Tulian Lake, Pahalgam

Tulian Lake, known for it’s distinctive shape which resembles the digit ‘8’ is a high altitude alpine lake situated in the famous tourist destination, Pahalgam. The Lake stands at an altitude of 3684 meters above sea level & is surrounded on three sides by the majestic snow-capped mountains of Pir Panjal & Zanskar valley. 

HALT Kashmir.

With the onset of summer, me & the boys at our trekking group HALTKashmir started looking for our first alpine lake trek of the season & Tulian Lake caught our eye because of it’s unique shape. Out of almost 30 alpine lakes that I’ve been to, none compares to Tulian Lake. So with that in our minds, we started to plan our trek. 

Aerial view of the Baisaran meadow, Pahalgam.

We started off from Pahalgam at around 9 in the morning & reached the beautiful meadow of Baisaran in an hour or so. For all of you who haven’t been to Baisaran, it’s a picturesque meadow also known as “Mini-Switzerland” because of its vast meadows & dense pine forests. One can find small tuck shops here & can go horse-riding there & it is accessible by car as well.


After taking a breather at Baisaran, we continued our trek towards Tulian Lake. Our next destination was Kani Marg. Although before reaching Kani Marg, we stopped at a place which is right in the middle of Baisaran & Kani Marg, called “Byaari Angan”. It is a place where there are a few gujjar dokas & is known for it’s fertile land. We saw scores of potato farms and mustard fields there. We left “Byaari Angan” at 11 & reached Kani Marg at 11:30.

Nun chaai with scenes

Kani Marg is a place nestled in between the forest lines of Baisaran & Tulian Valley. We stopped there & the local tribal people of the place were too kind to offer us a soothing cup of nun chai with freshly made flatbreads. One thing that I’ve always noticed on my travels to the mountains is that the tribal people have always been the most welcoming & kind to us whenever we pass by their homes. Maybe it’s because of such generosity, they continue to survive the difficulties of the mountains with a bright smile on their faces. 

The end of forest line at Tulian Valley.

After resting there for a while, we started the most treacherous stretch of our trek. What is normally an easy trail running through the forest turned out to be more difficult than we thought as there was a landslide just a day before which had made the soil all loose & a lot of huge pine trees had also fallen. This made us take a detour which made the trek more difficult & time consuming. After a difficult trek through the dense forest line, we saw the vast Tulian Valley. With fast flowing waters running past us & the view of mountains from everywhere, it was a sight to behold. 

The golden hour – Tulian Valley.

Quite often the Tulian Lake trek is deemed as a day trek but because this trek was our first trek of the season the fitness of the whole team wasn’t quite up to the mark & due to the detour we had to take which took up a lot of a time, we decided to spend the night in the Tulian Valley as we had proper camping gear with us. We pitched our camp near a water stream. The camping spot at Tulian Valley remains one of my favorite camping spots. It was nearly 4 in the evening so we prepared some tea & rested for a while.
One of my favorite experiences when camping in the mountains is the glorious sunset. I always believe that sunsets hit different in the mountains & the sunset in Tulian Valley proved that I wasn’t wrong. The light striking off against the mountains & immersing itself in the gushing waters really makes you realize how beautiful the world is & how lucky you are to be witnessing all of the beautiful creations of the almighty. 

Our campsite under a blanket of stars.

We knew we had a difficult hike day ahead of us, so we lit the campfire & prepared our dinner. The sky started to clear and within no time it was full of the enigmatic & brightest of creations, Stars. The milky-way was visible to the naked eye & the whole place was lit up because of the magical presence of the sky full of stars.

Preparing breakfast early in the morning, Tulian Valley.

The next morning, we prepared our breakfast & started our ascend towards the Tulian Lake at 8:30. Due to the fact that it was still June, the snow hadn’t quite melted yet so on our way towards the Tulian Lake, we first had to cross a snow bridge which is fun to be honest but one has to be really careful when crossing the snow bridges as even the tiniest of mistakes can prove fatal.

The final ridge before the Tulian Lake.

We crossed the snow bridge from where we saw the ridge behind which was the beautiful Tulian Lake. The final patch of the trek was difficult as the entire trail was full of lose stones & melting glaciers.

Splendid hues of the Tulain Lake.

After a successful climb of the ridge, we got the first glimpse of the Tulian Lake & all the fatigue and tiredness seemed to vanish away. With its crystal clear blue water, it’s unique shape & huge chunks of ice floating in it, we saw the lake in its purest of forms.
We spend an hour or so at the lake after which we started our descend towards Pahalgam. This time because the weather had been clear from the past two days, we took the original route & successfully completed our descent in about 2.5 hours or so.

The mesmerizing view of the Tulian Lake from the second ridge.

Tulian Lake is one of the most photogenic lakes & it’s difficulty ranges from moderate to difficult. I wouldn’t suggest this trek especially for a one day trek to beginners but if your fitness levels are good it is doable in one day.
However you may choose to do the trek, the fact remains that for all of you adventure freaks out there, do plan a trek to Tulian Lake & prepare to be amazed by the distinctiveness & the contrasting colors of this breathtakingly beautiful lake. 

*The pictures used in the blog are captured by Xulkarnain Dev & Syed Adeel. Do follow their work on Instagram under their handles @xulkarnain & @thesyedadeel.

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