YUSMARG, Unexplored Kashmir – A Complete Travel Guide

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Home > India > Jammu & Kashmir > YUSMARG, Unexplored Kashmir – A Complete Travel Guide

Last Updated on: Jul 20, 2021 |

About this blog: What can I say about Yusmarg? This is a place where you need to visit to understand its beauty. This incredibly beautiful and offbeat place in Kashmir is not always on the list of tourist itinerary. However, while planning our Kashmir trip, I knew I had to visit here. On our way to Yusmarg, we had also stopped at Charar-e-Sharif.  This blog is about our visit to Yusmarg and Charar-e-sharif, how to reach, what to do and all other related information.

We were awestruck. We were simply speechless. Because, not every day we get to see something as pure and beautiful as what was in front of us. Kashmir is beautiful. Each day in the valley made us realize the fact that the place is indeed a heaven on earth. After spending a few days in Srinagar and Aru Valley, we were at Yusmarg, standing in front of acres and acres of meadows.

Meadows at Yusmarg

It was green everywhere. It had rained the last day. While the trails were muddy, the meadows looked fresh. If you look closely, you would see dew drops on the grass blades. And across the green meadows, a few horses were grazing. That is what we saw there. That is what we fell in love with.

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Just like other places in Kashmir, Yusmarg also welcomed us with pine forest trails, gushing streams and the smiling local Gujjars. And then there were the little kids who had innocence in their smiles and curiosity in their eyes.

Interacting with children at Yousmarg

They would come near us with eyes full of questions. Language was a barrier, for we do not speak Kashmiri, but the smiles communicated a lot. So yes, our visit to Yusmarg was definitely a delightful experience. And learning about Sheikh Noor ud-Din Noorani, famously known as Sheikh-ul-Alam at Charar-e-sharif was humbling.

Let’s know more about this place, what say?

Yusmarg – the Meadow of Christ?

Horsemen with their horses at Yusmarg

Yusmarg, located at an altitude of 2396 m or 7861 feet is the perfect place to embrace calm and tranquility. Interestingly, I came to know about a legend regarding the origin of Yusmarg’s name. It is believed that Jesus Christ had spent some time of his life in India and had passed through this place.  “Yus” is the short form “Youza” or Jesus and “marg” means meadows. Thus Yusmarg literally translates into the “Meadow of Christ”.

A less interesting version says that the name Yusmarg was actually a corruption of the name “Roosmarg” that means “meadow of musk deer”.

This beautiful meadow also happens to be the base of a few treks in Kashmir. There are a few easy day treks that you can do on your own, while there are others that would require proper guides.

Where is Yusmarg?

Mustard fields in Kashmir

Yusmarg or Yousmarg is located in Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, about 50 km from Srinagar. You can visit here from Srinagar as a day trip (this is the most common way to visit Yousmarg). You can also stay at Yusmarg. There is a JKDTC Bungalow and huts for accommodation amidst a sprawling meadow, usually devoid of any people other than the caretaker. This is also just fine for those who want to enjoy the solitude and immerse themselves in the ethereal beauty of the valley.

Our Visit

On our way to Yusmarg

Our Kashmir trip this time was quite a laidback one. We had already spent a couple of days at Aru Valley and a few days at Srinagar. We had no fixed plan as such. So when our local Kashmiri friend Aarif told us, “Chalo aaj Doodhpathri chalte hai!” (Let us go to Doodhpathri today), we were actually ready to visit Doodhpathri, another beautiful destination near Srinagar. We started in our friend’s car and relied on the usually reliable Google Maps to take us to Doodhpathri.

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There were some tricky turns and after almost an hour of driving, the map still showed Doodhpathri to be 35 km away. Aarif was puzzled. We were clueless. And then Aarif did the social thing and asked around for directions. Few minutes later, we realized that we were closer to Yusmarg than to Doodhpathri! So the best option for us was to carry on towards Yusmarg and visit Doodhpathri on some other day.

Charar-e-Sharif town

Yusmarg lies at the end of the road from Charar-e-Sharif, the place known for its Dargah of the famous Sufi poet Sheik-ul-Alam. As we crossed the shrine, the air became cooler and the landscape turned greener. After driving on the winding roads, we soon crossed the signboard of Yusmarg Development Authority.

