neelum valley

travel sites in Neelum Valley Kashmir

Neelum Valley Azad Kashmir Pakistan is right at the border with India.

How long is Neelum Valley?

This Valley is a total of 144 kms long and ranges between 4000 to 7000 ft. The mountains on either side are upwards of 5000 meters.

Where is Neelum Valley Located?

Most of the left bank of Neelum River is with Pakistan in Azad Kashmir, while the right bank is with India.

It starts from North of Muzaffarabad City.

Best time to Visit Neelum Valley 

The Valley is pure heaven in the summer season between June to September, when the weather is pleasant on the valley floor, near the river.

Neelum Valley Weather

Weather of Neelum Valley gets hot during May-July but Sharda and beyond, Kel , Taobut never get hotter beyond 32 Degree Celsius

In fact, it rains daily in these towns.

You have to use blankets at Sharda in Peak Summer season

Activities in Neelum Kashmir

 You can do 

  • Mountain climbing
  • Hiking
  • camping, 
  • fishing,
  •  boating and 
  • even horse riding there. 

Neelum distance and time from Islamabad

The total distance of Neelum Valley from Islamabad is about 250 kilometer or 6 hours, one-way, up to Keran. 

It takes a further 2 hours to reach Sharda

Road Condition in Neelum Kashmir

The road up to Dowarian town after Keran is freshly made and the rest up to Sharda is still under construction.


If you want to reach Sharda in 8 hours from Islamabad, then leave just after Sunrise, to avoid the pedestrians in the bazars that slow your transport

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

Neelum Valley Kashmir Tourist Points

These are the Top 10 places to see and things to do in Neelum Valley Azad Kashmir Pakistan:-

  • Taobut 
  • Kel
  • Arang Kel
  • Shonter Valley
  • Sharda
  • Noori Top road connecting Neelum with Kaghan Valley
  • Keran
  • Teetwal
  • Jagran Power house
  • Neelum Jhelum Hydro Project Lake
neelum Kashmir Pakistan India


If you intend to explore the best parts of the Valley, then first up drive straight to Taobut

It is a 9 hours drive to Taobut from Islamabad if you get up late and stop for lunch too.

Islamabad to Taobut distance and time

Drive time from Islamabad too Muzaffarabad is 4 hours over lower topa

Things to see in Taobut

If you decide to see Taobut first, then stay there at a local guest house and explore

  • the Line of Control 
  • There is a beautiful trout fish farm as well there.
  • Wooden Double story guest houses
  • Road ends here, so it’s very peaceful

Route Islamabad to Taobut

Drive time from Muzaffarabad to Teetwal- Kundal Shahi- Keran – Kel – Sharda -Taobut is five hours more 

You’d have to go up to Murree through Lower topa and turn towards PC Bhurban and climb down to Kohala Bridge through Birote.

This is the Google Maps route up to

Islamabad to Neelum Valley
Islamabad to Neelum Valley

Are tourists allowed in Azad Kashmir?

Foreign tourists are allowed in to Azad Kashmir, if they have an No Objection Certificate (NOC)

Pakistani citizens with their valid CNIC are also allowed through Check posts at :-

  • Kohala Bridge, and
  • Neelum Jhelum Dam


Muzaffarabad Azad Kashmir

Drive straight through Muzaffarabad and ask anyone from the city center which is the road to Neelum Valley.

Try to have your lunch at Muzaffarabad because you’d find good, clean food and bottled water there. In Neelum valley things get expensive.

You can leave visit to

Muzaffarabad also has the only major hospital, CMH, in Neelum Valley, but don’t be worried, hardly anyone gets major sickness.

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

Neelum Jhelum Hydro Project Lake

On the way to the tip of the bow-shaped Neelum valley, you’d drive across the newly commissioned Neelum Jhelum hydro project, which the Indians shelled with their artillery.

At the mouth of Neelum valley is the last check post, after that, there is not much checking during day time.

Nowadays, there is no artillery duel going on between Pakistan and India, so going there is safe and enjoyable especially the blue Dam lake

Kundal Shahi

While driving along the Neelum Valley, the first stop would be

  • Dhani and
  • Kutton waterfall in Jagran


Dhani Waterfall

Jagran has nice clean hotels as well. Mostly people just stay here and donot go further ahead.

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India


It is a better idea to explore one town of Neelum Valley in each visit, instead of driving through.


Keran has Indian Administered Kashmir across from Neelum River.

The town of Keran has the cleanest Hotels

Sometimes you can wave at the kids in the schools and they wave back.

be careful not to point at the India Bunkers or their snipers will take a pot shot at you.

Best hotel at Keran

Green Village Resorts is the best hotel here (058214) 52478

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

Kel town to see Shonter Valley

Pronounced “Kail”, it  is right behind Taobut and Shonter valley is one of the legs leading out of Kel.

