The Tarsar trek is something that I had planned four months before the actual trek, after completing the beautiful Kashmir Great Lakes trek a few years back. Day 1 is all about the drive from Srinagar to Aru and the drive which is a part of this beautiful Tarsar trek. It’s a four-hour drive from Srinagar excluding a few stops in between at the Saffron farm and apple valley. There are two routes to get to Aru from Srinagar. One is via Anantnag, the bus route and the other is via Bijbehra/Apple valley which is a short cut and most of the cabs go by this route to Aru.
We reached Srinagar from Bangalore at around 2:30 pm and spent the evening next to Dal Lake -We enjoyed the beautiful scenery around, the fountains, late in the evening the lighting of houseboats, far away fort, Shankaracharya temple on top, etc. Dal Lake may be crowded during peak season and on weekends.
You can stay in a hotel or a boathouse overnight and the next day morning was another beautiful foggy cold morning. You can just sit next to Dal Lake and watch people going around in their Shikara boats full of flowers and vegetables or go on a Shikara ride.
Srinagar to Aru drive
After having breakfast, we had to get ready to go to base camp. We had early lunch and reached TRC where taxis were available to go to Aru. Those who don’t prefer to stay at Dal Lake may reach TRC on the same day of landing at Srinagar if they can reach Srinagar by the afternoon.
It costs around ₹ 450 per head on a shared taxi to reach Aru from Srinagar and is about four hours of drive. It takes three hours to reach Pahalgam and one hour to reach Aru. To save some money, from Srinagar, you can even go by bus to Pahalgam via Anantnagar but is a longer route and may take more time. Srinagar to Aru distance is about 100 kilometers via the apple valley route.
On the way to Aru, you get to see the Jhelum river, some old ASI (Archeological Survey of India) structures, the other side of Shankaracharya hill, and Saffron (Kesari) fields. Saffron is grown here in the fields and you get to see the colorful fields only during the season. We stopped for a while next to these fields and bought some saffron and also had the local Khawa tea which is famous in this place.
Continue your journey and you will reach Apple valley. We purchased a few of them of all varieties and continued our journey. There were few checkpoints and check posts. We continued next to the river and started our journey uphill in the hilly terrain. You will find many tourist spots and parks. The landscape is just too beautiful. As you drive from Pahalgam to Aru, the terrain get is even steeper and more of ghats and steep dangerous curves and narrow roads.
What is Aru Valley famous for?
We finally reached Aru which is a small town. There is no phone signal in this region other than BSNL postpaid. There are a few shops here and this is the last place where you can buy some stuff. We walked for about 15 minutes until we reached our base camp next to the Liddhar stream. By the time we reached Aru, it was raining and was late in the evening.
Beautiful meadows can be seen in the Aru valley. It is well-known among tourists for its tranquil setting and breathtaking scenery. For hikers heading to the Kolahoi Glacier, the Tarsar Marsar lakes, and the Katrinag valley, the town serves as a base camp.
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