Tis the Time to Head towards North
Islamabad certainly will be the first destination but this time, try to move ahead from Murree, Abbottabad and Nathia Gali. Out of several great tourist destinations in north of Pakistan, one wonderful vacation option is Neelum Valley, which is located in Azad Kashmir.
Beauty of few things lies in their simplicity while the others look majestic with their intricacy. In the north of Pakistan, there perches an absolutely stunning, splendid and magnificent place; Neelum Valley, a 200 kilometre long bow-shaped thick forested region in Azad Kashmir, Pakistan. With picturesque scenery, snow-clad peaks, towering hills, noisy Neelum River, lush green forests, breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls, and enchanting streams - the region is truly a heaven on earth.
Neelum Valley stretches from 50 kilometres north of Muzaffarabad to the existing Line of Control (LoC) between Azad Kashmir and Indian-occupied Kashmir. You can access the valley from two sides. One is from Kaghan Valley and the other is from Muzaffarabad. From Kaghan side, the valley is linked with it at two major points i.e. the Nuri Nari Hali (Pass) and the Ratti Galli. While from Muzaffarabad, the valley is located only 55 miles away. The road condition is very good and suitable for every kind of vehicle.
The first major stop while travelling to Neelum Valley is thickly forested village of Keran. This is one of the most beautiful places in the Neelum Valley, which is full of exuberance and life, as it runs across the river. This is the closest you can get to Indian-Occupied Kashmir as only indigo blue Neelum River separates the both sides. Though you will not find a number of hotels there equipped with all modern day facilities but you can find yourself surrounding with spectacular views. If you are lucky enough, you may still be able to enjoy snowfall.
Moreover, you will be unable to check-in on your social networking websites due to absence of mobile signals and internet services. Telecommunication services that include landline telephones are available at a number of points in this area whereas, mobile services are available at few selective locations only. The absence of mobile signals at Neelum Valley is a blessing in disguise as instead of focusing on your mobile devices, you will tend to completely focus on the serenity of this place. The swirling Neelum River, the neatly aligned wooden houses, towering pine trees, the lush green mountains, the chilly breeze and the glittery sunlight will be all around you, which will make you forget the noisy world for sure.
Keran is just a stop-over for all the adventure-lovers before ascending up to reach the next destination. After Keran, the next stop is the village of Shardha, the most captivating and the most picturesque location in the valley. The village is located off the main road and connected to the main road with a suspension bridge (which is a thrill in itself). Shardha is famous for beautiful and historical places such as Shardha Peeth, a site where you can find ruins of the famous temple and Hindu pilgrimage site. Other historical sites include Shardha fort and Kishan Ghaati.
From Shardha, you can go to visit Kel, another majestic and pristine place in Neelum Valley. On the way to Kel, you can have a view of noisy river of Neelum flowing on one side and beautiful waterfalls on the other. Kel is a base camp of mountaineering activities up to "Sarawaal peak" and "Sarawaali Glacier" which are said to be the highest peaks and biggest glacier of Azad Kashmir
Arang Kel is a village cum tourist spot on the hilltop near Kel. It is accessible through a trek form Kel. After Arang Kel, there is Taobat, which is the last station of the valley, beyond which lies Indian-Occupied Kashmir. Lush green meadows, wooden houses, snow covered mountains and chilly breeze - this is Taobat that gives you a getaway from your noisy world. Life is simple but magnificent here
Rest houses, hotels, guest houses and lodges with satisfactory facilities are located in Keran, Kutton, Dawarrian, Shardha, Kel and Taobat. Tourists can spend night there and avail facilities at reasonable rates.
I am sure that just after reading about this pristine valley, you will be unable to resist the urge to visit it. This season or in any upcoming month, make plan to head towards north and Neelum Valley should be your next vacation spot.