I first heard about the Gurez valley, from an outlook blog, a heart-wrenching story about the last surviving generation of Dard tribe living in the remotest valley in India, and the news about the Hydroelectric power project on the Kishenganga river which will eventually submerge the valley in few years from 2015.
The Gurez valley is located in the northern Kashmir (Indian administered part of Kashmir), just along the Azad Kashmir region of Pakistan.
The people here are the direct descendants of the Dard tribe who speak Shina language and this tribe once shared the entire Gilgit - Baltistan region and spread across till Ladakh region. The tourism here has never grown up from its infancy, which is a blessing in disguise, if you are true nature lover and a true traveler. The Gurez valley continuous onto present day Azad Kashmir and there it is known as Neelum Valley and Astore District. The road from Kunzulwan (India) towards Neelum District is famous for its archaeological significance due to ancient Sharda University. The Kishenganga river flows through the Gurez into Neelum Valley and gets the name Neela River.
The ancient Gurez valley, was a thriving community who had links with Afghan and Middle east par of the world due to their trade and cultural exchange and has its capital as Dawar, which is present day District headquarters. I felt privileged to have visited this place (Believe it or not, during my Honeymoon) because I was asked by lots of Kashmiri people specially few Tourism Dept Students as to how I came to know about Gurez and their part of history.
The Indian side of Gurez continues further from Dawar and crosses Talail valley which is as beautiful as Gurez itself, we could reach up-till Gujran village after crossing Malangam. If you could further your journey from here, you will eventually reach Dras, but this route is not yet open for Civilian traffic due to security concerns. The mountains are endless from far side when you travel on this remotest and hacked up road. We were amazed to see how people live in these remotest corners of Kashmir. My wife had made lots of soft toys (Crochet) and we felt it would be good if we could show some love to the small & cute kids of Gurez, who are living in these remote villages, and they were so loved to get their hands on those soft toys. We could also spot lots of Armed Forces pickets, and they were busy playing Cricket and Kabaddi on the mid-day time. These are the places in Kashmir which are unheard of by the tourists and only a few think about visiting these places. I could not get best of pictures from Gurez due to my camera issues, but at the end of the day I felt, people should come and see the beauty of Gurez from their own perspective rather than ending up in some insta # tags.
This place remains to be one of my most memorable places till date.
How to Reach:
Gurez is located in Northern Kashmir, in Bandipora District, 86 kms away from Bandipora town and 125 kms from Srinagar, the state capital.
To reach Gurez one has to start from Bandipora and cross the Rajdhan pass to reach Dawar.
Better hire some local taxi driver from Bandipora region who is well aware of Bandipora - Gurez road situation and have contacts with people from inside Dawar, Gurez.
Best Time to Visit:
May to September is the best time to visit the valley, even though the conditions of the roads, specially the Rajdhan pass is crucial for this trip.
Precautions & Contacts:
Travelling inside Kashmir is always tricky, since the Kashmiri issues with Govt and Militancy in the valley. While travelling to Gurez, do contact the Dawar Guest house for the stay arrangements. The caretaker of the Govt. run guest house will arrange for all the things that is required here in the remotest valley of Kashmir. He also helps with Rajdhan pass road condition and travel arrangements including the pass required to travel to Talial and Chakwali region (closest proximity to Border with Pakistan).
Jenaab. Ghulam Mohd. - Tourist Reception Center, Dawar, Gurez - +91 94195 00029
or check with TRC Srinagar for more information.
Things to Do:
There are lots of places that you can visit, other than interacting with friendly villagers (Dard people who speak Shina Langauge) and Army and GREF/BRO officers stationed here for the security and construction work of Hydro Electric project.
Some of the places listed below:
1. Hike to Habba Khatoon - A high altitude peak named after famous local poetress - Habba. Check with Gulam Jenaab for more information.
2. Travel/Road trip to Talail valley : Requires permission for the vehicle and tourists from Army Picket.
3. Travel to Chakwali Border Post - Border post of India - Pakistan.
4. Visit to Trout Fishing areas near Kanjulawan near Kishanganga river - Requries fishing permission from TRC Srinagar.
For more detailed information or itinerary on Kashmir Valley or other awesome places in India, please contact HillTrotters@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page "HillTrotters", also subscribe to us on youtube channel with "HillTrotters Travelogues".