Drive to the Heavenly Gurez Valley via Wular Lake

Updated: May 16


Please note this post of the blog is in continuation of our journey from Bangalore to Kashmir and we will be covering the drive from Tangdhar town to the beautiful Gurez valley via Wular lake. If you wish to read the previous blogs, please look at the other posts section. If you have any query or want the details about this or any of the trips I have done in past, feel free to reach out.


So before I get into details, I must warn you that this post is one of the longest posts of this blog as the journey was looong and also the place was sooo beautiful that I couldn't stop taking pictures and capturing the beauty of this place. Enjoy the loong journey with me here :)

Day 12 - Tangdhar Kupwara Wular, 120kms, 6hrs

This day started with an awesome sunny and cold morning. We wanted to leave early so we can cover as much distance as we can and reach as close to our next destination as we can. The target was to reach Dawar town in Gurez Valley. So we woke up early, had breakfast and then zoomed out of Tangdhar after thanking Azhar and Mohammed for their awesome hospitality.

Beautiful Wular Lake, Aisa's largest fresh water lake.

Please note that all the pictures on this blog are copyright protected and should not be used anywhere without prior permission. If you wish to use any of the pictures for personal or commercial purposes, please write to me at amit.pahujaa@gmail.com

Route taken: Tangdhar - Chowkibal - Kralpora - Kupwara - Drugmulla - Watlab - Wular Lake Resort

The return drive from Tangdhar was uneventful but beautiful. The roads are awesome to drive on for most of the part and where they’re not so good, we still enjoyed driving as it provided good off-road tracks with beautiful vistas. We had to cross the Sadhna pass and also collect our cameras from the Army folks out there. It was like getting back my life when I collected my cameras from them as I really felt incomplete without them 😜 We thanked the Army folks for their services, had a chat with them and then proceeded to Kupwara. Once we reached Kupwara, we stopped at the main town market for lunch as we knew that we won’t get anything after that for a long time.

So we went to hotel Raj Palace (again) for lunch as we really liked the food there and seriously I don’t think we had any other option also. So we went there and had the best of all Wazwan dishes. We ordered Rajma Chawal, Rishta, Chicken along with the rice that was just awesome 👌🏻. After a great meal, we started our drive to Dawar, Gurez.

Rishtaa with steamed rice .. I'm drooling even today :)

Rishtaa

Chicken Rogan Josh.. was lovely..

And Phirni for Dessert to finish with..

Wular Lake (also spelt Wullar) is one of the largest fresh water lakes in Asia.[3] It is sited in Bandipora district in Jammu and Kashmir, India.[4] The lake basin was formed as a result of tectonic activity and is fed by the Jhelum River. The lake's size varies seasonally from 12 to 100 square miles (30 to 260 square kilometres). In addition, much of the lake has been drained as a result of willow plantations being built on the shore in the 1950s.

Read more here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wular_Lake

The drive to Wular lake

The drive to Wular lake

Beautiful fields all the way..

The drive from Kupwara to Wular lake was good and the roads lead us to some great towns and villages. It was continuously raining on this day so it slowed us down a bit. We took around 7hrs to reach Watlab area and as I was feeling too tired for some reason, we decided to call it a day and stay here. On the way we saw a JKTDC rest house at Watlab, but unfortunately we couldn’t stay there as the caretaker asked us to go back to the town 10kms back to get permissions and booking done which happens only there physically. We requested him but he was of no help. So we decided to check out some other place further down the road.

In just a few minutes we noticed a resort on an uphill called Wular Lake Resort. We went there to check if it was open and luckily it was. It was run by an old fellow who came out of the main building and told us that he will be happy to host us there. We checked the place and decided to stay there itself without wasting any time. So we unloaded our bags and went to the rooms.

Beautiful views of the valley

Beautiful views of the valley

Beautiful views of the valley from the resort

The hotel/resort was very good and had a lawn in front of the rooms with an awesome view of the Wular Lake which is considered as the largest lake in Asia. The caretaker told us that there’s a mosque nearby which is pretty famous and if we wish to go and see, it has a great drive as well. So we decided to go there after a bit of rest...

