Naranag is one of the lesser visited places that lies to the north kashmir travelof Srinagar, some 50 kms from it. Naranag is one of the best places, in fact bases for trekking and adventure tours. It lies in the foothills of Pir Panjal range, which extends south east to connect with other popular trekking points. One of the most breathtaking moments are felt higher up where the magnificient Gangabal Lake is present.
At the base are the remains of ancient temples built with large granite blocks. The monument looks fascinating with huge rock blocks resting over one another. In the nearby area is a small village. The temple complex is believed to be ancient monuments dedicated to the deity Shiva. Except granite blocks there is no sign of building material, as were used in the latter years.
Naranag is also a wonderful camp site. There is just one hotel, inexpensive one and with very few rooms. Travelers often carry their tents and other equipment as most of them are interested to go way up.
There is a stream that flows besides the monuments, fed by glaciers and the Gangabal Lake situated high up in the mountains. The mountains are uninhabited, except the local tribes called Gujjars who take their cattle to graze on the terraces.
The beauty of Naranag lies in the fact that it is desolate, except for the luxuries of nature. As you ascend, there is tranquility and even the murmur of stream vanishes at many places. According to some reports a unique specie like raccoons have been sighted.
The trek from Sonamarg to Gangabal, culminating at Naranag is very popular. There are innumerable places which are not lesser in beauty than fantasy lands. Clear water lakes on top of the mountains reflecting perfectly all the shades of blue sky over it is simple magical. If you happen to travel to Naranag, then it would be a mistake not to miss such sights that are located atop the mountains.
The road to Naranag, which passes through Ganderbal district, is quite fuzzy. It becomes almost difficult to travel during rainy season. Food can also be a problem as there are no stores or shops except in the village that sell groceries and daily essentials to the locals. Also the people who are willing to explore the beauty of Naranag must do so with a local guide as the passes and places are not known to many.
The twin lakes of Gangabal and Nandakol look stunning when viewed from Zach pass on the hills opposite side. It is definitely worth the effort, try and hike up as high as possible, higher you go, better is the view!
If there are shepherds around with their flock, the lake is great for fishing but one needs a permit from Srinagar.
On a clear day, the view of Nandakol lake at the base of Harmukh peak towering to a height of over 5000m is fantastic. You can make this a trip on horse/pony from Narnag
Major Tourist Activity:
Trekking and fishing.
How to Reach?
The Gangabal lake is approached from Srinagar 45 kilometres by road via Ganderbal up to Naranag and then a trek of 15 kilometres upslopes leads to the lake, which can be covered by a horse ride or by foot. The shepherds and gujjars can be seen during the trek with their flocks of sheep and goats. Another trek (25 kilometres long) leads to the lake site from Sonamarg via the Vishansar Lake crossing the Nichnai pass ( 4100 meteres). It can also be accessed through a trek from Bandipore via Arin.
Gangabal Lake Trek
The trek to the lake Gangabal takes place in an alpine environment, (cut crossing) with meadows, (cut from) and huts of Gujjars – Himalayan nomads - with their herds crossing through two passes (cut steeps of) over 4,000 m to get to the lake Gangabal, the sacred Hindu lake and place of pilgrimage.