Azad Kashmir means free Kashmir, and it’s one of the more interesting places in Pakistan to visit. If you like to travel off the beaten path, then you’ll probably love visiting this place as much as I do. What makes Azad Kashmir special? Well, it has some of the most picturesque views that I’ve ever seen in my life, great opportunities to hike and get closer to nature, and some very friendly people who live there!
1. Jhelum Valley
One of Azad Kashmir’s most picturesque tourist spots, Jhelum Valley is located near Muzaffarabad and is named after a river flowing through it. The entire valley is blanketed by several fruit trees and is home to many species of birds including peacocks. As far as tourists are concerned, its main attraction lies in its lakes, boating facilities and campsites where you can pitch a tent at night or sleep under the stars on charpoys. It also has a few picnic spots for those who want to spend some time away from their vehicles. The area around Jhelum Valley is also famous for some of Pakistan’s best skiing opportunities during winter.
2 .Neelum Valley
While most people find themselves travelling between Muzaffarabad and Mirpur, a lesser-known destination is right next door: Neelum Valley. One of Pakistan’s hidden gems, it is an alpine-like valley filled with orchards and fruit trees on either side of its silvery river, surrounded by towering mountains which show off their snowy peaks all year round. In summer, it is cool enough to enjoy hikes and rafting through its stunning landscape. The region also offers ample opportunities for birdwatching as well as paragliding and rock climbing. For those looking for something more relaxing, there are several luxury hotels offering yoga classes (with some offering free sessions) while you can also go hiking in nearby Bagh-e-Naran Park.
3. Haveli Bahlol
The Haveli Bahlol is located in Rawalakot. It was built by Maulvi Bahlol Khan and was completed in 1858. The architecture and style of construction is similar to that of mansions constructed during Mughal rule but at a smaller scale. The mansion has 24 rooms and 5 courtyards with a central fountain, typical of such mansions, reflecting various epochs including Sikh, Rajput and Muslim eras. Only one courtyard has been kept intact while three have been renovated.
This Haveli also served as a school for many years after its completion. There are two entrances; one from Lal Chowk and another from Zamzama Street, both leading to its main entrance gate on Chitr Chowk. A large pond can be seen behind it which is said to be connected underground with other ponds in Rawalakot.
The chowk (square) surrounding it was used as an assembly ground for people of all faiths where they could discuss their problems without fear or favor.
Perched on top of an 800-foot sheer rockface, Rawalakot is one of Pakistan’s and indeed Asia’s most spectacular hill stations. It lies at over 4,000 feet above sea level with snowy mountain peaks as a backdrop. The town is surrounded by pine forests and offers some of the best trekking opportunities in Pakistan. The town also has numerous hotels for tourists who want to spend a few days relaxing amidst nature, away from hustle and bustle of urban life. Besides, there are several educational institutions in Rawalakot including Cadet College that offer students excellent education facilities.
The city is located about 50 km from Muzaffarabad, capital of Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK). Rawalakot can be reached through Murree Road which connects it to Islamabad and Lahore via Kohala Bridge.
5. Sharda River
Sharda is a Himalayan river that originates from a glacier of Hindu Kush mountains at an altitude of about 5,000 m (16,400 ft) and joins River Tawi before merging into River Jhelum at Trimmu Barrage after flowing 120 km. The river is named after goddess Shardadevi. As per Hindu mythology, Shiva released his wife Sati’s corpse into Sarsvati stream which eventually merged with Ganges (the Goddess of purification) at Gangotri. However, since her father had cursed her to be born again as a human being if she ever entered mother earth, she was reborn as daughter of King Daksha Prajapati. Her name was Parvati or Uma or Shakti. She grew up to be one of the most beautiful women on earth and started attracting everyone around her including Lord Shiva who fell in love with her instantly.
Also read:- Azad Kashmir https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azad_Kashmir