scythe-shaped, the territory of Azad Kashmir is dotted with a vast
chain of scenic and natural beauty spots amidst flowing streams,
gushing out springs and flowering plants. The mountain tops over the
valley look like circular and rectangular caps. The panorama is really
enchanting. The valley rivals those of Kaghan and Swat in beauty and
boasts of remarkable alpine scenery. It is bounded to the east by the
line of control or (ceasefire line) with Indian held Kashmir and
travel to foreigners is rather restricted.
Kashmir extends from the plains of Mirpur at the northern edge of the
Punjab through the outlying foothills of the Himalayas, to the
mountains in the north at 6,000 meters above sea level. It is drained
by three major rivers, the Jhelum, the Neelam and teh Poonch whose
valleys are very beautiful.
are four districts of Azad Kashmir namely Muzaffarabad, Poonch, Kotli
and Mirpur. These districts abound in natural beauty and rivers and
streams flow throughout Azad Kashmir.
four districts have lush green forests which provide cool breeze and
foliage to the visitors.
are the only means of transport in Azad Kashmir and play a basic role
in the development of the territory. The area of Azad Kashmir is 5134
square miles land strip in the shape of a crescent moon, 250 mile in
length with width varying from 10 to 40 miles. The terrain is mostly
rugged and mountainous with 15,000 feet high mountains in north-west
touching the Punjab plains. The area is criss-crossed with rivers and
total length of roads in Azad Kashmir is 730 miles of metalled and 530
miles of fair-weather roads in addition to 830 miles of link roads.
Situated at the confluence of the Jhelum and the Neelum rivers
Muzaffarabad the capital of the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is at a
distance of 86 miles from Rawalpindi and 49 miles from Abbottabad.
Surrounded by mountains, it looks like a walled town. It is the
administrative capital of Azad Kashmir. Behind the Secretariat to the
east is a road climbing above the town from where one can walk upto Pir
Chinasi at 2,900 meters with good views of the Jhelum Valley and the
higher mountains above the Neelum to the north. From the cool on the
Abbottabad Road, you can walk along the ridge looking over the Jhelum
and Kunhar rivers.
Past the Red fort, crossing Neelum river at Ghori, a few km way is 'Makra
mountain' 3,890 meters which is visible from Muzaffarabad and continues
on to Shogran in the Kaghan Valley. This is a superb short trek,
although you need to camp overnight halfway.
The upper Jhelum valley makes another interesting scenic excursion from
Muzaffarabad. follow the Jhelum upstream, taking the road beneath the
Domel bridge. This was the old route to Srinagar. The valley is broad
with raised terraces above the river. Rice and maize are widely grown.
Some 10 kms out of Muzaffarabad the river widens to from a small lake.
This was created by a landslip some years ago. There is a small Angler's
Hut here, which makes a pleasant picnic spot. It is possible to take
boats out on the river. Book through the Tourist Department in
The city was founded by Sultan Muzaffar Khan of Bamba dynasty and was
the seat of an independent State for quite a long period under his
The city is now a combination of old and new buildings and a blend of
different cultures and languages. It has besides official buildings,
farms, parks and the historic forts standing on the banks of the Neelum,
Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Rawlakot and Kotli are connected with Pakistan by
the Micro-weave system of telephone.
There are rest houses, good hotels and guest houses in Muzaffarabad city
where the tourists can stay.
The rather sleazy bazaar in Muzaffarabad can be explored for its walnut
carvings and its Kashmiri shawls. It is sometimes possible to get a good
skirmishes between the armies of renowned Mughal Akbar and the Chak
rulers of Kahsmir were common. To ensure safety of the people, and the
land, the Chaks realised to raise defence posts and efficiently counter
the year 1949 the construction of the red fort was undertaken. It was
finally completed by Sultan Muzaffar Khan the founder of Muzaffarabad
city during 1646. When the Mughals overtook the Kahsmir rule, this fort
lost its importance. The Mughals were more interested in Kabul, Bokhara
and Badakshan. During the Durrani rule the fort again came into
limelight and its importance was rediscovred.
