This is the only monument in Sonmarg. Avantipur was an ancient town that existed during the Varman Dynasty. The ruins are actually of two temples built by King Avanti Varman dating back to the years between 883 and 885 AD. The bigger of the two temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and about 800 metres away from it lies a smaller temple devoted to Lord Vishnu. Both the temples are remnants of the actual structures, however, the smaller Vishnu temple is better preserved than the Shiva temple. The architecture of temples is uniquely Kashmiri, a splendid example of Indian culture and heritage.
The remains of Buddhist temples are located in Naranag, which is at a 17km descent from GangabalLake. The temples were built by Emperor Ashoka’s son Jaluka and King LalitadityaMuktapida of the Kashmiri Karkota Dynasty.
Sonmarg has several exciting activities which would interest children. Besides playing in the beautiful parks, children can ride mules and horses which are available at most places with a rough terrain. Children could also enjoy camping out and fishing in Sonmarg with their parents. There are no amusement parks in Sonmarg, but the natural beauty and the snow can be a great attraction for children. Children can go snowboarding, ride sleds and indulge in the age-old practices of making snowballs and snowmen.
Amarnath is one of the most revered locations for Hindus. Aamrnath is a day journey from Baltal, which is 15km from Sonmarg. Baltal is the base camp for the famous AmarnathYatra. The temple needs no introduction and is renowned for its Shivaling made of ice. The Shivaling is in a cave which is said to be the one where Lord Shiva, his wife Parvati and their son Lord Ganesh resided. This is one of the most famous shrines of Lord Shiva and is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year in the months of July and August.
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Durga and is situated amidst a spring. It is located about 69km from Sonmarg near Dangerpora. You can visit the temple by taking a small detour en route to Srinagar. The temple is highly revered by most Kashmiri Pundits (Hindus) who offer milk and rice pudding (Kheer) to the deity. A legend says that the waters around the temple turn black in the face of an imminent natural catastrophe. The temple is also famous for its striking architecture.
This place is famous for the tomb of the eminent Kashmiri saint Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani. It is a peaceful place and is visited by hundreds of pilgrims every year. Although the shrine is located in Yusmarg, about 114km from Sonmarg, it is a good option if religious places are of interest to you.
There are no museums in Sonmarg as is it relatively small and is renowned mainly for its natural beauty. However, if you club Srinagar into your itinerary, you will come across several museums which are testament to India’s rich culture and heritage.
Visit the Raja Dinkar Kelkar Museum and the Tribal Museum, both of which are in vicinity.
Located about 6.8km from Sonmarg on the Srinagar-Leh Highway, this park has been built by the Forest Department to promote Eco-Tourism in Jammu and Kashmir. The park is located at a beautiful spot and you will find plenty of breathtaking views here.
Located about 4km from Sonmarg, amidst River Sindh, is the Island Retreat Park. The park is apt for nature lovers who can spend hours here amidst blissful surroundings and enjoy the cool breeze from the river. There is a popular restaurant in the park too.
Besides Srinagar which is 81km from Sonmarg, there are several places nearby which you may want to include in your itinerary. Baltal,a beautiful valley, is 15km away from Sonmarg and is also the base camp for the famous Amarnath Yatra. It attracts devotees and campers alike. You may also consider including Yusmarg in your itinerary which is at a distance of 126km from Sonmarg. Yusmarg has breath-taking and serene landscapes accentuated by the presence of the sparkling Doodh Ganga river.
Also known as the Gateway to Ladakh, the Zoji-La pass is located about 9km from Sonmarg. At 3,528 metres above sea-level, this is the second highest and one of the most dangerous mountain passes in the Kashmir Valley. The pass has some of the prettiest views of the surrounding areas, especially those of the Dras Valley and the snowy Himalayan peaks. The pass is only open during late spring; it is closed for the rest of the year due to heavy rains and snowfall.
Located 4.8km from Sonmarg, this is one of the most accessible glaciers in the valley. This picturesque location is a famous camp site and has magnificent views of green waters and snow-peaked mountains. It is covered in snow even during the summer months and makes for a fabulous trekking route.
