Kokernag is a blend of all delicate components of natural beauty that attracts tourists from all over the world. Home to a spring with magical, curative powers, a tour to Kokernag is one of the most popular weekend getaways from Srinagar. Located at an altitude of around 2012 meters above sea level, tour to Kokernag also reveals some of the other treasures of this important tourist destination. The moment you enter the green valley of Kokernag, you are welcomed by the cool and fragrant air of the mountains, an air that brings with it the perfume of the blossoming flowers which you see all around this picturesque vale. An array of springs gush out of the base of a thickly wooded hill from where the waters divide into channels, resembling to the claw- foot of a hen, hence its name; Kokernag. Place is famous for gardens, largest fresh water springs and its trout stocked streams. Kokernag has been a famous place from mediaeval times and is mentioned in Ain Akbari that the water of Kokernag satisfies both hunger and thirst and it is also a remedy for indigestion. It is also famous for its trout streams. Trout hatchery department has constructed pools in series where in trout is reared. Different pools have got trout with different weights and ages. Kokernag is situated at a distance of about 22 km from Anantnag on the right side of Anantnag- Kishtwar highway. The easiest and most comfortable way of reaching this place is to hire a Sumo at Anantnag. One can also catch a local bus that is easily available in Anantnag and head towards Kokernag. It takes about one hour to reach Kokernag. Blessed with rich soil which promotes the growth of several varieties of plants and flowers, a tour to Kokernag is made even more perfect by the presence of a number of accommodation options in the region. The total area of Kokernag is 300 Kanals of which 129 kanals is for the purpose of gardens and the rest is forest area. Many fascinating destinations are found in this area including Daksum, Sinthan Top, Margan Top, Botanical Garden, Trout Fish Hatchery and Achabal.
One of the tourist attractions around famous Kokernag spring is Trout Fish Hatchery with its channels stocked with fishes of different sizes and ages. Introduced in early 1980’s, the trout here has increased in number and the export capability of the Hatchery was achieved in 2009 when fish seeds were exported to north east and Bhutan from here. Located just nearby to th Kokernag, the waters of the Kokernag spring are fed to numerous channels where trout fishes of many varieties are reared. The Hatchery is used for breeding and a high quality seed is produced here. This seed is further distributed to the J&K Fisheries departmental rearing units all over the State and to the private fish farmers. This quality seed is also used for stocking in all the water bodies of the State.
The Hatchery is surrounded on its western side by a hill covered with dense forests and consigning the place a spectacular look. There is a garden as well and it is bedecked with variety of flowers that add to the charm of the place. The water channels are interspersed with long patches of grassy beds dotted with willow trees, providing shade to the extremely sensitive trout fishes during summers besides increasing the fascination of the ambience.
Owing to successful, introduction and subsequent establishment of trout in the valley of Kashmir in 1900 AD, the Department of Fisheries was created in 1903 AD and re-organized in 1978. Trout Fisheries in the State received a major thrust during the last two decades with the establishment of Mother Trout Fish Farming Project at Kokernag under European Union Assistance. Here quality Trout seed of Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout is being produced. Trout culture is under taken under modern technology of breeding and rearing to ensure better survival at different stages of the fish. Moreover, a highly equipped Trout feed mill imported from Holland is also housed in this Hatchery. A visitor will enjoy the serene environs of Trout hatchery as well as the trout fishes in their natural environment simultaneously.
Located at the foothill of picturesque Pir Panjal mountain range, Verinag is a major tourist attraction in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district. It is situated 26 km south of Anantnag and 78 km from Srinagar. It lies just below the entry point of Kashmir Valley after crossing Jawahar Tunnel. With an average elevation of 1,851 m (6,076 ft), Verinag is famous for its spring and a garden. There is an octagonal stone basin at Verinag Spring and an arcade surrounding it which was built by Mughal emperor Jahangir in 1620 A.D. Next to this spring, a beautiful garden was laid out by his son Shah Jahan. This spring is also the major source of river Jhelum that flows through the entire Valley from south to north before crossing over to Pakistan.
Verinag spring is situated at the bottom of a hill covered by pine trees and evergreen plants. It was originally an irregular and shapeless pond forming a little marsh. After seeing the dilapidated condition of the spring and its scattered waters, Jahangir’s artistic taste for polishing the beauty of nature could not tolerate the eye- soaring spectacle and he determined to improve it. He built the octagonal tank of sculptured stones round it, so that all water was collected therein, for which carvers were brought from Iran. Seven years later, Shah Jahan, constructed a garden in front of the spring with cascades and aqueducts in straight lines through and around the fine garden.
The water contained in the octagonal spring has crystal blue water teeming with fish. Verinag Spring and Mughal Arcade surrounding it is officially recognized by Archaeological Survey of India as a Monument of National Importance. It is considered as the best picnic spot in south Kashmir for its being easily accessible by road transport. The garden is open for visitors round the year. However, to be here in the spring, summer and autumn has its own charm. With every season the garden changes colours as the seasonal flowers, bedecking its flower beds get changes and so does the ambience and the hues. Likewise, the majestic Chinar trees turn red in the autumn, lending a riot of colour to the landscape. Verinag spring has a big market starting just from its gates. So, visitors will not face any sort of trouble here. A day’s visit is easily manageable to this lovely place.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
A two hour drive from Srinagar (47 kms) will take you to acres upon acres of grassy meadow ringed by forests of pine, and towering beyond them, awesome and majestic snow-clad mountains. This is Yusmarg- close enough to Srinagar for a picnic, idyllic enough to make you want to stay for a few days. Here are walks of every sort - a leisurely amble along flower-strewn meadows or away to where a mighty river froths and crashes its way over rocks, its mild white foam earning it the name of Doodh Ganga.
Further away, a captivating lake, Nilnag, is cradled by hills.Nilnag is a beautiful lake located 4 km downhill from Yusmarg. The water of the lake is blue in colour and thus, the lake is named as Nilnag. The lake is connected to the passage, passing through the dense forests. The site is a beautiful picnic spot and a trek of 13 km uphill leads to various beautiful tourist spots.