Next we came across the Yusmarg Lake. The lake was fenced around for security purpose and we were told not to take any photographs there (though I can swear I have seen photographs of the lake on other websites!). Finally, a few metres ahead was the JKTDC Tourist huts and the car parking area.

Yusmarg JKTDC Bungalow - where to stay at Yusmarg

So we have arrived at Yusmarg, in place of Doodhpathri. This was the main reason we did not stay the night at Yusmarg in spite of the fact that I had initially planned to stay there for the night. But never mind, the time we spent at Yusmarg was wonderful.

Yusmarg is a small place. The meadows were all surrounded by hills and pine forests. Just behind the JKTDC Tourist bungalow is a CRPF barrack. Once again, we were told not to take photographs there. At the parking area, there is a sign board that shows all the trekking trails from Yusmarg and the rates for pony rides.

Signboard for Pony rate for Yusmarg

We were perhaps the only tourists that were present at Yusmarg. We decided to trek towards Doodhganga River. It was only a 2 km trek from the parking area. Well, quite a few horsemen and guides flocked us. But unlike Gulmarg, they were not persistent. They were more than happy to share some of their life stories with us.

Yeh kya naya bimari hain? Yeh sab naye zamane ka hai (what is this new disease? I think this is because of the new generation)”. An octogenarian we met at Yusmarg lamented. He did not seem to have much idea about the latest Pandemic. All that he knew was this was because the new generation is not careful of nature and natural resources. And I did not know what to answer him. After all, I knew most of the problems of this generation are because of our blatant disregard for nature.

Offbeat places in Kashmir

 Nevertheless, he was quite happy to talk to us. He was quite glad to know that we were from Kolkata. In his younger days, he used to travel to West Bengal to sell Kashmiri Shawls!

On our way towards Doodhganaga, we saw a few nomadic settlements of the Gujjars. The Doodhganga River was beautiful. The mountain river was gushing down at its full force and we simply sat at the river bank enjoying the view. We spent some time there and finally returned back to the main parking area.

Trek to Doodhganga River Yusmarg

On our return to Srinagar, we stopped at Charar-e-Sharif Shrine.  This was another beautiful place and we could feel a sense of peace there. We simply sat there and spent a few quiet moments appreciating the gift of life.

What to do at Yusmarg?

If you ask me, I would probably answer that I want to do nothing at Yusmarg; for there is nothing much to do there. And that is the beauty of Yusmarg. There is no crowd, no traffic, and no market place. There is only pure and unadulterated nature with pleasantly cold weather and occasional sounds of horses whining. You can simply sit down and see the green all around.

Horses and ponies at Yusmarg

While all these sound pretty good to me, you might want to have some activities at the place. Yusmarg does not disappoint here as well. There are a few places of attractions around the place and several trekking trails, both short and long.

Here is a list of attractions in Yusmarg.

  1. Doodhganga Trek
  2. Nilnag Lake Trek
  3. Visit to Sang-e-Safed valley
  4. Trek to Doodhpathri valley and Tosa Maidan
  5. Visit Charar-e-Sharif shrine

Short treks from Yusmarg

Doodhganga Trek

Doodhganga River Bank

Doodhganga trek is the most common trekking trail and attraction in Yusmarg. The river is barely 2 km from Yusmarg where you can hike down to the river bed. You can also hire a pony. A pony ride cost Rs200 when we had visited. Visit down the river with a picnic basket, dip in the river or just spend some time there. The place is simple and beautiful. You can also relax at the meadows on the way towards Doodhganga.

Just do not leave any trash behind.

Nilnag Lake Trek

Nilnag Lake

Nil Nag Lake is located beside Gogji Pathri Village and is only about 4 km hike from Yusmarg. Nilnag is a high altitude lake and is located amidst the pine forest a couple of kilometers from Doodhganga. If you wish to do the Nilnag Lake Trek, it is better to get a guide with you. Ponies are also available to take you to Nil Nag Lake and back.

The trekking trail is only 4 km, but if you do wish to visit Nilnag Lake by car, then the route is quite long and in a roundabout manner. It is almost a 49 km drive from Yusmarg via Charar-e-Sharief, Nagam, Shoukatpora, Dadompora and Nowhar to Gogji Pathri and then to Nil Nag. Nilnag Lake can also be done separately as a day trip from Srinagar.

