Thajiwas Glacier – Sonamarg to Thajiwas Glacier Trek Guide

by Vargis.Khan

thajiwas glacierThajiwas Glacier trek or walk is one of the prime attractions of a trip to Sonamarg. The 3 kilometers long trek passes through lush green pastures, a beautiful forest, and ends at a viewpoint from where you get a clear view of the glacier. There are a few tea stalls at the viewpoint where you can get something to eat before starting on your way back.

If you were up for it, you can actually continue beyond that point and get a little closer to the glacier.  However, the trek does get a little more difficult and trickier after that.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Sonamarg – A Complete Travel Guide

Most of the tourists go for the 3 kilometers long walk to the snow point and return to Sonamarg from there. You can either trek all on your own or even hire a pony and a local to accompany you along.

I have done this trek a few times during my trips to Sonamarg, both till the snow point and beyond that as well. I went all by myself but if you wish to hire a pony, those are also easily available. How far you were able to go will entirely depend on the time of your trip.

In this post, I will provide complete details on how you can plan a trek to Thajiwas Glacier from Sonamarg. You can also see the video below to hear me talk about all these details.

About Thajiwas Glacier

Thajiwas Glacier is a mountain glacier near the town of Sonamarg. It is one of the most easily accessible glaciers in Kashmir and is visible from pretty much everywhere in Sonamarg.

Also Read: When is the Best time to Visit Sonamarg

This picturesque location is also a preferred campsite. It offers magnificent views of green waters and snow-peaked mountains. Even during the summer months, you can find on the trek due to which, the last point is named as snow point. Put all of this together and it makes for a fabulous trekking route.

The spot in the picture below is where the trek ends. It is called snow point.

snow point

Thajiwas Glacier Altitude

The glacier is said to be at a height of 9,186 feet which is actually incorrect, considering that Sonamarg itself is actually at 8,960 ft. It is the viewpoint that is at roughly around 9200 feet but the actual glacier sits at a much higher altitude than that.

How to Reach Thajiwas Glacier from Sonmarg

There are two ways that you can reach Thajiwas Glacier from Sonamarg, either walk all the way or hire a pony. There is in fact a road that was built to take you half the way but the locals and the pony owners do not allow cars to go that way, in their own interests. Your car will have to be left out at your hotel in Sonamarg.

Let us take a look at both options one by one.

Thajiwas Glacier Walk

Can you trek to the glacier all on your own? The answer is that yes you can. You do not need a guide to take you there. It is a well-marked path that is easy to navigate and even paved for the last 1 kilometer or so. All that you need is a good set of lungs and stamina to walk a total of 6 kilometers for a return trip.

The trek is not difficult at all. The only difficult part is the first 300-400 meters from Sonamarg which is a steep climb. After that, it is pretty much a straight walk except for a few places where you have to go up and down a little bit.

Take a look at the pictures below. The road is the one that passes through Sonamarg and you need to start walking in its other direction. The mosque that I have circled in the picture can work as a marker.

sonamarg sonamarg

From Sonamarg, start walking in the direction of that mosque. Once you get there, just follow the path, ponies and other tourists and you will get to the snow point easily.

The starting point of the trek is just where Sonamarg starts and you cross several hotels on the way. To your right will be an Army camp and the trek is before that. Do not go all the way to Sonamarg market. Just ask anyone and they can point you in the right direction if you were not sure of the starting point.

The video I have provided link to above is from one of my trips. You can also watch that for more details.

Thajiwas Glacier Pony Ride

Ponies are available all over Sonamarg for a ride to Thajiwas. There are two ways around it. You can either ask your hotel owner to arrange a pony for you or just start walking towards the trek and soon one of the pony owners will approach you on his own.

You will have people asking to take you to the ‘glacier’ even if you had no intention of going that way. It is to the extent that it becomes annoying after a little while.

Also Read: Places to Visit in Sonamarg & Things to Do

Thajiwas Glacier Rates

The standard rate for a pony ride will range between Rs. 700 to 1500 in the tourist season. In the off-season, the charges drop to Rs. 600-800. How much you pay will entirely depend on how well you are able to negotiate. The government-issued rates are of course much lower than this but nobody agrees to those.

My recommendation is that you ask your hotel owner to arrange the ride for you. They have tie-ups with some of the pony owners and will be able to get you a lower price.

Be very careful about the agreed-upon rates. There have been several instances when the pony-owners started demanding more money than what was quoted initially. This is also the reason why dealing with your hotel owner can be a safer bet.

maddy

Thajiwas Glacier Entry Fee

There is no entry fee for the trek. It is open and free for all tourists and travelers. The only money you will pay is for the pony if you want to hire one.

Thajiwas Glacier Opening Time

The trek to Thajiwas Glacier opens by late March or early April, depending on the weather. During that time, however, you will not be able to go till the end of it. Due to the amount of snow, you will probably go halfway and return from there. The picture of the road that I posted above becomes the endpoint of the trek early in the season.

