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A Guide to Neelum Valley Azad Kashmir

A Guide to Neelum Valley Azad Kashmir

Neelum Valley, located in the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan, is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, lush green forests, and serene rivers. This picturesque valley stretches along the Neelum River, offering visitors a paradise of natural beauty and cultural richness. Here's a comprehensive travel guide to help you explore Neelum Valley.

Getting There

By Air: The nearest airport is Islamabad International Airport. From there, you can hire a taxi or rent a car to reach Muzaffarabad, the gateway to Neelum Valley.

By Road: From Islamabad, you can drive or take a bus to Muzaffarabad. The journey takes about 6-7 hours. From Muzaffarabad, you can hire a jeep or use public transport to explore the valley.

Major Attractions

  1. Keran

    • Overview: Located along the banks of the Neelum River, Keran offers stunning views of the river and the surrounding mountains. It's a popular spot for fishing and picnicking.
    • Activities: Relax by the river, take scenic walks, and enjoy the peaceful environment.
  2. Sharda

    • Overview: Sharda is home to the ancient Sharda University ruins, dating back to the Buddhist era. It's a historical site surrounded by natural beauty.
    • Activities: Explore the ruins, visit Sharda Peeth, and enjoy trekking in the nearby mountains.
  3. Kel

    • Overview: Kel is a small village and a base for trekkers heading to Arang Kel and the Biafo Glacier.
    • Activities: Trek to Arang Kel, a picturesque hill station, and enjoy panoramic views of the valley.
  4. Arang Kel

    • Overview: Often referred to as the "Pearl of Neelum Valley," Arang Kel is a lush green village situated on a hilltop. It's accessible by a steep trek from Kel.
    • Activities: Trekking, photography, and camping. Enjoy the stunning landscapes and the serene atmosphere.
  5. Ratti Gali Lake

    • Overview: A high-altitude alpine lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks. It's accessible via a trek from Dowarian.
    • Activities: Trekking, camping, and photography. The lake's crystal-clear waters and vibrant wildflowers make it a must-visit spot.
  6. Dhani Waterfall

    • Overview: One of the highest waterfalls in Neelum Valley, located near Muzaffarabad.
    • Activities: Enjoy the scenic beauty, take photographs, and have a picnic by the waterfall.

Accommodation

Neelum Valley offers a range of accommodation options, from basic guesthouses to more comfortable hotels. Some popular places to stay include:

  • Keran Resort: Known for its beautiful river views and comfortable rooms.
  • Sharda Resort: A good base for exploring the ancient ruins and surrounding areas.
  • Kel Guesthouses: Basic but comfortable accommodations suitable for trekkers.

Travel Tips

  • Best Time to Visit: The ideal time to visit Neelum Valley is from May to October when the weather is pleasant, and the roads are accessible. The valley is particularly beautiful during the summer months.
  • Travel Permits: Foreign tourists may require a special permit to enter Neelum Valley. It's advisable to check with local authorities or tour operators beforehand.
  • Packing Essentials: Pack warm clothing, even in summer, as temperatures can drop significantly at night. Don't forget trekking gear, a first-aid kit, and sufficient water and snacks for long treks.
  • Respect Local Culture: Neelum Valley is home to diverse cultural and religious communities. Be respectful of local customs and traditions, and always seek permission before photographing people.

Conclusion

Neelum Valley is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. Its stunning landscapes, rich history, and warm hospitality make it a perfect destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Whether you're trekking to high-altitude lakes or exploring ancient ruins, Neelum Valley promises an unforgettable experience.


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