About 90 kilometres from Srinagar, Kokernag is a wondrous location in the Anantag district of Jammu and Kashmir. While the entire state is known for surreal natural beauty, Kokernag is for the intrepid traveller because it’s still free of over-tourism. From exotic flora and fauna, waterfalls to hot springs and sprawling gardens, it’s a nature lover’s paradise.
Legend goes that, once a saint slept a night here with a bucket kept beside him. In the morning some women came in search of water, but when they couldn’t find any, they decided to take water from the bucket of the sleeping saint. However, as soon as they went near, a serpent slithered out of the bucket, crept under the ground and soon emerged in the form of a chicken. The chicken then dug the soil with its claw and water came gushing out of it. Thus, Kokernag literally translates into ‘chicken’ (Koker) and ‘serpent’ (nag).
One of the top most attractions of Kokernag is the Botanical Garden, also known as the ‘Pleasure Garden.’ It’s great for a picnic or even some quiet time by oneself. There are a number of flowers, plants and trees in the garden and since it’s set against the backdrop of high alpine forests, it looks straight out of a painting.
The gorgeous hot water springs here are quite a treat as well; especially Papa-shudan Nag – a sulphurous spring believed to have magical powers of healing, mainly known to cure digestive issues and other medical conditions.
Kokernag is also quite popular for trout fishing (both brown and rainbow) that are found in abundance in the water bodies here. Trout fish are ideally reared in small pools; and you can either purchase the fish or take the opportunity of catching your own.
The nearest airport from here is at Srinagar, about 90 kilometres away.