Tulail is a remote valley in Gurez which lies in North of Samshabari, in the Greater Himalayan
range and is located about 130 kms North of Srinagar. It is situated on the banks of the
Kishanganga River (also known as Neelam River) and is bordered by Mushkoh valley and Drass
to its East, Gurez valley to its West and Astore District (presently administered by PoK) to the
North. It is known for its natural beauty and is called the ‘Hidden Paradise of Gurez’. The region is
also known for its flora and fauna most particularly the Himalayan Brown Bear and the Snow
Leopard. The main villages present here in Tulail valley are Burnai, Purana Tulail, Sheikpora, Niru,
Badogam and Badoab. Chakwali is the last village on the Eastern side of the Tulail valley. It is one
of the remotest valleys in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir and is connected to Bandipora
by the majestic and breath taking Razdhan pass, which remains closed for nearly 6 months during
the winter due to heavy snowfall. The valley lies within close proximity to the Line of Control.
Tulail was part of the ancient Dristan civilization. It was one of the first civilizations to have
flourished in the Gurez Valley. During the first half of the first millennium, various archaeological
says and carvings have shown that Hinduism and later Buddhism were the main religions
widespread in the region.
The Islamic influence took place around the 13th to 15th century with the
arrival of Mir Sayyid Ali Hamadani at Gurez. Hamadani visited the valley thrice, along with seven
hundred preachers known as ‘Sadat’s’, of these seven hundred preachers seven settled in Gurez
incl Baba Abdul Razaq Shah and Baba Dervais, whose shrines are located near the chalet of
Fakirpora. The names of the other preachers are unknown although they have their shrines
located at Chorwan, Bagtor & Dangithal Tulail in addition to Kamri and Dudgai villages, both of
which are presently in PoK. The Tulail valley forms a part of the ancient Silk Route which
connected East Asia to the West. It is through this route that the people of the valley got their
current Islamic influence. The population is mainly Sunni Muslim belong to the Shina speaking
Dardic tribe. Before the partition, the people of Tulail mainly relied on agriculture, trade and animal
husbandry for a living, however after the partition, all trade routes were closed and the once
flourishing civilization was pushed into oblivion on to either side of the LC. The ones who could
afford to re-locate eventually moved to Bandipora or Srinagar, while the rest settled down to a life
of self-sustenance and isolation. Prior to the partition, the valley was a popular destination for
foreign tourists including Franklin Delano Roosevelt who is known to have visited the valley before
he became the president of the United States of America.During the 1947-48 Indo – Pak war, the
locals assisted the Indian Army against the Kabaili raiders and have since then been loyal to the
Indian Flag. A popular folklore has been passed down through the generations, of how the people
of Tulail revolted against the Pakistani raiders. Legend has it that about 18 persons belonging to
the Pakistani militia were looting the villagers, raping the women and forcefully grabbing ration and
supplies that the villagers collected from Bandipora. Crossing the pinnacles of tolerance, the locals
invited the raiders to a meal and snatched their weapons before killing all of them in cold blood.
The Indian Army was then called in from Bandipora to secure the area.
Despite fair education standards and reservation/ quota in government jobs, unemployment is
rampant in Tulail. Primary occupation of the people includes agriculture and animal husbandry.
Being surrounded by the Army and other Security Forces, these forces provide employment
opportunities throughout the year to the locals in the form of porter company and casual porters.
Self-employment is limited and yet to pick up pace due to lack of awareness of government
support schemes. To avail the facilities provided by the government, the locals need to be in
possession of their Aadhar Card, however, only about 60% of the locals currently have their
Aadhar cards. The Army and civil administration are making persistent efforts to ensure that
maximum number of civilians register for Aadhar.
During the summers, locals engage in tilling and other agricultural activities. A large number of
male villagers gets employed as porters with the Army and the BSF while some move to
Bandipora and Srinagar in search of occupation and return after the onset of winter, while some
choose to stay. Productivity is restricted mainly to the summer season. Permanent jobs with
assured payments like teachers & government servants are much sought after. The locals enjoy
being engaged in recreational activities like music, dance and sports. Women generally perform all
the household chores including cooking, cleaning, gathering of firewood, animal rearing and
agricultural duties. Wood being the primary source of fuel for cooking and heating, it is very
common to see women carrying 20 to 30 kilograms of wood every day for their daily requirements
as well as for winter stocking. A significant number of bakarwals visit Tulail during summers
primarily to graze their heard. Most of them arrive from Rajouri during the month of April and
generally move out by September. They have fixed locations where they have constructed small
accommodations called ‘Dhoks’.
