Sheshnag Lake, Kashmir.

Sheshnag, Shesh as in a mirror and nag as in a snake in the local Kashmiri dialect is a high altitude alpine lake situated in the Anantnag district of Kashmir. This lake stands at an altitude of 3590 meters above sea level and since it comes at the start of the Amarnath cave pilgrimage, it is also considered a sacred pilgrimage site by the Hindus. There are number of legends and myths which surround the famous Sheshnag Lake with one being that Lord Shiva placed a snake in the Lake as he guided Hindu Goddess Parvati through the secrets of eternal life. Some also believe that Sheshnag, the king of snakes dug this lake itself and continues to live there as of this day. The trek towards this mesmerizing Lake starts from the beautiful Pahalgam valley.

Xulkarnain Dev in awe of the beauty of the Sheshnag Lake.

In the year 2020 because of the Covid 19 pandemic, it was very difficult for us to plan treks. So, it was in the month of June when we finally planned our first alpine trek and I had with me the best travel photographer of Kashmir, my dear friend Xulkarnain Dev. I’ve always been a big fan of his work, so it was really an honor having him with me on this beautiful trek. There was a lot of uncertainty and tension which surrounded us but we were determined to trek to see the splendid view of the Sheshnag lake by taking all the necessary precautions. We drove to Pahalgam early in the morning and reached there within 1.5 hours or so. The trek starts from Chandanwari and it is from where we hired the porters to guide us to the Sheshnag Lake. After mounting the trekking equipment on the horses, we started our trek at around 11 in the morning. The weather was quiet pleasant which is always an added bonus.

Raw beauty at its best at Pissu Top – Pahalgam.

Because Sheshnag lake is a part of the Amarnath yatra pilgrimage, the initial phase of the trek is comparatively easy because there is a proper trail leading up to the Lake. After hiking past the initial trail, we got on to the difficult part of the trek, the Pissu Top. Pissu Top is the mountain pass leading up to the Sheshnag Lake. This is the most difficult part of the trek as it is a straight uphill climb from Chandanwari. We reached the Pissu Top at around 1:00 PM. We rested there for a while and cherished the raw beauty which was all around us. 

Beautiful water streams along the Sheshnag lake trail.

 The next stop on the way was Zojibal which is around 4 kilometers away from the Pissu Top. The trial leading Zojibal is full of rocks and silt so one has to be very careful while hiking on this trail. On this trail we got to see quite of a lot of small water streams which were flowing through the cracks of the rocky mountains.

Treacherous terrain at Nagakoti- Sheshnag.

After a successful hike of Zojibal, we reached Nagakoti. It is from here that the path of the trek became really narrow and rocky. We took a rest there as well and had our lunch but we knew we were close to reaching our destination.

First glimpse of the Sheshnag Lake.

 It was around 3 in the afternoon and we wanted to reach Sheshnag before the sun set, so we started our hike again and within an hour of so we saw the two hills between which the water stream of the Sheshnag Lake was flowing. All of a sudden, all our fatigue and tiredness vanished and we started the descend towards the Sheshnag Lake. That first glimpse of the Sheshnag Lake was pure divine. It was almost after a gap of a year that I was witnessing an alpine lake again and that made the view extra special.

On the onset of dusk, Sheshnag changed its colors.

We finally reached the campsite of the Sheshnag Lake at 4 in the afternoon. Before pitching our tents, we sat there looking at the unique and distinctive colors of the Sheshnag Lake. As the sun was starting to set, we pitched our tents and prepared tea as it was starting to get a little chilly.

Glorious night sky at Sheshnag lake.

After a difficult trek, we rested for a while and at around 8 in the evening, the view outside our tents was something I’ll never forget. The starry night at Sheshnag remains one of the best night sky views that I’ve seen. Millions of stars were shining bright and the reflection of them striking against the crystal clear water of the Sheshnag Lake was simply astonishing. 

The stars reflecting against the Sheshnag lake was a view worth cherishing.

Being an amazing astrophotographer that he is, Xulkarnain was busy capturing the magnificence of the starry night sky and some of us were preparing dinner, I lay down on the grass and transcended into an all together different dimension while gazing stars. After having dinner, we had a guitar session with Muazam and called it a night.

Our super yummy breakfast!

The next day we woke up early in the morning as we had planned to have fish for breakfast. Sheshnag is home to different varieties of trout fish among which the brown trout is considered to be the best and because Xulkarnain happens to be good at fishing, we caught two trout fishes. We prepared them and they did taste very delicious. At this point the Sheshnag lake was at its wholesome charm and I’ve no words to describe the beautiful colors which the lake had. 

Journey on our way back to Chandanwari, Pahalgam.

But as we all know the unpredictability of the weather in the alps, the clouds started to gather over the lake and we hadn’t planned for another night stay, so we unpitched our tents, cleared the campsite and started our trek towards Chandanwari. As soon as we reached Zojibal, it started to rain so we put on our rain gear and continued the descend. We reached Chandanwari at 4 in the afternoon from where we drove back towards Srinagar.

Wild flowers on the banks of the Sheshnag Lake.

“Xulkarnain’s take” – I had an brilliant time on the trek. The journey is often more beautiful than the destination but in this case, both the journey and the destination were equally amazing. I had such a good time with the lads and we did enjoy a lot. It was our first trek together but most definitely not the last. We went on the Greater Lakes expedition together as well after this trek. I would suggest you guys to trek to Sheshnag Lake because it will be an experience of a lifetime for all of you.

Sheshnag lake is one of the best short Alpine lake treks in Kashmir and I would highly recommend all of you to visit simply because it is a well known trekking trail, it’s difficulty ranges between easy to moderate based on how well versed you are with trekking and the Lake showcases colors like no other alpine lake. 

Sheshnag lake amongst the snow clad mountains.

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