The Phullawai village is located in Union Council Gurase Tehsil Sharda District Neelum Azad Kashmir. The elevation of this village is about 7,000 to 13,000 feet above sea level. In the north, the big Shisha Mountains (Shisha Kor) are high and low with forested hills and slopes. To the south of the village, the Neelum river flows, along the Neelum Road. The Line of Control (LoC) begins at a distance of 2km to the south. In the west of the village, village Janawai and in its east the village of Marnat is situated. The village has two sub-valleys (pastures); Sarwala Nala and the Gujjar Nala.
After crossing the top (alley) of these two valleys, you can reach the area of Astore (Gilgit Baltistan). The population of this village is about seven thousand people. The village is inhabited by people of Shin tribes who migrated from Gilgit, Chilas, and Astore in the middle of the eighteenth century. The language of all these families is Shina and attached the dardi culture yet. About 3% of Hindko-speaking people are also settled here while 97% of the inhabitants are Shina-speaking tribes. The literacy rate is very low and currently its estimated 30% of the population, including Islamic education.
Phullawai is a beautiful area as well as rich in natural resources. The forests here include cedar, pine, kale, fur, walnut, base, bunkhor, badlu, safida, bagno, turtle and Bharth, and Burj. While there are a fair number of wildlife, there are Himalayan Musk Deer (Mushk Nafa), Ibex, Snow Leopard, Bear, Wolf, Marmot, Monal, Squirrel, Snow Chicken, Dove, and brown Fox. There is a rare breed of pets Zoya and Yak, belong to Skardu. The conservation of this wildlife is very important and the protection measures at present are unsatisfactory. There are precious minerals here, including Rubies, Sapphires, Crystals, and Mica. Many people in the area earn their living by buying and selling herbs.
Most of the mushrooms (guchhi), kuth, patrees, mushk bala, sumbal, sawdust, Korri jari, Korrh, Rattan jog, gugaldup, juki badashah, khinees and musloon (local names) are found here. Now is the time to save the natural environment and beauty of forests and wildlife with sustainable and wise use of natural resources. We should highlight the importance of wildlife, natural environment, and natural resources and play our role in creating awareness among the people about their importance in human life; and the dangers posed by its loss for human life survival.
Due to its difficult terrain, remoteness, and lacking good road facilities, the region is hidden from the eyes of the world. During the five months of snowfall, the Neelum Road is closed for all types of traffic, and means of transportation are limited for the local population. Road closures in winter cause locals to live in dire conditions. The government has so far failed to provide basic needs and tourism promotion here. In the current era of social media facilities, tourism in these areas needs to be highlighted so that this area can be developed.
The area is very attractive for tourism due to its natural beauty and special customs. There are two major Sub-Valleys (Nalas); Sar Nala and Gujjar Nala. These areas have natural springs, streams, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes, and skyscrapers, including the notable Domail Gali, Sarwali Gali, the Thoki glaciers, and lakes near Thoki Pass. The most famous of these lakes is Machak Lake, which is about 12,000 feet above sea level. There is also a beautiful lake in Duk Lake in Gujjar Nala. Among the waterfalls, Thoki Baik’s White Waterfalls (Sho Char) are famous. If you wish to visit the area, it is a nine-hour drive from Muzaffarabad to Phulaui on the main Neelum Valley road. In Phullawai, the two Nalas; Gujjar Nala and Sar Nala are located on separate sides.
The whole journey to Gujjar Nala is on foot. From Gujjar Nala, you can reach Astore Mir Malik via Ghashat Top. However, if you want to travel to Sarnala, you can travel by jeep to the Cave pasture (Bachu Baik). From next to this pasture you have to travel on horseback or on foot. The last pastures (baik) of this Nala “Thoki Machak Baik” is beautiful having amazing lakes, waterfalls, glaciers, and grassy fields. In the last area of Sar Nala Machak Lake, Domail Pass, Sar Baik, Dak Nala, Dak Lake is situated.
It is important to bring food and drink with you when you go here. In some areas, locals carry cattle for three to four months between June to September end, so temporary raw rooms and tents are used for accommodation. Tourists should keep their tents with them so that they can easily stay here and observe the beauty of the area. Many friends asked me to write in detail about exploring “Machak Lake”. In Sha Allah in the next column, I will give details on how to track the Sar Wali Galli and Machak Lake.