Visiting the Neelum Valley- a gem of Pakistan

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Pakistan is a country where you find all sorts of weathers and all sorts of topography. Azad Kashmir in Pakistan is one jewel blessed to this country for the immense beauty that it has. A lot of travelers visit Azad Kashmir, but still there are a lot of places that are still far-fetched and unexplored by general public. It is the local people who love traveling that can guide the best with do’s and don’ts and places worth seeing. Neelum Valley in Azad Kashmir is very famous for its eminent beauty and attractiveness because of the region comprising of hills, streams, forests and lush green trees along with beautiful lakes to explore. Those who have been to the Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir can clearly recall the sceneries of beauty that they have seen. If you plan your vacations every year, then this tourist location shouldn’t be missed and you should keep it on your list due to the exquisite beauty it offers. It is going to be one of the best trips of your life.

Neelum Valley is approximately 20km away from Muzaffarabad. The road up to Muzaffarabad is metaled and one can travel on car or personal vehicle, from Muzaffarabad onward for better traveling one requires a four wheel drive which can be rented from Muzaffarabad. Traveling from Muzaffarabad to the North towards the Neelum Valley you come across Sharda at one point.

Sharda is the village you see where there is a camping site for travelers and tourists to stay by the river in well maintained camps. With a local market nearby, the bazaar at night is just like any bazaar of the major cities of Pakistan, with the walk and talk of nearby locals and tourists visiting. Summer season is the best time for travelers to visit this Valley when all the shop keepers and locals are excited and prepared to host visitors. Be friendly and respectful to the locals and they would definitely be treating you likewise.Sharda

As you enter Sharda in Azad Kashmir, you sense the freshness in the air, the bright greenery all around, and the picturesque is worth seeing. Families enjoy visiting this Valley for the great time it offers for vacations.
Sharda Peeth is an archaeological site that is famous among tourists. These are ruins of the famous temple and Hindu pilgrimage site, dedicated to the goddess Sharada that represents learning. Other historical sites in the town include the Sharda fort, and Kishan Ghaati. Sharda and Nardi are two mountain peaks overlooking Sharda in the valley.Some locals call it Sharda University.sharda universityNeelum Valley

Some roads are properly constructed while to reach a lot of places you need to go on the jeep track. Jeep tracks are usually full of jolts and jerks, but with the expert driving of the locals and the old songs they play, it seems nice to have an adventure of this sort. The view of the river alongside is quite appealing. Neelum Valley is an attraction site for many hikers and trekkers since they all begin their journeys of trekking to the magnificent lakes from small towns and villages in Azad Kashmir. The Ratti Gali Lake’s jeep trek starts from Dowarian and likewise many other lakes too.Grass-lands

Although a lot of photographers have attempted to capture the pictures and have surprised people with the wonder of this region’s attractiveness. Still I believe that traveling and actually seeing all these beautiful places in Pakistan is an eye opening experience to realize about the beauty of our country which merely photographs cannot fulfill. The people are hardworking, cheerful and friendly which is clearly depicted in the pictures below.girl-working-in-fields

In the green fields of Azad Kashmir, you see labors working strenuously under the sun for livelihood. They live simple lives and agriculture is mainly their occupation. However, there are other nature of works to do as well including livestock rearing and handicraft making. From Kel, a hike leads up to a tourist point Arangkel, which is gaining popularity because of the far-fetched locality that only some people struggle to reach to. It is a good point for beginner level hikers. Families who wish to see but cannot hike much can go up on mules, there’s this option too.Arangkel

Arangkel is also a lush green village and hill station located on a hill top at an altitude of around 8500 feet. Musk Deer resort in Arangkel is quite famous for staying because of its bright blue colored outlook.

There are a lot of check points for safety while entering the Neelum Valley, thus one should not travel without national ID card. It is always good to do a bit of research about the place before traveling. There are some parts of Neelum Valley specially if you go for hiking the mountains, you could be out of mobile service. So, for some, it is a good place to retreat and escape the tiring routine to a blissful tourist place.Keran1

All places in Pakistan have a different view to see during winters and in summers. Similarly, Neelum Valley portrays different picturesque during the summer winter and even autumn season. However, for tourists the best season to visit is the summer season when all the trees are bright green with fresh leaves. The weather is really pleasant and it gets cold during the night. Fishing is a good idea near some places of the river. Taobatt in Neelum Valley is also very famous for the splendid trout fish it offers. It is one of the tastiest and costly fish but a great thing to experience if expenses allow.

A week’s trip or so can be planned independently or with tourism groups since there has been a boost in tourism in Pakistan where a lot of travel companies are taking locals and tourists from abroad to travel journeys. And there is no doubt about this that foreigners like to visit Pakistan because of its beauty and tourist places to see.

Saira Ali has graduated in Mass communication, studied photography from NCA and is currently pursuing her MPhil degree…

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