Ratti gali lake, located in Neelam Vally , Azad kashmir state. It is an alpine glacial lake at an altitude of 12,130 feet. This lake is accessible from Dowarian by an un metalled road cum track of 19km. Peak season to explore this lake is from July to September, as it is snow capped for the rest of the months.
I belong to Lahore, during this summer; I was spending my holidays at Muzaffarabad city, Azad Kashmir. On my birthday, my husband and I decided to celebrate it in a unique way. We decided to plan a trip on 18 July 2016. We chose Ratti gali lake, as our tour place. We have heard about the place many times but had not ever attempt to scale it, as the route to reach this unexplored beauty is treacherous and the weather conditions are hard.
We started our journey on 16th July 2016. We drove in our own car up to Keran resort, (a very famous place for tourists). Keran resort is at the border of Jammu Kashmir, there is army control in that area, and so there is no communication network, except the local STD. So we were totally cut off connections from our family and friends. At first we were worried, as mobile phone in hand is necessity now-a-days. But then we thought it the other way round. We decided to enjoy it as the plus point is there would be no disturbances and tensions because of mobile phone. Having mobile phones is safe and satisfying, but sometime to disconnect from the rest of the world is very much needed for our souls. It gives inner peace, so it was just nature, me and my loved one.
We were looking for a more peaceful and serene place. We planned for Ratti gali lake, it is difficult to hike and is less explored by people. Next morning, we hired a jeep from keran to drive us to the strenuous Rati Gali lake. Unlike our expectations, the jeep took us to almost half of the total trek from that is 9km in 1.5 hours. The road was not like road, just like a path way, set well. It was scary, and adventurous. The scenic beauty was awesome and breathtaking. I have seen such beauty and neat and clean purified views in pictures on internet only. So this was the inspiring beauty as we move forward made me curious to move ahead and ahead and reach the lake. The driver was a real expert; the way he drove gave me confidence that we will be safe. Otherwise when I looked outside it was daunting. This is called adventure, or may be “dar k aagy jeet ha”.
After the 9km travel, the jeep stopped at a point, where there comes a glacier in front of us. And here comes the real adventure say, “party tou abi suruh hue ha”. The jeep ride was too much tiring, but we never felt tiredness because the atmosphere there was so much relaxing and peaceful. Sometimes clouds covered all over and we could not see even the next mountain, and a few moments later, it is as clear as after rain. We kept on walking for an hour, actually there’s a track made for four wheelers, but due to glaciers, we have to hike it. It is recommended to take a hiking stick along with you. So we followed the path to reach the base camp. The most scary and adventurous part for me was to cross the glacier. The glacier had become slippery because of the sunshine. So it was difficult to cross for me, as at some points, it was very risky, as if I slipped, I would have been directly to the hundreds km deep nala (ford), nala was coming from the lake. This was a beautiful nala, passing besides the road.
Taking a few breaks on our way, we reached the base camp in 3 hours by feet. I have never hiked this much in a day. So by this experience, I came to that how much my body has the stamina of physical tasks. Experience teaches us a lot more. It seems like just a trip, a journey, some days out of town. But it is lot more than this, in addition to seeing beautiful sceneries and enjoying the weather and food, there are many more to realize and acknowledge. This is life, it’s a name of experiencing things to learn and know about life. Going in depth of life and concluding a meaning of your own, your own definition of life, is the real art of living a life, not spending a life.
There we met a lake beauty lover; he had scaled 52 lakes in Neelum Valley. We were amazed to hear his life stories. He had placed his camp over there. He was a professional hiking trainer as well. I was pleased to meet such people of Pakistan, he was very inspiring for us. We have raised our morale to travel more in Pakistan, as there are too many unexplored places in Pakistan. In addition to this Allah has blessed Pakistan with a variety of natural beauty.
There was proper camping setup because of that person, but for the people it is recommended to take their own camps along with, if they want to stay overnight.
Then we move towards the lake, it took almost 50 minutes to hike up to the lake. From the base camp we hired a local guide with us, as there no proper track for the tourists, only the path made by the local people.
It was so peaceful, so passive; no human being could be seen as far as the human eye could see. Only few animals grazing in the meadows, seemed like heaven on Earth. There was inner peace, seemed like there was no violation, no terror in the world. For few hours, I had forgotten all the messed up stuff in my mind. I am writing this to make the people know about the place, an encouragement to see by one’s own eyes. I am actually a historic art lover photographer, but I must say that these kinds of places are worth reconnoitering. Allah has gifted Pakistan with such immense beauty and variety that we must explore it and praise Allah’s greatness.
The first lake that comes on the way to Ratti Gali is P shaped; we crossed it from the side as the real destination was still ahead.
There were few houses, people lived there only for a few months, after that they went to their other houses. Living over there is possible only for 3 to 4 months.
We came back from the lake around 5 pm, so we stayed there over night. Next morning we set up for our travel back. It was so lovely that I wanted to stay there for a few more days, but it was time to say goodbye. I never like goodbyes.
On the way back, I met few local women, going to bring firewood. They were so hospitable; they warmly welcomed us to come to their home and offered us to stay with them. I thanked her with so benevolence. The women there are so hard working, she was around 80 years old, and still so fit. These hardworking and hospitable people of Pakistan truly portray the image of Pakistan.
We finally came back safe and sound by the grace of Allah Almighty. It was very adventurous and left very stunning memories in mind. I wish to go there once again.