Shonter Valley was one of the religious pilgrimage sites for Kashmiri Pundits of India, pre partition.

Things to see in Kel

Shonter Valley has a beautiful

  • Shonter lake and
  • Chitta Katha Lake too.  
  • You can get a Rupal face view of Nanga Parbat there and also
  • Toshe Ri 1 Mountains.
  • There is the picturesque village of Arangkel to see too, after a ride in a cable car.

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

There are plenty of hotels with clean beds and warm food at Kel.

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

Sharda Hindu Heritage and Religious Sites

Before Kel is the Hindu religious site of Sharda.

Neelum River Sharda
Neelum River Sharda

History of Sharda

Sharda was in fact the name of a Hindu princess. Sharda is very dear to Kashmiri Hindu Pundits.

Mai-naarda mountain View from Sharda
Mai-naarda mountain View from Sharda

Things to see in Sharda

  • the Sharda Peeth temple  which is said to be at least 1200 years old,
  • the Kishan Ghati cave with the scratched image of Lord Kishan on a mountain face,
  • 9 hours hike to sacred lake Mai-narda that has steps that take you down to the water’s edge for Ashnan.
  • 9 hours slightly  dangerous Hike to Chitta Katha lake
  • There is Kashi Dev’s Tandoor, an ancient Bakery that had religious significance too.
  • Sharda to Batakundi drive over Noori Top
  • Boating at Neelum Valley River
Kishan Ghati Hindu Meditation Cave Sharda
Kishan Ghati Hindu Meditation Cave Sharda
Kishan Ghati Hindu God Carving on Rock Face
Kishan Ghati Hindu God Carving on Rock Face

Best hotel in Sharda

Sharda Highland Hotel is the best and cleanest in the area (058214) 52008

Sharda Peeth Temple University
Sharda Peeth Temple University


Stay at Teetwal to see Indian Troops

Sliding back on the Neelum road, the next stop is Teetwal.

Here the main attraction is Indian troops on the other side hiding behind huge trees.

Ask any local and they would give you a complete rundown of the history of armed struggle for Kashmir and where each Indian post and gun position is.

They would even give you their expert opinion on the geopolitics of the region, which, quite frankly is better than what our Lafafa journalists tell us.

The Pakistani side hardly has any trees, we’ve cut them all.


neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

The 72 lakes of Neelum Valley

My guide told me he has recorded just 56 such glacial lakes and there are known to be 72.

The reason because none of them get discovered is that the Pakistani part of Kashmir has higher mountains and remains covered in the snow till late August

This gives only a 15 days window every year to complete this wilderness hike to Kaghan, with several stopovers and no facilities at all enroute.

You’d have to take all your tenting and food with you from Kel or Sharda.

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

Stay at Keran to see the best places

The best place to go into the Gullies around Neelum Valley is Dowarian village.

From Dowarian Village, you can reach 

  • Ratti Gali Lake at 12130 feet
  • Hans Raj Lake,
  • Kala Sar 1 and
  • Kala Sar 2 lakes
  • Saral Lake
  • Patlian Lake
  • cross over into Kaghan valley after a five days hike.

The place you end up can either be Batakundi or Jal Khand, depending on how many lakes you’d like to see.

Secondly, you can turn right from Ratti Gali Lake, climb to the back of the lake, cross the ridge behind the lake walking on razor sharp ledges and reach Sharda in 9 hours.

Ratti Gali to Saral Lake

Thirdly, you can turn left from Ratti Gali Lake and cross over into another Gali called the Rahi Gali or Retli Gali that leads you to another Lake . You’d have to climb over 4000 m high mountain ledges to get there and the tracks are so dangerous, it would put Tom Cruise and his Mission Impossible to shame.

I was hanging on one ledge with my hands only, with no foot rest at all and the valley floor below a few thousand feet down.

Ratti Gali to Lal Butti Mountain

Fourthly, you can climb to the top of lal Butti Mountain that is adjacent to Ratti Galli Lake. I was told it is 13000 feet and colonial British officers climbed it pre 1947 while they were conducting land survey here.

They even have their graves on the glacier floor with remnants of their guest house. The red mountain was christened Lal Butti because of the land marking post the British land surveyor placed on top of the hill there.


So, the next time you want to see lakes, mountains, clear rivers, pine forests, Glaciers, snow in the summers, go to Neelum Valley and do each of these sites, one at a time, so that you can enjoy it.

If you want me to arrange for your visit to any of these places, do inbox me

Goat Butter Milk

In case I forget, the Bakarwal of Neelum Valley, or the goat herders are very accommodating to wayward hikers and travellers.

They not only offer accommodation but give free food and Goat milk.

It was after I’d had goat milk and intoxicating Lassi that I realized how Mongols got their liquid courage to bulldoze through the world.

Also see

neelum Kashmir Pakistan India

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