The trek remains open until late October to early November, depending on the weather and how late the hotels in Sonamarg remain open.

Also Read: Food to Try in Kashmir & Where

Thajiwas Glacier Distance

Sonamarg to Thajiwas Glacier viewpoint is about 3 kilometers. If you want to continue beyond that, you will trek for another 7-8 kilometers and exit at Sarbal village, on the other side of Sonamarg.

Thajiwas Glacier Trek Time

The total time to complete the trek is about 90 minutes to 2 hours one way, depending on how fit you are and how fast you can walk. We completed it in about 2 hours minutes with a moderate enough pace and several photography breaks. We also had to stop at several places because it started to rain on the way.

It will take you another 90 minutes to get back and then you will also spend some time at the viewpoints. Overall, the entire trek will take you about 4-5 hours.

If you want to complete the trek to Sarbal Village, it will become a day-long affair. The total trek distance will then be about 12 kilometers. You will start in the morning and return to your hotel by evening.

thajiwas glacier

Thajiwas Glacier Timing

Now, this becomes a little crucial. As I mentioned above in the article, the area where Thajiwas Glacier and Sonamarg are located is known as Bear Valley. There is a considerable amount of bear population in the area.

There have in fact been times when bears have been spotted in the main town around 6-7 pm or early in the morning, especially around the dhabas.

You should start the trek between 8-9 am and target to return by noon. Any sooner than this and you will be walking all by yourself, risking running into a bear. Any later than this and the trek can get a little crowded in the tourist season.

Also Read: Places to Visit in Gulmarg & Things to Do

Thajiwas Glacier Things To Do

Enjoying the natural beauty, a pleasant walk through a meadow, photography, a pony ride, enjoying the water streams, and having a cup of tea at the snow point are some of the things to do.

Other than this, you can also go for a sledge ride on the snow. For this as well, you will find several local villagers with sledges at the viewpoint. In fact, the pony-owners will themselves ask you if you want to do sledging as well.

sledging

Thajiwas Glacier Camping

The end-point of the trek is in a meadow with a water stream flowing down. It is an ideal and almost perfect spot for camping. But before you decide to do so, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

The first is of course the wildlife. The area is known as Bear valley and the danger of bears will increase at night. Keep this in mind and think it through before taking the risk.

The second aspect is of the villagers and the pony owners. There are no readily available campsites there and if you pitched your own tent, they may ask you for money for it.

A safer bet, if you want to go camping, will be to talk to your hotel owner in Sonamarg and ask them to arrange camping for you. Do not take the risk of self-camping and pitching your own tent just about anywhere.

Also Read: Zojila Pass – Status, Timings & Road Conditions

Thajiwas Glacier vs Zero Point

In my opinion, if you are in Sonamarg, you should visit both. In a 2 days trip, both of these places can be covered. On Day 1, start from Srinagar, go all the way to Zero Point and return to your hotel in Sonamarg by evening. On Day 2, go to Thajiwas Glacier, come back by noon, and return to Srinagar by evening.

But if you were making a day trip, which place to go to would entirely depend on your preference. If you are into trekking, want to see green meadows, and beautiful valleys, you should go to Thajiwas.

If you want to see a high-altitude pass and want to drive on adventurous roads, you should go for Zero Point at Zojila Pass.

Trekking to Thajiwas will however make more sense if you were staying in Sonamarg overnight. If you are just making a day trip, then Zero Point will be a better place to visit.

vargis khan

Other Tips

Below are some other tips that can be helpful in planning a trip to Sonamarg and Thajiwas Glacier.

Word of Caution about Pony Owners

The pony owners in this area are a real nuisance. They literally harass tourists and will do their best to trick money out of you. Be very careful while dealing with them.

Why do I say that? It is because the pony owners or the so called ‘ghode-walas’ think they have a monopoly on this route. If anyone wants to go that way, he must hire them for the purpose or shouldn’t be allowed. This is the very reason why they got that road shut down because then no one would hire them otherwise.

They will ask you and keep asking you even if you have already said no a hundred times. They literally start to harass tourists. There have been instances when the arguments even got physical when they demanded more later than what was agreed upon initially.

The nuisance of these pony-owners actually is prevalent all over Kashmir, especially in places like Gulmarg, Sonamarg, and Pahalgam, which receive thousands of tourists each year.

I agree that these are poor villagers with limited means for survival but that does not give them a right to harass and trick tourists out of their money. Over time, they have turned more into ‘scammers of Kashmir’ than hard-working individuals.

They will just tail you and keep asking irrespective of how many times you say no. It is the same for the pony-owners and the guys who take tourists for sled rides. If you stopped, they will stop with you and just keep staring at your face.

Ride Carefully

If you decide to take a pony, I will strongly advise sitting properly and being careful. A lot of times, we saw people sitting in an awkward position and it appeared that they would fall at any moment. The ghode-walas paid no attention to it.

