Kashmir trekking is famous all over India for its high number of alpine lakes. If you spot a mountain line anywhere here in Kashmir, you are probably looking towards an alpine lake. The lakes here are glacier-fed and clean and many of these lakes are home to varied fish and water life. The fantastic feature of some of these alpine lakes is accessibility. Many of these you finish within a day or it takes only a couple of days to see more than one lake.
Lidder valley and its surrounding is such a famous place that has many alpine lakes. Locals and tourists throng these places in summer to savor the serenity of these lakes and trekking that they involve. You probably must have already heard about some of the famous lakes here like Sheeshnag and Tulian Lake. However, more lakes are equally luring and mesmerizing. They somehow have remained offbeat and less known in the travel community. Which, however, makes them less prone to exploitation. 6 of those breathtaking lakes are covered in Charinag Lakes Trek.
Among such less known offbeat lakes are Charinag and the lakes in its close vicinity. There are a total of 6 lakes in this area that are close to each other. They are tucked far away from hustle bustle into the calmness of nature. These 6 lakes are glacial lakes and remain open throughout the summer.
Charinag Lakes or Chari Nag Lakes has an equally enchanting trail that takes you to these lakes. The trail runs through jungle and meadow with breathtaking panoramic views, river crossings and mountain range. Two lakes fall in the name category of Charinag – Charinag I and Charinag II. Close to these twin lakes is a gorgeous small lake called Zeesar Lake. Further it leads to the three beautiful lakes of Dudcharan – Dudcharan I, Dudcharan II, and Dudcharan III.
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Trek Itinerary of Charinag Lakes Trek
Day 1: Srinagar to Batkoot Village
The first day of the trekking journey is a drive to the Batkoot Village. The drive from Srinagar to this village is quite scenic. It first follows the NH1 national highway and then turns left towards Anantnag villages. The drive takes you through the beautiful villages of Kashmir. It passes through thick apple orchards which are very much famous. Stop near these orchards and get the taste of pure and fresh apple juices. You will handpick the apples from the orchard yourself. The drive then runs parallel to the famous Lidder river. It gives way to the fascinating snow-covered landscape of the Pahalgam area. You will see towards your left and right the thick jungles rising high and vast.
Your campsite is at this quaint Batkoot village. This is a small village and around 6 km from Pahalgam. The village stands at an altitude of around 1900m. This is your acclimatization day. Walk around the campsite, see how the local population lives here and get the pure local feel of the place.
Day 2: Batkoot Village to Meadow Campsite
This is the first trek day. Post your hearty breakfast, get yourself in trekking gear and start for the long ascend. The trail is definite and goes beautifully under the canopy of the jungle. This is a long walk and has a steep ascend. It is highly recommended that you have a fair level of fitness. The jungle trail runs for around 10 km until it opens onto a beautiful flat patch of land. It is a mini meadow that is perfect for camping. The evening breeze here is refreshing. It smacks you out of the exhaustion and puts you in relief.
Day 3: Exploration of Lakes
Wake up early morning in the pleasant weather of this patch of heaven. Post breakfast, get ready to see the 6 gorgeous alpine lakes. The first lake is around 4 km from the campsite. The trail is rough and goes over rocky terrain. You will be trekking above the tree line. Keep your water bottles filled and take regular water breaks. The sun will be directly over you. As you are nearing the lake, you will behold the eternal gorgeous Charinag Lake I. The lake is large and around 1 km in length. The altitude of the lake is 3800m. Take a snack break here and immerse yourself in the beauty that surrounds you. Just adjacent to this lake there is a mountain pass called Charinag Pass. You will have to ascend this pass and then descend towards Charinag Lake II. The lake is visible from the Pass, get near to it and feel its refreshing waters.
Post this lake, take a right turn, and just less than a kilometer distance you will see another beautiful lake called Zeesar Lake. The altitude of the lake is around 3950m. The trail after Zeesar Lake is all descend. Just a kilometer from this lake, two lakes of Dudcharan Lakes are visible. Then further trek down you will see Dudcharan III. The three lakes are closely located and have an altitude fall of around 100m each. Once you have reached Dudcharan III, take a lunch break here. Stop and relax and try your hand at photography. Capture the moments all along to cherish later at your home.
The trail that connects all these lakes is rough and rocky. It is open in sun and has ascends and descends.
Once you have seen all 6 lakes, descend further down towards an opening that serves as your campsite. Enjoy the evening meals and the joy of seeing the awesome alpine lakes. The distance of the day is around 8km. The highest altitude that you will reach is around 4157.
Day 4: Departure
This is the last trek day. Enjoy the walk descending through the jungle. You will walk on the same trail that you took on the day first and finish the trek in the same village.
Frequently asked questions
How difficult is the Charinag Lakes Trek?
The Charinag Lakes Trek is difficult. There is an altitude gain of around 2000m. The altitude gain, distance, and rough terrain make this trek a difficult one. Prepare well before going for this trek, if you are a beginner you need to hit the gym. For seasoned trekkers, this is doable.
What is the highest altitude of Charinag Lakes Trek?
You will reach around 4157m on your third day. That’s the pass bifurcating Charinag I and Charinag II. The altitude gain is high and it can make you prone to altitude sickness.
What is the best time to do Charinag Lakes Trek?
The best time to do this trek is summer. In winter all the lakes are covered in snow and the trail becomes risky. The gradient of the trail rises and there are risks of slips and falls. The more riskier patch is after the Jungle which has a rocky trail and goes over ascends and descends.
Note: This is from our series of an exploration of offbeat and traditional treks. We don’t run any fixed departures for these treks, however all the groups we take for such offbeat treks are customized. Please contact us if you want us to organize this trek for you.