Friday, 19 June 2015

The Unsung Valleys Of Kashmir


KASHMIR was a dream. But now I can happily say that I have been there! Also, I can confidently say that it’s not just a land of beauty, but a land of tradition and goodness as well. In fact, what we know about Kashmir is very little. It’s a world in itself. Everything from its landscapes to the way people dress, behave and live is totally different from what you would possibly find in the rest of India.

Before I even set foot in Kashmir, I had decided that I wanted to visit Gurez and Tulail valleys in Northern Kashmir that are still not so known to regular tourists. The flipside is that you can easily get shared taxis for popular destinations like Sonmarg, Gulmarg and Pahalgam, but apparently there’s no affordable option available to travel to offbeat places of Kashmir. But I guess in the days to come, J&K Tourism would come up with a solution for budget travellers also.

GUREZ & TULAIL VALLEYS

So how did I manage to travel to Gurez and Tulail Valleys? Well, I got in touch with J&K Tourism and they were kind enough to arrange everything for me.

Just a word of caution – the roads leading to Gurez are still under construction, so it takes more than seven hours to reach there. But, once you are there and you start heading towards Tulail Valley and the many hidden villages ahead, you would want to spend at least a week amidst the ‘unsung’ valleys. The beauty of these valleys grows on you.

Here’s what I loved about Tulail Valley –

Unusual landscapes

The landscapes of Tulail Valley are diverse – there are mountains with dense Fir trees, snow-clad peaks and then some of them are brown and rugged, too. You will see different shades of green painted on the hills.


The sprinkling of wild yellow flowers on the grass

I think the prettiest sight that I came across in Tulail and Gurez was of the wild yellow flowers on the grasses everywhere. The little flowers looked like stars resting on the grass – so ordinary, yet so exquisite. 


The cute log huts    

It’s wood all over the place in Gurez and Tulail Valleys. People live in cute log huts that usually have tin roofs. Interestingly, the Gilgit valley of Pakistan also has the same log huts. So, you know you aren’t too far from the border when you are exploring Tulail Valley of Kashmir.


The Sheena folks of Niru village

I hadn’t had breakfast that morning, for the graciousness of Ghulam and his daughter Hanifa was in store for me. I was invited for tea and I quickly said a ‘yes’. For me, it was just an excuse to spend a few memorable moments with these simple village folks, but I didn’t know they would prepare a breakfast platter for me in no time!

These people speak Sheena, which sounds quite different from the Kashmiri that’s spoken in Srinagar. Even the little girls cover their heads with well-stitched Hijabs (scarf).


There are many aspects of Gurez and Tulail Valleys that I must have missed, which I would like to discover on my next trip.

Practical Information: Gurez Valley is 123 km from Srinagar and 86 km from Bandipore in Northern Kashmir. Since the area is close to the border, there are quite a few check posts throughout the valley and you are required to show your ID and address proof.

Accommodation: You can stay in the J&K Tourism guest house in Gurez, from where you can head to Tulail valley, which is 20 km away.

Note: My Gurez trip was in partnership with J&K Tourism, but all opinions, as always, are my own.

Are you keen to explore the offbeat Kashmir?

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40 comments:

  1. Really heaven on earth.Beautiful valleys and nice clicks.Thanks for sharing this wonderful trip...

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    1. It was indeed beautiful and unique. But, remember to plan at least a week in Gurez and Tulail Valleys.

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  2. Beautiful pictures and writeup but..Yeh Dil maange more!!....want to see more pictures and more writeups on offbeat Kashmir...did you sense any hostility in the people living in border areas towards India and Indians as we generally perceive?..

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    1. Thanks Bivash! As I mentioned in the post, these folks were gracious enough to invite me in their homes for tea and breakfast, I don't think there's any hostility as such. In fact, these folks appeared to be totally oblivious to what happens at the border. I mean things are not as bad as they are made out to be by the media and our politicians. Gurez and Tulail are inviting places.

