A mesmerising valley, captivating landscape and unspoiled by the bustle of tourism; the Gurez Valley in Kashmir, is heavenly! Nestled at 8000 feet above sea level, many consider it to be one of the most picturesque regions in North Kashmir.
Gurez valley is also known as the gateway to Central Asia. Bordered by Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan on one side, this region is home to the ancient Dard tribe that is believed to have descended from the Indus Valley civilization. The beautiful Kishanganga River meanders through it and the Habba Khatoon Mountain, named after the famous 16th-century poetess, dwarfs it from the north.
Abundant with lush green meadows, this region is a nature lovers’ paradise. Trekkers head to this region for experiences that only an untouched land can provide. Though it isn’t accessible for six months of the year during harsh winters, September and October can still be beautiful autumn months here. Now-a-days, many people undertake the trek to visit it during winters too.
Dawar, the main town in Gurez, is filled with friendly locals who speak the Shina dialect. Head to this place for a close-to-nature camping expeditions, as accommodation options are limited. Even though the resources and facilities are few, the vast blue sky, the infinite stars, the quaint countryside and the freshness of the breeze, will be a novel benefit.
Legend of Habba Khatoon
The incredibly enchanting Habba Khatoon peak is an attraction which cannot be ignored. It was named after a Kashmiri poetess Habba Khatoon who lived around 500-600 years ago. Legend has it that long time ago a beautiful and intelligent peasant woman lived in the saffron village called Chandhara, and was keenly interested in writing. However, she was married off early. Tortured and ill-treated, she took refuge in poetry and singing.
The emperor of Kashmir, Yousuf Shah Chak, found her and was floored by her beauty and art. Although, the emperor arranged her divorce from her husband and brought her home as his wife, they were not destined to be together. Shah Chak eas abducted and imprisoned for life by Akbar. Devastated by the separation, Habba Khatoon wandered in the valley. The peak is named after the memory of this legend.
How to reach Gurez Valley
Tourists can take the SRTC and private buses from Srinagar to Bandipore during the day. An early morning bus service is available from Bandipore to reach Gurez. Alternatively, jeeps can be hired from taxi stands in Srinagar and Bandipore. However, the Gurez-Bandipore road stays closed in winters, but lately, the Kashmir Tourism and state government has started chopper services.
Accommodation in Gurez
Securing assistance of registered travel agents will ensure you have a safe and cosy place to stay. There are tented accommodations and homestays available at Dawar and Tulel.