On 12th June 2014, I was accompanied along with my wife on a 7 days tour to Valley Kaghan, locally famous as "Wadi-e- Naran Kaghan". Kaghan Valley is 161 Km long covered with snow capped mountains, lush green forests, noisy waterfalls, chilly rivers, lakes and rhythmic songs of birds and trees all around. Since it is the 67th Independence day of my homeland Pakistan, I therefore decided to share the beautiful experience of Naran-Kaghan on this Splendid day of Peace and liberty. This trip was planned just after two months of my wedding ceremony which took place on 12th April 2014. Let me take you straight on a roller coaster ride of this exciting journey!
Meet our Tourist Guide - Ashique Bhai!
Going far away alone as a newly wed couple to the snow capped mountains is no less than a risk unless accompanied by a trustworthy Guide. We hired a Guide named "Ashique Hussain" along with a Mehran VXR car for a 24/7 service based on the reference of my close friend "Ahsan Marfani" who had a great past experience with Ashique bhai. Ashique bhai is amongst the best people I have came across so far who was extremely polite, humble and helpful throughout the journey and took us on a fun ride to every corner of the Kaghan valley.
We took the flight from Karachi airport and flew straight to Islamabad on Air Indus. The bad mishap was that the flight took us first to Quetta and then to Islamabad which cost us a waste of 4 hours (3.5 hours due to late flight take-off and another 30 minutes of stop at Quetta). This was the day when I promised I will never fly on Air Indus again! Our return journey was on Air Blue which went really smooth (No marketing here just sharing the truth! =d) . Ashique bhai picked us from Islamabad Airport and then we moved towards our first destination point - Murree.
First Destination - Murree
After Landing at Islamabad we moved straight to Murree which was a long journey of nearly 7-8 hours but the lush green trees on both sides of the zigzag road was all worth the long travelling hours. Murree is in a subdivision of Rawalpindi District and includes the parts of the Margalla Hills around Islamabad.
The favorite tourists points at Murree are Patriata, Ayubia and Nathiagali. We could not visit Nathiagali due to shortage of time.
Patriata is one of the pivotal attractions of Murree. This place, which is 15 km away from Murree Hills, is famous for its chairlift that gives a bird-eye view of the Kashmir green hills. It is at the highest point of Murree Hills that subsequently makes it the highest point of Punjab as well. We met a young brown Fox here!
Ayubia is my favorite place. Its about 13000 feet above sea level and we could still feel the cool breezes from the snow capped mountains nearby. Its Chairlift is a must try ride. It was like riding over a big mountain and the earth moves just below your feet! We met so many monkeys here!
Second Destination - Valley Kaghan
Valley Kaghan is a long mountainous landscape of 161 Km long. Its altitude above sea level starts at 3000 ft. and goes up as high as 13,690 ft. at Babu-Sar. River Kunhar is the heart of this valley which is 11,200 ft. This chilly river starts from lu-lu-sar Lake which eats up the water from giant melting glaciers in north. The river is so beautiful when you look at its snake-like movement along the journey but you can barely stand the water for a minute because of its cold temperature which is close to freezing point. In short you can not swim in Kunhar!
We left Murree to enter Kaghan by taking the route of Abbottabad and Mancera. Both areas were at high altitude but still extremely hot! From Mancera onwards at a distance of 38 Km we reached Balakot which is the first city of the valley Kaghan and the Door to Kaghan. Balakot is located parallel to river Kunhar with homes built on both sides of the river. This is the place where we decided to take some rest and do the Lunch.
My first encounter with water near Arnavi.
Sitting over floating water and a cup of tea on my hand, I missed that even today!
The Famous Trout Fish!
Trout Fish is the most popular identity of river Kunhar. It is popular world wide and costs around $40 locally. It floats in the melted chilly water of Glaciers and the amazing thing known about it is that it floats opposite to the water flow i.e. upstream, which shows its immense strength and flexibility. Fishing of trout is not allowed and only locals with a Govt License can hunt them down. Since tourists can not identify the original trouth fish, locals there often make them fool by selling a fake fish calling it the real Trout. Thanks to Ashique Bhai I saved losing money on this! =d
Fake trout offered to us
Original one looks something similar to this:
Waterfalls For Drinking Water!
Throughout the journey if you ever felt thirsty, you can stop the car near any of those several tiny waterfalls with chilly clean drinking water with an extremely sweet flavor. Personally tested!
The locals use the water to keep Cold Drinks and Meat Fresh.
These are not mountains covered with snow but they are mountains build of snow! The uncle below followed us everywhere we went and Ashique bhai would often try to race with him - calling him Chacha Ji! :)
Deadly Jeep Rides!
The heart of Kaghan is Naran and Naran is popular for its Jheel Saiful Muluk, which is the most beautiful landscape on earth I have seen so far! Saiful Mulul is 10,550 ft. above sea level and 8 Km rough track which is covered via Jeeps only. This Lake is covered by snow-capped mountains from all four corners and is covered on one side by Malka Parbat which is the highest mountain of Kaghan, approximately 17,355 ft. above sea level.
Boating on outskirts of Naran!
Third Destination - Shogran
After leaving Naran we moved towards Shogran, which is a village situated on a green plateau in the Kaghan Valley, northern Pakistan at a height of 7,749 feet above sea level.
Shogran is only 10 km from Kiwai village and 34 km from Balakot. From Shogran, you can ride a jeep or horse or hike to several picturesque places like Siri, Paye. Its again a rough track that can only be covered via a Jeep or by walk.
Just 180 Km away from Indian border. At Jhelum river.
Take Off Destination - Islamabad
We stayed one day at the capital city and visited the National Monuments and nearby Parks. I was really stunned by looking at the artistic art work present at Monument Hall. Simply remarkable, close to what we call original.
This marks the end of our memorable journey which we had captured using the camera eye in order to share it with all of you. I wish you all a Happy independence day and pray that Love, peace and freedom may surround us forever.
Note: All photos are courtesy of my wife. She is the original copyright holder! =d
I hope these memories may bring a smile on your face and show the true picture of this spectacular nation which is portrayed differently on media but its beauty is often neglected. I highly recommend that you visit this place once in your life and add an unforgettable experience to your diary. This life is good only when lived with true colors of nature all around.
Do share your views or any interesting experiences of Kaghan valley with all of us buddies. May Peace and blessings of God be on all of us! :)
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