No one ever had any doubt that if there is heaven on earth, it is in Jammu and Kashmir. There are many places in Jammu and Kashmir where you can visit and have a lot of fun. Gurez Valley is one of the most beautiful places in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is situated at an altitude of 8000 feet above sea level and is situated at a distance of 125 km from Srinagar.
Towards the end of November 2016, panic gripped the Gurez area of Bandipora district in North Kashmir. Indian and Pakistani troops exchanged heavy mortar shelling along the Line of Control (LoC).
The intensity of the Pakistani forces’ shelling was so high that dozens of mortar shells landed in the Dawar area of Gurez. People ran for their lives and took refuge in safer places. Continued mortar shelling across the border made residents of this city very apprehensive of an escalation in border tensions.
As the line of control between India and Pakistan intensifies again and the ceasefire seems to be a forgotten memory, Gurez seems doomed to be between the sites of constant war between two nuclear powers.
Gurez is 86 km from Bandipora and 123 km from Srinagar.
“We want to live in peace and stability. We must keep humanity alive. We must continue working for the construction of the nation. Work on tourism, growth of the poor and the economy,” said Mohammad Ilyas, a resident of the Karnah sector.
The Greek historian Herodotus, who lived in the 5th century B.C. mentioned in his works the Dard tribe.
Gurez Valley is today one of the remote regions of Jammu and Kashmir, isolated for almost seven months of the year.
But it was not always a remote and distant land.
Gurez was once a vital stopover on the Silk Road connecting Kashmir with Kashgar, an oasis city in China’s Xinjiang province. Gurez was part of this highly strategic route from the ancient world. Their unique location made the Dard a very powerful tribe.
Sir Walter Roper Lawrence, the first Settlement Commissioner of Kashmir, wrote a travel book on Kashmir. The travel book, published in 1895, is recognized as a masterpiece of the history of the Kashmir region.
Sir Lawrence wrote in the book that he visited Gurez in 1894. He found this valley “the most beautiful of the ‘Margs’ of Kashmir, those lovely stretches of grass which, surrounded by great forests, lie at an elevation of 7,000 to 9,000 meters above sea level.”
Sir Lawrence wrote: “Gurez is a beautiful valley of considerable length lying at an elevation of about 8,000 feet above sea level. The Kishanganga River flows through it, and patches of mountain rise up on both sides of indescribable grandeur. Perhaps one of the most beautiful scenes in all of Kashmir is the grove of huge poplar trees through which the traveler enters the Gurez Valley.”
In India, the homeland of the Dard tribe is confined to the fertile 50-mile cleft carved through the Himalayas by the muscular Kishanganga River.
Gurez is one of the favorite destinations of foreign tourists looking for exciting trekking adventures. Hiking trails from Gurez and neighbouring Tulial lead to Gangabal and Sonamarg to the east and Drass, Dha-Hanu and Zanskar to the north.
Main attractions in Gurez
Razdan Pass: Situated at an altitude of 3300m, Razdan Pass is the highest point between Gurez and Bandipora. The Razdan Pass offers some of the most panoramic views of the high mountains and deep gorges. This pass is very close to the Line of Control.
Dawar is the central part of the Gurez Valley which extends over fifteen villages. Dawar is the best place in the valley to get a taste of country life. It is an important archaeological site in the valley.
Tulail is located at a distance of about 40 km from Dawar, it is a group of 5-10 villages. The incomparable beauty of this valley is beyond description. Since it is very close to LOC, prior permission from the armed forces is required to visit this beautiful valley. A perfect combination of green and brown tint meadows and mountains, the place makes a perfect combination of Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
Regarded as the Abode of Lord Shiva according to Kashmiri Hindu theology, Harmukh is a mountain with a maximum elevation of 5,142 meters (16,870 ft), in the Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located between Gangabal Lake in the south and the KishanGanga/Neelum River in the north. Snow-capped Harmukh Peak offers a spectacular view of the Gurez Valley.
Flora and fauna
The flora and fauna of Gurez is very rich and diverse. From Himalayan brown bears to snow leopards, Gurez is home to different species of animals and birds.
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