In our quest to explore the unexplored of Jammu and Kashmir, we decided to visit Aharbal this weekend. Not a popular destination amongst locals as well as Travel agencies it was difficult to gather much information about the same. The only information in hand was
(a) It is a beautiful waterfall near Sopian (a city in Jammu and Kashmir) on Veshu River.
(b) It is located at a distance of 42.6 Km from Anantnag.
This information was also courtesy Google Maps.
To learn more about this location we started our journey from Anantnag on the highway connecting Anantnag to Jammu. As soon as one crosses the flyover of railway station, Anantnag the road takes a diversion to left at Harnag. A big banner saying “Welcome to the land of fresh water streams” greeted us and our excitement increased manifold. The road was a state of art road despite of it being a state highway. It wasn’t as broad as the National highway but the traffic was meager and the landscapes around was simply awesome.
Travelling at this time of year (Apr-May, brightest and colorful season in Kashmir, spring) adds to the joy of travelling. The quote goes perfect here that it is best to enjoy the path traveled than the destination. Both sides of the road glittered due to bright yellow of the mustard flowers and since valley had some beautiful rains last few days everything around were so verdant and serene.
We crossed towns like Khudwani, Qainoh and reached a major town, Kulgam. Till Kulgam the towns were laid back and had that special aura of Kashmir. But entering Kulgam gave us the feel that yes modernization and development is happening in interiors of Kashmir too. All popular brands names were visible on shop banners. It even had a Maruti workshop, Indian oil Petrol station and above all a court complex (though not relevant for travelers like us).
Heading further ahead towards our destination one needs to be very careful not to miss the turn towards Chawalgam from the road connecting Kulgam and Sopian. And after moving a few Km on the same road the surroundings completely change from bright yellow to graceful white. It was graceful white with a tinge of pink because of the bloom in the apple trees. All along the road from Chawalgam to Bathipora keep admiring the fresh white bloom apple orchards.
Also what added to the beauty of this place was a rivulet flowing all along the road. Not to forget to mention the grand and green Chinar trees. Chinar trees are beautiful and are closely associated to Kashmir’s identity. So much so that government takes adequate measures to save these trees. And this we saw while moving on this no so broad road (two lanes). How? In case a Chinar tree lands on the way of the road the road was built around the tree and the Chinar was standing tall in the middle of the road. Indeed very thoughtful of not uprooting and spoiling the ecology.
The terrain changed to hilly after Bathipora and continued to be the same till Aharbal. We reached Aharbal and could hear the gushing water but could not see the fall from the road. What was visible from the road was a well maintained and less crowded garden. We all started to move in the direction of the fall.
To reach the fall one has to climb down around 100 stairs and walk around 800 meters on a path besides the river and the fall. As soon as the descent started we could sight the magnificent fall and it acted just like a magnet. We were pulled towards the same. The walk to the falls was also beautiful as the falls are surrounded by rocky cliffs and Pine trees. Reached the falls, got ourselves clicked and then sat there for some time to enjoy the pristine beauty and grandness of fall.
Indeed a place of calm and composure as nature and self are so close and not many tourists around to overcrowd the location. Locals enjoying the weekend were indeed sighted. All this makes Aharbal untouched. After enjoying the beauty around the falls we started to move up to the garden. We had our lunch in the best of the ambiance and bright sun shining to give us adequate warmth in the cold. Yes, the air was nippy in Aharbal even during summers. It is highly recommended to carry all the utilities required to enjoy a weekend picnic like lunch, snacks, water etc. just as we did.
Indeed Kashmir is a heaven on earth and there are plenty of places like Aharbal and Sinthan that are unseen, unheard and unexplored. Must visit for all those who are looking for that something new for their travel.