Kashmir of Pakistan Muzaffarabad
Situated at the confluence of the Jhelum and the Neelum rivers
Muzaffarabad the capital of the State of Azad Jammu and Kashmir is at a
distance of 86 miles from Rawalpindi and 49 miles from Abbottabad.
Surrounded by mountains, it looks like a walled town. It is the
administrative capital of Azad Kashmir. Behind the Secretariat to the
east is a road climbing above the town from where one can walk upto Pir
Chinasi at 2,900 meters with good views of the Jhelum Valley and the
higher mountains above the Neelum to the north. From the cool on the
Abbottabad Road, you can walk along the ridge looking over the Jhelum
and Kunhar rivers.
Past the Red fort, crossing Neelum river at Ghori, a few km way is 'Makra
mountain' 3,890 meters which is visible from Muzaffarabad and continues
on to Shogran in the Kaghan Valley. This is a superb short trek,
although you need to camp overnight halfway.
The upper Jhelum valley makes another interesting scenic excursion from
Muzaffarabad. follow the Jhelum upstream, taking the road beneath the
Domel bridge. This was the old route to Srinagar. The valley is broad
with raised terraces above the river. Rice and maize are widely grown.
Some 10 kms out of Muzaffarabad the river widens to from a small lake.
This was created by a landslip some years ago. There is a small Angler's
Hut here, which makes a pleasant picnic spot. It is possible to take
boats out on the river. Book through the Tourist Department in
The city was founded by Sultan Muzaffar Khan of Bamba dynasty and was
the seat of an independent State for quite a long period under his
The city is now a combination of old and new buildings and a blend of
different cultures and languages. It has besides official buildings,
farms, parks and the historic forts standing on the banks of the Neelum,
Muzaffarabad, Mirpur, Rawlakot and Kotli are connected with Pakistan by
the Micro-weave system of telephone.
There are rest houses, good hotels and guest houses in Muzaffarabad city
where the tourists can stay.
The rather sleazy bazaar in Muzaffarabad can be explored for its walnut
carvings and its Kashmiri shawls. It is sometimes possible to get a good
It is a valley of fountains, springs, waterfalls, flowering trees and
plants. Geographically too, it is a hospitable valley. The Neelum
Valley, 90 miles long bow-shaped with majestic pine, fir and deodar
trees, lies north-south of Muzaffarabad (capital). This ninety-mile long
kingdom of vegetation is ripped apart by the indigoblue Neelum river
which flows serpentinely down hills to merge itself into the river
Jhelum at Domail. Domail, the confluence of two mighty rivers, presents
highly fascinating scene of youthful embrace. This heart-warning
spectacle is most soothing to the eye.
The valley, starting from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir, is
about 150 miles long. It lies on both sides of the river Neelum. The
geographical features enhance the natural beauty of the Valley. Its
elevation, a mere 2,000 feet at the start, gradually rises till it
attains a respectable height of 8,000 feet. On both sides there are high
mountains and peaks. Nearly all the forest wealth of Azad Kashmir is to
be found in this part of the State.
There are two approaches to the valley. One from the Kaghan Valley which
is linked with it at two points, the Nuri Nari Hali (Pass) and the Ratti
Gali and many minor Passes. From Dawarian it takes two days for hiking
or riding and night stay at Dharian at 12,000 feet. The second approach
is from Muzaffarabad. It is a distance of 55 miles which is jeepable in
fair weather. The Neelum meets the Jhelum river at Domali (meeting of
the two) on the outskirts of Muzaffarabad city. From Paticka forest one
reaches Nosari, 24 miles ahead of Muzaffarabad. Next come Chaliana
(height 3,200 feet), Qazi Nag, Barian, Salkhela, Kundal Shahi, Athmaqam
on this road. On a number of places, the local population has built rope
crossings on the river. It is a very dangerous device and the very
thought of crossing these points is horrible but thrilling.
Tao Butt is an example of vegetational generosity of the liberal nature.
The spot is donned with all delicacies and niceties. Nature flirts here
with fantastic environment. The forest wealth abounds in the Neelum
Valley. Deodar, pine, fir, wild walnut, strawberry and hosts of other
high statured trees and other types of wild growth and herbs are the
treasure of the valley. Besides being invaluable in economic terms, the
variety of natural growth offers a captivating scenery. Shunder Hill
tops are covered with green forests and the fields are lush green with
The valley is accessible by an all weather road metalled up to Kundal
Shahi and well maintained up to Kel. At the gateway to the Valley lies a
sprawling town of Bhateeka with a dependable commercial centre. For a
tourist, Bhateeka can be the first journey break. This town has a modest
bazaar with day-to-day activity. All essential items are available in
the bazaar which feeds a fairly large number of villages behind it. On
its back runs the forth-emitting river Neelum. The village and bazaar
are connected by a suspension bridge crossable by jeep alone. This old
bridge is being replaced with an RCC one enabling it to afford heavy
traffic. The running streams, water channels and water falls across the
Bhateeka village presents another heart winning scene. It is fully
electrified. A few years back, the Federal Minister of Power and Water,
Government of Pakistan had a hydel station built in this village over a
perennial nullah which is in fact a mini river of Bhateeka. The quality
of life here is full of emotions despite its simplicity. It is perhaps
due to verdure. Financially, it is an affluent town. Majority of the
village folk is engaged in profitable business abroad especially in the
Middle East countries. A number of scheduled banks of Pakistan are
operating in the village on the strength of remittances from abroad. But
despite fattening coffers, the town has no industrial activity. The
ratting of machinery is unknown to the town. The serene atmosphere
shrouded into lush greenery and milky-white waterfalls and water curses
and their rhythmic flow totally absorbs the visitors. Added to the
general plant fragrance is the sweet smell of menthol plants along the
banks of the nullah, it cuts its way across the crop-fields in such wavy
manner that it looks as a white ribbons over green head of damsel
Nature. Bhateeka is linked by ancillary roads with other surrounding
areas uphill and downhill.
So far is the half of the Neelum Valley and after it are the more
enchanting spots full of exuberance and life. Kairan is another beauty
spot on the river side with a neat and clean wooden flooring rest house.
Its lawns slope down towards the wester bank of the river. The bazaar
consists of over a dozen shops with a post office and telephone call
office. Commodities are transported to the bazaar from Athmaqam by
trucks. The physical feature of Kairan resort resembles a broad forehead
of a person with thick hair on the head. Stay is more comfortable here.
The hill station of Chikar, 27 miles from Muzaffarabad has grown into
a fairly large township. Three miles from Chikar is the hill station
known as Loonbagla which is situated in the middle of a vast range of
densely grown forests.
The outstanding features of this hill station are its healthy climate
and picturesque surroundings.
Chikar is linked with Muzaffarabad by a motorable road and is connected
with Bagh in Poonch district via Sudhan Gali.
Dhirkot is best approached from Rawalpindi via Murree and the nearby
Kohala Bridge over the Jhelum, the gateway to Azad Kashmir. It is small
township situated at 6,000 feet above sea level and has a bracing
climate. It is famous for its healthy surroundings, high altitude
The town also is famous for the beauty spots. Almost all the area is
covered with green trees like deodar, pine and oak. the Dak Bungalow -
rest house - which is situated amidst the dense forest is 5,500 feet
above the sea level. the Dhirkot is also famous for the fruits mainly
apples and apricots.