Thajiwas Valley

Glacier in Sonamarg

Five fingers of glacier descend from a fine array of Alpine peaks in the parallel valley behind Sonamarg. The scene is best appreciated from a small footbridge across a gurgling mountain stream that's around an hour's stroll from the village. The walk passes between ancient conifers and can be delightful if the local kids aren't too aggressively demanding.

Note that when horsemen claim that they'll take you 'all the way to the glacier', what they mean is to one very degraded tongue of old ice where Indian tourists – for whom snow is a novelty – attempt to sledge. Views are no better from there than from the two footbridges further down the valley.

Walking from central Sonamarg, start out along the jeep road from Hotel Glacier Heights that almost parallels the highway but runs behind the army camp. The road peters out, but a footpath continues to hotels Snow King and Shahijahan, from which you climb around the tip of a forested ridge on a clear path that doubles back to the east. From the point where it joins the cobbled main tourist trail, the double viewpoint bridges are less than 15 minutes' walk.

If you're starting from the Hotel Sonamarg Glacier area, simply follow the horse trails up to the Alpine Hut, then continue as above.