Tarsar Marsar Trek

Srinagar | India
  From  INR 10,500  | From 6 Days

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All You Need to Know About the Tarsar Marsar Trek

The Tarsar Marsar Trek is one of the most coveted treks of the Kashmir valley for a number of reasons. Its trail is splendid, and the landscapes and views are both diverse and otherworldly. This trek does justice to Kashmir's tag- the 'Paradise on Earth.' Moreover, it is classified as an easy to moderate trek, making it doable even by trekkers who are comparatively less experienced.

Read on to find out in detail every aspect and highlight of this stellar trek.

An Overview of the Tarsar Marsar Trek

Before you have a close look at the checklist or Tarsar Marsar trek itinerary, here is the information you need to know about this extraordinary trek!

The closeness of the Lakes

Unlike most other alpine treks where you get only a momentary glimpse of the lakes from a distance, this trek is one of its kind because you can camp right by the periphery of the Tarsar and Sundarsar lakes.

The serenity of the place is compounded by the fact that you get to witness the lakes from up close, laying down on their banks from hours on end without a worry in the world. Yusuf Shah Chak had immortalized the twin lakes of Tarsar and Marsar in his poetry when he referred to his tears as the stream from Tarsar and Marsar. Imagine being able to absorb such poetic beauty from such a close distance that no worldly diversion is able to intervene.

Changing Landscapes and Diverse Sights

This scenic trek will take you through some of the most high-altitude ridges that offer a panoramic view of the entire landscape.

From Tarsar marsar trek the Himalayas, mostly its western ranges, can be witnessed in full view. The western Himalayas, especially the Nanga Parbat (8125 meters), and its adjacent peaks stand tall across Kashmir and certain provinces of Pakistan. You can experience endless beauty in a single frame. The ruggedness of the Kolahoi mountain ranges, the turquoise blue waters of the alpine lakes, the green carpets of ever-extending meadows dotted with flowers in a multitude of colors all paint a mesmerizing picture.

While passing through the trekking trail, you will be able to enjoy each of these micro sights in a close-up view. Your first day of the trek enables you to witness diverse landscapes- from forests of pine and silver birch to meadows intersected by streams flowing through them. It will build up your anticipation for the entire trek.

Flora, Fauna, and Wildlife

Witnessing the rare gems of nature on this trail is a trekker's bliss. As you bask in the meadows adjoining the Tarsar lake, you will be able to witness the basin lined with rare flowers such as geum, gentian, polentilla, and blue poppy.

The distinct blue of the sky is dotted by flights of the bar-headed geese, Himalayan golden eagles, lammergeiers, high-flying choughs, black bulbuls, and cinnamon sparrows, among other birds.

The Dachigam National Park adjoining the Tarsar basin is the habitat of animals like the Kashmiri stag, snow leopard, Himalayan brown bear, musk deer, and golden marmot.

Highlights of the Trek

The Tarsar Marsar Trek is famous for its lakes that form the very essence of this trek.

Tarsar Lake

This snow-fed alpine lake flanked between the Aru Valley, and Sind Valley is encircled by a wide variety of herbs and flowers, which makes for an inexplicable sight. The dark blue aquamarine waters of the lake are covered in snow for the rest of the year, apart from the span between July and September. If you visit the lake in early July, you can still find patches of snow on its perimeter.

Marsar Lake

The Marsar Lake comes on the 6th day of the trek from Sundarsar before finally descending to Hamwas. It is situated against the Mahadev Mountain ranges in a deep gorge that makes for a splendid view. The lake is usually observed from a ridge some 600-700 feet above. The clouds shielding the lake, splitting up to give a momentary glimpse, only to join back again, is a mystifying sight. Even though the Marsar has schools of trout, hardly anyone ever goes fishing. All these alpine lakes make for interesting local folklores.

Sundersar Lake

The Surdersar lake also houses different species of alpine flora such which line the basin of the lake. Camping along the Sundersar lake is a top-notch experience that additionally provides the opportunity to taste the fruits of remote and rustic Gujjar culture with the shepherds who crunch their herds here.

How Difficult is the Tarsar Marsar Trek?

The Tarsar Marsar Trek review categorizes it as a moderate to difficult trek. One of the reasons for this is the distance. The trek covers 47.6 km over 6 days. The highest altitude reached is 4,020 meters (Marsar Ridge), and there is an altitude gain of about 1,598 meters.

The altitude gain is gradual and quite moderate. That is why this trek does not require an additional break day for acclimatization before a day of steeper ascent. The trails are marked by gradual ascents and short descents, which are not immensely challenging.

The standard trek itinerary will require you to cover 8 km each day on average. A six-day itinerary spaces out the travel sufficiently so that the altitude and temperature rise is gradual and does not disturb your body and induce AMS. In short, with the basic minimum fitness and stamina required for any trek, you can ace the Tarsar and Marsar Trek!

