ARFA KARIM PRIDE OF PAKISTAN

Monday, January 4, 2010

KAGHAN VALLEY















The Kaghan Valley is a valley in the north-east of Mansehra District of the North-WestFrontier Province of Pakistan. It attracts many tourists from around the country. The inhabitants were affected by the earthquake disaster on 8 October 2005

The Kaghan valley is named after the town of Kaghan rather than for the Kunhar River which flows through the length of the valley. The valley extends 155 km, rising from an elevation of 2,134 feet (650 m) to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 13,690 feet (4,170 m). Popular languages are Hindko and Gojri, while Urdu, Pakistan's national language is also familiar among the locals. The region is Alpine in geography and climate, with forests and meadows dominating the landscape below peaks that reach over 17,000 feet.

Tourism

Its mountains, dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers are still in a pristine state. Kaghan is at its best during summer (from May to September). In May the temperature ranges between a maximum of 11 °C (52 °F) and a minimum of 3 °C (37 °F). From the middle of July up to the end of September the road beyond Naran is open right up to Babusar Pass. Movement is restricted during the monsoon and winter seasons. The Kaghan area can reached by road via the towns of Balakot, Abbottabad and Mansehra. In Balakot, one may find buses and other transports to reach Kaghan or Naran.

The road from Balakot ascends along the Kunhar River through lovely forests and the villages of Paras, Shinu, Jared and Mahandri. The valley is somewhat narrow along this stretch and the views are limited but as you ascend, the surrounding peaks come into view. One spot that is quite famous for its spectacular view and scenery is 'Shogran'. This village, surrounded by peaks and forests, is east of the main Kunhar River. It hosts the famous Siri Payee Lake mountain with breathtaking views at its top.

Lakes






Valley is home to many a tourist attractions, especially its lakes. There are more than a dozen big and small lakes in the valley, but three are more popular among the tourists: Saiful Muluk Lake, Dudipatsar Lake and Lulusar Lake.

Saiful Muluk, named in a folktale—the Qissa Saiful Muluk—about a romance between a Persia prince and a fairy princess. In the folktale. The lake is mentioned as the meeting site of the lovers in the folktale. lake Saiful Muluk is 10,578 feet (3,224 m) above the sea level, it is one of the highest and most beautiful lakes in Pakistan. The water of this over a mile in diameter oval shaped lake is spectacularly clear with a slight green tone.

It is accessible by a motor-able road during the summer months or can be reached by tracking from the nearest village Naran, some 10 kilometers away in four to five hours. The clarity of the water comes from the multiple glaciers all around the high basin feeding the lake.

Dudipat Lake is enclosed with high peaks. It is one of the hardest places to reach in the valley, requiring a tough hike lasting four to seven hours. The hike is rewarding, as tourists are greeted with green pastures and the lake's blue-green waters.

Lulusar Lake is approximately 48 kilometers away from Naran and has an altitude of 10,910 feet (3,330 m). Surrounded by wildflowers in almost all colors imaginable, this lake is the main source for the Kunhar River. Lake Lulusar is said to be one of the most tranquil spots on the Kaghan Valley, the lake is fenced by snow capped mountains whose image is reflected on the standstill blue-green waters of this approximately three kilometers long "L" shaped lake.

There are many hotels in the Naran valley. One of the most popular is the New Cecil Hotel.

Fishing


Mahasher

Fishing is the chief sport in Kaghan. Brown Trout and Mahasher are stocked in pure silvery waters in the upper parts of the valley. The Kunhar river trout is considered to be the best throughout the sub-continent. Fishing licenses are issued by the 'Fisheries Department at Naran' or by the 'Trout Hatchery' at Shinu. Apart from this there are some other private trout fish farms at Kawai (also spelled as Kiwai) and Kahania, these are owned by pine park hotels, a well known hotel chain in Kaghan valley.

Naran

Onwards a 3 hour drive away from Shogran is Naran. It is a small tourist village open only during the tourist season of May to September. The rest of the time it is covered with snow. All visitors come to Naran to pay a visit to the Saiful Muluk Lake (10,500 feet) 6 miles east of town. If the road is open transportation by jeep can be arranged. If the road is closed, it is an easy, gradual three-hour walk, and the lake is a lovely spot for a picnic.

If you are walking directly up-valley from Naran to Babusar "Top" the loveliest spots to camp on this trail is at "Lulusar Lake". Located just before the final grade to Babusar Top and surrounded by tall peaks, Lulusar is just one many high elevation lakes that sit along the crest of the ridge.

People

One of the most interesting features of the Kaghan area is the Gujar (herder) families you'll see along the way bringing their animals up to the summer pastures. The Kaghan valley is one of their most popular destinations in Pakistan. You will find them camped along the road in their tents or moving up the valley with their goats, sheep and pack animals around the start of summer and on their way back to lower altitudes around the beginning of winter.

The Kaghan Valley is located in Northern Pakistan northeast of Hazara, NWFP. It's one of the valleys that's relatively easy to reach from Rawalpindi / Islamabad.

The mountain scenerey, the dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers are the main reason to come here. The Valley extends for 155 km rising from an elevation of 2,134 meters to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 4,145 meters. Further north from from Babusar Pass, a jeep track leads to Chilas, which is now on Karakoram Highway (the road that connects Islamabad to Xinjiang province of China via Gilgit, Hunza and Khunjerab Pass). Before Karakoram Highway was opened in 1978, the only road access to Gilgit was through Kaghan Valley.

