Shamshabari Ranges (abode of Fir Trees) in the North of Kashmir valley forms four distinct valleys namely Tangdhar, Keran, Machhal and Gurez. Machhal valley with salubrious climate, serene views and stunning landscapes is the crown jewel of the Shamshabari Ranges. The valley used to be an exclusive holiday resort for royalty of Jammu & Kashmir during pre independence era. The valley is interspersed with numerous rivulets or Nars with biggest being Machhal Nar. The name of the valley has been derived from the Machhal Nar meaning abundance of fish.
The valley witnesses heavy snowfall in the winters and from various shades of green it turns to a sheet of white. The snow melts by the month of May/ June paving the way for the flora and fauna of the valley to flourish. Spring if we may term it, brings with it splashes of colour all around and return of the magnificent views. Let’s take a sneak peek at the flora and fauna of the Machhal Valley.
The Himalayan Poppy or Meconopsis found in the area is of a cool shade of blue. Amongst the greens you may sight this beautiful blue flower. The Birds’s-Foot Trefoil or Lotus Corniculatus is a flowering plant of the pea family. These small flowers are scattered throughout the slopes and valley. The peculiar name is due to the shape of the flower.
Foxtail Lily or Giant Desert Candle or Eremurus robustus is a common sight in the valley. It is a very tall, narrow plant with a stem 6–10 ft (1.8–3.0 m) high, and leaves as long as 48 in (120 cm) and 4 in (10 cm) wide, the widest in its genus. Buttercups are a large genus of flowering plants called Ranunculus. It has yellow, shiny petals, and grows wild in many places. The harmless looking flower is poisonous to eat for humans and cattle, but when dry the poison is not active.
The common birds seen in the valley are Winter Sparrow and Himalayan Eagle, these birds have adapted themselves to survive the winter by seeking out shelter in dense foliage or cavities to avoid the elements. This wonderful cycle of nature continues each year making Machhal Valley a tourist delight in the summers.