cost. It is important to convey to us your backpack carrying preference at the time of booking.
There is no electricity available on the Tarsar Marsar trail. Access to charging options is possible till Srinagar. It is recommended that you bring battery powerbanks or solar-powered alternatives. Please charge all your cameras, required batteries and phones before the base camp arrival. It is advisable to prioritize essentials on the trail and limit unnecessary device usage.
There are a few important and mandatory documents and forms to fill in and bring in order to process your trekking permissions:
  • Original Govt. ID proof along with 3 Photocopies (Aadhaar/Passport/Driver’s License)
  • 3 Passport Size photos
  • Health Certificate/Medical Form attested by a doctor (We will share the format with you)
  • Signed Copy of our Waiver Document (We will share the format with you)
  • Trek Insurance document
These documents will be required to process your mandatory trek permits. Documents submission and processing is a simple process. We will explain all the details to you on our Pre-Trip Call with all participants.
For this Kashmir trek, it is important to pack properly before embarking on this adventure. All camping gear and equipment will be taken care of by us. You just need to pack your clothing and trek gear like Trek Pole, high-ankle trek shoes etc. It is recommended to pack lightweight and quick-drying trek clothing, including trekking pants/shorts, t-shirts, Warm/down/thick jackets and waterproof layers/ponchos. Other important accessories like white-brimmed sunhat, UV-protected sunglasses, handgloves etc. Carry personal essentials like sunscreen, personal medicines, headlamp. We will provide a list of all recommended things to carry and help you pack before the trek.
No, alcohol consumption is strictly prohibited on the Gurez Trek. Consuming alcohol on a high-altitude trail like this can cause severe dehydration issues and may have negative impacts on your health. It not only endangers your own health and safety but also the safety of the team. It’s advisable to refrain from bringing or consuming alcohol during the trek and to focus on enjoying the natural beauty and serenity of the trekking experience.

Tour Plan

01 Patalwansar - The Twin Lakes of Gurez

Locally called Patalwansar, the twin Lakes of Patalwan – Patalwansar 1 and Patalwansar 2 on the Gurez valley trek are the main attractions here.

In fact, the second and the farthest lake – Patalwansar 2 is the final summit point on this itinerary. The exhilarating hike up to the second lake takes intrepid trekkers to an altitude of approx. 12,795 feet above sea level.

Located in one of the least-travelled zones in Kashmir, very few non-locals have ever reached these lakes and witnessed their untouched natural beauty. Aside from its natural isolation, one of the main reasons for this was the long-placed restrictions imposed by the Indian Army in visiting Gurez Valley.

Now that the pristine region has been led open and with improvement in accessibility, these isolated lakes can now be finally reached with proper permissions. The Patalwan lakes are not accessible by motorable roads and can only be reached on foot, after a rewarding multi-day walking adventure.

As people ascend through the rugged terrain and overcome the challenges of the trail, a sense of anticipation builds within. The anticipation is gradually built over the first few days and is fueled by the knowledge that one is about to witness a breathtaking natural wonder.

On the fourth day of our trek itinerary, we cover the last stretch to finally reach the Patalwan Lakes. Both the crystal-clear lakes are surrounded by expansive grasslands dotted with boulders of varying sizes.

Encircled by untrammelled mountainous landscapes with splendid views, these shimmering bodies of water offer a picturesque environment that captivates the senses. The air feels light, crisp and refreshing.

The natural grandeur combined with the place’s peacefulness evokes a sense of wonder and calm. Separated by a trail distance of 2 Kms or about 1 hour trekking, the Patalwan lakes are a delightful combination of natural beauty, tranquility, and excellent photographic opportunities.

Whether it’s the reflection of scenic mountainscapes or the serenity of the water’s edge, these alpine lakes create an idyllic setting that leaves a lasting impression for all.

02 Grasslands Of Patalwan And The Nomadic Communities

The grasslands of Patalwan are located on the eastern side of Dawar town in Gurez valley. The area is a haven of lush green expanses that stretch as far as the eye can see.

These grasslands on the Gurez Valley Trek are uniquely characterized by green hilly humps and small mounds that make the trail very interesting and at times challenging. The lower reaches of the area before the grasslands start are heavily forested.

The slope shows marked fluctuations with rocky outcrops and cliffs being present at many locations across the grassland.

Along with pine woods, a patch of legendary Bhoj Patra or the Himalayan Silver Birch (Betula utilis) trees also exist on the steep slopes. These birch trees have ancient historical significance as their bark has paper-like characteristics.

As mentioned in some of the legendary and mythical Indian stories of the past, the bark of these trees was once used as writing paper. The trees also indicate the gradual end of the the tree-line on this trail signaling changes in the terrain.

Nestled between towering mountains, these alpine meadows provide a vital grazing ground for local shepherds and nomadic communities who have been practicing alpine transhumance (nomadic pastoralism in high mountains) for generations.

The nomadic tribes here are a mix of Bakerwals, Gujjars and Chopans of Kashmir who mostly practice migratory grazing during the summer season.

Here, it is important to note that a symbiotic relationship exists between the nomads and these sprawling grasslands. And it is integral to the ecological balance of the region.