Beautiful views of the valley from the resort

The drive to the mosque was just around 10-15mins. On the way there were awesome views of the valley and Wular lake. The road leading to the Mosque were very narrow and there was only space for only one car to pass. The roads were very steep and had good views of the valley as well. So we enjoyed the drive and reached the mosque 🕌. This is a mosque that’s called “Baba Shakur Din Masjid Sharif” and had a great history behind it. After visiting the mosque we came back to our hotel/resort. It was already evening time now and the sun was setting. So we sat outside in the lawn and played cards over a cup of coffee and enjoyed the evening with great views of Wular lake.

Views of the Wular Lake from the road towards the Mosque

Views of the Wular Lake from the road towards the Mosque

Beautiful, isn't it?

Views of the Wular Lake from the road towards the Mosque

Views of the Wular Lake from the road towards the Mosque

Beautiful Views of the Wular Lake

Beautiful Views of the valley

Beautiful Views of the Wular Lake

Wular Lake Resort

Panoramic view of the area

Tea with a View

Beautiful Views of the Wular Lake & Mountains

Our beast hibernating

Flowers at the resort

After a while, the dinner was ready and we were served some great stuff today. The caretaker made some real good chicken for us along with some rajma rice. We truly loved the food made by the caretaker there. While we had some conversations with him, he told us that he was an international chef and had worked in many Arab countries before returning back to Kashmir (not India, please note this!). We had interesting conversation with him ranging from his culinary experiences to war and the situation in Kashmir. He lost his son in one of the attacks in Kashmir and wasn't very happy the prevailing situation on Kashmir. He also felt that the politicians of our country are making this place a hell for the residents and don't want them to prosper and hence keep them at the bottom of the pyramid...sad!

Anyway so we had the dinner and went to bed as we had to start early next day to Gurez Valley, our main destination for this trip.

Family time .. playing cards

Family time .. playing cards

One of the bedrooms .. was pretty clean and spacious.


Day 13 - Wular Lake - Dawar, Gurez via Razdan Pass - one of the most beautiful drives we have ever done!

So we woke up early and informed the caretaker for the breakfast we wanted to have. As expected there was no choice of breakfast items other than eggs and bread butter. So we had the breakfast after a quick bath and got going to our next most sought after stop, Gurez :)

Bread butter .. loved his presentation and plating

Yummmmmmy ..... Omelette

Final good bye to the duo who helped us and made good for us here. One on my right was the caretaker and the left one is his caretaker :))

So we bid goodbye to this place and moved further. We decided to start early but it was almost 8AM by the time we could actually start. The roads towards Gurez started with a good to partially good to bad and got worst as we approached Dawar except the last few kilometres which were in impeccable shape with smooth roads.

So we started from Wular Lake Resort to Bandipora and then took the Bandipora Gurez road. As we left Bandipora and started climbing the hills towards Gurez, the valley got beautiful and more scenic. On the way, we stopped at the police station to take any permits required but then we were told that we don’t need any permits till Dawar. So we continued our journey further. The distance to Dawar from Bandipora was around 100kms and Google maps showed around 3.5 hrs as the driving time. But the drive was so scenic and treacherous at the same time that it took us almost 6hrs to reach Dawar. We would have probably stopped more than 100 times on the way to click pictures and enjoy the views of the valley on the way.

Beautiful kids walking hand-in-hand on the roads.. don't see this often and really loved it!

Vast open fields on the sides..

Food for our Raakshas.. the guy here was very polite and really was surprised to see a KA regn. number :)

Usual traffic in Kashmir

Early morning street views..

Beautiful views on the way

Town pics. .we stopped here to withdraw some money form the ATM and then carried forward

Notice the kms .. 86 to go..

Beautiful bridge crossing

Rajdhan Pass .. 42 kms ahead

Beautiful Mosque

The roads started with good tarred roads but then after a while that became a history and we were only driving on mud roads that had huge water crossings and craters filled with water and snow on the side of the so called road. This was a dream come true for me specially to drive in such roads with my SUV and test its power and capabilities in such conditions... I was truly loving it!

Beautiful views all the way..

Beautiful views all the way..

One of the numerous waterfalls on the way to Gurez

Beautiful views all the way..

The curvy and rocky roads leading to Gurez vally

Beautiful views all the way..

Beautiful views all the way..

One of the temples on the roadside

We stopped here for taking few pics

Lovely .. isn't it?

