Today I want to share with you some information and pictures of journey into a magical valley of Paradise Kashmir known as Neelum Valley. If you are not sure about Kashmir name and meaning then visit here.
Kashmir is a disputed area divided into three parts between India, Pakistan and China for the history check this link. I have written a poem about Kashmir, you can check here.
When this names comes to my mind, the sound of air spreading music with the movement of its cider, pine, deodar and fruit trees start soothing my mind. A lot of sites are there that will be busy praising the splendor of this magical land. I think I do not have suitable words to write about it’s beauty.
The name Neelum Valley is because of the fact that the valley is surrounded by bluish green Neelum River. Neelum mean Blue.
It’s heartwarming lush green valleys, gigantic snow-capped peaks that loom on upper part of valley and line the horizon, finest soothing forests of cider, pine, fir and deodar with milky waterfalls, springs, fresh water lakes nested in mountains and river make it a wonder land.
I will provide you will the links of many websites that you can check to see amazing pictures from this valley. This valley is situated some 4000 m above the sea level.
This valley at 8000 ft. height is a dream land and I can not describe what one feels for being there the land seems enchanting. It’s soothing air, fresh water springs and the crystal clear waters make it a fairy land. It is believed that fairies descend on lakes. It is gifted with excellent scenery by the Almighty Allah and I think if I tell you,” this valley tops the list of most beautiful valleys of Pakistan” you can guess about the beauty that is there to welcome you.
Fast flowing River Neelum winds across the valley downhill and meets and Jehlum River at Donail in Muzaffrabad. The river water is freezing cold because of melting snow from the mighty snow covered hills.
When you are bored of your routine and fed up of the hotness of your place, I will strongly recommend you to take a break and have a look what nature save for you in this gem. The temperature in May remains between 180C to 30oC. It’s charming in summer but in winterextreme weather conditions with heavy snowfall covers whole area with unbearable cold breeze.
Snow fall starts in upper part in November and afterwards in lower parts and it is hard to reach there as all the roads are closed normally because of heavy snowfall.
A new road has been constructed parallel to roaring Neelum River to reach this dream land but still it is not complete and it goes till Dowarian. Rest you have to go by four wheel drives(jeeps) or by horses. If you travel for the first time in a hilly area then be careful. Do not sit towards river as you can easily get scared.
This valley brings some special feelings to my mind as when for the first time Athmakam was announced as headquarter of, 90 miles Neelum Valley with 20,000 residents. This valley is at the distance of 84 km from capital Muzaffarabad and is at the height of 1371 m from sea level. My father was appointed in Head quarter to look after the matters. Then he also served in Hattain bala and finally passed 3 years of his life in Sharda and Neelum Valley. At that time new road was not built and he have to travel for couple of days to reach there after staying in different places.
The name Ath-mukam is taken from the fact as it is 8thstation from to valley from Muzaffarabad. Ath is Urdu word for 8 and Mukam mean place or station. Interesting… isn’t it???
You will be amazed to know that one side of Neelum rizer is part of Azad Kashmir and other side is occupied by India. Brothers are separated by this river and when they have some important function or any sad happening in family, they call each other from banks of river and sing and dance in case of happiness and condole in case of any death. But can not meet and touch hands and never visited each other. Children have grown up by looking at each other from banks of the river.
There are many hotels near river and rest house in Athmuqam.
When my father was there he called us to visit this highly fascinating magical land and my eyes cannot believe the scenery that I see there the scenic beauty absorbed me. Valley is profound with fruits and wildlife. Apple and walnuts are very famous and also sent to other parts of the country. It was like, if I am not on earth. All the tiredness finished after reaching there. There were not much ways for communication at that time and there was a special sim that was given to government employees to keep in touch with the capital Muzzaffrabad and family. There is also a factory that makes the furniture of fit, cider and deodar and it is believed that this furniture lasts for more than 100 years.
It was rule of the Government of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJ&K) that no one will be appointed there for more than 1 year as during winter whole area is blocked and the officers were just locked up in their quarters with fir/deodar burning inside in rooms. The boredom was killing and many can get some serious health issue, because of continuous exposure to heat and boredom. But the people of the valley liked my father a lot and government was so much happy that my father lived there for more years and finally he became heart patient and while coming back from Athmuqam in 2007 he got his first heart attack. But he is a man of strong nerves and courage and finally with his will power in that condition reached Rawalpindi after travelling 8-9 hours.
These memories bring tears to my eyes.
There are different villages, I am listing down few of them.
Patikais gateway to Neelum valley and has bazaar that provides with all essentials for living to villagers . The rhythmic crystal clear water of waterfalls amaze the visitors. Trout fish is in abundance in waters and mostly people visit to enjoy trout fish and do fishing there. Jagran Nallah is famous for Trout Fish.
There is a rest house in Kutton. The valley is famous of its revealing charming landscape. There are two famous hiking tracks as well. Tracking, hiking and camping is famous .
Keran military bridge is finest spot to spend a night as there is no shelling or firing across the border after ceasefire on Line of Control(LOC). 2 ½ km from Keran is Neelum Valley. Entire occupied Kashmir can be seen from here.
A high Alpine Lake and a Ratti Gali lake are situated in Dowarian which is at the distance of 13 km from Neelum valley. People cross the river by ropes, that is like a dangerous adventure, yet thrilling.
Tao Butt is famous for forest wealth with abundance of vegetation and wild walnuts, strawberries with other trees and herb growth.
The valley provides with a captivating scenery with its gushing waters and forests. Sharda valley is tucked deep inside the mountains. In Sharda there are remains of one of the oldest universities of Asia named Sharda University. The pictures of ruins of the ancient university can be seen here. These ruins attract many archaeologist from different places. This was a great place of learning starting in Buddhist rule till Hindu and Muslim rule.
This beauty leaves an everlasting and captivating impression of pleasure in your mind and soul. This valley offers plenty of opportunity to visitors to see the diversity and beauty at it’s peak.
Many students of botany and other sciences of different universities of Azad Kashmir and Pakistan visit this place to collect data and samples of the vegetation.
Neelum Valley is the place were you will feel yourself most alive and at peace.
There are four famous lakes in the area named;
- Barkatia Lake – Ratti Gali altitude 3700m,
- Chitta Katha Lake – Kel altitude 2097m,
- Dakh Lake – Junai,
- Shounter Lake – Shounter valley 3100m,
At any point of the year there can be rain and sudden change in weather so it is highly recommended to be prepared for cold and keep warm cloth with you.
If you carefully plan your trip then you can get maximum advantage, pleasure and enjoyment from the visit. Before planning the visit contact information centers and make sure if the routes are open.
This beauty of nature is enhanced by traditionally built wooden huts and terraced fields. The residents of this breath taking place are hospitable and live in harmony and peace.
Visit to this place really make your life full and for sure the visit can never been forgotten. I think now you have enough travel inspiration and it is easy for you to decide where to go. In my view this is an exceedingly beautiful place.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
For more information you can visit these links.
Facebook Page of Neelum Valley
Most Beautiful places of Pakistan:
For trip, track, map and Facilities details;
All pictures are shared by my friend Meryye and her friends. I really want to thank them who took these wonderful pictures on their trip to Neelum valley and shared with me.