The time is gone when Kashmir was only known for a few extensively explored travel spots like Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Yusmarg or Sonmarg. The modern travellers have been extensively exploring this naturally beautiful travel destination and with intense devotion towards nature and serenity they have dug out the places which were not known to the world till a few decades back. Surprisingly untouched by the evil effects of pollution, honks or population burst, the lesser known Kashmir portrays the real enigma of this heavenly charm on earth and lets the retreat seekers to lie down in the lap of nature. In this post we talk about those destinations of Kashmir which are rarely known to the rest of the world.
So, let’s embark on a journey to an altogether new Kashmir and let the world know how blissful this heaven on earth is –
Location: Chatpal is in Anantnag District of Jammu and Kashmir The true definition of ‘untouched natural beauty’ will not be clear to you until you step in the land of Chatpal. A landscape painted with green, grey and blue, Chatpal works impressively to quench your thirst of tasting the untouched. The placid locale with lofty mountains, unbound horizons of lush greenery, and noisy streams gushing down makes Chatpal a perfect getaway to spend some memorable time in the lap of Himalayan. One can go trekking around the woods of Chatpal or simply spend the evening with the friendly local people.
How to reach: You need to drive through the Anantnag-Chitergul road. A local shared jeep from Achabal will take you to Chitergul. From here you need to hire a special jeep for Chatpal.
Location: Northern boundary of Kupwara district in Handawara sub-district. One of the most unexplored tourist destinations in Kashmir, Bangus is located in the scenic Kupwara District. Located amidst a dense forest of spectacular pine trees, the valley is surrounded by howkibal Mountains on the northern side and Qazinag and Shamsbery Mountains on the western side. Bangus Valley also encloses the Kala Roos caves which contain Stone Age Wall paintings. Tourists who want to be a part of eco-tourism drive can also get shelter in the scenic charms of Bangus.
Location: 99km from Srinagar, on the trekking route of Kishtwar. A paradise for the solitude lovers and for the travellers who want to take a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, Daksum is located in Bhringi River Valley ahead of the Mughal Gardens of Achabal. Perched at a height of around 2438m above sea level, the valley is an ideal place to fulfil your dream of nature walks. The wooded slopes on either sides of Daksum are covered with grass coating and the presence of wooden huts along the mountain river adds to the scenic grandeur of Daksum. April to September is the best time to visit Daksum.
Located in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir, Karnah is a small, beautiful valley with dense green meadows and undulating mountain peaks. Located at the foot hills of the Shams Bri and Krannu mountains, Karnah village restores the memories of the past through its forts, palaces, statues, weapons and utensils found here after excavation. From Kishtwar, Karnah is around 86km. As Karnah is located at the furthest corner of Kashmir, and LOC is not much far from this region, you have to be prepared to face the queries from the Indian Army.
Location: 3 hours drive from Anantanag District A perfect place to feel the charm of lying down in the lap of Mother Nature, Warwan Valley is a calm and serene hill station in Kishtwar District. Located at a height of around 2133m, this quaint tourist spot is untouched by the evil effects of modern world and thus experiences an unpolluted weather. Lush green meadows, small streams, and snow clad mountains beautify this lovely valley with kaleidoscopic views. The valley is situated on the bank of Warwan River and do not have a very smooth communication system. To reach here one needs to drive from Kokernag of South Kashmir and it will take around 3 hours to reach here.
Watlab (Wullar Lake )
Location: On the Sopore-Bandipore road, about 56 km from Srinagar
The untamed natural beauty of Watlab is waiting for you if you haven’t experienced the scenic views of unexplored Kashmir. A noteworthy travel destination among the lesser known places to visit in Kashmir, Watlab is known for its hilltop Muslim Shrine of Baba Shukurddin. Once you reach the hill top, you get to witness the mesmeric views of Wular Lake, and the golden-green shades of the nearby paddy fields. The forest rest house of Watlab is located amidst abundant jungle and apple orchard, so be rest assured, you will enjoy the best out of your trip to Kashmir if you are travelling on this route
Location: 86km from Bandipura, in the northern part of Jammu and Kashmir. Located along the ancient Silk Route, Gurez is a high altitude Himalayan village perched at a height of around 2400m. Around 86km from Bandipore and 123km from Shrinagar, the valley is surrounded by snow-coated mountains and exudes a sparkling view for the presence of the Kishanganga River flowing through the valley. Counted among the most amazing places to visit In Kashmir, this valley gives shelter to a small number of exotic wildlife including snow leopard and brown bear.
Location: 120km from Srinagar in Kupwara District. It would not be wrong if I say Lolab Valley of Kashmir is comparatively more famous than the other places I have talked about in this post. Well connected with the rest of Kashmir, Lolab Valley can be reached by a hired taxi or local bus. Lolab is known among the tourists for its beautiful apple orchards, lake, springs and shaded paddy fields. Lolab comprises of three enigmatic valleys called Kalaroos valley, Potnai valley and Brunai valley. Nagmarg Meadows is a delight for the photographers and it separates Lolab from Bandipora District. A village called Lalpur is the resting place of sage Kashyap. It is around a kilometre from Lolab. So, you can explore this quaint village. Springs called Lavnag and Gauri are very close to Lolab Valley. Himalayan Black Bear, Snow Leopard, Ibex, Hangul are some of the commonly found animals in Lolab Valley.
It will be good, if you also add Tulail Valley to your Kashmir Tour list. It can be covered on a same day trip from Gurez. The road to Tulail from Gurez passes through scenic landscapes of Kishanganga River. En route you will cross the villages of Barnai, Chakwali, Kashpat, Zargai and finally you can get to see the Purani Tulail Village. The virgin valley keeps flourishing in summer and is ideal for photography sessions. The play of misty clouds over the green mountains, flower meadows, and unbound horizon add to the ever alluring beauty of this valley.
Location:Located in Doda District, 80km from Batote. Well, enough of seeking permission and LOC villages, if you want to relish the flavour of lesser known Kashmir and that too without having to go through too much hassle, simply go for Bhaderwah. Bhaderwah is not that unexplored like Gurez or Tulai, yet much distinctive from the hyped tourist spots of Kashmir. For its mountainous location, Bhaderwah possesses significant potential to boost adventure activities. If you are a spirited soul, try some of the adventure activities like Pargliding, Skiing, Mountaineering, Rafting, Rock Climbing or even Angling. Also you can give your summer holidays in Kashmir a new turn simply by camping in Jai Valley of Bhaderwah.