Beautiful views all the way..

Sheeeeeeeeeep...

Beautiful lovely trees... amazing road to drive. .what lse you want on a drive

After some time we spotted this shop selling some basic stuff and had break-fast items. We decided to have lunch here as we weren't sure of we would get anything further and when. So we had some eggs and Maggie to fill our tummies and also had some good interesting conversations with this person and one of the person waiting there.

Lovely Kashmiri Breads and Cookies. This was Salted cookie and was very Yummmm

Sun bathing :)

Kids enjoying their Maggie

While we were having lunch here, chatted with this person who was a postman and works here from past 40+ years. Had some good and fact finding conversation with him and learnt a lot about the place.

Another food joint that came after few kms.. but we were full now so didn't stop here

Rocky Mountains ..

From this point the roads started deteriorating

Beautiful views all the way..

After about 3hrs of drive we reached Razdan pass and just before that we saw the famous Peer Baba mosque. It was a beautiful and peaceful place. So we paid the visit over there and proceeded further. Razdan pass was just a km away from here. There was almost 40-50 feet of snow when we reached Razdan pass and the scenery was amazing .. and nothing short of a movie scene. Driving in such a place was not only a dream come true but was a lovely experience. The temperature was almost -2 degrees Celsius on the top and the breeze was biting cold. We stopped at the top of the pass to have some fun and do some photography over there. See the pics below..

http://jktourism.org/index.php/razdan-pass

Road to Peer Baba, Razdan Pass

Amazing views from Peer Baba, Razdan Pass

We visited this place and then carried on further. The weather here was very very cold with gutsy breeze..

Peer Baba, Razdan Pass

Inside Peer Baba, Razdan Pass

A Photo opp @ Razdan Pass

Lovely views of the snow capped mountains and valley

Lovely views of the snow capped mountains and valley

We reached the top of Razdan pass where we had to make an entry in the Army register, get our car scanned and then move forward. It was a great drive downhill from here but was again all broken roads all through. After an hour’s drive or so the roads improved a bit and then the tarred roads started.

Tiled roads at the top of the pass

Lovely mountain views

We stopped here for some fun and taking some breathtaking pictures. Kids also made fresh snow popsicles with mango juice :) and enjoyed to the core while walking on the 45+ feet of snow capped mountains :)

Gola with Frooty sorts.. was actually yummmm.. and adventurous

So after having some fun, we continued further as it started raining and we didn’t wanted to get caught in the snow/rain storm ⛈.

Wallpaper Pic for my devices :)

Amazing breathtaking views ..

Lovely views ...

Yeh haseen wadiyan..

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Please write to me at amit.pahujaa@gmail.com if you wish to purchase them.

Yes we were here :)

See the height of the snow compared to the height of the car .. lovely feeling it was



Dont know what this was but looked like some kind of dharma sthal or something

Lovely roads ...full of slush and water and snow.. enjoyed driving here with Endy. It performed beautifully.

Lovely, isn't it?

Great views

Video of the drive at Razdan pass


The roads with slush all the way downhill. Was a bit scary so we went a bit slow

Lovely, isn't it?

Snow capped mountains with a great view

The vast vast mountain spread with breathtaking views

Breathtaking .. isn't it?

Yeh haseen wadiya khulaa aasmaan :)

Please note all the images in this blog are available for personal or commercial use at a nominal price in High-resolution.

Please write to me at amit.pahujaa@gmail.com if you wish to purchase them.

The winding roads with lovely views

Roads turned into water streams some places with loose gravel

Slush ahead ....

Ok I'm out of words now... enjoy the pics

Beautiful valley

Look at that glacier

amazing sights everywhere

Lovely, isn't it?

Water-crossings .. loved them

Great great roads and weather

While we enjoyed the drive, it was very treacherous and weather was biting cold.

Glacier's ...

Lovelyyyyy

Look at that greenery.. its simply awesome

As you move closer to Gurez, the roads were getting better and had some tar on them. The weather also opened up and the scenery was awesome.

Open vast valleys..

Vistas on the way to Gurez..

Vistas on the way to Gurez..

One of the many waterfalls

Vistas on the way to Gurez..

