Known as “Gangbal Yatra” in Kashmir the pilgrimage starts from picturesque Naranag after Charri Pooja (ie paying obeisance to the Holy Mace of Lord Shiva) at the Naranag Temple Complex.
Mount Harmoukh & Lake Gangbal along with Lake NandKul which flow from the base of Mount Harmoukh find the mention in Nilmat Purana & Rajtarangni (authentic reference book for History of Kashmir) indicating people of Kashmir used to have this pilgrimage in 6th/7th century AD also. Many Sufi Saints have used “Harmoukh” in their poetry praising the “Omnipresent” Lord Shiva. A popular song “Harmoukh Bartal Praray Madono Yee dapham tee laagyo ..” meaning “I will wait at Harmoukh gates for You my Love, will offer whatever You ask…”
The pilgrimage has been revived since 2009 by wonderful efforts of Harmoukh Ganga Gangabal Trust & APMCC with Sh Vinod Pandita & team making great efforts. Heartfelt thanks to HGGT & APMCC.
Lake Gangbal is situated at around 12,000 ft above sea level & a distance of approx. 18-20 Kms (one way) is covered with a stop at picturesque Trunkhul in front of Mount Harmoukh in 2 days by the pilgrims. The trek reaches at the banks of Lake Gangbal on Ganga Ashtami (8th Day) in the lunar month of Bhadarpada (Around Aug/Sep) & perform Shradha (& Pinddaan) for the departed souls. And above all pay obeisance to Mount Harmukh – which is aboard of Lord Shiva. Kashmiri’s consider Mount Harmoukh equivalent to Mount Kailash & Lake Gangbal equivalent to Lake Mansarovar. A dip in Lake Gangbal & performing Shradha is considered holy among Kashmiri Pandits.
The trek enroute is awesome – first 7 Kms are very steep with rocky pathway and dense Pine/Deodhar trees but once you reach midway Butsher (Buteshwar) then trek till Trunkhul (where hot lunch was ready with nice tent for a night halt) is relatively easier. After a beautiful sunrise view of Mount Harmoukh we proceed for another 3 hours trek to Lake Gangbal. Trunkhul onwards its beautiful meadows with natural landscape only– Small water streamlets at various places make vegetation better all around – every view around is mesmerising. First we come across Lake Nundkul and then crossing few streams & hillocks we reach Lake Gangbal.
A dip in lake makes you fresh & then walking around the Lake on bed of natural flowers is heavenly.
Shraadh ritual is performed jointly for the departed souls & we thank Lord Shiva for making the pilgrimage successful & we pray for happiness of all humanity.