This month’s iPhotograph- Gurez Valley I take you through some of the sightseeing we did on this spontaneous and adventurous trip.
Gurez, or Gurais, (Guráai in the local Shina language), is a valley located in the high Himalayas, about 86 kilometres (53 mi) from Bandipore and 123 kilometres (76 mi) from Srinagar, to the north of the Kashmir valley.
Our trip started on the Nigeen Lake and in a bit of pouring rain we were welcomed into a cozy houseboat. The shikara ride before sunrise took me back to an old world charm. I felt as though I was in a different time and place transported elsewhere which is why we travel I thought to myself. The floating markets on the lake created a warm buzz with vendors selling their wares. Boats with vegetables, flowers and Kahwa the tea I fell in love with there, all encircled our shikara. The sunrise over the boats was ethereal. I didn’t want it to end.
Our ride to Gurez valley made us halt at an open cafe where we had some warm Maggie a staple in the hills. It was here that I found the dandelions and made my wish on the puffballs I had in my visions. It was a little spiritual to have hoped for them and then to find they were everywhere I looked.
Gurez is a lovely valley five miles in length lying at an elevation of about 8000 feet above the sea. The Kishenganga river flows through it, and on either side are mountains. The river became a backdrop through the trip flowing right through with its teal blue shade. To sit by the river was beautiful with the Habba Khatoon peak looking majestic in the background.
Habba Khatoon Peak
Habba Khatoon (born Zoon; 1554–1609; sometimes spelled Khatun), also known by the honorary title The Nightingale of Kashmir, was a Kashmiri Muslim poet and ascetic in the 16th century. Her compositions have been sung and recited countless times since their inception in the valley, and she’s considered as one of the greatest Kashmiri poets of all time, with unmatched verbal prowess.
The Habba Khatoon peak was a little like the Eiffel Tower you could catch a glimpse of it from almost everywhere. The evening light falling on it during sunset made the peak glow beautifully and you could see different colours reflecting from it.
From the foothill of this peak gushes out a spring of ice-cold water named after her as Habba Khatoon Chashma (spring). It is known to be the purest water and indeed it tasted like heaven.
The villages were wonderful to see and the locals were warm, friendly and helpful.
Our trip was planned around our Independence Day and visiting the Razdan Pass gave us a patriotic feeling. Razdan Pass, (sometimes Rajdhan Pass) is a 3,556 m (11,667 ft) high mountain pass in the Himalayas of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It connects the Gurez Valley in the north to the Kashmir Valley in the south, and is located in the Bandipora district.
The pass is the only route connecting Gurez with the rest of the world. The pass connects dozens of remote and far-flung areas, including those near the Line of Control with the district headquarter of Bandipora, and is of strategic importance. The Harmukh mountain, the highest peak in the surrounding area, is also visible from here.
The Milky Way
At night we were able to sit back and watch the Milky Way and count the shooting stars that we saw. The clearest and beautiful nights were right above us at our comfortable stay in Hotel Grand Gurez. Throughout the journey we had a wonderful guide Zulfikar and a steady driver Mushtaq that took us through Gurez and made it feel like our own.
Gurez Valley, I never knew I’d go so far to a place touching the borders. Our trip organizer and friend @whereisaarti very bravely planned the logistics of the entire trip. I found a sense of renewed enthusiasm and hope after a trip that went much too fast. I am just now being able to recollect the many wonders of Gurez Valley.
Hoping September is a time for forging ahead, leaving old regrets behind and finding new avenues.
I hope after reading iPhotograph- Gurez Valley you too embark on a similar journey. One where the calm and serenity stays with you much after you have left and it makes you want to go back to it for the moments missed and not cherished enough. Let’s go back to the mountains!