In Photos | Sonmarg: Kashmir’s Edge of Paradise

Breaking bread and ice with locals in Kashmir's last village gives an insight into Sonmarg beyond its touristy slopes.

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Sonmarg, about 80 kilometres off the Srinagar-Leh highway, wields many charms including its vast repository of snow sports. The prospect of sledging down argentine slopes, or snow biking, hiking, skiing and horse riding across vales, passes and frozen lakes draws adventure-buffs from across the world to this haunt.

Monikered “Meadow of Gold,” Sonmarg’s canopies of sycamore and silver birch, glacial lakes and bursts of alpine blooms only scratch the surface of its wealth. Real magic is encountered in its tiny hamlets. It is at Sarbal—the last village of Kashmir before the frozen Zoji La—that a photographer chanced upon old wooden houses dotting meadows, and in those houses, the warmth of families that opened their rooms and hearts to a stranger. In neighbouring villages, she snacked on Kashmiri bread over stories of annual migrations. Thick and fast, like the snow that’d cover her summer haunt come November, she fell in love with Sonmarg’s rural riches.

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  • Deepti Asthana loves to tell stories of cultures and traditions of far-away regions. When not traveling, she can be found in Mumbai snuggling with her dog.

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