Srinagar: Spending time in the mountains was his favorite pass time. His love for mountains was such that he began conquering one after another peak in south Kashmir.
Today he is the go-to man for the majority of explorers including foreigners, locals, and other tourists who trek to greater lakes and mountain peaks.
Meet 58-year-old Noor Muhammad Ganaie from Pahalgam, who is known as a human compass” for his knowledge about trekking, especially about peaks and high-altitude lakes in the south of the valley.
“I live in Aru valley and was exposed to mountaineering ever since I was a child. I was always fascinated by the beauty of mountains and took it as my profession to manage trekking expeditions,” he said.
From choosing safe routes during adversities to exposing travelers to different species of plants, birds, and even animals, Ganaie is a guide, entertainer, and mountaineer, all rolled into one.
“I have been working as a guide for over 25 years now. I know all the routes to the high-altitude lakes including Tarsar Marsar, Harnag, Chunsar, and others. Trekkers love to use my services as I simultaneously tell them about the history and other facts of these routes,” he said.
Seeing the level of excitement of locals and tourists towards trekking, Ganaie has started his trekking company “New Mountaineering Adventures” to expose people to the hidden paradise on mountain peaks.
“I also work with other trekking companies including cliffhangers India. My company provides services like guides, tents, and food for the trekkers,” he said.
These days Ganaie is imparting training to young trekking enthusiasts to help them in building mountain skills.
“My three children have also got associated with trekking and work as guides for the tourists and local trekkers. I even impart knowledge about trekking to the people in my area to influence people towards this sport,” he said.
Ganaie said that on average he takes a group of 7-15 people to the greater lakes. “Earlier foreigners would visit these places. Now fellow Indians constitute almost 90 percent of people who go trekking in the valley. It is an emerging sport and youth are motivated to explore these sites,” he said.
Trekkers claim that Ganaie has the specialty to manage every expedition with ease. “He has been working with us for the last five years. He is the best person for trekkers given his experience and knowledge about this sport,” said Mohammad Arif Ahmad, founder of Cliffhangers India.