Neelam Valley Azad Kashmir.
In the summer season, we five friends started our journey on our bikes from Dera Ghazi Khan to Neelam Valley, Azad Kashmir, to cover almost all area, till Tao Butt, line of Control. If we take a gist of length of Neelam valley, Muzaffarabad to Tau Butt, this valley stretches out for 240 kilometers. It is called Neelan Valley, lush with greenery, waterfalls and meadows filled with fruits.
Neelam is perhaps the most delightful valleys of Azad Kashmir, and it has a few creeks, freshwater streams, woodlands, rich green mountains, and a waterway. Here, you see waterfalls tumbling down the mountains; smooth white waters streaming over the streets and sprinkling against the stones, prior to coexisting with the sloppy waters of River Neelum. Capital city of Neelum Valley is Athmuqam. It has been administratively divided into two sub-districts, Athmuqam and Sharda. From Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Kashmir, a tarred road comfortably leads you to Sharda, whence you need to travel on a rocky and curvy jeep track, which can take you to the farthest town of the region, Tau Butt.
Prior to Partition, this area was known as Drawah. The Azaad Kashmir government, in 1956, the 10th year of its standard, held a bureau meeting to rechristen the River Kishanganga as the River Neelam, and the Drawah locale as Neelam Valley.
The new names were proposed to the bureau by war saint, Syed Muhammad Amin. The bureau supported them, and in this way, Drawah, is currently known as, Neelam Valley of Azaad Kashmir.
Urban areas, town and towns passed by in a steady progression; Rawalpindi was gone; then, at that point from Murree, the motorbikes dashed towards Muzaffarabad. The street from Kohala to Muzaffarabad was tight however tree-lined; the motorcycles went under the shadows of the trees. The encompassing mountains had worn the recently grown splendid hued grass.
There was greenery all around the hills. The fresh water was amazing, useful for health. At noon we arrived at Muzaffarabad, and made our lunch of rice. This is a thickly populated city, with houses in a real sense sitting on the tops of different houses.
As I was being riding along the River Neelam, I was interested to see how happily this stream streamed, filling in as normal line among Pakistan and India, unmindful of their hostility.
Pakistan is building the Neelam-Jhelum hydropower dam on the River Neelam and we stayed there for some time. We entered Athmuqam and traveled through its jam-packed roads prior to arising on the opposite side that confronted Keran. At the opposite finish of the extension that traversed over the River Neelum, was Indian-held Kashmir.
Going along the Line of Control, I felt that albeit the two Kashmirs had been partitioned by a boundary, they held numerous things in like manner: on the two sides of this separation, jeeps and transports play a similar music; culture and food is something very similar; the populace on the two sides has a place with a similar identity, draws water from a similar stream, and lives under similar mists; the thing that matters is seen distinctly on the poles that raises the public banners – the banners are unique, so are the legislatures and maybe the hearts, as well.
We reached at Dawarian. From hear, a path leads to Ratti Gali Lake. Nature presumably worked long and difficult to make Ratti Gali, first covering it with green velvet grass, and afterward dotting it with yellow, blue, and orange shades.
The blue waters and picturesque magnificence of this lake float sightseers with such a force that they would fight mountains, waterways, and the difficulties of traveling to show up at this spot. A sight of Ratti Gali Lake merits all the difficulty.
We reached in Sharda and halted at its principle commercial center. In Sharda, houses are based on the precarious mountain slants such that their rooftops are mostly stuck into the mountain. It permits creatures to effectively stroll onto the housetops. The jackasses were maybe drawn in by the sweet smell of the grass here.
Sharda is one of the two sub-division of the Neelum Valley. Regardless, in the wake of leaving Sharda, it is basically towns. The road turns unsavory, too. Stream Neelum rounds out here. Some history specialists accept that Sharda was the name of a Hindu sanctuary. Exploration is needing on whether Sharda was a sanctuary or a foundation. In the 21st century, the town of Sharda, ignoring the River Neelum, is referred to just as a vacation spot. The River Neelum streams downhill, unobtrusively contacting its feet.
We continued our journey on motorcycles. The road was very rough . A few streams crossed our way. The motorcycles would dial back to get through the water and afterward continue its uneven excursion.
We continued our tour to Kail, and we reached at Kundal Shahi. Usually, the tourists make their stay here. It is also a beautiful village of Neelum valley. The river Neelum also runs on the back of this village.
We reached in Kail. It is most beautiful place. It was a summer season. But it felt like winter. When dew began to fall on Kail, the stars, too, grew obscure.
Next morning we went to Arang Kail. It was amazing village. A Cable car cross the river and then there is hiking of 30 minutes. Arang Kail is paradise. There was greenery everywhere. For me, it is the most beautiful place of Neelam Valley.
At daybreak next morning, we departed from Kail. The motorcycles continued its bumpy journey, somehow negotiating the wavy track in this difficult terrain. We registered at several military checkpoints along the way.
For a portion of my journey, the track ran parallel to River Neelum, almost touching it. The motorcycle was running on the track just one foot higher than the river. Then, we came across a cataract washing the road with its water, and spewing a lot of mud. As the motorcycle passed before the waterfall, a sprinkle of cold water washed over my face.
The road running along the River Neelum began to gain altitude again, and I felt the motorcycle almost taking off. The river had been left below in the mountains. Next, we were to pass by the villages of Sardari, Phalwai and Hilmet, before arriving in Tau Butt, where the motorcycle was to end its journey.
Complete video of Tour of Neelam Valley.
That day, after leaving Kail, I noticed that women in this region were very industrious. They worked hard in the fields and took vigilant care of the cattle. I also noticed that almost all of the women wore red; perhaps they favoured this colour. Eight out of the 10 women there wore red dresses.
We passed by several groups of Bakarwal nomads that travelled along the road with their flocks of sheep and goats. The animals would readily give way to the motorcycle as soon as they heard the Horne. The Bakarwal tribes are known for taking regular long journeys from Kashmir to the Deosai plain, passing through the highest mountain passes of the Himalayas. After arriving in the Deosai plain, some of their groups would journey to Skardu and others would travel to Astore.
After a five-hour bumpy ride from Kail on motorcycle, we finally reached Tau Butt. It is a secluded, precipitous town with wood-outlined houses, explicitly intended for this area. The fields were encased by pointed wires, maybe, for division. The River Neelum streamed quick and irately in the center of the valley. Ranchers were plowing their fields for the following harvest. A couple of small kids were taking bath in the river Neelam. There was a silence in Tao butt. Greenery was attracting and dashing the eyes. From this place, we started our return.