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Home Articles The hidden paradise
The hidden paradise

The hidden paradise


Text and photographs by Sajid Mehmood Qazi



Azad Kashmir is known for the beauty of its landscape. Scenic valleys along the Rivers Neelum and Jhelum rival with any picturesque sites in the world. With tension easing between India and Pakistan, many hitherto “no-go valleys” are now open for all and sundry.

The famous Neelum Valley stretches 200 km to the north east of Muzaffarabad. It runs parallel to the Kaghan Valley, separated by snow-covered peaks. A part of Nanga Parbat massif falls in this area, which is dominated by Sarwaali peak (6,326 metres), the highest mountain in Azad Kashmir.

Smaller valleys with unique flora and fauna surround Neelum Valley. One such valley is Jagran. The silvery stream of the Jagran nullah joins the River Neelum at Kundal Shahi, 74 km from Muzaffarabad, and it also gives the valley its name.

In the heart of the valley there is a small habitation called Kutton, which is abundant in all natural ingredients of the outdoors. The music of Jagran’s flowing stream complements the serene quietness of the surrounding foliage.

It is an excellent location for picnics and parties. Given innumerable trekking and hiking opportunities, Kutton constitutes an ideal destination for an outing.

Waterfalls, big and small, dot the whole valley. Their mesmerizing forms; sweet sounds and pristine smells soothe the eyes and nerves of the onlookers. This place can be a great attraction for landscape lovers, nature photographers, hikers and families who like to share the joys and bounties of Mother Nature.

When the summer heat builds up, it is time for the people to head towards the valley and get an experience of a lifetime.

For the convenience of tourists, the AJK Tourist Board has constructed a resthouse there. Decent accommodation is also available in adjacent residential complexes managed by the Hydro Electric Board.