Gulab Sign and Ranbir Singh, the Dogra rulers, reconstructed and
extended the fort for political and military operations. Towards the end
of 1947 the Dogra forces filed away leaving the fort wide open to
architectonics of the fort show that great experts in design and
structure participated in its construction. It is surrounded on three
sides by Neelum river formally known as Kishan Ganga. the northern part
had terraces with steps leading to the bank of the river. The Eastern
side of the fort was very well protected from the hazards of flood
waters but some parts in the north were slightly damaged. There was an
inn at the entry of the fort which has to traces left now.
been in the bad shape for quite some time and wears deserted look. The
structure still stands with all its inherent glory, grandeur and its
is best approached from Rawalpindi via Murree and the nearby
Kohala Bridge over the Jhelum, the gateway to Azad Kashmir. It
is small township situated at 6,000 feet above sea level and has
a bracing climate. It is famous for its healthy surroundings,
high altitude landscape.
The town also is famous for the beauty spots. Almost all the
area is covered with green trees like deodar, pine and oak. the
Dak Bungalow - rest house - which is situated amidst the dense
forest is 5,500 feet above the sea level. the Dhirkot is also
famous for the fruits mainly apples and apricots.
Tehsil Headquarters of Distt. Poonch, is situate at the confluence of
two mini rivers - Malwani and Mall which flow all the year round.
comprises at least 5,000 shops and has a hospital. the total population
of the Tehsil Headquarters is over 3 lacs. Two rest houses are available
for tourists. Permission for stay can be obtained from the nearby Forest
Department, P.W.D. There are two degree colleges, one is for boys and
the other for girls. 'Haji Pir Pass' is 20 miles from Bagh city which is
linked with metalled road.
station of Chikar, 27 miles from Muzaffarabad has grown into a fairly
large township. Three miles from Chikar is the hill station known as
Loonbagla which is situated in the middle of a vast range of densely
outstanding features of this hill station are its healthy climate and
linked with Muzaffarabad by a motorable road and is connected with Bagh
in Poonch district via Sudhan Gali.
situated some 40 miles from Muzaffarabad is a scenic place with a very
enchanting Rest House built by the former Dogra rulers. It lies just
some twenty yards upward in the Bazaar. A visitor can easily see the
Occupied Area beyond the border above 10 miles away.
has a Telephone Exchange, a first class dispensary. It is famous for its
fruits such as apples, apricots, walnuts and honey.
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 indigoblue Neelum river which flows
serpentinely down hills to merge itself into the river Jhelum at Domail.
Domail, the confluence of two mighty rivers, presents highly fascinating
scene of youthful embrace. This heart-warning spectacle is most soothing
to the eye.
valley, starting from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, is
about 150 miles long. It lies on both sides of the river Neelum.
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.
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.
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.
is an example of vegetational generosity of the liberal nature. The spot
is donned with all delicacies and niceties. Nature flirts here with
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 a captivating scenery. Shunder Hill tops are
covered with green forests and the fields are lush green with crops.
the most fascinating valley in Azad Kashmir. A fair-weather road
branches off for Leepa from Naile 45 Km from Muzaffarabad, climbs over
Reshian Gali at 3200m high and then descends into the Leepa Valley. It
spell-bounds everyone who visits this valley. Dao Khan is well
recognised for its natural beauty and renowned for its calm and peaceful
atomsphere. Deep in the heart of the valley lies Leepa village at 1921m
above sea-level. Its lush green river fields in summer and typical
wooden Kashmiri houses present a wonderful view. Walnut, apples,
cherries and honey of Leepa are very popular.
