Pir Panjal Lakes Trek is the trek of a blend of amazing landscape. The Pir Panjal range’s dense forests come first. Trekking takes place all day among soaring conifers, whose heady perfume permeates the atmosphere. Then there are the lakes: there are seven lakes (and more are yet to be found), not one or two. Each lake is hidden inside a mountain basin, and snow patches delicately dangle into the water.
Not all the lakes are visible at once. When you do, the scene astounds you. You find it hard to believe a lake this lovely could exist in such a location. You next ascend a ridge and come upon another lake. This time around, you are amazing.
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Then you see lake after lake in a series of spectacular trekking moments. Every lake differs in size and shape. Some are translucent, some are aquamarine, and some are turquoise. It is the most amazing lake spectacle we have ever seen.
When they get to experience the Pir Panjal Lakes excursion, hikers are in for a treat. Even the locals in the area are unaware of this aspect of Jammu & Kashmir.
All information about this hike will be made available to our trekkers in this handbook by Cliffhangers India.
Day 1: Drive from Chandimarh to Srinagar.
Drive time: five hours; distance travelled: 125 km; pick-up location: Srinagar.
Day 2: From Chandimarh to Thera
Trekking distance: 8 km; time required: 7-8 hours; elevation gained: 5,804 to 9,368 feet
Day 3: From Thera to Khuan, hike
Trekking distance: 8 km; time required: 8 hours; elevation gained: 9,368 to 10,900 feet
Day 4: Trekking from Khuan to Nandansar
Trekking distance: 9 km; Duration: 9–10 hours; 9,690 feet of elevation gain
Day 5: Day of exploration and walk to Bhagsar
Trekking distance: 10 km; time required: 11–12 hours; elevation gained: 11,720–13,400 feet
Lakes: Sona sar, Barani sar, Laksukhsar, Chandansar, and Handusar
Day 6: Bhagsar to Surota Trek
Trekking distance: 9 kilometers; time required: 9 to 10 hours; altitude difference: 11,720 feet to 10,664 feet
Day 7: Surota to Chandimarh Trek
Trekking distance: 16 km; time required: 8 hours; altitude difference: 10,664 to 9,368 feet
Day 8: From Chandimarh to Srinagar.
5 hours and 125 kilometers of driving
By noon, you must arrive in Srinagar. So you may either schedule a flight for later in the day or use this day to tour Srinagar. The cost of each cab (5-6 Seaters) will be around Rs 7,000.
Difficulty of Trek
The Pir Panjal Lakes Trek is a Moderate to Difficult trek. The trek is challenging for the beginner and is best recommended for the fit trekker.
- The rapid ascents: You gain between 2,500 and 3,000 feet every day. This indicates you have some challenging ascents. For instance, you might gain 4,000 feet of height on your first day. There is a chance of AMS because of the rapid altitude gain.
- The extensive daily distances covered: 52 kilometers in 6 days, or 8 to 9 km per day on average.
- Steep climbs and descents: Both the approach to the lake and the ascent back are challenging. In addition, there are numerous ascents and descents.
- Boulder parts on the trail: The ascent to the lakes is difficult on the legs since it is filled with stones. If it rains, it gets more challenging. Here, wearing sturdy hiking boots with excellent traction is helpful.
Even though the Pir Panjal Lakes Trek is unaffected by turmoil, getting to the base camp requires passing over a busy road like Mughal Road.
Keep up with the news. Consider your surroundings carefully. Keep an eye on any areas that have a red flag. Verify whether the transportation is being impacted and be forthright when asking about alternatives.
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Your body might not be properly rested or acclimated to the altitude when you are subjected to walking at high altitudes. Even the most physically fit and seasoned trekkers can face AMS dangers. On a high-altitude hike, it’s crucial to pay great attention to your body and the symptoms. Keep an eye out for any altitude sickness symptoms.
Take action to address the illness as soon as you notice even the tiniest AMS symptoms.
Our Trek Leaders at Cliffhangers India are prepared to handle any AMS-related emergency.