The winter season lasts from Nov to April. Winters here in valley are very harsh with about 10 to
20 ft of snowfall and temperatures dropping all the way to -35 degrees Celsius, this requires
stocking of groceries, firewood and other supplies during the summer. During the winters, the
villagers spend most of their time indoors and the activities of the valley remain restricted to local
neighborhood. The locals engage themselves in singing, dancing, winter sports and weaving by
the ladies. A few also pick up vocational training to utilize the time productively. If the weather is
clear and sunny, one can see them come out of their houses to bask in the sunlight. When the
weather gets inclement, the villagers remain indoors in the comfort of their home. They burn
firewood in small metal drums with chimneys to keep them warm. These heating drums or
bukharis as they are called are the lifeline of the villagers during the winters. Another traditional
heating equipment used is the Kangri. It consists of wood/ coal burning in a small earthen pot
placed in a cane basket. This basket is held underneath a thick woolen ‘Kurta’ dress called
The road network is very archaic and limited. It is mostly restricted to the main axis running along
the Kishanganga River. The condition of the roads are very poor and there is constant damage
due to heavy snowfall and frequent landslides.
Electricity is supplied to the villages through a high-capacity diesel generator located at Jurniyal.
However, the power is limited and the supply is timed. Electricity is available for two hours during
the morning from 0430 hrs to 0630 hrs and for 4 hours in the evening from 1830 hrs to 2230 hrs.
There is no permanent sports infrastructure in the valley. The locals generally enjoy playing
volleyball and cricket. A high potential for winter and adventure sports exists in the area, however,
due to limited accessibility, resources and support the sports infrastructure has not seen adequate
Medical infrastructure is severely inadequate. There is only one PHC in PuranaTulail village and
has a capacity of three beds.However, the facilities available are limited to treatments of routine
ailments. This causes a major issue during the winter when roads are blocked. The civilians then
have to rely on civil and army helicopter services for emergency evacuations. A 15 bed hospital
has been under construction at PTL village for the past six years, however, the construction has
hit a roadblock due to inadequate funds.
The education infrastructure is primitive and consists of one primary school, one middle school
and one higher secondary school at PTL village. The higher secondary school is provided with one
computer laboratory with eight computers and a small volleyball court. A new accommodation for
teachers and their families has been constructed at the village. The civic authorities plan to
activate the accommodation this year.
Being remote and having limited accessibility, the people of Tulail face numerous challenges.
Locals have to walk long distances for basic necessities as available transport network is limited
and expensive. Only basic medical facilities are available in the villages, for the rest, the locals
have to go to Dawar or Bandipora or even Srinagar for treatment. One of the major problems
faced during the winter is the blockage of roads and restrictions in vehicle movement due to the
tremendous accumulation of snow and the risk of avalanches. In case of emergencies, the locals
have to rely on civil and military helicopter services which too are dependent on the prevailing
weather conditions. Due to a limited number of schools and limited facilities in the schools,
children are deprived of quality education. A rapidly rising population coupled with lack of
opportunities has led to a high level of unemployment. Electricity too is limited to a couple of hours
a day and a few villages are yet to be electrified.
Many governmental, non-governmental and local bodies are striving hard for the development of
Tulail. The civil hospital set up at Dawar is being upgraded with better equipment, so that locals
are not required to go to Bandipora for basic diagnostics and treatment. Schools are now being
provided with better teaching equipment and new IT infrastructure to improve the standard of
education. The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) is constructing a hydroelectric
plant in Kanzalwan. This plant aims at providing continuous electric supply to the villages.The first
Mobile communication tower was set up in Barnoi and activated in Dec 2020. More towers are
being set up in the area to provide network connectivity and internet facilities to the locals. The
Indian Army has been striving hard to bring about development with its initiatives such as Army
Goodwill School for education, doctor on foot drive for medical aid and multiple activities to boost
tourism. With the latest District Development Council elections, a sense of hope and positivity has
been seen amongst the locals with regard the development of the valley. With enhanced
development and impetus to tourism, the locals can finally look forward to become a flourishing
civilization like it was before.