Neelum valley is one of the most beautiful valleys of Pakistan Administrated Jammu Kashmir, and it hosts several brooks, freshwater streams, forests, lush green mountains, and a river. Here, you see waterfall falling down the mountains; their milky-white waters flowing over the roads and splashing against the rocks, before mixing with the muddy waters of River Neelum. Every year thousands of people visit the valley to fill their soul with peace and freshness. I found most of the people asking about the most beautiful place in the valley to set as a destination for their tour. Here are the seven places to visit for an ordinary visitor. All the places are reachable by car and other vehicles people usually use to travel through the valley. However to visit Ratti-Gali and Tao-Bat one need to have a 4×4 vehicle or have to hire a local Jeep for rent.
Kutton is a small beautiful town on the bank of Jagran River (meeting with river Neelum on Kundal-Shai). While traveling from Muzaffarabad to Athmuqam one has to take a turn on the left side from the Kundal-Shai. It is a small time for spending some quality time to fresh mind, having lunch or enjoying the fresh water of Jagran River. You can buy things from a small market or can enjoy local and fresh food from the restaurants here in numbers. Pure Desi Sag (vegetable) and butter are available on the demand. If you are on one day trip from Muzaffarabad must visit this place.
Jagran is few kilometers ahead from Kutton but it takes almost one day to visit there. Traveling on the road of Jagran is really breathtaking and adventurous. Only 4×4 Jeep can be used to visit. Jagran is a small beautiful valley in between the mountains. It is famous for the Hydroelectric power plant which is producing 33 megawatts electricity.
Keran is the destination of the most of the visitors, visit Neelum valley. If I am the right majority of them have no knowledge about the remaining valley. Most of the people visit just because of the pictures available on the different websites representing Neelum valley. If you are on one day trip, it is quite enough for you to visit Karen and Neelum village which is few miles ahead.
Keran is a small resort and the most beautiful place on the bank of river Neelum. On the other side, there is Indian held Jammu Kashmir. Many small restaurants with one luxury hotel and one semi-government guest house are available here. During the season if you want to stay you have to book your place even sometimes a month before.
A big curve and smoothness in river Neelum along with poplar trees on the other bank of river beautifying the place and make it incredible for the visitors. It is hard to leave the place once you are there. You can stay here for the night with your own tent or you can get a tent on rent to pass the night. In summer vacations people sometimes stay here for longer than usual to enjoy the starry nights with the music.
Neelum village is few kilometers ahead of Keran resort. It takes ten minutes to reach; it is a palm-shaped beautiful village. From the right top of the village, you can see Nagdar village and the whole Neelum village surrounding by deodar woods.
Ratti-Gali Lake is a high altitude (3700m) alpine lake situated in Neelum valley of Pakistan. In the summer season, the whole area around this mesmerizing lake becomes a spot of lush green meadows, wild and magnificent flowers and radiant alpine plantations even though in winter this valley is covered with white snow and massive chunks of Glacier floats in the dark blue magical water of Ratti-Gali Lake like large swans. In winters lakes remain frozen from November-April. Sunset’s and sunrise over Ratti-Gali Lake are the most amazing ones.
Ratti-Gali Lake is accessible from both Dawarian and Noori top, but the Dawarian side is usually preferred since it is easy. One can use public Transport to reach Dawarian from Muzaffarabad and get a jeep from there for Ratti-Gali Lake or if one has his own convince then he will have to leave it at Dawarian. Two-hour jeep journey ends at the campsite from where it is almost one and a half hour trek to the lake. The best plan would be to leave early from Dawarian and spend more time on the lake and then camp at the camping site. Remains accessible from July-October; August is the best month to witness the countless species of wildflowers.
Don’t plan for one day you will be stuck in the area. Plan for a night stay to feels and enjoy the beauty of starry nights at Ratti-Gali.
Shard is one of the mesmerizing towns of Neelum Valley. The glow of Sharda in summer is indefinable. Sharda can be reached by Neelum road. The importance of the Town is not only its beauty but the historical Shard Peeth, once it was the center of Knowledge of different subjects. Sharda Peeth was a major center of learning and is regarded as one of 18 Maha Shakti Peethas, or a “Grand Shakti Peethas” – which are highly revered temples throughout South Asia that commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati. Sharda Peeth is traditionally believed to be the site where the right hand of Sati is said to have fallen after being carried by her husband Shiva. The length of the temple is 142 feet and width is 94.6 feet. The outer walls of the temple are 6 ft. wide and 11 ft long. And there are arches with 8 ft. height.
It can be reached through the personal vehicle and five minutes’ walk from the road. It usually takes 7 hours to reach from Muzaffarabad. However one can return on the same day to Muzaffarabad.
Kel is the beautiful town of Neelum Valley. One needs at least two days from Muzaffarabad to reach Kel. It is a smooth town with
Arang Kel is a mesmerizing small town on the opposite hill of Sharda. There is no road to reach through the vehicle. However, a lift has been placed in the recent years that reduce the one hour walk. Despite that one has to walk for half hour more to reach Arang Kel. There are many guests housed in Arang Kel. The morning view of Arang Kel cannot be defined in the words. A glacier on south can be reached by two hours walk. One must have two days to visit Arang Kel. The cost of staying for the night is much high. It is better to visit in the early morning and return in the evening. People who love adventure can also reach two hours walk from Kel.
It is the last (Not Least) but a beautiful populated town of Neelum valley and a most remote area as well. There are beautiful meadows in the Tao-Bat, Fresh Water stream and peaky mountains surrounded the town. It is also the end of the valley the remaining part behind the Tao-Bat is much opened and wide. One needs two and a half day at least to visit the town. There are many other beautiful villages one can see while traveling. The most amazing thing is the road is quite dangerous.