Best Time to do Pir Panjal Lakes Trek
The middle of June until the end of September is the best time for the Pir Panjal Lakes Trek. In the rest of the Indian subcontinent, it is the regular monsoon season, however, conditions are different in the Jammu and Kashmir Valley.
The monsoon merely brings light rain to Jammu. Not like in Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh at all. The Pir Panjal range, which blocks most rain clouds from reaching the valley, is to blame for this.
It’s advantageous because it makes trekking more comfortable. The trail and the meadows are mostly covered with snow during the other seasons when it is too cold to walk.
Mid-June and early-July: while the highest lake on the trek, Nandansar, you can anticipate still seeing snow while hiking in June and early July. Even melting ice floating on the lake might be visible. This scene gives a brief peek at how the area appears the rest of the year: covered in snow and broken up by frozen lakes. Sometimes the view is breathtaking, even if it’s not the finest moment to finish the walk.
Mid-July to end of August: The Pir Panjal Lakes journey begins to show off its full splendor after mid-July. Particularly in the meadows, you can see this beauty as you walk over tiny flowers that range in color from violet and purple to yellow and white.
The frozen portions of the mountain lakes have already thawed. Pir Panjal Lakes have deep blue waters.
August end to September end: As the season progresses during August, cold sets in. Evening rains increase in frequency. However, during this time of year, you can see magnificent blue skies when the clouds part. The blue of the alpine lakes, especially Sundarsar, is deepened by their reflection.
The meadows’ colors will likewise change, as will other things. Golden brown results from this. The beautiful, fresh green tint of the grass has faded. The blooms also fade. However, this shift in tone has a certain allure.
This journey is still open through the final week of September. So it is feasible. But given the chilly weather, it might not be the most convenient moment.
How to Reach the Base Camp
It’s wonderful to see you embark on one of India’s most picturesque hikes, the Pir Panjal Lakes Trek. Although it is a fantastic trek, you must have a well-thought-out travel strategy.
Here is a detailed explanation of what to do next. Only use this guide when making travel arrangements.
Behrangala, the trek’s starting point, may be reached from either Jammu or Srinagar. It is preferable to depart from Srinagar. Pick-up for Cliffhangers is also arranged from Srinagar. Therefore, if you select our pick-up, you will be responsible for making your way to Srinagar.
One day before the start of your walk, get to Jammu. From the City Land Travel Stand in Jammu, shared taxis run to Poonch. To get to Behramgala from Poonch, you must take another shared taxi. To go to Behramgala by this path, however, would take 6 to 8 hours.
Cliffhangers India and the forest department need these records for legal reasons. You won’t be able to trek without any of these.
Government-issued photo identification cards, both original and copy. Aadhar cards or passports can be used as identification. The forest department needs this for your identity.
Disclaimer and medical certification. This is divided into two parts. One must be filed by an active physician, and the other by you. It is legally required to have the disclaimer certificate.
Complete Day Wise Itinerary
Day 1: Drive from Srinagar to Chandimarh
- Driving Distance: 125 km
- Drive Duration: 5 hours.
Shopian is a neighborhood that you pass through on the way from Srinagar to Behrangala.
The famous Mughal route would be the main attraction of this drive. The Mughals connected the Pakistani Karokaram Valley and the Srinagar Valley through this historic road. The Pir Panjal range is traversed by this road.
You must next travel to Chandimarh, a small settlement, from Behrangala.
Chandimarh is a lovely location to wander about and includes a very modest market. One can sample the local fare, like the Fulka bread and butter tea, at the market. If you have additional time, consider seeing the Noori Chamb waterfall or strolling along the Chath Nalla as it flows through Chandimarh.
You will spend the night at the Tourism Lodge Guest House where you will also meet the trip leader and the team for the registration and safety check-in procedures.
Day 2: Trek from Chandimarh to Thera
- Trekking time: 7-8 hours; distance: 8 km
- gain of 5,804 feet to 9,368 feet
Trek difficulty: Easy to Moderate. Up until the Cheii villages, there was a combination of a gentle incline and a sharp ascent. There is another hard incline on the final stretch to the campsite.