valley is accessible by an all weather road metalled up to Kundal Shahi
and well maintained up to Kel. At the gateway to the Valley lies a
sprawling town of Bhateeka with a dependable commercial centre. For a
tourist, Bhateeka can be the first journey break. This town has a modest
bazaar with day-to-day activity. All essential items are available in
the bazaar which feeds a fairly large number of villages behind it. On
its back runs the forth-emitting river Neelum. The village and bazaar
are connected by a suspension bridge crossable by jeep alone. This old
bridge is being replaced with an RCC one enabling it to afford heavy
traffic. The running streams, water channels and water falls across the
Bhateeka village presents another heart winning scene. It is fully
years back, the Federal Minister of Power and Water, Government of
Pakistan had a hydel station built in this village over a perennial
nullah which is in fact a mini river of Bhateeka. The quality of life
here is full of emotions despite its simplicity. It is perhaps due to
verdure. Financially, it is an affluent town. Majority of the village
folk is engaged in profitable business abroad especially in the Middle
East countries. A number of scheduled banks of Pakistan are operating in
the village on the strength of remittances from abroad. But despite
fattening coffers, the town has no industrial activity. The ratting of
machinery is unknown to the town.
serene atmosphere shrouded into lush greenery and milky-white waterfalls
and water curses and their rhythmic flow totally absorbs the visitors.
Added to the general plant fragrance is the sweet smell of menthol
plants along the banks of the nullah, it cuts its way across the
crop-fields in such wavy manner that it looks as a white ribbons over
green head of damsel Nature. Bhateeka is linked by ancillary roads with
other surrounding areas uphill and downhill.
midway station in Kundal Shahi. Also a small commercial centre. Kundal
Shahi headquarter the operational centre of the Azad Kashmir Logging and
Saw Mills which is responsible for timber extraction to commercial
markets in Pakistan. Kundal Shahi station has a rest house manned by the
logging and saw mills at the Western bank of river Neelum adjacent to
metalled road. A tourist range bifurcates from Kundal Shahi to Jagra
Nullah which is again a mini river running all the year round. Its water
is glass-like limpid having good potential for trout fish development.
The range is also accessible by a kutcha but well maintained road. The
forests are so thick in the range that a trip to the range would be like
going through a tunnel. It is tunnel of forest indeed.
important station in the Valley is Athmaqam connected by metalled road
with Muzaffarabad. This town has a Town Committee of its own with an
Intermediate College, a hospital and a telephone exchange. A few
scheduled banks of Pakistan are also operating here. The rest house,
built at the foot of the Western hilltop which tapers towards Balakot in
the NWFP, is accommodative. It has been built in such a way that its
lawns face the river below it. A daily bus service piles between the
town and Muzaffarabad. From here upwards emerges typical Kashmiri living
pattern with houses built of wooden logs, most of them double-storeyed.
Curd, cheese maizebread along the chutney is the other palatable diet.
The other major diet is rice.
So far is
the half of the Neelum Valley and after it are the more enchanting spots
full of exuberance and life. Kairan is another beauty spot on the river
side with a neat and clean wooden flooring rest house. Its lawns slope
down towards the western bank of the river. The bazaar consists of over a
dozen shops with a post office and telephone call office. Commodities
are transported to the bazaar from Athmaqam by trucks. The physical
feature of Kairan resort resembles a broad forehead of a person with
thick hair on the head. Stay is more comfortable here.
west of Mirpur, at the end of a jeep road, Jangwan is the well known
shining spot on the confluence of the Jhelum and Poonch rivers. It is an
ideal place for fishing and anglers in large numbers visit it with rod
lake is an ideal tourist resort in the Samhani valley in Mirpur
district. It is a four mile long sheet of crystal clear water that
soothes the senses of a traveller after a 40 mile road journey from
Gujrat via Bhimber on the old Mughal road to Kashmir. It was through
this road that Mughal Emperors travelled to Kashmir.
top of the hill there is the famous Mughal fort, overlooking the lake.
Rising four stories high this massive structure of granite is a feet of
Mughal engineering that has stood the ravages of time. It has also
played an important role in subsequent history during the time of Ahmed
Shah Abdali, Ranjit Singh and Gulab Singh.
the lake and the garden can be compared to any other Mughal monument in
beauty and splendour. All around the gardens there are orchards and
along the borders laburnum grow in wild profusion.
is situated in the heart of Poonch district at a height of 6,000 feet
and is a plain saucer shaped valley. It is approachable from Rawalpindi
via Kohala and Azad Pattan by motorable roads.