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Tour of Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir, Pakistan

Updated on February 14, 2013
Taobat, last town in Neelum Valley.
Taobat, last town in Neelum Valley.

Note on Neelum Valley and Kashmir.

Bear in mind that I have written this article with the assumption that most readers will have some basic knowledge about Kashmir. However since many people do not so let me clarify some things

Kashmir is an EXTREMELY beautiful region situated between India, Pakistan and China and almost fully covered by Himalayas and Karakoram Mountain ranges. It is a disputed territory claimed by both India and Pakistan. The part of Kashmir occupied by India and called as Jammu and Kashmir inside India and Indian occupied Kashmir in Pakistan. The part of Kashmir under Pakistan is called as Azad Kashmir in Pakistan, and is known in India as Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Neelum Valley is situated mostly in Azad Kashmir. The region is volatile due to the presence of LOC or line of control, a ceasefire border between Indian Kashmir and Pakistani Kashmir. In India the Neelum River is referred to as Kishenganga river.

Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir

Neelum valley is the name given to the areas surrounding the Neelum River. The word Neelum means "Blue" and the name certainly holds true for the bluish green Neelum river. The valley is known to relatively few people, even in Pakistan, and due to its isolation and most of all lack of proper infrastructure it is free of mass tourism, pollution and globalization (although many houses now do sport satellite T.Vs) and hence sometimes referred to as " Virgin" beauty.

The 200 km long valley boasts of lush green mountains, beautiful glacial streams, a roaring blue river and fruit trees. All this beauty is enhanced further by the local wooden huts built in traditional manner, terraced fields, fresh and crisp mountain air, friendly hospitable people and above all an absolute lack of urban lifestyle.

My tour of the scenic and beautiful valley was arranged by a local friend and in the entire trip we only stayed in one hotel and the rest of days were spent in houses of my friend's many relatives who were spread throughout the valley.


Scenic waterfall in Kuton Town, Neelum Valley. There is a very comfortable and beautiful resort in Kuton which can be booked from Muzaffarabad.
Scenic waterfall in Kuton Town, Neelum Valley. There is a very comfortable and beautiful resort in Kuton which can be booked from Muzaffarabad.
a view of Kuton town, Neelum Valley.
a view of Kuton town, Neelum Valley.
Dazzlingly high mountains and equally dazzling villages which occupy them. Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir
Dazzlingly high mountains and equally dazzling villages which occupy them. Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir
a small waterfall in Kundal Shahi town, Neelum Valley.
a small waterfall in Kundal Shahi town, Neelum Valley.
Scenes like this never tire the eyes. Neelum Valley.
Scenes like this never tire the eyes. Neelum Valley.
many villages in Kashmir are perched on sharp, steep mountain slopes. You also regularly see a single house crowning a mountain peak
many villages in Kashmir are perched on sharp, steep mountain slopes. You also regularly see a single house crowning a mountain peak

Traveling information

Journeys into the valley start from Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir. Access to Muzaffarabad city is only possible through roads and the drive takes around 3-4 hours from Islamabad city, capital city of Pakistan.

Neelum valley itself has several towns which progress as follows Muzaffarabad -> Pattika town -> Kundal shahi -> Kuton -> Authmaqam (capital of Neelum valley and largest town ) -> Neelum town -> Dowarian -> Shardah -> Kel -> Taobat which is the final town.

There is a local bus service which runs from Muzaffarabad up to Kel. After Kel the lack of proper roads means that the journey further on can only be performed by 4WD vehicles.


Authmaqam town in Neelum Valley

A markerAuthmaqam, Neelum Valley, Azad Kashmir -
Neelum Valley Rd, Athmuqam
get directions

Kel town in Neelum Valley. After this, glaciers and snow become a common sight even during peak summer months.
Kel town in Neelum Valley. After this, glaciers and snow become a common sight even during peak summer months.
Another view of Kel town
Another view of Kel town

Facilities

The major towns all have local hotels and rest houses. Trekking, Hiking and camping are extremely popular activities among the few visitors. Kundal Shahi sports a very nice rest house whose booking is performed through Muzaffarabad other hotels in the region are satisfactory at best. Tour guides are available for trips into the valley from Muzaffarabad city which has all the major facilities of any large urban metropolis.

