Snow peaked Thajiwas Mountain loomed over Sonamarg, and made it more picturesque. The Thajiwas Glacier is located 3 kilometers from town. It would not be wrong to consider it to be among the most accessible glaciers as one can easily walk to its base or reach there by hired ponies.
Thajiwas Glacier is just half an hour walk from Sonamarg town. A motorable road takes you to the base of the glacier but the more popular mode of transport is by ponies. Like most tourists places, pony rides are overpriced at Rs. 500 or more for to and fro ride to the Glacier.
The Thajiwas Glacier recedes as the summer progresses. By the time of my trip, it had dwindled in the vast valley and was confined to the gentle slopes, where the mountain begins. There were few camps and makeshift shops at the valley. Higher further, the Gujjars made their camp on either sides of the valley.
It was late by the time I reached there. But the moon was beginning to peek over the mountain and I just had a feeling that the glow of the moon on the snow-clad peak was worth a shot. I pulled a chair and waited at a small tea hotel at the base of the glacier. The wait was as long as two hours. In Kashmir the sun sets as late as 8 pm. Even at 8:30 pm the last of the fading daylight still lingered on the horizon. To pass time, I interacted with some of the shopkeepers. They were young and in their mid 20’s. They spent their spare time listening to music and occasionally playing cricket. We were in deep conversation and one of them said something about terrorists. The other two chided him and warned him that such comments would only turn tourists from coming to Kashmir. ‘There are no terrorists here. Kashmir is peaceful,’ said one of them to convince me.
Like the Gujjars that live a semi-nomadic life, these young businessmen live their life on the road. They are drawn by tourists and the prospect of good business. They were from Srinagar and came to Sonamarg to set up shops. Soon they would leave for the Amarnath Yatra base camp and tarry there till the season ran out. Soon after, they would go to Leh or other cities to sell Kashmiri Pashmina and woolen shawls.
After a long wait I finally got some photos, just the way I wanted but stumbling back to town on a moonlit night was something I had not thought off. It was the most I had done for any picture. The best moments too come with a price.