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  3. I would love to go here. I really know very little about Kashmir but it's now on my list of places to go! It looks you had a very unique experience and it's so nice that the people there were so genuine and welcoming to you :) I hope you'll be sharing more about your time there because I'm dying to know more about what there is to do there!

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    1. I'm glad to hear that, Justine! Yes, you must visit Kashmir whenever you come to India. I will be writing a lot more about Kashmir in my upcoming posts.

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  4. Wow...you have beautifully captured the essence of Kashmir and the life there in one post. Loved it, Renuka! :)

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    1. Thanks Moon :-) But there's a lot to be written in the upcoming posts!

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  5. Really beautiful pictures. It's nice to visit offbeat places.

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  6. Offbeat ? I have yet to visit Kashmir.
    Stunning sceneries. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Tushar! Hope you visit Kashmir soon.

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  7. Glad to know about these picturesque valleys of Kashmir. Wonderful post, Renuka!

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    1. Thanks Niranjan! It is an experience to visit these places.

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  8. How perfect!! Kashmir is a dream for me, and I'm sure it would be a dream once I had visited as well. Stunning pictures... thank you for brining us this beautiful corner of the world :)

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    1. You're welcome, Tim! :-) Stay tuned for more posts on Kashmir!

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  9. Wow, it's an absolutely amazing place to explore!!!! Would love to be there right now to hike!

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    1. Yep. Hiking would be the ideal way to explore Kashmir!

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  10. The scenery looks like that of Switzerland! It's absolutely amazing!!!!

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    1. Yeah, that's right. Kashmir is almost like Switzerland!

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  11. Beautiful pictures Renuka... Although, I have been to this heaven but after seeing the lesser known part of Kashmir from your eyes, I am feeling like flying to this gorgeous valley in no time. :)

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    1. Thanks Anushakti! :-) I'm glad that it inspires you to revisit Kashmir. Hope that happens soon!

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  12. Was interesting to see your complete series of photos after the 'teaser' you posted on FB. What an amazing place from all angles. I couldn't help thinking that in winter those same huts must be extremely sturdy and hopefully also warm. No doubt it is an unforgiving place in the depth of winter.
    Thx for posting this article, it was really interesting to hear of the hospitality you received. That is the heart of adventure travel : places and people.

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    1. Yes, places and people! These huts are warm in winters as told by the village folks. Yes, the hospitality was amazing!

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  13. Amazing pictures that make me want to the visit the valley
    Rathina's View Space

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  14. Really loved this post of yours Renuka! Did you travel to Kashmir on your own or was someone with you? And if alone, did you feel safe?

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    1. Yes, I traveled alone and I felt quite safe. Kashmir isn't so dangerous as it's made out to be. Circumstances are slowly changing and we need to support them.

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  15. Wow.Wonderful shots.Your post makes us to visit the unsung valley.
    Were you able to get vegetarian food there?
    Waiting for your next post.
    http://www.srikri.com/

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    1. Well, the unsung valleys are Gurez and Tulail. I hope you visit them soon. Yes, you can find vegetarian food. I had Rajma chawal, mushroom muttor and all.

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  16. Replies
    1. It is, Hassan! You must visit it someday.

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  17. Ur pictures of gurez have energised my soul once again. I really miss the place as I have served there for about 5 years as a doctor and have explored almost all areas.

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    1. Oh, wow! Then you must be feeling nostalgic after reading this post. Gurez ad Tulail were beautiful...I just wish I had got more time to explore these places.

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  18. Yes I do feel nostalgic. I think u probably visited gurez in mid may this year.

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  19. Wow! Renuka you are a gifted writer and a capturer of great views. Your blog post made my day! I have visited this place with my family before but reading through your blog was like re-visiting the same place with a whole new vigour. I especially like the picture that you clicked with the local inhabitants. Awesome!

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    1. Thank you so much, Jaspreet! I'm glad to hear that you have already visited Gurez.

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