Tarsar lake and Marsar lake trek

21st Mar 2019
Day 1

Detailed overview

The beauty of the Tarsar Marsar trek does not end with the lakes. The meadows of Kashmir are something to look out for too. On this trek, you find these exquisite meadows on every day of the trek. The forests, clearings and woods surrounding these grasslands make them come alive even more. Sometimes, as trekkers, you move from one meadow to another separated by just a patch of forest.


Day 1: Srinagar Arrival

You will be meeting your host at the Srinagar International Airport and after a short meet and greet you will be driven from the airport to your stay in Srinagar.

Day 2: Srinagar - Pahalgam to Aru to Lidderwat | Drive 100 km | Drive 8 km | Trek 10 km / 6 hours

On the second day, you will be driven from Srinagar to Pahalgam first.

After your arrival in Pahalgam at around 9:00 am you will begin your day with a meet and greet, you will make a gentle but a long climb from Aru to Lidderwat covering a distance of 10 km in 6 hours.

The trail to Lidderwat starts to climb straight out of the village, following the course of the Lidder River. Follow the wide trail past the agricultural department’s fence.

The trail gets into a cluster of fir trees and continues to climb. Half an hour later, the trail pops out at a clearing called Dalla near Gujjar huts.

Out of the pine trees, the trail gently climbs a mound, from the top of which is one of the most fascinating sceneries of the day.

It takes about half an hour to cross this lovely section of the trail and enter the cluster of firs once again. Across the forest and ten minutes later, are the superb meadows of Lidderwat.

There are a few Gujjar huts that signal Lidderwat. A sensible option is to drop down to the wooden bridge, climb out of the meadows on the other side and camp anywhere.

On the other side are lovely clear streams running across the meadows - this is vitally important if you are camping for the night. The Lidderwat camping site is a dream, clear streams run across the meadows. Spare time to take long walks that stretch to either end of the meadows.

Day 3: Lidderwat to Shekwas | Trek 5.6 km / 5 hours

The trail to Tarsar Lake starts to climb right behind the PDA (Pahalgam District Authority) huts - following the course of the river flowing alongside.

It leaves the river below and climbs very quickly into the pine forest above you. The trail is straightforward and does not pose any challenge.

Continue to climb past clusters of pines and clearings for an hour and a half, until a stunning view opens up before you.

The narrow valley of Lidderwat opens up to tracks of wide sweeping grasslands. The grasslands merge with the towering mountains, with snow patches in their folds. It is no longer a single valley but many valleys that converge together.

The trail ahead converges upwards and to the left past the Bhakarwal shelters, sticking to the right of the river. Clear streams run down and cut through the trail many times. There are good spots to fill water. Avoid taking the upward trail.

Drop down to the river and cross it, first hopping over a few boulders and then crossing a make-shift long bridge. Follow the river and continue to climb the trail. Half an hour later, the trail around a bend opens up to a wide clearing of Homwas.

It is a delight treading on the trail after Homwas. It is mostly on grass and feels lovely under your feet. The trail, now in a southwesterly direction, enters a narrow valley with blue waters of the river as a constant company.

The climb continues to gain altitude. An hour later, you will pass a very old cluster of Silver Birch (Bhoj) trees, and the view opens up to another stunning scenery.

This time, a possibly wider grassland leads to two wide green valleys. It stretches out vastly in front of you. Undulating meadows on your left reach out for the sky. The trail climbs swiftly past a few Gujjar huts to the camping grounds of Shekwas.

For those on the Tarsar trail, Shekwas is a logical and extremely pretty camping ground. It is a good break after the hard climb.

Day 4: Shekwas to Tarsar | Trek 5 km / 4 hours

Past Shekwas, the trail again snakes its way through the grass for a long while. The trail to Tarsar, meanwhile, climbs into a ridge that overhangs the stream.

In a general westerly direction, the trail climbs rapidly towards a conical hill in front.

Two hours later, the trail finally gives you a narrow glimpse of Tarsar. Even the slight glimpse is a delight and it is a rush to reach the shores of the lake.

Cross the stream over boulders and set your foot on the grassy glades of Tarsar. There are plenty of flat camping spots along the lake and pitching tents is not an issue.

The lake is a stunning display of nature’s capabilities. The waters are turquoise blue and in a cauldron surrounded by snow patches feeding the waters of the lake. If ever there was a place that could come close to paradise, then the camping shores of Tarsar are it.

