Kounsarnag: Dream destination for trekkers

Kounsarnag: Dream destination for trekkers

While travelling west from the historic town of Kulgam, the views of soaring peaks and the surprising sights astonish every traveller. These mountain peaks are locally called as ‘Kounsar Kouthra’ (rooms of Kounsar) and remain snow-capped throughout the year, which is why they are the main sources of four major hill springs, namely, Sarkanch, Brahim, Sir-Chher-Sar and Dunth-Sar.
These springs rising from the feet of these mountains and the flow of these springs feeds the famous Nallah of south Kashmir called as Vishu. The water of these springs is very clean and blue in colour, which makes it very attractive. The Nallah Vishu, about which almost all of us are aware as in the devastating floods of 2014 it caused great destruction in villages adjacent to the Nallah. The major hill spring that is situated about 4000ft above sea level on the mountain Kounsar is called Kounsarnag. It is considered as the major source of the Vishu Nallah.
The way to Kounsarnag from Aharbal is a much preferred trek route. The route passes through many attractive places, which include Kongwattan and Mahinag. Trekkers glimpse breathtaking views of striking hues of blue against the rugged terrain. The Kounsarnag’s tranquil, crystal-clear water and the serene summits above make for the perfect nature spot to reinvigorate the senses.
When we first went to trek to Kounsarnag, the scenes, the fresh air, the clear water and the lofty mountains mesmerised us. On the very first day we started travelling through pine forests to reach the spot named Kongwattan. As the site cannot be reached by motorable roads and is highly isolated, we had to pack our load on the horses that were available. But the night we spent in Kongwattan was amazing. To see the vastness of Kongwattan and the lush green meadow, an ideal place for highland pasture grazing, was astonishing.
The arduous trek requires stamina and speed to accomplish the task. On the next day we started the trek at early morning and it took us about 4 hours to reach Mahinag, which is surrounded by mountains from all sides. On the next day we started our trek to Kounsarnag and on the way we came across fascinating high-altitude meadows and streams. When finally we reached our destination it was a moment of pure joy and happiness. Our joy knew no bounds, even though we had to scramble over rocks and it seemed as if there was no end to the rocky ascent. But we braved all odds and overcame all obstacles to finally reach the summit.
Kounsarnag was surrounded by mountain peaks from all sides. The water was blue in colour and ice blocks could be seen floating in it. The water was looking so crystal-clear we felt like diving deep inside it. It was an awe-inspiring sight. We tried to capture the whole stupendous beauty in pictures and videos.
Kounsarnag’s dimensions, approximately 3 km in length and half a mile in width, make it majestic. Its mesmerising beauty is what makes it a dream destination for trekkers and nature lovers. In Kashmir, trekking is the latest fad among youngsters. But no matter the age, anyone can fall in love with Kounsarnag. Its breathtaking scenes attract everyone; it is a place where everyone feels at peace in the lap of nature.
The Kounsarnag spring is mentioned in the local traditions and has been a place of attraction for royal families of kings and queens. The famous king of Kashmir Zain-ul-Abidin is said to have visited the spring various times and the historical records suggest that he once sent his friend to the spring to explore its depth. A historic legend accounted by Hassan in his Tarihk reports that he visited this spring along with a saint and some friends. One of them, having little knowledge of swimming, jumped into the spring. Soon his feet were swallowed by some dangerous animal. While providing the description of this beast, Hassan says that “the animal resembled a shield as its length was two cubits and its width at the lower side was one cubit and towards the head eight givals; its skin was hard”.
The water that flows from the spring and flows to Vishu Nallah also forms a great waterfall known as Aharbal. It is the only grand waterfall found in the Kashmir valley. Aharbal was of great interest to the Mughals. Hassan says that “all the Mughal officials were proud of this waterfall’. Zafar Khan Ashan has expressed the beauty of this waterfall in his lyrics.
“Ze Jannat Chand Gooi Aye Sukhanwar
Nadaarad Aab-Sharee Ahrabal”
Recently a Winter Carnival organised at Aharbal. It is a welcome step towards boosting tourism at this place. In this event, snow games were included, like snow rugby, snow volleyball, snow runs, snow skiing, and tug of war. These games were carried out for the first time here at Aharbal. This way of exploring the beauty of Aharbal will attract more and more tourists and will promote it as a tourist destination.
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