Neelum Valley, also known as “The Paradise on Earth,” is one of the most beautiful places of the world. It has been named after the river which flows throughout the valley like a snake and has blue color. There is a contradiction as to some locals’ say it has been named after a precious stone called Neelum. Located in the Kashmir Region it runs parallel to the Kaghan Valley. The mountains here are mostly snow covered rising to 4000 meters higher than the sea level. It consists of many small villages. The stunning sight of valley attracts the locals and foreigners giving them a glimpse of Switzerland.
Neelum Valley is famous for numerous reasons: 43 km from Muzaffarabad, Neelam valley’s fame lies for its minerals. A LOC (line of control) helps the relatives to cross over and meet their loved ones every couple times a month. A 7th century fort by Muzaffar Khan was built to protect from the Mughal armies of Akbar.
Quality fruits like apples, apricots, plums and walnuts are to be found here. Mountain SARWALI (6326 meters), highest mountain of Azad Kashmir is to be found here too. The lush green environment with the snow covered peaks and Crystal Rivers makes the tourist fantasize it being Switzerland. Trout is abundantly available which makes it even special.
Shounter Pass, Chita Khata, Ratti Gali, Baboon, Noori Top, Sharda, Kel, Surgon and Tararr are among the few popular places and culture followed here is quite similar to that of adjoining Punjab.
Some of the important areas of the valley include:
Kutton and Jagran:
Lying in the lower part of Neelum valley, the stream Jagran Nullah contributes an important role to reflect the beauty and richness of the area. Huts and electric generation plant has been provided so as to comfort the tourists.
Being the 8th station from Muzaffarabad to upper valley it was named as Authmuqam. Its significance lies in the fact that the control line with India in Neelum starts from here. Typical Kashmir pattern such as wooden logs and double story house along with hiking tracks are to be found.
The place held immense importance for archaeologists as it contains ruins and signs indicate that a university used to be here which was the center of knowledge for Chinese and people of East and Central Asia.
Kel is famous for having a track that leads straight to Nanga Parbat and people can also see it from here.
Men and women both wear Shalwar kameez and Western clothes are rarely seen. As the weather is pleasant men do wear waistcoats as well and in winter the norm of sweaters jumps in. Women usually cover themselves either with a veil or dupatta.
Being commonly understood Urdu is the official language however, others like Kashmiri, Hindko, Pushto and Punjabi are to be heard as well due to diverse people living together.
People make good handicrafts which include Carpet, Namda, Gubba, Silk Woolen Clothing and Woolen shawls. Besides all these they are also good at Wood Carving and in making Rugs.
One of the most famous dish is Ghustaba, liked by a lot of Kashmiri people. Rice is considered as the must element of the dish. Tabak maaz is also eaten, preparation of which is considered as a pride.