Sonamarg, set amid spectacular mountains, can be visited between Leh and Srinagar and in mid-summer is linked to tiny but historic Naranag by a multi-day trek through some spectacular lake-dappled alpine highlands. Gulmarg is great for extreme skiing in winter but in summer its cable car is often over-loaded by queues of Indian tourists waiting for hours on end.
Surrounded by alpine peaks, the Lidder and Seshnag rivers tumble down picturesque, deep-cut mountain valleys covered with giant conifers. The surrounding mountains contain many beauty spots and over 20 lakes to which countless guides and horsemen are more than keen to take you for a ride.
Surrounded by soaring sharpened peaks and Sound of Music scenery, Sonamarg (Km85) is a strip-town marring an otherwise gorgeous alpine valley. Sitting astride the Kargil–Srinagar road, it makes a possible trekking base or a meal-stop before/after crossing the nerve-jangling 3529m Zoji La pass.
Naranag & Lake Gangabal
Home to seminomadic Gujar people, and a pair of remarkable 8th-century Shiva temple ruins (unfenced), little Naranag sits in a deep-cut river valley thick with mature conifer forests. It is mostly used by visitors as a trailhead for multi-day treks in Kashmir's 'Great Lakes' uplands.