While we were coming back, what I was afraid of came true. A lady slipped off the pony and fell down along with her small child. So please be very careful.

Also Read: Clothes to Pack for Kashmir Trip

Where to Stay in Sonamarg?

Sonamarg is one of the most visited destinations in Kashmir. There is no scarcity of hotels here. You can easily find a budget room for as low as Rs. 800 as well as luxury hotels.

My preferred choice of stay is Hotel Barzman. It is a great hotel that is not ridiculously priced, has a good location, and provides good service. You can read my detailed review of this hotel at Hotel Barzman – One of the Best Hotels in Sonamarg.

Is the Trek Difficult?

The difficulty level of the trek is from easy to moderate. There is one very steep climb of about 200 meters initially and a couple of other places where you will have to climb up a bit. But overall, the trek is easily doable and you will have fun. If you had kids with you or your elders, I will recommend hiring a pony.

Is the Trek Safe?

Yes, the trek to Thajiwas Glacier is very safe and you will find a lot of other tourists on the way. Just do not start too early and wait at least until 8 or 9 am to avoid the risk of the wildlife.

thajiwas glacier

Thajiwas Glacier Time to Visit

Last but not least, let us take a look at different times of the year when you can complete the trek to Thajiwas Glacier.

Thajiwas Glacier in January

The trek remains closed in January and cannot be completed. In this month, you cannot even reach Sonamarg as the road gets closed in winter. Starting from Srinagar, you will only be able to go as far as Gagangir and not Sonamarg.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Gulmarg

Thajiwas Glacier in February

The trek remains closed in February and cannot be completed. In this month, you cannot even reach Sonamarg as the road gets closed in winter. Starting from Srinagar, you will only be able to go as far as Gagangir and not Sonamarg.

Also Read: How to Plan a Trip to Gurez Valley

Thajiwas Glacier in March

The road to Sonamarg open sometime towards the end of March. There remain several feet of snow on the ground this month and it continues to snow even more. You will only be able to trek for about a kilometer and a half and not more than that.

Thajiwas Glacier in April

The snow continues to melt and is mostly all gone by the end of the month, at least from the lower areas. At the start of the month, you may not be able to complete the trek all the way but it should be all open by the end of the month.

Thajiwas Glacier in May

The trek to Thajiwas Glacier remains open completely in May. You can walk the entire 3 kilometers to the viewpoint or even trek beyond that to Sarbal Village. There will not be any snow left in Sonamarg this month. If that is your preference, you should go towards Zero Point and not Thajiwas.

Thajiwas Glacier in June

The trek to Thajiwas Glacier remains open completely in June. You can walk the entire 3 kilometers to the viewpoint or even trek beyond that to Sarbal Village. Do not expect to find any snow on the trek at this time. There may be some left on the sides of the mountains where the villagers take tourists for sledging.

Thajiwas Glacier in July

The trek to Thajiwas Glacier remains open completely in July. You can walk the entire 3 kilometers to the viewpoint or even trek beyond that to Sarbal Village. This is however also the time of the monsoon season. Before you leave the hotel in the morning, take a look at the skies. If it seems that it can snow, bring either a raincoat or an umbrella along.

Thajiwas Glacier in August

The trek to Thajiwas Glacier remains open completely in August. You can walk the entire 3 kilometers to the viewpoint or even trek beyond that to Sarbal Village. This is however also the time of the monsoon season. Before you leave the hotel in the morning, take a look at the skies. If it seems that it can snow, bring either a raincoat or an umbrella along.

Also Read: Clothes to Pack for a Kashmir Trip

Thajiwas Glacier in September

The trek to Thajiwas Glacier remains open completely in September. You can walk the entire 3 kilometers to the viewpoint or even trek beyond that to Sarbal Village. It continues to rain in Sonamarg towards the start of the month and then there could be some light spells of snow by the end of it. There will be a lot of greenery in the meadows around Thajiwas.

Thajiwas Glacier in October

The trek to Thajiwas Glacier remains open completely in October. You can walk the entire 3 kilometers to the viewpoint or even trek beyond that to Sarbal Village. The weather will be terribly cold and if it snowed heavily, you may not be able to trek to Thajiwas.

Thajiwas Glacier in November

Whether or not Sonamarg is open in November depends on the weather. In 2022 for example, it was open for tourists till late December because there was not a lot of snow around. Even the trek to Thajiwas was open in November. Usually, though, the region starts receiving heavy snow in November and gets closed for tourists.

Thajiwas Glacier in December

The trek remains closed in December and cannot be completed. In this month, you cannot even reach Sonamarg as the road gets closed in winter. Starting from Srinagar, you will only be able to go as far as Gagangir and not Sonamarg. It is very rare that Sonamarg and Thajiwas will be open till December but sometimes it does happen.

Conclusion

I hope the pictures and information above on trekking to Thajiwas Glacier were of help. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum, and I will be happy to answer. You can also follow me on Instagram and chat with me live there or subscribe to my YouTube channel and ask a question there.

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