Kashmir Himalayas

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Gurez or Gurais Valley Tourist Information

Gurez, or Gurais, is a valley located in the high Himalayas, about 86 kilometres from Bandipore and 123 kilometres from Srinagar, to the north of the Kashmir valley. At about 2,400 metres above sea level, the valley is surrounded by snow-capped mountains

Gurez Valley is a charming destination in Kashmir and an integral part of ancient Dardistan. It used to stretch from Minimarg in the North, Sharda Peeth, now in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir in the West and Bagtore-Kanzalwan in the South. Falling on the famous Silk Route, traders used to pass through Gurez Valley. Today, this area has become military-intensive as it is located very close to the Actual Line of Control between India and Pakistan. Today, many visitors love visiting Gurez Valley, as it has become one of the best offbeat destinations in Kashmir. Surrounded by the KishanGanga River flowing by this area and snow-capped Himalayan peaks, this place is surely quite fascinating.

How to reach Gurez Valley:

Gurez is about 86 kms from Bandipore and 123 kms from Srinagar. You can hire a private vehicle from Srinagar and it’ll take about 5-6 hours to reach the Valley. If you want to use public transport, take a bus to Bandipore from Srinagar, and from Bandipore take another bus to Dawar village in Gurez.

Midway between Bandipore and Gurez, you will cross the highest point on the route – Razdan Pass. At an altitude of 3550 metres (11,627 feet), it offers gorgeous views of the mountains and gorges around. There is some incorrect information on the internet that the route/road is scary/dangerous. It’s a smooth mountain road, and there is nothing to worry about.

Best time to Visit Gurez Valley:

Gurez receives heavy snowfall in winter. Even the passes leading upto it receive a lot of snowfall, so its shut for six months in a year. The valley remains open to tourists from May to October. The best time to visit Gurez is from late June to mid August.

Internet in Gurez Valley:
Till 2020, there was no internet in Gurez (or minimal). Now, the Valley is connected by Jio network. Airtel, Vodafone, Idea will not work at all in Gurez, but Jio works perfectly with 4G data. Every village in Gurez and Tulail have their own Jio tower, and there is superb connectivity.

Where to stay in Gurez Valley:
The first major village that you shall reach once you enter the valley is Dawar. It makes most sense to stay here as the other villages are much smaller. Dawar’s probably the only village in the region with a proper market, access to ATMs, access to cab service. There aren’t any proper hotels in the other villages as well.
You wont find any luxurious hotels in Dawar or anywhere in Gurez. Please understand that it’s a remote area, with almost nascent tourism. But you will find 4-5 hotels in Dawar, that provide decent amenities, and fulfill regular requirements.

Places to visit in Gurez Valley:

There are a few points you must not miss out on at all during your Gurez Valley trip. Let me rank them in the order that we liked (most liked top most)

1.The Kishanganga river : Flanked by tall imposing mountains on both sides, the Kishanganga river is the heart of Gurez, flowing languidly. It merges with the Jhelum near the Line of Control, and is knows as the Neelum river in Pakistan. At its best, the colour of the Kishanganga is a startling turquoise blue, very unlike the colour of usual long rivers. With the rains and the mud they bring along, it changes colour often to grey and clear. We were lucky enough to see it absolutely turquoise when we entered Gurez, and it was one of the highlights of the trip.

2.Khandiyal Point: If you are driving from Gurez market towards the sole petrol bunk, turn left after it and wind up the mountain. At the top of the hillock, known as Khandiyal Point, you will see beautiful 360 degree views of the mountains, the lake (far in the distance it appears very blue) and Dawar town and nearby villages. From here there are walking trails going high up the mountains, and you can go for a hike if you have the time.

3. Habba Khatoon Mountain and spring: In some ways, the Habba Khatoon peak is the soul or symbol of Gurez. It’s named after a poetess, Habba Khatoon (1554 – 1609). Born and raised in Pampore, she fell in love with the emperor of Kashmir, Yousuf Shah Chak. They got married but in 1579, Akbar captured the king and imprisoned him in Bihar. Habba became an ascetic and wandered around the valley for years, penning down many songs of sorrow and separation.

The peak can be see right from the time you enter Gurez. Its perfect pyramid shape makes it stand out from the other mountains around. In the evenings, as daylight changes to dusk and twilight, it becomes grey and pink and silver. There is a small spring (locally known as Chashma) nearby that flows with tremendous force and joins the river. Visiting the spot is easy, its only 3-4 kms from main town.

4.Tulail Valley: Reserve a day on your trip to visit Tulail Valley. There are dozens of villages on either side of the dusty highway when you leave Gurez and go further ahead. One side is absolutely bare, barren and brown. The other side of the highway is green, a river flows merrily, and you can see wooden houses with sloping roofs dotting the landscape. Perhaps the most popular of the villages in Tulail is Angaikot, and tourists usually head there but it’s a three four hour drive from Dawar. In Tulail, most people don’t know Hindi and converse in theirl language -Shina (the language of the Dardic tribe)

5. River bank: At night, go sit by the river for some time. The sky is very very clear and you will spot a few shooting stars easily.