“With Aroma Of Pine Trees, The Sound Of Gushing Water, The Vibrancy Of Saffron, Rise Of Azaan And An Unfathomable View, Kashmir Surprises Everyone”
Anonymous.

Nothing can be more relatable when defining Kashmir in few lines than this maxim. Founded in 1947 after partition, Kashmir is neither a province nor an agency of Pakistan but has a government of its own which Pakistan considers to be “independent,” even though it is economically and administratively connected to Pakistan.

The heaven-on-earth—Kashmir has an area of roughly 650 square miles (1,680 km2) and consists of an arc of land surrounding the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir to the east—The Pakistani province of Punjab in the south and southwest, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, and Gilgit and Baltistan areas of Pakistani-administered Kashmir (part of what are called the Northern Areas) in the north.

Must Visit Places In Azad Kashmir In This Season

On a map, though, Azad Kashmir looks like a small strip of land, as nearly the whole landscape is mountainous, driving from one town to another can be a lengthy, time-consuming and meandering journey made worse by road conditions and the ever-present danger of landslides. But, with new improvement and rehabilitation of the routes, the tracks have become easily accessible.

Below are some of the prominent places to visit.

Ratti Gali Lake

Ratti Gali Lake image.

One of the most popular is the Ratti Gali Lake in Neelum Valley. The lake is formed roughly by the alpine glacier at an altitude of 12.130 ft. The bluish lake covers enormous cliffs. As the Ratti Gali Lake is accessible via Dowarian, a Neelum Valley village well known for its scenic beauty. Each view of Ratti Gali Lake is worthwhile capturing.

Kutton & Upper Neelum

Kutton and Upper Neelum image

Your trip to Kashmir is never concluded without visiting the mesmerizing Kutton Upper Neelum. Kutton Jagran is located approximately 82 km away from Azad Kashmir’s main city and capital, with its panoramic views. The waters churn in the full form beside the settlement.

Kutton Jagran owns a number of hotels in Neelum Valley that accommodate millions of tourists. On the other side, Upper Neelum sits 2 km from Keran. Trekking will be the most amazing experience of your life in these two locations.

Arang Kel Kashmir

Arang Kel Kashmir Image

The village of Arrang Kel is in the Neelum Valley. Kel to Arrang Kel is almost 3 hours trekking and because of LOC, the place is completely under the control of the Pakistan Army. So, you can move freely here and have a view of Kel and Arrang Kel’s most mesmerizing places. Moreover, there’s a long road that goes to Nanga Parbat. From there, people can actually see this Nanga Parbat Mountain and it is a beautiful sight for anyone who visits it.

Taobat Village

Taubut Village is the last Neelum Valley village seen by millions of tourists thanks to its magnificent locations. It is a richly green land with Neelum Valley flowing water culminating in the majestic Gagai Rivulet lake.

The link to the Gagai rivulet is within walking distance of Taubut. The place is worth seeing, the village at the back with the vast cliffs, the rushing clean Neelum river water, the lush green field and the serenity at its highest.

Banjosa Lake

Lake Banjosa serves as a tourist destination. It is situated approximately 20kms from the Rawalakot, at an altitude of 1,981 meters above sea level.

One of the facts is that the lake is constructed artificially and surrounded by a lush green dense pine forest.

Things To Do In Azad Kashmir

As we all know, Azad Kashmir is famous for its beautiful valleys and high, lush green mountain ranges; opportunities with outdoor recreation are plentiful. It has diverse mountain scenery, from low hills to high mountains (2000 to 6000 m).

It is suitable for many adventure sports such as:

  • Climbing

  • Trekking

  • Mountaineering

  • Summer Camping

  • Hiking

  • Paragliding

Also, Azad Kashmir is a great place for water sports activities like:

  • Rafting

  • Canoeing

  • Kayaking

  • Wind Surfacing

  • Boating

  • Rowing

  • Hovercraft

Handicraft Of The Valley

The Jammu and Kashmir Valley is not only rich in cultural and ethnic diversity, but it also has numerous shades of its art that have been nurtured through the years.

The craft is becoming increasingly diverse and multicultural day by day. Kashmir is famed for its tweed textiles, papier mache, pashmina shawls, wood carving crafts, hand-woven carpets embroidered suits, Kashmiri silk saris, and many other traditional crafts.

Traditional Foods Of Azad Kashmir

The traditional and popular cuisines of Azad Kashmir are Rogan Josh, Kashmiri Raan (Fried leg of lamb in Kashmiri style), Balti Gosht, Dam Aloo (Fried Potatoes in Kashmiri style), and Kashmiri Dal Chawal (A mixture of split red lentils, split peas and boiled rice).

Other specialties of the area are:

Goshtaba: Traditional Kashmiri dish made of beef, cooked with special Masala Jaat after long hours of meshing.

Red Beans/Lobia with Bakarkhani: Kashmiri people like the Red Beans in their main cuisine. They eat it once a week, curry with plain white rice but it’s nice to mix dry-fried red beans with BakarKhani, a deadly combination.

Maithi Maaz: Prepared with dried fenugreek leaves from the lamb intestines.

Murg Yakhni: Chicken with unique Masala Jaat curry and very different taste.

Kashmiri Pulao: In Muzaffarabad Azaad Kashmir, you can find two types of Kashmiri pulao main courses, one of beef and the other of Mutton or Chicken.

Namkeen Tea & Kashmiri Kulcha: Green leaves salt tea, almonds and other dry fruits make namkeen tea special. Kashmiri Kulcha is the bakery commodity in Muzaffarabad Azad Kashmir and is easily available.

Weather & Climate Trends In Azad Kashmir

Azad Kashmir’s climate is variable by altitude. As a mountainous area in the lesser Himalayan Region, the central and northern areas are very cold in winter with snowfall and mild in summer, whereas the southern parts of Azad Kashmir are very hot in summer and only mildly cold in winter. In both winter and summer, Azad Kashmir observes rainfall.

Summing It Up

Few parts of Azad Kashmir are off-limited to tourism, particularly the 15-mile buffer zone or 16 kilometers along the Line of Control dividing the state from the neighboring controlled Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Domestic tourists are free to visit Azad Kashmir but they are advised to keep their identity papers with them.

The following areas may only be visited by foreign tourists with a permit: Dheerkot, Rawalakot, Chotta Gala, Chikkar, Daokhan, Muzaffarabad, Mangia and Sehnsa. Permits are given at Muzaffarabad by AJK Home Ministry.

Despite huge opportunities, the region has not grown enough tourism trade and industry. But now, the government of Pakistan is practicing reforms and improvements to make this heaven-on-earth an accessible and comfortable tourist spot