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Exploring the Enchanting Keran Valley

4 mins read

Tahir Majeed

Nestled in the picturesque Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir lies the breathtaking Keran Valley. Situated at a distance of 50 Kilometres from Kupwara town this idyllic valley is blessed with natural beauty, with the majestic Kishanganga River flowing through its heart. Surrounded by lush forests, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife, Keran Valley is a true paradise for nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.

 Despite its proximity to the Line of Control, which separates Kashmir from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Keran Valley has recently opened its doors to tourists, offering a unique opportunity to explore a region steeped in history and natural wonders. To reach Keran, visitors have to pass through the Firkiyan Gali, located at an altitude of 9,634 feet. The scenery along the way is breathtaking.

Keran Valley is not just a single village but a region that encompasses several villages, including Keran, Mundiyan, and Pathran.

On the other side of the Kishanganga River, across the border in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, lies another village with the same name – Keran. Both villages share the Kishanganga river known as Neelum in Pakistan acting as a natural border between India and Pakistan.

The name of Kishanganga was changed in 1956 by the Pakistan Government. While the people on both sides of the border share the same religion, their social and cultural practices differ significantly. Due to political tensions, Indian and Pakistani officials restrict interactions between the residents of Keran Valley.

Rich History and Cultural Significance

Keran Valley has a rich historical and cultural significance that dates back centuries. According to legends, the village of Keran was established by Raja Karn in the tenth century. It was once a thriving center of trade and learning, with Sharada Peeth temple and Sharada University located at the distance of 41 kilometres (approximately) from Keran in the nearby Neelum Valley of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

The temple and university, dating back to the 6th to 12th centuries CE, were renowned in the Indian subcontinent. Today, Kashmiri Pandits yearn for the opening of the Sharda Peeth corridor, which would allow them to reconnect with their religious and cultural heritage.

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Adventures

Keran Valley is a haven for nature enthusiasts, offering a plethora of natural wonders to explore. The Kishanganga River, with its crystal-clear waters, provides a serene backdrop for leisurely walks along its banks. The valley is adorned with picturesque streams, springs, and dense forests, including the majestic walnut trees.

The meadows and jungle trails of Keran Valley beckon adventurers, offering opportunities for hiking, camping, and birdwatching. The region is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including rare species like the Kashmir musk deer and the Himalayan black bear.

Border Tourism: A New Beginning

In recent years, the government has taken steps to promote border tourism in regions like Keran, Gurez, Tangdhar, Machil, and Bangus. This initiative aims to bring peace and development to these border areas while offering tourists a unique and offbeat travel experience.

Keran Valley, with its breathtaking landscapes and cultural heritage, has become a popular destination for travellers seeking to explore the lesser-known corners of Jammu and Kashmir. The government, along with the Indian army, has played a crucial role in facilitating tourism in the region, ensuring the safety and well-being of both locals and visitors.

Accessing Keran Valley

To reach Keran Valley, travellers can pass through the Firkiyan Gali, a mountain pass situated at an altitude of 9,634 feet. The journey to the valley offers mesmerizing views of the surrounding landscape, with lush green forests, meadows, and streams captivating the senses. The road leading to Keran is well-maintained, allowing for a comfortable drive. Travellers can hire vehicles from Kupwara town or from Kralpora. Visitors can use their own cars also to explore the region. Additionally, the district administration of Kupwara has simplified the process of obtaining permission for non-resident travellers, making it easily accessible through online http://epass.kupwara.co.in.

Accommodation and Facilities

As Keran Valley opens its doors to tourists, a range of accommodation options has emerged to cater to the needs of visitors. Alongside government-owned rest houses, there are also home stay facilities available, providing tourists with an opportunity to experience the local culture and hospitality. For those seeking a closer connection with nature, camping tents are available, equipped with all basic facilities. The local entrepreneurs, inspired by the potential of tourism, are also offering logistical support for overnight stays, ensuring a comfortable and memorable experience for travellers.

The Road to Development

While Keran Valley has made significant progress in terms of tourism, there is still a long road to development ahead. The lack of infrastructure and development, especially when compared to the neighbouring areas of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, remains a challenge. The residents of Keran Valley hope for increased support from the government and private sector to unlock the full potential of the region. Efforts to preserve the unique wooden architecture and heritage sites in Keran Valley should be prioritised, ensuring the conservation of its cultural identity.

Embracing Peace and Prosperity

The recent ceasefire pact between India and Pakistan has ignited hope for lasting peace in the border areas. Special occasions and festival celebrations have returned to the LoC areas, bringing joy and harmony to the communities living on both sides. The residents of Keran Valley are optimistic about the future, as the region gradually gains recognition as a tourist destination. Small entrepreneurs are paving the way for a brighter and more prosperous future for Keran Valley. However, there is a need to develop a proper tourism infrastructure in Keran valley.

Final Word

Keran Valley, with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and cultural heritage, is a hidden gem waiting to be explored. As border tourism gains momentum, this idyllic region offers travellers an opportunity to witness the beauty of nature while experiencing the warmth and hospitality of the local community.

With the government’s support and the dedication of the people, Keran Valley is poised to become a thriving tourist destination, showcasing the best of Jammu and Kashmir’s natural and cultural treasures.So pack your bags and embark on a journey to Keran Valley, where breathtaking vistas and unforgettable experiences await.

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