One of the Town as we move closer to Dawar, Gurez

Checkpost where we were asked to get down from the vehicle, get our car checked, make an entry and then upon some questioning were allowed to move forward. These army personnel were very very polite, nice and spoke to us quite well. Also gave us good information on what to do and WHAT NOT TO DO.

Lovely river flowing through Dawar, Gurez

Beautiful river

The roads widened here and looked like they were doing them again

Lovely views all through the drive..

Lovely views all through the drive..

Lovely views all through the drive..

Lovely views all through the drive..

This is one of views of the dam out there

Gurez also has a dam and the views of the dam are really great. We were not allowed to stop near the dam to take pictures so we continued further without stopping much. After couple of hours, we reached Dawar town around 4pm. Before you enter Dawar, there’s another check-post where we had to make an entry before we were allowed to go further. After making the entry to straightway drove to our Guest House which was basically JKTDC tourist bungalow.

Lovely views all through the drive..

Beautiful.. lovely and breathtaking :)

Beautiful.. lovely and breathtaking :)

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Please write to me at amit.pahujaa@gmail.com if you wish to purchase them.

Dam site

Water flowing on the other side of the dam

Beautiful vistas

Newly tarred roads

India's Switzerland

Beautiful.. lovely and breathtaking :)

Great views all the way into the valley

Dawar town

Beautiful.. lovely and breathtaking :)

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Town road

When we reached there, we called the caretaker and asked him to open the main gate of the property as it was closed. He informed us that he’s at Kaka Palace hotel and asked us to come and meet him over there. Kaka Palace Hotel is just few minutes from the Tourist Bungalow so we went there. He told us that we had only 2 stay options over there, one is Kaka Palace and second is the JKTDC Bungalow. He insisted that we stay there at the Kaka Palace as there’s no food available at the JKTDC Bungalow. We thought about this and decided to stay at the JKTDC Bungalow itself and then maybe go to Kaka Palace for food or somewhere else if there’s any place serving anything to eat.

So we checked in, offloaded our luggage and settled into our room and freshened up. I was craving for a hot cup of tea or coffee but there wasn’t anything available there. Luckily we had our kettle and coffee and tea sachets so we we made our own coffee. After a good cup of Nescafé, we decided to a nearby town and place called “Habba Khatoon” which is basically a big mountain few kms away from Dawar town but has a great story behind it.

Habba Khatoon, also known as Zoon and Nightingale of Kashmir, was an eminent Kashmiri Muslim poet and ascetic. She was the wife of Yusuf Shah Chak, the last ruler of Kashmir. You can read more about Habba Khatoon here https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Habba_Khatoon​

Dawar town, Gurez police station

Drive to Habba Khatoon

The road from the Bungalow to the Habba Khatoon was very good barring just a km from the town. To go to Habba Khatoon, we had to cross the bridge and to do so, we had to make an entry at the Army check-post. After the check-post the road is pretty good and continues along the fencing done on both the sides of the mountains there. The road leads to Habba Khatoon with great views of the mountain ⛰.

So we continued our drive and didn’t knew where exactly to go as we just passed the mountain and couldn’t see anything else. So we went to a nearby village called “Chorwan” just for a drive. It turned out that this village was the last village of this area before the Army camp out there and we were not allowed after that.

This mountain called Habba Khatoon was in sight all the way... beautiful it was

Notice the fencing on the road side .. its a very sensitive area as told to us by the locals and authorities so well protected al through..

Enjoyed this drive with great roads

Lovely breathtaking views

Habba Khatoon

Habba Khatoon, so other than this view which was awesome, there's nothing else to do or see here. The sights of the mountains were fabulous and I'm sure they would look awesome during the sunset and sunrise..

Habba Khatoon, I felt like climbing that but then we didn't had time :)

So we decided to go for a driv further to the last Indian town called Chorwan.

On the way to Chorwan

Waterfall coming through the mountains.. was surprising.. but beautiful

Habba Khatoon

Road to Chorwan

Beautiful valley

Beautiful valley

Look at that glacier

The roads.. reminded me of Bangalore roads :)

The road leading to the Army village is just one lane mud road with fencing all along the road. So we went to the end of this road and hit a check-post from where we were asked to take a u-turn and go back from where we came. While coming back we met with a roadblock caused by the oncoming army trucks and there was no way we could pass. So we had to reverse the car to a safe place and give way to the Army convoy to pass. After about 15-20 minutes, the entire convoy passed through and we were then cleared to proceed further.