This beautiful lake is located 36.7km from Sonmarg in the foothills of the Harmukh Mountain. It is a serene lake with breathtaking surroundings. This natural lake is fed by springs, rain water and the melting glaciers around it. It is also home to a wide variety of fish and brown trout. The lake is considered sacred by the Hindus and a pilgrimage is organised every year in September to this holy lake.
At 5,000 metres above sea-level, this is one of the highest lakes in Kashmir. This beautiful lake, which is situated 23.5km from Sonmarg, has pristine waters and breathtaking scenery surrounding it. It is a major camping site and trekking base of the area and is also a very well-known trout fishing centre. The lake is a fantastic spot for photography enthusiasts.
This Lake is located 18.6km from Sonmarg and will leave you awestruck with its surreal beauty. Vishansar Lake is a natural freshwater lake which is fed by several glaciers. The lake is surrounded by mountain peaks, green meadows and alpine flora. Trout fishing is also possible in the lake. The lake finds a place in most trekking circuits in the area.
Nilagrad is the place of the confluence of Indus or Sindh river with the Nilagrad river. Located 6km from Sonmarg, the Nilagrad River is famous amongst the locals for its reddish waters which supposedly have curative and healing powers.
The population is predominantly Muslim and speaks the Koshur or Kashmiri language. People in Sonmarg also speak and understand Hindi and rudimentary English. Besides Muslims, there are Hindus in the region who are called the Kashmiri Pundits. The women dress in colourful garments and attractive jewellery. The culture is influenced by the central Asian and Persian cultures. This in turn gives rise to a lot of cultural events and festivals and has a wide impact in the music and art in the region.
Visit the Art Today Galler Tiling Art Gallery and Sahib Singh Gallery among others that are located nearby to Sonmarg.
Sonmarg’s resplendent natural beauty has made it possible to have some of the best campsites in the area. You can set up a tent and spend a night by the bonfire at these campsites. You can also choose to go fishing for trout in Sonmarg as there are several places where fishing is allowed.
Sonmarg is a hub for adventure activities. It is one of the most popular camping sites in Jammu and Kashmir and there are several hair raising treks in the area. The Sonmarg-Gangabal Trek is a 15 km nerve-wracking trek which is renowned for its breath-taking views and natural beauty. You may also try the 23 km trek to Gadsar Lake. Another popular trek circuit is via the Satsar Lake which is 17 km long and takes you to the Gangabal Lake in the foothills of the Harmukh Peak. Most treks have several camping sites in scenic settings. You can also river raft in the Indus river in Sonmarg.
The serene and tranquil environment of Sonmarg provides enough relaxation. However, if you would like to visit a spa, it is best to head to Srinagar.
There are no live bands which play music in Sonmarg but you may be lucky to hear the local Kashmiri folk songs from the residents of the valley. On a camp site you may even hear other tourists strumming the guitar and singing in the evenings.
There are several dhaba-style restaurants in Sonmarg where you get hot and fresh food. The most popular one is the rustic Narendar Dhaba which serves mostly North Indian cuisine. The Island Retreat restaurant located in the Island Retreat Park, is famous for its delicious snacks. Further ahead near Marmara on the Srinagar – Sonmarg Road is the Tourist Cafeteria which offers tasty food.
Most restaurants serve Indian and Kashmiri cuisine. The Kashmiri Dum Aloo, Roghanjosh, and Yakhni Pulao are dishes which must be tried. You should also drink the local beverage, Kahwa, which is tea made with spices and almonds to bear the cold weather.
There are no flea markets in Sonmarg. The nearest flea market is in MunshiBagh, Srinagar called the Sunday Market. However, there are some make shift shops which sell souvenirs and local handicrafts at reasonable prices.
Sonmarg does not have any departmental stores. People generally buy all their requirements from small shops in the street market.
The local street market suffices to provide people with their daily requirements, relics and souvenirs.