Neelum valley has beautiful and panoramic scenery. This valley is parallel to the Kaghan valley. It has a noisy and beautiful river called Neelum River. This river is of fresh and pure water where tourists come and enjoy the place surrounded by lush green trees on both sides of the river. To get the escape from the hell to heaven, Neelum valley is the best place in summers. The valley had high mountains and tunnel of trees all around. The geographical location of Neelum valley is North and North East of Muzaffarabad in Kashmir.There are many surrounding areas of Neelum valley which are also of high importance. Those areas are as follows:
Jagran valley is having a beautiful and clear waterfall that attracts the tourists. There is high snow fall in the months of December, January and February. So roads are closed during these months. There is a hydroelectric power plant at the bank of Jagran stream. There is accommodation available for the tourists, which is highly managed by the hydro Electric board. The spot is highly recommended for the nature lover and adventurists. The mountains at Jagran valley are 4000 feet to 1400 feet above the sea level.
6 kilometers from KundalShahi, Kutton is located. Kutton is covered with lush green trees and vast fields. This area has less population as compared to the other areas of Azad Jammu Kashmir. This area has semi luxurious accommodations for the tourist from all around the globe. Hatchery for trout fish was also made by the fishery departments.
From the altitude of 5,000 ft from Neelum valley, keran is located. This is another scenic view of the Azad Jammu Kashmir. The specialty of this place is that, the board of India Pakistan is visible from this area. One can easily have a clear view of the patrol of both the countries.
The area is named after a legendary princess Sharda. The two mountains peaks, Shardi and Nardi are also located at this area, which improved the beauty of this area. The city is very old thus includes the ruins of older building. There was also a university remains present in this location, Sharda University. This showed the signs of education present at the oldertimes.
Neelum village is covered with lush green trees and high nutritious fruits present in this area.
Kel is one the most striking places of neelum valley. It is a 9 kilometers drive from Sharda which is located at a height of 2097 meters. It is a meeting point of the shounder nallah and the neelum river which leads to gilget agency over shounder pass. Kel is also a base camp of mountaineering activities up to “Sarawaali Peak” 6326 meters above sea level and it is one of the biggest Glaciers (about 25 kms long). It is said to be the highest peak and biggest glacier of Azad Kashmir.
Buses are available on daily basis to travel on this route. Other means of tranport such as jeeps, horses and ponies are also used to travel within the village. Guest house by the AJK tourism department is located in Kel. Other private hotels, hospitals, banks and markets are also available.
Arang Kel is a village and tourist spot in Neelam valley. It is located on the hill top near Kel at the altitude of 8,379 feet. The village is accessible by a 2 kilometers trek from Kel. Beyond this mountain, the next mountain is a part of Indian occupied Kashmir. It is one of the most beautiful locations in the neelum valley.
It is a beautiful village came while going from kel to taobut
The area from Kel to Taobat is called the Halmat. A tourist rest house has been constructed at Halmat to provide accommodation facilities to the visitors. It almost takes 4 hours to reach this place from Kel. This is the last hamlet before you reach the LOC.
Ratti Gali Lake:
In summer, the whole land of this attention-grabbing lake becomes a place of flourishing green meadows, wild flowers and glowing alpine plantations while in winter it is covered with white snow and chunks of Glacier floats in the water of Ratti Gali Lake.
Gurase Valley in Azad Kashmir is the most attractive but remote and backward area of the Neelum valley which is located in the north-east of the Muzaffarbad. This area is the heart of sustainable tourism in Azad Kashmir.
It is spotted in many sub-valleys from the Kail to Taubutt. The area is full of amazing flowers and fauna and enriched with natural resources like rivers, natural springs, forest and minerals.
Rare species in Gurase Valley are also found which are now getting extinct due to illegal hunting, deforestation. Govt. of Azad Kashmir has declared the valley as a national park to protect and wise use of Natural resources for income generation of local community.
Gurase stretches from “Sharda Peeth” in west to “Minimarg” in east and “Drass” on another side.
From Kel gurase valley is approx 38 kilometers
Presently Gurais is divided into three regions:
1. From Baghtor to Sharda Peeth. (Occupied by PaK-Pakistan Kashmir under the name of Neelum Valley.
2. From Baghtor to Abdullae Tulail. (Occupied by the Indians, known as Gurez Valley).
3. From Chorwan (Sandyaal) to Burzil pass. (direct control of Pakistan as a part of “Northern Areas”.
Chita Khata Lake:
Chitta literally means White and Katha means water reservoir. Chitta Katha Lake is in a shape of deep bowl body and is surrounded with snow all the year.
Chita Khata Lake is situated at an altitude of 3,800 meters. Lake is only accessible in the months of July and August.
There is a road from Kel to Shounter Valley. First tourists have to reach UTLI DOMEL village at night and stay there and proceed forward in the morning. Tourists had to mount for 5 to 6 hours to reach the lake. Provision of horses and jeeps from UTLI DOMEL is there.
This valley lies in Upper Neelum valley. It can be accessed through a jeep track from Kel which only gets opened for a few months of the year.
Shounter Lake is a small but very beautiful lake in the Shounter Valley. Base camp from this pointis Sarveli peak. The Shounter Nullah and river Neelum meets at this place and leads to Gilgit Agency over the Shounter Pass.
Around seven lakes were found and discovered and some were still hidden. Following lakes were discovered in shonthar valley:
- Chita Katha
- Lunda Sar/Lake
- Shounthar/Spoon Lake
- Sar Wali Peak base Camp Lake
- Asman Baik Sar/lake
- Baboon Lake
- Parrian Sar
Tao butt is the last station and end point of Neelum valley. Tao Butt is known for its shrubbery bounty of the nature. Heavy snowfall in winter, and the cold season continue about 6 months starting from October to April end. Due to land sliding path is not seen.
In summer it is an appealing place for tourist to visit. Neelum River emerges from here in the valley and continues its journey till Domail.
Tao butt has few red roof huts comprise this town which when seen from a high ground remind you of the calendar pictures of Switzerland.
People of this area are hard working. They stock up their groceries for 4 months and spend their time in homes.
During the ongoing argument between Pakistan and India the area itself is in LOC zone (Line Of Control). To get here you need to get permission from the Pakistan Army and Original CNIC must be submitted at the Check Post.