Monday, August 8, 2011

The awe-inspiring Kaghan Valley - the other Switzerland

If there is ever a heaven on earth, it is the awe inspiring Valley of Kaghan with its lush green meadows stretched to miles, surrounded by snow clad mountains, abundant in deep blue waters of natural lake with reflections of snow covered mountains in their lap. This beautiful valley can be easily equated with those of Switzerland. Located in the district of Mansehra of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan, the Kaghan Valley is a hub of tourists attraction in summers and of adventurers, trekkers and mountaineers in winters. 

The beauty of the valley is added up by the roaring Kunhar River that flows through the entire length if the valley, which stretches out to some 155 kilometers. The valley generally rises from an elevation of 650 meters (roughly 2,134 feet) to 4,710 meters (13, 690 feet) at Babusar Pass. 

The other beautiful lakes of the area are Dudipatsar Lake, the Ansoo Lake, the Lulusar Lake and many more that I talked about in my earlier post "The Spectacular Virigin Lakes of Pakistan."

One can reach the valley and upward journey starting from Islamabad and reaching Abbottabad and onwards to Balakot through Manshera. One can conveniently rerach Naran in cars but for any offshoot journey, jeeps will have to be hired as the cross country move is through rugged and hairraising mountain tracks which only the local drivers can negotiate.

I have myself been up to Naran and the Lake Saif-ul-Muluk, but here I am sharing some of the spectacular compositions by my Flickr friend Khurrum Siddiqiui who had been to some of the most awe inspring places and meadows of the Kaghan Valley. Below are some of the photos along with his running commentry as he saw the heaven on earth from its very close quarters.

Moving towards the Horse Valley, Kaghan

Taken from on the way of Dudipat Lake Kaghan Valley Pakistan at 25,June 2010 - One of the most beautiful landscape I ever seen .really full of lush green meadows and lot of flowers. its outstanding combination of the nature. Whole valley is really worth seen. Galma is 6 km from Baisel where u can have some food stuff.and after that Mulla ke basti which is 1 hour before the dream lake Dudipat. The whole valley called Purbi Naar valley which is also called horse valley
Taken from Dudipat Lake,upper Kaghan Valley 
After 2 years effort i was able to see its real beauty. Dudipatser lake the most beautiful lake of Kaghan valley(according to locals too),18 km from baisel this lake has a magical beauty that every one forget his tiredness after looking it. at the height of 12,830 feet this lake is really worth seeing. 
Frozen Dudipatsar Lake

Its the most beautiful lake of Kaghan Valley(according to locals too)at the height of 12,800 feet above sea level this lake has magical beauty that a person really surprised to see it.God has made it really worth seen. Baisal is the staring point of track,2 to 3 hour track is a little bit difficult but after that alpine meadows which have their own beauty.Gulma is 6 Km from Baisal where u can get some food stuff like tea etc. After that Mulla ke Basti where u have to spend night.There is a small hotel and u can also avail tents there to spend the night. From Mulla ke Basti u have to 1 hour track more to reach the lake.

Video of frozen Dudipatsar Lake
Lake Saif-ul-Muluk

The major tourist attraction of the valley is the Lake Saif-ul-Muluk, located at an altitude of 10,578 feet (3,224 m) above the sea level with the towering Malka Parbat overlooking it. The water of this over a mile in diameter oval shaped lake is spectacularly clear with a slight green tone. The lake derives its name form the folk tale— the Qissa Saiful Muluk—about a romance between a Persian prince and a fairy princess. 
The lake is accessible by a 14 km road from Naran during the summer months. On foot the trek from Naran to the lake takes about 4-6 hours. The water is clear with a slight green tone. The clarity of the water comes from the multiple glaciers all around the high basin which feed the lake.
Panoramic View of Lake Saif-ul-Muluk
Lulusar Lake

Lulusar is group of mountains near the Naran. It is famous for the large lake situated there which is a popular tourist attraction. The word "sar" means "top" or "peak" in Pashto. It is located at at a height of 11,200 ft (3,410 m) above sea level.
The lake is the main source of the Kunhar river, which flows through the entire Kaghan Valley through Jalkhand, Naran Valley, Kaghan, Jared, Paras and Balakot until it joins the Jhelum River. The lake is 48 kilometers away from Naran, on the Naran-Babusar road. Lulusar marks the historic place where 55 participants of the 1857 war of independence were arrested.
The lake is much bigger than other lakes around the valley, and is surrounded by snowcapped hills, making it a natural tourist attraction. From Gittidas, the Naran-Babusar road, one of the highest in the world, goes through the Babusar Pass to Gilgit. In the summer, when the water reflects its surroundings like a mirror, a large number of both domestic and international visitors make the lake a destination stop.
A jeep can be hired from the Naran Valley to visit the lake. From Naran town, Lulusar can be reached in approximately 3 hours. Jeeps can be hired from Naran which will take you to Basel from where one can visit the Lulusar in approximately 30 minutes. There is a road being built around the lake which will link the Naran/Basel to Chilas. The same road also leads to Babusar Pass.

Taken from Paye Meadows,Kaghan Valley

Heavy clouds around Makra Peak
Manna Meadows is really beautiful place full of natural beauty
Manna Meadows is 8,000 feet above from sea level located right of the Makra Peak. Its lush green meadows where u can get the many aspects of natural beauty.Best season to come this place is August when u can find out hundred of flowers at the meadow.Overall its good place if u want to explore the whole valley then this track is best for you.From Manna meadows you can track to Shogran also which is at least 3 hours from here.You have to pass Peerang Village.There is also a forest rest house. At least four hours' tough hiking from Paye Meadows is required to see the beauty of Manna Meadows.
Sri Paye

Sri Paye is a beautiful hill station of Kaghan valley where nature is at its bloom.Near about 1 hour jeep driver though thick forest we can reach at this place.Sri paye is almost 10500 feet above sea level and very beautiful place where u can see the beauty of Sri, paye meadows and then Makra mountain which is the main actraction of Sri Paye.
Makra Peak - 12,847 feet above sea level

If you happen to be in Pakistan, don't miss visiting the Kaghan Valley and travelling its entire length including its off shoot destinations. The Valley is really a heaven on earth, or a second Switzerland, if I may say so. 

Photos/Commentary Courtesy: Khurrum Siddiqui