The day begins by traveling to the Noori Chmab waterfall from the tourist resort. To get to the roadhead, take the steady ascent. You will see a government school and a 400-year-old Shiva temple just up ahead. The majority of today is spent in this vast, untamed forest. It is a mixed forest with occasional fir and pine trees. Three kilometers into the trail, you reach the Cheii settlement.
Aerially, Nandansar is about 7 km away, and the squad will likely trek for close to 14–15 miles on this day. As you make your way towards Chandansar and Handusar, you’ll pass by the lakes of Baranisar, Bhagsar, and Sonasar.
Trekkers will either camp near Bhagsar or turn around and head back towards Nandansar, depending on what the team explores, their physical condition, and their attitude. The trail now ascends more steeply into the forest from the Cheii village. This forest abruptly changes into another environment. Now that you have some oak trees, you are surrounded by pine, fir, and juniper trees. Compared to the area preceding the settlement, this area has a different type of vegetation. You will be lost in birds chirping for another two kilometers, combined with a few clearings in this forest.
Don’t forget to head to the sunset point facing left. The lush, soft meadow is accessible to bare feet, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see the floating clouds with the sunset in the background.
Day 3: Trek from Thera to Khuan
- Trek length: 8 km; time required: 8 hours
- The gain in altitude: 9,368 to 10,900 feet
Trekking incline: moderate. first, a difficult ascent to get to the wooded area, then a flat walk. 2.5 kilometers of gradual ascent is required to reach the Panjdhari army camp. a short distance to Khuan
The Girjan Meadows is where the walk today continues. Although the connected meadow remains the same, as you ascend higher in this meadow region, the scenery changes.
This meadow allows for rolling around, barefoot walking, and one of our favorite sections: a simple climb up a mound. From the Bada Tera viewpoint, you can see the Pir Panjal in its entirety. Additionally, water bottles can be filled here.
Day 4: Trek from Khuan to Nandansar. Around Nandansar, go exploring.
- Trekking distance: 9 km; time required: 9–10 hours.
- A gain in altitude: 9,690 to 11,720 feet
Moderate-Difficult trek gradient. the high slope at first. 2 hours of gradual ascent on Boulder. gradual incline up to the clearing, followed by a flat 200-meter walk till you reach the lake and a 60-degree climb to Nandansar.
For hikers, today is possibly the most anticipated day. The first alpine lake in Nandansar is visible only after a journey that includes sleeping near the lovely lake. But compared to the previous two days, this one also has a considerably tougher day. To climb these rocks, trekkers need to have strong legs and be agile.
Don’t forget to look back after the boulder section is complete. You can see Khuan, the meadows, and the Panjdhari Valley. After the top of the boulder section and for the next 200 meters or so before the lake, you can take a little break.
The main part is located on the trail’s left side. There are several stones, scree, and rough areas on the mountainside. Additionally, there are meadows and a valley vista to the right, as well as a flatter path.
You can leave your main backpack behind in the evening and then go on a brief exploration to see some of the nearby lakes. The lakes in the area today are spread out over a distance of around 2-3 kilometers.
The lake of Khaldachni is the first lake that may be visited. Walk a mile through Nandansar’s craggy terrain. The travel time to Khaldachni is roughly 30 minutes. Take a seat, pause for a moment, and sip some water.
You can view all the other lakes from the 13,400-foot summit of Khaldachni’s ridge. The lakes of Katoriasar, Neelsar, Dingsar, and Sukhsar can all be seen at once. Spend an hour or two, then return to Nandansar to set up the tent for the evening.
Day 5: A Day of exploration and a trip to Bhagsar
- Trekking distance: 10 kilometers; time: 9 to 10 hours
Trek difficulty scale: Moderate-Difficult. With a few stream crossings, the landscape is rocky and bouldery close to the lakes, with grasslands in between. The team’s re-exploration day is today, which is quite exciting.