Best Time to Visit the Tarsar Marsar Trek

The best time to visit Tarsar and Marsar Trek is from early July till early September. While it is monsoon in the rest of the country, the Kashmiri meadows bloom vibrantly during this period.

Kashmir is a rainshadow region, which means it receives little to no rainfall during the monsoon owing to the extensive Pir Panjal range, which blocks the rain clouds from entering the valley. For the rest of the year, most trails and even the lakes are entirely buried under snow. The infinite warm hues during the monsoon are livelier than the muted tones of white snow.

Early July finds snow in the highest points of the trek by the lakes. From mid-July till the third week of August, the snow melts to reveal the variegated colors of the valleys, especially the Jagmargi Plains. These plains are the homes of distinctly colored wildflowers contrasting against the ruggedness of the surrounding ranges. The snow chunks from the alpine lakes also get clear by this time to unravel the mesmerizing royal blue shade of the lake waters.

Your preference of the views will be key to decide the ideal time for trekking in this region.

Gear Guide and Checklist for the trek to Tarsar Marsar

Here's a list of almost all the items you need to carry to successfully trek across the resplendent Kashmir valleys.

Clothing

You are going on a trek at a remote altitude beyond human settlements. While trekking, it should be remembered that you should not carry any more clothing than is absolutely necessary. It will ensure a seamless journey.

You can pack- 2 full sleeves t-shirts, 1 fleece t-shirt, 1 fleece jacket or a lightweight woolen sweater, a feather/hollofil jacket, a waterproof and windproof jacket and lowers, warm thermal innerwear (both upper and lower), 2 pairs of synthetic trek pants (denim and capris are a strict no), and a rain poncho.

When worn in layers, these lightweight clothing items will keep the cold out even during the night when the temperature drops to 1-3 degrees celsius. During noon, when the temperature rises, one or more layers of clothing can be removed to suit the body's needs. It is always wise to dress up in layers in the mountains to handle the changing temperature levels.

Take a pair of waterproof as well as a pair of fleece/woolen gloves. A couple of gaiters may also be added.

Footwear

Sturdy, high ankle, waterproof shoes with a good grip will help you trek with control over rugged mountain surfaces. You can also carry a pair of floaters or flip-flops in case you wish to rid yourself of the hefty shoes while relaxing on the green meadowy carpet along the lake.

Socks can be taken in plenty, as they become dirty and wet easily when the concerned trek involves high-altitude lakes. Take 5 pairs of cotton socks and 3 pairs of woolen socks to protect your feet.

Headgears and Other Accessories

Protecting your head and facial region from both the sun and the cold in the mountains is crucial. Heat escapes faster from this portion than any other body part. A balaclava, neck gaiters, and woolen cap together will keep your entire face and throat protected.

The glaring rays of the sun reflected against the snow can cause snow-blindness. For any high-altitude trek, you must carry a pair of UV-protected sunglasses to shield your eyes. Those who wear glasses could use contact lenses or a pair of photochromic glasses instead.

A headlamp, newspapers, a 50-60 liters backpack with rain cover, an optional day pack with rain cover, a hardy walking stick/pole, a water bottle/ hydration packs, dry energy-giving food items such as nuts, chocolates, energy bars, etc., and a personal medical kit put together after consultation with your doctor- these are the must-haves on your accessories list.

Toiletries and Hygiene Products

Put together a basic toilet kit containing essential items such as a sunblock, moisturizer, toilet paper, tissue paper, lip balm, hand sanitizer, toothbrush, toothpaste, a quick-dry towel, small bar of soap, and soap paper.

A basic cutlery set containing a lunch box, a cup, and a spoon will come in handy because lunch is usually packed on longer days of the trek. Steel cutlery is highly preferable to plastic cutlery for keeping the food warm and fresh for more extended periods.

Important Documents

For Tarsar Marsar Trek, the Forest Department will need you to submit a valid photo identity proof (Adhaar card, passport, or driving license) along with a Medical Certificate issued by a verified medical practitioner deeming you fit to take the trek.

Without both the documents mentioned above, you will not be allowed to carry on with the trek. You also need a signed printout of the Declaration Certificate. For all documents, carry both the original as well as multiple photocopies.

Tarsar Marsar Trek Itinerary

The Tarsar and Marsar Trek Itinerary provided here sets off from the base camp of Aru Valley and returning to the same on Day 7 of the trek. Thus, the Tarsar Marsar trek route is a circular one that spans over 6 nights and 7 days, covering 47.6 km.