Nil Nag Lake

Long Treks

Sang-e-Safed Valley

Sang-e-Safed Valley or the “White Rocks” is located about 10 km from Yusmarg and is known for its frozen lake. The valley is an oval shaped bisected by the Doodhganga stream. You can also visit Sang-e-Safed Valley on a pony. It will take almost the entire day to do this trip.

Lidder Mad and Haijan

These are two meadows, 4 km from Yusmarg that fall on the way towards Sang-e-Safed. You can visit these two meadows and then come back to Yusmarg if you are short on time. Remember, trek to Sang-e-Safed can only be done if you are staying at Yusmarg or if you are having your camping gear. Also, taking a guide is highly recommended.

Doodhpathri Meadow and Tosa Maidan

Trekking trail to Doodhganga and NilNag lake

There is also a trekking route from Yusmarg to Doodhpathri meadows. I heard the trekking trail to Doodhpathri is about 12-15 km. So once again, one day is not enough for the trek.

Tosa maidan is an arduous trek from Yusmarg that has recently been made accessible. I had heard Tosa Maidan to be quite beautiful. But then I do find Kashmir irresistible!

Charar-e-Sharif

Charar-e-Sharif Budgam

Charar-e-Sharif is a small town about 18 km from Yusmarg on the way to Srinagar. The place is the home to one of the holiest Sufi shrines- the Dargah of Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani, or more popularly Sheikh Noor-ud-din Wali. Also known as Sheikh-ul-Alam and Nand Rishi, he was renowned in the early 15th century as a Sufi mystic who was loved equally by the Muslims and Hindus.

His poetry is found in works like Rishi Nama and Noor Nama, which shows that he was way progressive than his time. He was against superstition, religious intolerance and social injustice, something that is so lacking today.

Charar-e-Sharif Shrine
Shrine of Sheikh-ul-Alam

In 1995, the dargah, unfortunately became a site of gun battle between the Indian Army and insurgents. The shrine and much of the town was destroyed at that time, but was later rebuilt. The towering spire of the shrine is the thing you will notice when you arrive at Charar-e-Sharif.

Men and women have separate entries just as in the case of most of the shrines in Kashmir. Once you enter the shrine you will be awed by the sense of calm and peace there. The interiors are beautiful. However, you are not allowed to take photographs inside.

Tip: Try to visit on Thursday evenings when the Sufi musicians are singing.

Gujjars of Yusmarg

How to reach Yusmarg?

Yusmarg is located about 47 km from Srinagar and takes about 2 hours to reach. Ideally, you can hire a car from Srinagar to reach Yusmarg. A taxi will cost you about Rs2000-2500 including the driver and fuel. You can also hire a motorcycle from Srinagar to visit Yusmarg.

Srinagar to Yusmarg by Local buses and taxis

You can also reach Yusmarg by local vehicles from both Srinagar and Pahalgam, with some effort. You can follow this same route if you are riding your bike.

From Srinagar, the route to Yusmarg is

Chanapora – Chadora – Charar-eSharid – Yusmarg.

You can get local buses and shared taxis from Srinagar to Charar-e-Sharif. But getting a shared vehicle from Charar-e-Sharif to Yusmarg is difficult.

Mughal Road Kashmir

From Pahalgam, the route is

Pahalgam – Anantnag – Pulwama – Pehripora – Yusmarg.

Where to stay at Yusmarg?

Yusmarg JKTDC Tourist Bungalows

There is only one accommodation option at Yusmarg – the JKDTC Tourist Bungalows and Huts. The stay is quite basic and do not expect any luxury here. You can book the tourist hut online.

There is a small market area nearby, but once again, do not expect to get much from there as well.

What to eat?

Basic food is available at the JKTDC restaurant. You can expect parathas and bread-omelette for breakfast and simple rice, dal and chicken curry for lunch and dinner. There are a few eateries in the market area. You will get a number of small dhabas and restaurants at Charar-e-Sharif as well.

What is the best time to visit Yusmarg?

The best time to visit Yusmarg is during the spring and summer months between April to June and during the autumn between late August to October.

Yusmarg usually remains closed for tourists during the winter months as the roads are blocked due to snow. You will perhaps be able to visit only upto Charar-e-Sharif during the winters.

Kashmiri children

Yusmarg Travel Guide (FAQs Answered)

Is Yusmarg worth visiting?

