It is the delicate combinations of different natural elements that have given each pocket of Kashmir its immense natural beauty and has created a different nuance in every little pocket. Sonamarg (nullSonmarg) ‚ ‚the meadow of gold‚ ‚ also owes its immense natural heritage to these varied components that have been strung together to make an unforgettable landscape. The river Sindh flows through the valley and its waters hold trout and mahaseer (nullriver carp). Above, the sky holds shades of blue that would be an inspiration to any artist‚s palette. In between the river waters and the sky are acres of open meadows scattered with flowers, tall trees and snow clad mountains. Once again, at Sonamarg, Kashmir proves that it has a beauty that can have only a rare parallel elsewhere in the world.
The drive to Sonamarg through the Sindh valley is through absolutely magnificent countryside. The road passes through the small towns of Ganderbal, Kangan and Gund. Fields and rice paddies and picture-perfect hamlets dot the first leg of the journey. Groves of walnut trees are also there. Towards the end, come the undulating alpine meadows, dark gorges and thick woods backed by the snows of the Harmukh range.
Sonamarg, at an altitude of some 3,000 meters above sea level lies on the Srinagar-Ladakh road and is eighty-seven kilometers from Srinagar. This is also the access point for Ladakh over the pass of Zoji-La and another access point for the sacred cave of Amarnath. Several trek routes lead out of Sonamarg. Sonamarg also hosts river rafting on the river Sindh.
Indian - Restaurants in Sonamarg are really the in house dining rooms in the hotels. The JKTDC Restaurant at the Tourist Reception Center serves Indian food. Among others, restaurants in the Glacier Heights, Hotel Snowland and the Glacier Hotel serve Indian food. In addition, there are several small wayside places, ‚dhabas‚ that serve Indian food.
Chinese - Chinese food is available at JKTDC Restaurant at the Tourist Reception Center. Others that serve this include the restaurants in the Glacier Heights, Hotel Snowland and the Glacier Hotel serve Indian food.
European/Continental - A few European / Continental dishes are served at JKTDC Restaurant at the Tourist Reception Center. Others that serve these include the restaurants in the Glacier Heights, Hotel Snowland and the Glacier Hotel.
Regional Specialty - "Kashmiri ‚wazawan‚-style dishes are available at most places. Dishes like Rogan-josh (nullpieces of mutton in a spicy gravy) or Tabak-Maz (nullspare ribs), Gushtaba and Rishta are available. Apart from the larger places, the small wayside food stalls, ‚dhabas‚ offer Kashmiri food.
The village of Ganderbal lies on the road between Srinagar and Sonamarg. Five kilometers from this village is the shrine of Kheer Bhawani in a little village called Tulmul. The shrine is held in considerable veneration and local people as well as visitors make it a point to pay their obeisance. The name ‚Kheer Bhawani‚ comes from the original offering of rice-pudding.
The topography of Sonamarg is of a valley with wide meadows circled by woods and backed by high mountains. The altitude is 3,000 meters above sea level. As such, it never gets hot and even in summer, some light warm clothing may be required. Expectedly, during the winter months, December to February, the area is cold and temperatures drop to well below freezing point; there can be a fair bit of snow too which can bring the place to a standstill. During the monsoon months, July to September, there are showers of rain but these rarely last very long.
Surface - Sonamarg is connected by road to Srinagar, and to Jammu where highways from different parts of the country converge. The road distance to Jammu is almost 400 kilometers. Srinagar is 87 kilometers away. Buses are available from Jammu and Srinagar. Taxis can also be hired at these places and at Delhi.
Train - There is no railhead at Sonamarg. Jammu (nullTawi) is the most practical railhead for Sonamarg and this is connected to most major cities in north India by rail. From Jammu (nullTawi), taxis and buses are available for Sonamarg. The distance is almost 400 kilometers and the drive takes around ten to twelve hours.
Air - Srinagar is the closest airport to Sonamarg and is around 85 kilometers away. Several domestic airlines operate regular flights to Srinagar from Jammu, Delhi and other places; these include - Kingfisher, GoAir, Spicejet, Jet Airways, Jet Lite and Indian Airlines.
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