Sonmarg Development Authority was created in September 2003 for regulating Tourism Development Activities in the area against a specific plan and assigned the job of formulating the Master Plan to Town Planning Organization, Kashmir. Detailed survey with respect to land use, tourist flow, socio-economic survey, accommodation, infrastructure, traffic and transportation, requirement and various facts of Yatries/pilgrims and Leh bound transit traffic were conducted. Being situated in environmentally fragile zone, it was very important to develop Sonamarg without sacrificing its ecology and heavenly environs, while providing and upgrading infrastructure, facilities and amenities. In the Master Plan, The Sonamarg has been divided into three planning divisions:-
- Sonmarg Bowl from Thajawas Glacier in the West and the foothills of the mountains in the East, Truck Terminal in the South and Bridge over the Sindh in the North.
- Area between Hung and the Bridge along the river including river front and intervening islands in the river.
- Area from Truck Terminal along Baltal road including Baltal Plains and road leading to Holy Amarnath Cave alongwith river and the river front.
Sonamarg Tourist resort constitutes and area of 9.5 Sq.Kms, out of which Sonamarg Bowl constitutes about 4.92 Sq. Kms accounting 51.78% of total area.
Generally the Tourist traffic to the valley starts by the middle of March and it continues up to the end of November every year. Tourist flow to Sonamarg picks up in the month of May and the number goes on increasing considerably with a peak flow of Tourists in the month of July and continues as such upto October. The month of November, being fairly cold, attracts lesser number of tourists. This Tourist destination remains usually closed for traffic from December to March due to blockade of road due to heavy snowfall and avalanches particularly in the Hung area. As such in Sonamarg Tourist season is limited to Six to seven months only. However, after the completion of Z- Morh tunnel from Gagangeer to Sonamarg , Sonamarg is likely to be open for the Tourists even in Winter months with additional activities of Winter Sports.
After the creation of Tourism Development Authority Sonmarg in 2003-04, a number of projects were started with the aim of providing facilities to Tourists who come to visit this place . Keeping in view that concen of Tourists, huts, budget accommodation ,Club house ,Yatri Niwas and a youth hostel were built by the SDA, besides having developed number of huts ,Guest houses and hotels through private persons/hotliers.
In order to provide basic information along with other facilities TRC has been built . TRC complex has an information counter, seasonal Banking facility and an ATM .
Sonmarg Club has the facility of Restaurant, Café, Health Club/Recreation Hall, Conference Hall.
A good number of adventure lovers visit Sonmarg . To facilitate them International Youth Hostel has been built. It has the facilities of 04 Dormitories with a capacity of 75 Beds in each Dormiory,02 Health Clubs, Auditorium ,Restaurant and Recreation Hall.
As part of providing way side amenities along Highway- Viewing decks and parks along with restaurants and PC blocks have been constructed. The parking slots for tourist coaches, taxis and other light vehicles has been developed and a New Truck Terminal has been developed for Leh bound trucks.
Development of Lashipatri as Tourist Resort and Shutkadi as Base Camp for Vishansar and Kishansar is underway.
In order to enhance the experience of tourists camping sites have been developed at Gadibal ,Sarbal and Hung, out of which the sites at Gadibal and Hung are camping of very high Standards and are being managed by outsourced agencies.
Adventure Tourism activities like Water Rafting, Snow skiing, Snow sledging, Mountaineering , Zorbing, Trekking to Thajawas Glaciers and to lakes like Vishansar, Kishensar , Gadsar , Satsar ,Gangbal is in place and quite popular.
The area has a tremendous potential for adventure sports and attracts all types of Tourists. Golf tourism is also being promoted by construction of the Golf course for which 18 hole Golf course has been proposed and preliminary work is already on .
All Tourists are Welcome to this piece of Paradise on Earth and Sonamarg Development Authority will feel proud to make their stay comfortable, enjoyable and worth remembering.