About 200 kilometres long the picturesque Neelum Valley is situated to the North & North East of Muzaffarabad. Running parallel to the KaghanValley. It is separated from if only snow-covered peaks, some over 4000 meters above sea level. Excellent scenic beauty, panoramic view, towering hills on both sides of the noisy Neelum river, lush green forests, enchanting streams and attractive surroundings make the valley a dream come true.
The area is ideal for trekking. A fair weather road opens the valley to tourists upto Kel, 155 kilometers from Muzaffarabad, of which about 150 kilometers has been black topped while the remaining portion is being matalled. Buses ply daily on this rout and accommodation facilities are also available in the rest houses of places of tourist attraction. Simple cooking facilities are available but one has to make his own arrangements for special dishes.
It is a valley of fountains, springs, waterfalls, flowering trees and plants. Geographically too, it is a hospitable valley. The Neelum Valley, 90 miles long bow-shaped with majestic pine, fir and deodar trees, lies north-south of Muzaffarabad (capital). This ninety-mile long kingdom of vegetation is ripped apart by the indigo blue Neelum river which flows serpentinely down hills to merge itself into the river Jhelum at Domail. Domail, the confluence of two mighty rivers, presents a highly fascinating scene of youthful embrace. This heart-warming spectacle is most soothing to the eye. The valley, starting from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, is about 150 miles long. It lies on both sides of the river Neelum.
The geographical features enhance the natural beauty of the Valley. Its elevation, a mere 2,000 feet at the start, gradually rises till it attains a respectable height of 8,000 feet. On both sides, there are high mountains and peaks. Nearly all the forest wealth of Azad Kashmir is to be found in this part of the State. There are two approaches to the valley. One from the Kaghan Valley which is linked with it at two points, the Nuri Nari Hali (Pass) and the Ratti Gali and many minor Passes. From Dawarian it takes two days for hiking or riding and night stay at Dharian at 12,000 feet. The second approach is from Muzaffarabad. It is a distance of 55 miles which is jeepable in fair weather. The Neelum meets the Jhelum river at Domali (meeting of the two) on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad city.
From Paticka forest one reaches Nosari, 24 miles ahead of Muzaffarabad. Next, come Chaliana (height 3,200 feet), Qazi Nag, Barian, Salkhela, Kundal Shahi, Athmaqam on this road. On a number of places, the local population has built rope crossings on the river. It is a very dangerous device and the very thought of crossing these points is horrible but thrilling. Tao Butt is an example of vegetational generosity of the liberal nature. The spot is donned with all delicacies and niceties. Nature flirts here with a fantastic environment.
The forest wealth abounds in the Neelum Valley. Deodar, pine, fir, wild walnut, strawberry and hosts of other high statured trees and other types of wild growth and herbs are the treasure of the valley. Besides being invaluable in economic terms, the variety of natural growth offers captivating scenery. Shunder Hilltops are covered with green forests and the fields are lush green with crops.
You can reach these three small lakes mentioned below from Dowarian, a small but mesmerizing town of Neelum Valley. From Dowarian Ratti Gali lake is about 18 KM but it takes almost four hours to reach the base camp of Ratti Gali because of unmetalled road and only 4×4 Jeep can be reached there. It took a whole day to spend on Ratti Gali.
- Nazar Muhammad Lake Dawarian Choora 13000 ft
- Barkatia Lake Dawarian Ratti Gali 13000 ft
- Rata Ser Lake Dawarian Ratti Gali 13000 ft
The best place on earth for romance – The Ratti Gali Lake is located in Neelam Valley, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. The lake is accessible from Dowarian by a 19 kilometres road cum hiking trek through breathtaking sites. Dowarian is the base camp to this lake.