The grazing of livestock not only helps maintain the pastures’ health but also contribute to the dispersal of seeds, promoting the overall growth and diversity of native plant species. Moreover, the animal wastes act as natural fertilizer, enriching the soil and supporting the overall natural ecosystem.

The Patalwan Lakes trek therefore offers an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience these sprawling natural pastures while exploring and learning about the nomadic culture and lifestyle of the locals. These summertime residents of the hills offer a fascinating peek into a migratory way of living.

Despite the harsh mountainous living conditions here, the locals are simple, warm and welcoming people. Having said that, any interaction with the locals including photography must be done mindfully and should consider the principles of responsible travel.

03 Beyond The LoC: Thrilling Views Across The Border

The Line of Control (LoC) is the de facto border that separates the Indian-administered Kashmir from the Pakistani-administered Kashmir. The Gurez Valley in North Kashmir is located on the Indian side and shares a border with Pakistan.

There are some unique vantage points in Gurez valley where it is possible to get views of the other side. These points provide curious visitors a chance to peek at the mountains and the restricted terrains of Pakistan.

The Gurez Valley Trek or the Patalwan Lakes Trek comprises some of these gorgeous vantage points that offer exciting views across the LoC. As we ascend to higher elevations on this trek, you may be able to get clear glimpses of the mountain ranges and villages on the Pakistani side.

The towering peaks, deep valleys and imposing ridges on both sides of the border create a dramatic and picturesque panorama. Of course, these views will vary depending on factors such as routes taken, weather conditions and visibility.

These unforgettable views beyond the Indo-Pak border serve as a reminder of the geographical and political complexities of the region.

They offer glimpses of formidable and boundless natural elements that transcend political boundaries, showcasing the shared mountainous landscapes that have been a part of the region’s cultural and historical heritage for centuries.

04 Road To Gurez Valley Via Razdan Pass

One of the remarkable road trips of kashmir, the travel to the base camp for Gurez Valley Trek is as scenic as it is exciting. As we embark on this captivating journey from Srinagar, the path throws up beautiful sights all along the way. Travelling along qualint little towns and the scenic Kashmiri countryside, we arrive at the shores of the Wular lake.

Here, we take a brief pause and admire the beuaity of the lake’s views. Moving onwards we drive to the plains of Bandipora and then on we venture forward on an uphill voyage that winds through meandering roads, enchanting pine forests, and breathtaking forest glades.

As we climb up, the spectacular valley and village views on one side become better and better.

After crossing a beautiful forest clearing called Tragbal, soon the tree-line ends with the forests giving way to lush meadows before finally leading up to the Razdan Pass. The high-altitude motorable mountain pass stands at an elevation of 11,672 feet.

Crossing the pass the road climbs down, snaking its way with lots of twists and turns to the other side.

Passing through several tiny villages, few more Army camps and the picturesque Kishanganga Dam & Hydroelectricity project, the road finally arrives at Dawar, the main town of Gurez Valley and the base camp for the Gurez Valley Trek.

The high pass of Razdan serves as a vital link, connecting numerous remote and far-flung areas of Northern reaches of Kashmir valley. Once a significant part of the historic Silk route between Kashmir and Central Asia, this offbeat road retains its strategic importance in connecting Gurez with the mainland of Kashmir.

As we traverse this high-altitude passage, an impressive panorama unfolds, showcasing the surrounding mountain ranges and verdant valleys. The lofty summit also grants us unparalleled views of snow-capped peaks including the majestic and sacred Mount Harmukh peak that graces the horizon on clear days.

During winter, the pass receives heavy snowfall, rendering it inaccessible and adding to Gurez’s isolation during those months.

05 Gurez: Land of The Dard-Shins

The region of Gurez resides in a remote and secluded corner of northern Kashmir. Adorned with beautiful charming villages that dot its landscape, this hidden gem remains an undiscovered slice of paradise.

Geographically isolated from the rest of the world and connected by only one motorable mountain pass, Gurez boasts of breathtaking natural beauty, serving as a sanctuary enveloped in serenity. Relatively quite underdeveloped, the  Gurez Valley stands as the ancestral homeland and final refuge for the Dardic people within India.

In ancient times, the area was an integral part of Dardistan, situated along the historic Silk Route that connected the Kashmir Valley to Gilgit-Baltistan and further extended to the Kashgar province of China.

The local inhabitants belong to the Dard-Shin tribe, distinct from Kashmiris. The culture of Gurez is rich and distinct and is shaped by the unique blend of its geographical isolation with the influence of the Dardic people who inhabit the region.

The Dard-Shin tribe is an ethnic group with their own language, Shina. Their culture and way of life are closely connected to their ancestral roots and shared traditions, that intertwine with the people residing in the Gilgit-Baltistan region, across the Line of Control.

Attired in their unique traditional garments, they proudly uphold their customs, traditions, and cultural identity, closely resembling their kin across the Line of Control. Today, the remaining remnants of this ethnic group can be found predominantly in Gurez and its neighbouring valleys, living harmoniously alongside the Indian Army stationed in the area.

Gurez Valley, therefore is not just a visual delight but also a valuable cultural treasure trove, where the locals preserve their traditions and harmoniously coexist with the mesmerizing natural landscape.


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