  • Day 1: Set out from Srinagar on a shared cab or public bus to reach Aru Valley (2,426 meters) via Pahalgam. It takes nearly 3 hours to reach Pahalgam from Srinagar and an additional half-hour to reach Aru from Pahalgam. Part of the Anantnag District, Aru is a quaint and remote meadow across river Lidder. It offers a glimpse into the beauty that will abound in the latter part of the trek.
  • Day 2: Aru to Lidderwat (2,783 meters). It is the first official day of your trek, stretching over 10 km, which usually takes about 6 hours to complete. The climb is gentle for the better half of the day, paralleling the flow of river Lidder. Once you have passed through a clearing named Dalla, the climb hardly requires effort as it is more of an undulating walk. Encounter the dense pine and fir forests punctuated by meadowy landscapes. Witness the simplicity of life prevailing in the tiny Gujjar settlements that you will meet on the way. Resume your stay at Lidderwat in one of the PDA (Pahalgam District Authority) huts.
  • Day 3: Lidderwat to Shekwas (3,365 meters). You will embark on a 5 hours trek to cover 5.6 km from Lidderwat through Homwas, crossing a dense forest of silver birch trees and breathtaking meadows to finally reach Shekwas. Homwas (3505 meters) is a clearing dotted by a cluster of Gujjar huts.
  • Day 4: Shekwas to Tarsar (3,794 meters). The day will comprise a 5 km trek, usually taking about 4-5 hours. Basking in the greens of the Shekwas valley, proceed through a gentle ascent to a few ridges to get a glimpse of the majestic waters of Tarsar lake. Cherish every step you take from this point onwards, for it will bring you close to a splendid lake exuding tranquility. You can camp by the Tarsar lake basin. You will also come across the spectacular Jagmargi Plains on this day.
  • Day 5: Tarsar to Sundarsar (3,946 meters). This day features a brief, steep ascent until the Tarsar Pass (4024 meters), followed by a continuous descent and a gradual ascent until Marsar. The unparalleled view of Tarsar lake from the other side of the pass leaves a permanent impression on one's mind. Pass the Bakkerwals nomadic clan settlement to enter a stretch of grassland ultimately culminating into the Sundarsar lake, a third alpine lake besides Tarsar and Marsar. Camp along the side of the lake to enjoy its exceptional beauty.
  • Day 6: Sundarsar to Homwas (3,505 meters) via Marsar. Ascend the Marsar Ridge (4,020 meters) to navigate a boulder-smitten path with occasional patches of snow at the mountain edges. A 40-minute ascent leading to a stretch of the green pass will eventually lead you on top of a ridge overlooking the resplendent Marsar lake situated 600-700 feet below. The Marsar lake is almost always engulfed in white sheets of cloud, which makes those brief moments of seeing it all the more precious. Crossing the Dachigam Reserve Forest, head back to Sundarsar valley to reach Homwas via the Jagmargi Valley. The total trek for the day runs over 9 km, taking approximately 7 hours.
  • Day 7: Homwas to Aru. The trail is the same as the first day's route, passing through the pine forests of Lidderwat to reach Aru within approximately 4 hours through a quick but gradual descent. Witness the beauty of the Kolahoi glacier as you wrap up some of the most picturesque days of your life. On this day, visit the Ovaru-Ary Wildlife Sanctuary if you have some time to spare.

Getting Fit for Tarsar Marsar Trek

The Tarsar and Marsar Trek is classified as an easy to moderate trek. This means that in terms of fitness, the trek is not unusually demanding.

Physical fitness:

However, a certain degree of fitness and cardiovascular endurance is required to successfully execute any mountain trek and enjoy it without letting your physical incapacity burden others.

Even though the ascents are not unusually steep, the trekking hours are considerably long-spanning, about 6 hours on average. Thus, you should plan a fitness regime and stick to it for at least two months before the trek. Start off by walking regularly for at least 5 km and gradually combine it with jogging, cycling, swimming, and cardiovascular exercises. Target covering longer distances in a shorter amount of time as you progress with your workout. Also, include stair climbing in your workout routine to increase stamina and lung capacity.

Mental fitness:

Every trek in the Himalayas or adjacent regions is full of unexpected hazards and dangers. Without any idea, you might face unprecedented situations and life threats. The long trekking routes, harsh climatic conditions increase the level of difficulty of the trek.

Hence, mental resilience and fortitude are must-haves. You need to practice meditation and other restorative techniques to keep yourself calm, composed, and clear-headed in the face of any adversities. You can also keep yourself motivated by thinking about the greatest rewards that lie ahead if you beat the smaller roadblocks en route.

Kashmir houses some of the most beautiful snow-fed alpine lakes globally, and Tarsar, Marsar, and Sundersar lakes are among them. All three of these lakes form highlights of the trek, while the rest of the Kashmir valley, with all its picturesque landscapes, transports you to an otherworldly place with bountiful nature.

Gearing yourself with the correct information is crucial before embarking on a mountain expedition. It not only allows you to make informed decisions but also enables you to enjoy the place as best as possible. With the essential information up your sleeve, you have no reason to think twice before booking a trek as uniquely beautiful as the Tarsar Marsar Trek.