Yes, Yusmarg is a breathtakingly beautiful place in Kashmir and is definitely worth a visit. The scenic beauty of the place and the tranquility it has to offer is simply stunning. The place is known for its lush green meadows and some easy trekking trails. Yusmarg is one of the most beautiful and offbeat places in Kashmir and definitely deserves a visit.

How do I get to Yusmarg?

The best way to reach Yousmarg is by road from Srinagar. You can take a taxi from Srinagar for a day trip and reach Yusmarg via Charar-e-Sharif. You can also get local buses from Srinagar to Charar-e-Sharif. However, to reach Yusmarg, it is better to hire a car.

Where should I stay in Yusmarg?

Yusmarg has only one accommodation option – the JKTDC Tourist bungalow. You can book your stay online.

How is the mobile connectivity at Yusmarg?

The mobile connectivity is very poor. As you know, prepaid connections do not work in Kashmir. The postpaid connections of Vodafone and Jio were both very poor and intermittent.

Are there any banks or ATMs at Yusmarg?

No, there are no banks or ATMs at Yusmarg.

Are there any medical facilities at Yusmarg?

No, there are no medical shops or hospitals at Yusmarg. The nearest medical assistance that you can get is at Charar-e-Sharif. However, if it is serious, you have to go back to Srinagar.

At Yusmarg

Our trip to Yusmarg was quite lovely. Yusmarg is gorgeous and is an unexplored and offbeat place in Kashmir.

Did you like this post on Yusmarg. Let us know your thoughts by commenting below.

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Yusmarg - Offbeat Kashmir
Yusmarg Travel Guide
Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

by Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life.

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20 Comments

  1. Yusmarg looks gorgeous! Loved the detailed signboard that helps travellers with information on various trails. The Doodhganga River looks gorgeous and I personally would love to go on the Doodhganga trek 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you Khushboo. Let’s plan together! 🙂

      Reply
  2. Wowww Yusmarg is definitely an unexplored destination, the place looks mesmerizing just like the different parts of Kashmir. Having just one stay option and medical facility is bit challenging but still exciting

    Reply
    • Thank you Afreen! Actually Yusmarg does not have any permanent settlement. The shepherds are the only people to stay there. So stay options are quite limited.

      Reply
  3. What a beautiful place! No wonder they call Kashmir as the heaven on Earth. So beautiful. I have Kashmir at the top of my list and I am waiting to visit it soon. Honestly, I have never heard of Yusmarg before but now I want to visit it. Thanks for introducing me to all these places in Kashmir, I have a big list and would want to go there for a long period.

    Reply
    • Thank you Raksha! I hope you visit Kashmir sometime soon.

      Reply
  4. Yusmarg seems to be a hidden gem up in the north. The Nilnag Trek looks absolutely beautiful. I’ll definitely plan a visit here on a Thursday keeping your suggestion in mind.

    Reply
    • Thank you Michelle!

      Reply
  5. I went to Yusmarg during my childhood days. I think I was 10 0r 11. I remember the awesomeness. But don’t recall the Jesus connect. So that’s a good piece of information.

    Reply
    • Omg! Thats a long time ago. I am sure the place is still as beautiful as you remember it to be.

      Reply
  6. Yusmarg looks quintessential Kashmir, so lush and beautiful. But what is really fascinating is to read about the Jesus Christ connection. We had read about the legend of Christ having been to Kashmir but were not aware that there is a place that is actually named after him.

    Reply
    • Thank you guys! Ever we were quite surprised to know about the Christ story. But then India surprises us at every corner!

      Reply
  7. I have never been to Kashmir, but it is at the top priority on my vacation list. The place which you have reviewed in the place is looking very beautiful. I will make sure to visit here

    Reply
    • Thank you Priyal!

      Reply
  8. What a beautiful post I just wanted to read on and on. I could actually feel the tranquility of thw place Yusmarg. Sometimes you just want to embrace Nature and do nothing else. So beautiful

    Reply
    • Thank you Anahita!

      Reply
  9. I was aware of Yusmarg and the Jesus Christ connect. Now I travelled to this place literally thanks to your post.

    Reply
    • Wow! We are so glad that you travelled there after treading our post! Thank you so much.

      Reply
  10. Oh, this definitely is a lesser known place in Kashmir, and honestly noone had even suggested visiting here during my Kashmir trips.
    Thanks for throwing light on the beauty of Yusmarg.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much, Sanjay!

      Reply

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Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

Hi! we’re Agni & Amrita.

A creative couple, explorer and the team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers.

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