In our constant endeavour to discover new places on bicycles, we bring to you this article by Numaan on exploring Kashmir on a MTB…
The Kashmir Valley, also known as the Vale of Kashmir, bounded on the southwest by the Pir Panjal Range and on the northeast by the main Himalayan range. It is approximately 135 km long and 32 km wide, and drained by the mighty Jhelum River.
There is a famous quote by the Mughal Emperor Jehangeer: Agar firdaus bar rue zamin ast hamin asto, hamin asto, hamin ast! (Translated from Persian it means “If there is paradise on earth, it is here, it is here, it is here!“).
Kashmir on a MTB
Road cycling has been in Kashmir for quite long but Mountain Biking is in its nascent stage. Folks are getting attracted to this adrenaline fuelled sport and its popularity is growing at a fare pace.
Kashmir known as the crown of the country. Being a valley it’s naturally surrounded by mountains with so many virgin tracks and so much to explore. Which gives Kashmir an upper hand in this sport. There are no proper bike parks, but enthusiasts are exploring new places and mostly riding the pony tracks (single tracks ridden by horses) or trails used by trekkers.
PLACES TO RIDE IN KASHMIR:
In Kashmir you can do so many things with your family, like visit Mughal Gardens, night stay in house boats, Shikara Ride in Dal-Lake, adventure sports like river rafting, paragliding, para-sailing, kayaking etc.
Since it’s a valley and has so many hill stations, Kashmir is a haven for mountain bikers. Below is mountain bike specific single tracks with no scope of black tops:
1. Gulmarg to Tangmarg: After reaching Gulmarg main bus stop you can check out a trail that goes down to Tangmarg via Baba Reshi.
2. Kongdoori to Gulmarg: From Gulmarg you can take a Gondola (cable car) to reach Kongdoori, also known as first phase and simply descend. Or else you can use the pony track to ride up there and back.
3. Tosa-Maidan is located in Budgam District and has amazing meadows to ride through.
4. Zabarwan Mountain is the nearest mountain range in Srinagar and has amazing mountain biking trails.
5. Yousmarg is also an amazing hill station to visit where you can ride downhill towards the doodh-ganga river.
6. Kongwattan is in between Kousarnag Lake and Abarbal Waterfall and is an amazing all day ride.
7. Doodhpathri is a hill station in Beerwa area just 40 km from Srinagar and is also a must visit with your bike.
8. ShankAchariya Temple: The temple is located on a hill in the center of the city near Dal Lake and has amazing woody trails to explore.
9. Dachigam National Park: If you are up for a safari ride on your bike then this is the place to go. With wild animals in cages and wild birds flying around, you will have a day that you won’t forget.
10. Naranag is a ancient Hindu pilgrimage site in Ganderbal district where you can checkout a trail that goes towards Dumail.
And there are many more besides the above…
HIKE AND BIKE:
Kashmir is famous for its alpine lakes as well. People are now following a trend of taking their bikes along to these lakes and ride trails of these mighty treks as much as possible.
My favourite, the Great Lakes Trek. It’s one of the most beautiful treks in India. No question. It validates Kashmir’s mythical status as heaven on earth. The Great Lakes Trek commercially known as Sonamarg-Vishansar-Naranag Trek is an alpine Himalayan high-altitude trek and is usually completed in 6-7 days.
Every day is a 360° panorama of wild, rugged mountains, rolling meadows, and turquoise alpine lakes. And you get more than seven of these lakes and five very different valleys to explore!
Sometimes you’ll see milky white icebergs floating on the lake’s inky blue surface.
This means you will have long riding days with steep ascents and descents with no easy exit points.
Other examples are trails towards Gangbal Lake, Tulian Lake etc.
About the Author:
29-year-old, Numaan Ahmad Sandroo is from Srinagar, Kashmir.
He works in the J&K Flood Control Department as an “Assistant Engineer”. Profession aside, his passion has always been his childhood obsession of cycling.
He is currently exploring and mapping new trails all across the Kashmir Valley. Numaan is working on a project to compile all these trails in one mobile application that can be accessed and ridden by anyone, any time. We can’t wait to see this in fruition.
To check out more gorgeous pictures or if you want to get in touch with him, then find him on his Instagram Page.
Photos: Numaan Ahmad Sandroo
If you like this article of Kashmir on a MTB, then check out our previous one in this series by Vim giving an introduction to Cycling in Manipur! Also check out this article about Mountain Biking in Pune by Sahil.