The team’s main goal or objective will be to investigate every lake up to Bhagsar before either camping nearby or returning to Nandansar after the expedition. It will be surprising what you get to see and record. There is a possibility that additional lakes exist than what is currently known or that a ridge connects the lakes.
Aerially, Nandansar is about 7 km away, and the squad will likely trek for close to 14–15 miles on this day. As you make your way towards Chandansar and Handusar, you’ll pass by the lakes of Baranisar, Bhagsar, and Sonasar. Trekkers will either camp near Bhagsar or turn around and head back towards Nandansar, depending on what the team explores, their physical condition, and their attitude.
Day 6: Trek from Bhagsar to Surota
- Trekking distance: 9 km; time required: 9–10 hours.
- Loss of altitude: 11,720 feet to 10,664 feet
The Trek’s gradient is medium.
If the trip is ending at Chandimarh, the route from Nandansar to Panjdhari pretty much stays the same on the way back. There is a different way that leads to Pir Ki Gali. For hikers, this route is substantially more difficult.
If the group is returning to Chandimarh, you will circle back through Khuan and set up camp at Panjdhari.
Day 7: Trek from Chandimarh to Surota
Trekking distance: 16 km; time required: 8 hours
Loss of altitude: 10,664 feet to 9,368 feet
This is your final day of hiking in Pooch before returning to the trailhead. Initially, the descent takes you along the hill and across the meadows. Later, you are entirely submerged as you travel through the forest portion till you arrive at Chandimarh’s Tourism Guesthouse.
You can anticipate arriving in the evening.
Day 8: Drive from Chandimarh to Srinagar
- Drive Distance: 120 kilometres
- Drive Time: 5 hours
By noon, you must arrive in Srinagar. So you may either make plans to fly later this evening or spend today exploring Srinagar. The cost for each cab (5-6 Seaters) will be Rs 7,000.
Include a day of buffer in all of your trip plans to account for inclement weather or unstable political conditions. This all relies on the trek’s specific circumstances. You must include the buffer day in your schedule.
You must pay us Rs 1,800 per day plus 5% GST if the buffer day is utilized. Only if we use the buffer day will the Trek Leader be able to collect the money.
What to wear
- For the Pir Panjal Lakes trip, you’ll need durable trekking shoes with adequate traction, ankle support, and snow-handling capabilities.
- A 50–60 liter backpack is required. Make sure your rucksack has strong shoulder and hip supports as well as quick-access pockets.
- Bring two T-shirts and wear one. Keep full-sleeve, dry-fit T-shirts on hand, preferably with collars. These guard against sunburn on your arms and neck.
- On this walk, you will ascend to a height of 13,200 feet. Even at the height of summer, it can get chilly at high altitudes. For this walk, you’ll need at least three layers of insulation.
- Two light fleece layers and one full-sleeved light jumper are required.
- For this journey, two pairs of trekking trousers should be adequate.
Keep these medications readily available and in your possession at all times. Never take medication without first speaking to your journey leader.
- Diamox (1 Strip): Start taking a course of a half tablet of Diamox (125 mg) every 12 hours starting in Delhi. Continue taking the medication till you reach Homwas. On the Pir Panjal Lakes walk, having a prophylactic dose of Diamox significantly lowers the risk of developing acute mountain sickness.
- Five Dolo 650 tablets: This is an analgesic. It aids in reducing fever and minor pain
- Carry avomine (4 pills) in particular if you are prone to motion sickness. Pop 30 minutes before you leave for your car trip.
Our trip leaders have a high-altitude medical pack that includes life-saving medications with them at all times. Our trek leaders are trained to deal with emergencies. While waiting, get in touch with your journey leader before taking any of these medications.
As the finest exercise program to get in shape for a hike, we advise jogging. Your calves, glutes, and hamstrings—the muscles you use while trekking—are worked out. Day by day, it helps you get more stamina. It is also a simple exercise that doesn’t call for any special instruments or equipment.