Heads up - this is quite a dramatic/depressing one.
The glacier itself is tucked away behind hills so you have to drive into a "reserve", but even after that it's quite a long walk to the actual glacier. My sister and I went ahead of the parents on our own, probably because I was so eager to see the glacier. We kept walking and walking and it seemed like such a long hike to nowhere until we finally reached this little area full of people and little stalls with tables and chairs selling chai and snacks. We realised it was the end of the trail and we both thought "ok, where's this glacier then?".
It's only then that you realise that you're standing where the glacier should be, typical valley, boulders once carried by the ice and everything. A few kilometres or so ahead of all these stalls, we saw some distant ice, which we assumed must be the Sonamarg glacier. Disappointing doesn't even begin to cover it. So we sat down and got a pack of biscuits and juice while waiting for our parents to catch up. Looking around, in spite of having had to walk a good half an hour through the reserve, it was only then that I really got a sense of the place. On the way there I must have been too excited to notice but the whole place is littered with plastic packets and bottles, the little streams of meltwater are choked with trash, no planning has been given to the walking trails, they've just been put anywhere that gives a simple path to the "glacier" so paths are paved right through the middle of streams, leaving stagnant water on either side of the concrete. Even where there are paths that are meant to be followed, there are just people everywhere doing whatever the hell they want, including skiing around on a little bit of ice which probably should be part of the glacier. And let's not forget! For the people who don't feel like doing the whole walk to the "glacier", no problem, you can just hitch a ride on a tiny emaciated pony that probably can't handle your weight.
|view from the top|
Whenever I write depressing posts like this, I end them with happy things or with some solutions. All I've got to end this one on a light note is the song that inspired the titles of these posts - Sky to Ground by Xavier Rudd. For one, the title is so fitting for the trip, but more than anything, it's the lyrics and the mood of the song that got me. As soon as we left Sonamarg, all I wanted to do was stick my earphones in and try make sense of everything on the drive to Srinagar that evening or at least to cheer myself up. That was the first time I heard Sky to Ground and I can't think of a more perfect song for the scenario. Call me a cheesy treehugger but I had to put in the lyrics as well, the song means a lot to me.