Naran is the best base for treks and walks in the valley. There are some options for accommodation here and some restaurants. Naran is best reached by jeep from Balakot some 200 km north of RawalPindi / Islamabad.

The best time to visit Kaghan is in summer months (May to September). From the middle of July up to the end of September, the road beyond Naran, snow-bound throughout the winter, is open right up to Babusar Pass. Movement may be restricted during the monsoon season due to heavy rains and landslides.

In summer it is possible to continue to Gilgit Valley - one hell of a trip with incredible views - but roads are not always in tiptop condition so it may involve some hard work to get to the other site of the mountains.

Practical Information

A Visit to Kaghan Valley will leave you enchanted by the spectacular beauty of its mountains, glaciers and lush greenery. Kaghan Valley includes Naran, Kaghan, Shogran and its surrounding areas. The way to Kaghan valley starts with two hour drive to Abbottabad. At Abbottabad you can refresh yourself with a cup of tea before driving to Mansehra, Balakot and onwards to Kawai. Kawai onwards is a steep climb to the Shogran plateau which offers a splended view of a fabulous array of mountains, amid pine trees and lush green meadows.

Most of the tourists especially come to visit lake Saiful Maluk lying 10,600 feet above sea level with its natural tranquillity in the foot hills of Himalayas. Saiful Maluk is one of the most beautiful lakes of the world. To sit beside the lake is to be in the fairy world. Camping at Saiful Maluk is an experience of life time.

You can find nice and comfortable hotel accomodation at Shogran and after a day's rest consider moving on to Sri Paia. But be prepared for the extra bumpy ride. You can also plan a hiking trip to Sri Paia from Shogran. It will take around two and half hour to reach at peaks of Sri Paia. (In local language, Sri means Lake, Paia means Peak)

Once you reach Sri Paia the discomfort of the journey is forgotten as you find yourself surrounded by a spectacular view of the Makra Hills and the Malka Parbat peak. Malka Parbat in english means "Queen of Mountains".

The next stop Khanian offers the best Trout fish one can taste in the north. The dazzling greens of Dana Meadows and the slippery glaciers at tarmac, on the way to Naran, are quite an experience.

Malka Parbat, can be best approached by hiking or driving 10 KM from Naran to the legendary Saiful Maluk nesting in the shadows of The Malka Parbat. On a clear day, you can behold the majesty of the Malka Parbat'speaks reflected in the lake's deep blue icy waters. The road from Mansehra to Naran is excellenty built. The workers of Frontier Works Organization are always busy in repairing the road and clearing the way of eroded mountains to ensure smooth flow of traffic.

Naran is one of most popular tourist spots of Pakistan at distance of 160 KM from Abbottabad. Travelers from Pakistan as well as many foreign countries rush in summer to the lush green valley surrounded by snowy mountains.

Foreign tourists mostly stay at PTDC motel while Pakistani elites prefer Pine Park Hotel and the same PTDC motel. There are many budget hotels in Naran's main bazar and most of people prefer to stay there. Hotel fares are very high in good hotels ranging between Rs.2,000 ($34.5 appox) to Rs.8,000 ($138 appox) per night. Tents on rent are also available where you can stay by paying as low as Rs.150 per night. July and August see more visitors as compared to the other months of summer. Local people do most of their business to earn livelihood for the whole year in these two to three months. Their businesses vary from teashops to rent-a-jeep service.

The most interesting job is of the elder people of the area who narrate medival story of Prince Saiful Maluk in a very catching way to the visitors who listen to them intently. After story is finished they demand their money for offering this story telling service.Tourists never show misery to those storytellers after they (tourists) are entertained with the story.

In my recent trip to Kaghan valley I did trekking, camping and hiking in various locations like Shogran, Lake Saif-ul-Maluk, Lalazar, Lake Lulu Pat Sar, Sri Paia, and Dana Medows. This trip was was full of adventure and I strongly recommend every one to visit Kaghan Valley because its simply a must see Virgin Beauty.

Getting Around

Kaghan velley opens its ways for trevellers in a number of directions. Keeping Azad Jammu and Kashmir on your right, and Karakoram Highway on ur left, the whole Kaghan velley contains many magnegicint landscapes and spots.

Shogran, a visitors paradise in the Kaghan velley offers perhaps the best lush green scenic stay in the ares. A further high, Siri Pai is a real magical place to visit - a full day trek.

Lalazar is among the major attractions of Kaghan velley. With alpine forest, carpetted meadows and snowy peaks in surroundings, a wonderful place to keep visitors' stay for a couple of days.

Lake Saif ul Maluk, most visited part of Kaghan velley, always offers a new color to commers. Keeping shadows of Malika Parbat the highest peak in the area, Lake Saif ul Maluk is the most famous lake in Pakistan.

Babu Sar Top is a traditional rout joining the Kaghan velley with Northern Areas of Pakistan. Saral and Dudibach Sar Lakes in the way, its among the highest road passes in Pakistan.

In addition to mentioned above attractions of Kaghan velley there are many other possible hikes and treks for physically fit and adventure tourists. Including Aanso (Tear) Lake, Noori Nar Gali Pass and Sharan, tourist can travel in the dimensions of Kaghan Velley.

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