Kashmir Great Lakes Trek, in general trekking in Kashmir, has caught the imagination of generations. Before this trek was in vogue throughout India, it had held the local population’s interest thereby leading to different legends and myths. There is a story about every mountain-peak and lake that this trek has, some of them are so fascinating that people visit this trail to debunk or get assured of them.
Kashmir is shrouded with mythology. Even its origin has a story. As per Hindu mythology, Kashmir was a big lake which was de-watered by Kashyapa, son of Brahma the creator god.
All these myths and legends add a historical and curious feather to the trekking in Kashmir.
Sir Walter Lawrence, the Settlement Commissioner of J & K State, writes in his book “Valley of Kashmir” (the book was written in 1895) that there is a belief among people that Mount Harmukh treasures rubies and jewels. He further writes that the local population believes that this peak has a calming effect and it renders poisonous snakes ineffective in the places from which Mount Harmukh is visible.
This mountain is named Harmukh because from all-sides it looks same. The peak holds religious significance to Kashmiri Hindus and is visited by them frequently. It is believed to be the adobe of Lord Shiva. Many hermits and seekers of Lord Shiva have over the years tried to climb this peak to get the vision of Lord Shiva.
Prof. C. L. Sadhu writes that a hermit tried to scale this peak for 12 years to get a glimpse of Lord Shiva but every time he failed in his attempt. On one of these journeys, he saw a Gujjar climbing down from the summit. The hermit asked the Gujjar what the latter saw there at the peak. The Gujjar narrated that he saw a couple who milked a cow and drank that in a human skull. When the Gujjar had refused to their offer to drink that milk, they rubbed little milk on his forehead. This made the hermit quite joyful and he licked the Gujjar’s forehead and attained Nirvana. The hermit disappeared right there in no time.
This legend has become quite popular by the name Harmukh Gosoni.
Gadsar Lake also called Yemsar Lake (although some call Yemsar Lake to another lake that is in the vicinity of Gadsar Lake) is also surrounded by myths. Yemsar Lake (Gadsar Lake) translates to the lake of demon, it is also called the lake of death. It is believed, mostly by local Gujjars, that there lives a big lake monster in this lake. Some believe it is a freshwater Octopus and it drags down animals and humans down from its vicinity. This myth is so believable that locals never take a dip in this lake, and rarely it happens that an outsider trekker swims in its waters. The shepherds increase their pace and avoid stopping their flock for grazing near this lake. Because of this fear, no fishing is done in this lake which otherwise holds blue trouts. The fish are caught in the stream that comes out of this lake.