Day 5: Tarsar to Sundarsar | Trek 5 km / 5-6 hours

The view from the other side of the Tarsar pass is another terrific attraction. The grassy valley stretches out from your left to right in a never-ending stretch of beauty that boggles the imagination.

On the fourth day, most trekkers descend down from Tarsar, until Shekwas, turn left and get into the Sundarsar valley. By climbing to the pass you’ve saved 3-4 hours of the trek.

Descend from the pass on the shepherds’ trail that leads to the bottom of the valley. Move up the valley, to your left and continue on the trail. Ten minutes later, spot a few Bakkarval shelters on your left. Behind the shelter, the trail climbs over a short stretch of boulders to tap a knoll.

What lies behind the knoll is something that poets reserve their best for. In a vast expanse of meadows, with a widening valley on your left, are the lushest grasslands you’ll ever see. In the middle of the meadows, the stream turns into a large pond, fed by brooks from snow-melt of the surrounding mountains. Snow patches on the mountains offset the greenery of the meadows.

This delight of nature takes about half an hour to cross. Walk down the trails that lead to the end of the meadow, towards the end, superbly laid boulders cover the stream, hop along the boulders, climbing rapidly for another 15 minutes, until you reach the base of a ridge that separates the meadow from the valley above it. To get to the top of the ridge, the trail climbs through a narrow boulder-lined valley for another 15 minutes.

Topping the ridge is another meadow larger than the one you left behind sprawls out in front. The settings are similar, almost identical. The valley floor is a vast bed of flowers. Far beyond is another ridge top - the exit route of the Tarsar trek.

Follow the trail that climbs past the stream running down the slope. Briefly, the trail hangs over similar well-laid boulders over the stream. Ten minutes later, the trail magically hops over landscaped grassy mounds to land on the lovely shores of the lake of Sundarsar.

To your right and behind, are big flat stretches for camping, Sundarsar is the perfect camping spot after the lovely trek from Tarsar.

Day 6: Sundarsar - Marsar - Homwas | Trek 9 km / 7 hours 

On day 5, from Sundarsar, skirt around the shores of the lake from the right to get to the far side of the lake. There are two logical passes that one can climb both lead to Marsar.

The quicker one is over the boulder-laden trail on the left. Climb over the boulders and trace a path towards the pass. Snow over the boulders can make the approach tricky. An ice axe or a trekking pole helps a lot to gain a firm footing.

It is a half hour climb to the pass, the pass is a lovely grassy stretch that has clear trails leading to flatter grounds just below it. Get down to the flatter stretches and occasionally hop over lovely brooks that run along the trails. Keep to the trail that veers to the left and spot a ridge that climbs on your left and in front.

Five minutes later, climb over to the top of the ridge for an amazing view of Marsar almost 600-700 feet below. Marsar is a hidden beauty, almost always engulfed under dollops of clouds and mist. Almost as large as Tarsar, Marsar is similar looking. Tall, snow-lined cliffs rise off the lake.

Head back the way you came up to Marsar and get back to Sundarsar in about 40 minutes of descent.

At Sundarsar campsite, you will have breakfast and start for Homwas. You retrace your steps to Jagmargi valley, instead of crossing the Tarsar pass, you take a different route to Shekwas.

Roughly an hour of walking from Shekwas to Homwas, you are expected to reach Homwas just in time for lunch. You will camp at Homwas for the night.

Day 7: Homwas to Aru | Trek 14 km / 6 hours

On the sixth day, you take the same route that you had taken at the beginning of the trek via Lidderwat. The trail goes downhill and it is a quick descent. It will take you 2 hours from Homwas to Lidderwat.

The beauty of this part of your trek is that you will get to see all of those views that you had initially missed. The shrinking Kolahai glacier is one of these sights.

After getting some rest at Lidderwat, you head for Aru, it is a 10 km walk from Lidderwat to Aru. This takes around 4 hours to cover. Stop for lunch en-route, you are expected to reach Aru by 4 pm in the evening.

You may choose to be driven back to Srinagar (select add-on) lastly and be dropped at your stay which is included in the cost.

Photo of Tarsar Lake by Irfan mir
Photo of Tarsar Lake by Irfan mir
Photo of Tarsar Lake by Irfan mir