There are many places in the paradise of Kashmir that still remains unexplored and one of them is Gurez Valley. Gurez Valley can be termed as Unexplored Heaven of Kashmir due to its beauty. Very few tourists visit Gurez Valley as many haven’t listened about this unexplored heaven in Kashmir but once you know about this unexplored paradise in Kashmir I’m sure you will never want to miss visiting this place. There are many places to visit in Gurez Valley itself and even J&K tourism has started a helicopter service to see the paradise from above.
Gurez Valley is located in the Himalayan range, it’s nearly about 86 kilometers from Bandipore and about 123 kilometers from Srinagar city. The road which goes to Gilgit runs through the Gurez Valley. The inhabitants living here are mostly Dards/Shins. Dawar is main town in the area. In winter, the valley remains closed as Razdan Pass is closed due to heavy snowfall. This valley falls along the Silk route which connected the Kashmir region with the Gilgit. The valley is also an important archaeological site. Also, it is believed that the last council of Buddhism was held in the Kanzilwan area of the Gurez Valley and the ruins of Sharda University are preserved near the Kishenganga river. Until 2007, the valley was off-limits for tourists.
Before the partition, Gurez Valley was a very famous destination for foreign tourists. In 1895, the British author Sir Walter Lawrence called the Gurez Valley “one of the most beautiful scenes in all of Kashmir,” where the tourmaline waters of the Kishenganga River are framed by “mountain scarps of indescribable grandeur.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited the Gurez Valley before becoming the US president.
Best Time To Visit Gurez Valley
The best time to visit Gurez Valley is from May to October. It is closed from Mid-December to March due to heavy snowfall at Razdan Pass, so it means there is no way to reach there by road. One thing that you will want to check before visiting Gurez Valley is whether that is there any unrest or any other restriction. When visiting the valley, you can be turned back at any checkpoint by the army if there is some militancy or any other threat. So be prepared to face that disappointment if that happens. So make sure you check with the authorities about the condition there. And make sure that you have ID with you all the time especially Aadhar Card.
Visit Gurez Valley during winters by Helicopter
Although you can’t go to Gurez Valley during Winter season by road, there’s still a way to reach Gurez Valley during Winters by Helicopter. If you want to visit Gurez Valley during winter then you have to increase your budget a little. The cost of helicopters has been kept at highly subsidised rates at Rs 3000 per person from Srinagar airport and at Rs 2000 from Bandipora. It takes about 20 minutes to reach Gurez Valley from Srinagar by helicopter. The tickets can be bought at the Tourist Counter at the airport and also at the Tourist Reception Center Srinagar, TRC office, Rajbagh, Srinagar. At TRC, you will need to go to the H block and the 2nd floor. But remember weather can affect the working of Helicopter Services.
How To Reach Gurez Valley?
There are two ways to reach Gurez Valley, one by the road and other by air.
- BY ROAD- You can reach Gurez Valley from Srinagar by road through the Razdan Pass.
- BY AIR- You can reach Gurez Valley by boarding Helicopter either from Srinagar or Bandipore.
Ways to reach Gurez Valley by Road
You can rent a bike or motorcycle from Srinagar, or you can take your own vehicle or you can opt-in for public transport. Let’s see in detail.
->Srinagar to Gurez by Your Own Vehicle
In short, the route that you have to take is
Srinagar – Sumbal – Brar – Bandipore – Razdan Pass – Kazalwan – Wampore – Dawar
The total journey is of 126 KM and would take about 6.5 – 8 hours depending upon the speed and condition of the road. It’s best that you start your journey in the morning. The last petrol pump is in Bandipore and there may not be a petrol pump till Dawar, so make sure that you fuel enough in Bandipore. On the way, one can also see Wular Lake which is Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Then you will reach Razdan Pass and from there on checkpoints will verify your ID again and again. So don’t forget your ID.
->Srinagar to Gurez by Private Taxi
If you don’t have your own vehicle, then you can hire a private taxi. Depending upon the type of taxi you choose, it can range between Rs. 2000 – Rs. 2500 but some drivers also say up to Rs. 5000. So now it also depends upon your bargaining skills to what price you can bring the fare. You can Google for some taxi companies and get an idea of the price. But I suggest always book by going there only as you might struck a better deal.
->Srinagar to Gurez by Shared Taxi
You can get shared taxis from either Srinagar or Bandipore but in Srinagar, there aren’t much-shared taxis available. So if you still want to take a shared taxi it’s better to take it from Bandipore as the chances of getting the taxi are more.
->Srinagar to Gurez by Bus
There is no direct bus from Srinagar to Gurez. If you want to take a bus to Gurez, then first you have to take a bus from Srinagar to Bandipore and then take a bus from Bandipore to Dawar. There are many buses available that run on a frequent basis from Srinagar to Bandipore but there are very fewer buses from Bandipore to Dawar and only runs in the morning. So I think it’s better you take a taxi instead of a bus.
Places To Visit In Gurez
From Waterfalls to beautiful fields, there are many places to visit in Gurez which will charm you with their beauty. So without wasting any time let’s see places that you can visit in Gurez:
Wular Lake is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia. It is sited in Bandipora district. The lake is not in Gurez but on the way to Gurez.
-> Razdan Pass
Razdan Pass is a high-altitude pass on the way from Srinagar to Gurez. It is an adrenaline-pumping road that will give you goosebumps. You can stop here and get some amazing photographs.
-> Peer Baba Shrine
The Peer Baba Shrine is located just before the top of the pass. The shrine is maintained by the Indian Army. The saint buried here is believed to have arrived from Lahore in 1933 and was buried at Razdan pass.
-> Kishen Ganga River
Kishen Ganga River is located when we enter Gurez Valley. The river greets you with as soon as you enter Gurez. It passes through Gurez before finally merging into Jhelum River. Some activities that perform her are rafting, camping, and trout fishing.
-> Habba Khatoon Peak
This is quite a famous place to visit in Gurez. Habba Khatoon was a poetess whose husband, the king of Kashmir, was captured and imprisoned by Akbar during his conquest of Kashmir. It is believed that she still wanders around here at the mountain in search of her husband.
Weather in Gurez Valley (In Celsius)
- In January: -5 to 6 Degree.
- In February: -5 to 10 Degree.
- In March: 0 to 13 Degree
- In April: 5 to 19 Degree
- In May: 10 to 25 Degree
- In June: 15 to 30 Degree
- In July: 15 to 30 Degree
- In August: 16 to 30 Degree
- In September: 10 to 20 Degree
- In October: 5 to 15 Degree
- In November: 0 to 10 Degree
- In December: -5 to 5 Degree