Beautiful village of Chorwan

See the houses made of wood logs...

Village road

The narrow road leading to the end of village

Lovely views from the village road

Loved the wooden houses of this village and the entire Dawar area. They had these beautiful wooden log houses and had a great character.

The last point where we could go. We returned from this point back to Dawar.

Lovely.. isn't it?

Picture perfect valley views

Cute little kids of the Chorwan village

Encounter with the Army truck.. we had to back all the way back and wait for their convoy to pass through before we could proceed..

Breathtaking views of the valley

Please note all the images in this blog are available for personal or commercial use at a nominal price in High-resolution.

Please write to me at amit.pahujaa@gmail.com if you wish to purchase them.

Cutie pies..

We waiting for the convoy to pass

We waiting for the convoy to pass

Amazing views of the village

Kids were very Curious by seeing us there and wondering what the hell are we doing in this part of the world as not many tourists come here and many people don't even know what's a tourist.. anyway we chatted with them and distributed some stationery items to them that we always carry on our drives so that we can contribute back to the society whatever we can.

Group photo to bantaa hai boss :) Say Cheese .. :)

On our way back to Dawar Guest House

Valley views

Awesome views .. can't explain the feeling we had here.. it was simply awesome

While we were coming back we saw this open space with a loads of gravel/loose rocks and a river flowing and looked like that we could drive over there, so we decided to go there and spend some time relaxing and capturing some moments.

Stopped here for some photography

Lovely landscape shots of our Raakshas :)

Beast photography :)

Please note all the images in this blog are available for personal or commercial use at a nominal price in High-resolution.

Please write to me at amit.pahujaa@gmail.com if you wish to purchase them.

The village on the riverside

Look at that valley

On our way back..

The sunset time. .awesome view it was

Sunset time at the valley

While coming back we collected the permit for going to Check-wali next day. We gave the application to the police station guys when we started from Dawar and were told that we can collect in an hour or so. When I returned back the permit was still not ready so I had to wait at the police station with the cops to get it done their itself. The cops here were very cooperative, spoke to me nicely and gave their suggestions and recommendations for the trip further to check-wali. They also warned me not to take pictures of the army camps, LoC and border areas that I agreed and adhered to...

Our Raakshas taking rest for the day

After visiting Chorwan, we returned to the tourist Bungalow and relaxed for a while before heading for dinner at Kaka Palace.

The guest house seems to the residence of CM of the Kashmir when he must be visiting here. Our caretaker also confirmed that when CM visits he stay here itself.

The guest house lawns. Was very relaxing to sit here and just spend some time having tea/coffee that we made with our own kettle we had with us. The power went off for some time but came back after 30mins or so.. but it was good overall.

Caretaker took good care of us and got us food at the Kaka Palace that was run by his son.

Next day was a big drive to Check-wali and to what we heard, it wasn’t an easy one. So we came back and slept like a child as we were all too tired after a treacherous journey on those broken and back breaking roads.

Kaka Palace Hotel, Dawar Town, Kashmir

This hotel was the only place we could get the food, whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner.. so we used to come here for the meals and get back to Tourist Bungalow for sleeping :)

Dinner at Kaka Palace was just ok and nothing special. It was homely cooked simple food. We quickly finished our dinner, thanked the guy who served us and then went back to the tourist Bungalow to sleep for the night.

Rajma chawal and aloo sabji :) Perhaps one of the veg meals we had in this trip. The food quality was good, taste was OK and the pricing was HUGE but worth it at this place as there was no other choice.

So today was a long tiring day and was a long drive or I must say treacherous drive. The roads were very bad for most of the part and the weather was not very friendly. We thanked GOD that we were safe till now and hoped to have a good night's sleep at the guest house. And indeed God blessed us with a good sleep and a safe night at the so called unsafe places on earth, Kashmir.

Stay tuned for further drive from Dawar to Check-wali and back.

It was a lovely and most interesting drives so far with loads and loads of scenic places to shoot.

#Kashmir #Gurez #Dawar #Himalayas #Mountains #Indianbeauty #Longdrives #Heaven #FordEndeavour #FordEverest

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