Banks, Bazaars and hospital facilities are available in Authmaqam town. Infrastructure and tourist facilities such as chairlifts,view points and quality hotels are unfortunately absent in the region though in my opinion this absence in itself ads a charm to the valley.


Sharda Town in Neelum Valley. The town in also host to the ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple.
Sharda Town in Neelum Valley. The town in also host to the ruins of an ancient Buddhist temple.
Another view of Sharda town, Neelum Valley. The town has a small Bazaar and health care center as well as some rest houses. Best town in the entire valley in my opinion.
Another view of Sharda town, Neelum Valley. The town has a small Bazaar and health care center as well as some rest houses. Best town in the entire valley in my opinion.

Adjacent lakes, treks and hikes.

There are several breath taking mountain peaks and glacial lakes surrounding the Neelum valley. Most of these are accessible only during the short summer and that access too is only via treks or hikes although mules and horses can be arranged using the locals. These lakes especially Shonter lake and Chita Katha lake are bewitching and popular camping sites among the few yet regular visitors to the region.

Neelum Valley lakes.

Unfortunately I don't have any photos of the lakes since i myself haven't visited them as of yet, although i plan to visit them in the future. You may Google the images of the lakes if you like i can guarantee that its worth it.

Limited Access

Access up to Kel is usually open for foreigners but after that, due to the sensitivity of the region, they are not allowed to proceed although the region after Kel and especially Taobat ( the final town) are stunning and without a doubt the crowing beauties of the Neelum Valley.

Note that Neelum Valley and Azad Kashmir are considered disputed territories and the infamous LOC or line of control between Pakistan and India passes through several parts of the valley. As such access in the valley is also unfortunately subject to the conditions on Line of Control border, and more specifically between India and Pakistan, which have been known to fluctuate in past.

Taobat town, Neelum Valley.

Taobat town, Neelum Valley.
Taobat town, Neelum Valley.
Traditional wooden houses in Taobat, Neelum Valley.
Traditional wooden houses in Taobat, Neelum Valley.
Neelum River flowing through Taobat town.
Neelum River flowing through Taobat town.
Surrounding areas of Taobat town, Neelum Valley.
Surrounding areas of Taobat town, Neelum Valley.
Surrounding areas of Taobat town, Neelum Valley.
Surrounding areas of Taobat town, Neelum Valley.
Surrounding areas of Taobat town, Neelum Valley.
Surrounding areas of Taobat town, Neelum Valley.

All photos and images were taken using digital cameras and unfortunately I cannot boast of my photography skill...

Comments

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    • profile image

      assag7 2 years ago

    • profile image

      Muzammal Hussain 2 years ago

      Good V good but kia wahan koi hotel booking ka no wagera hy ap k pass?

    • profile image

      Usman 2 years ago

      How to visit Chitta Khatta, Shounter and Ratti Galli Lake.

      Secondly, please also let me know any other lakes in Neelum Valley.

      I want to visit after Eid.

    • profile image

      Farheena 2 years ago

      well done gud job, i am planning to visit kashmir in this summer and i find this page very informative and to the point of a tourist.

    • profile image

      abbas 4 years ago

      i was lucky enough to visit this beautiful place, i didn't know much about it till i got there only bad thing is there was no signal :/

    • M Zees profile image
      Author

      Muhammad Zeeshan 4 years ago from Karachi, Pakistan

      Tanveer, I agree most of Kashmir is identical but at the same time It's so different you never get tired of it!

      Thank you Ahmad for the appreciation.

    • profile image

      Ahmad 4 years ago

      Wonderful effort..... Wish we had more people like you....

    • tanveerbadyari profile image

      tanveerbadyari 4 years ago

      very nice hub, It is a great part of kashmir, Most places i have been in trekking in kashmir look similar to the landscapes portrayed in your hub.

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