The word Kashmir conjure up enigmatic imagery in one’s mind. The beauty of this land has attracted millions from across the globe. The proverb that “Kashmir is the paradise on earth” is the one that most have heard. Unquestionably, it is! The lovely Dal lake, tenacious Char Chinar, Chashme Shahi, the endless waters of Wular lake, and the unexplored Bungus valley evoke traditional images portraying an old-world poetic beauty. The location’s beauty is just ethereal, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular travel destination for hikers and visitors worldwide and to top it all, Kashmir is also swanked with some unbeatable trekking routes.
Trekking places in the region are a hypnotic sojourn. On one hand, they infuse you with the tranquillity of nature, and on the other, you also accomplish your adventure goals. The kaleidoscope of luscious valleys, chromatic meadows, and shimmering mountain lakes cuddled amidst magnanimous Himalayan summits is just too overpowering. All of this has motivated ardent romantics, bikers and adventure lovers to visit and create lifetime memories. Living true to Kashmir’s trekking galore, North Kashmir regions have marvellous trekking routes still unexplored.
I had the opportunity to trek two such routes; one starts at Mankal village of Mawer region and goes all the way to Bod Bungus, and the other starts at Manabal village going all the way to Sum Panzal. The best time to trek these routes is between July and September. The moment you enter these villages, pleasant surroundings inject good vibes essential for a start, and the journey ahead becomes enthralling and exciting.
It’s a one-day trek with 15 Km to cover; therefore, an additional day was included as a backup in case the weather turns unfavourable, which is inevitable in this part of the world. The day started with three hours of an arduous hike through Marwa village to reach Marwa Top, a level meadow where I halted for lunch and a first small break. On to the left of Marwa Top is the mighty Bran Khudu overlooking the entire Rashwari and Patwari village. The distance of Bran khudu is 2 kms at maximum, but the steepness makes the climb difficult. I journeyed across the lovely meadows towards Poshdori and Nildori through the stunning, deep silver birch forest. It was not before evening that I managed to reach Nildori, and soon Bod Bungus was in clear sight. Even though we had excellent weather the entire day, the last 45 minutes clearly showed how awful and hazardous it might get. The skies suddenly let go with ferocity as we were ready to arrive at our destination. We were taken off guard, and we were already wet by the time we had our rain ponchos on. Every few minutes, there was deafening thunder and lightning. Despite exhaustion, the satisfaction of reaching the destination was evident on our faces. I was ecstatic about how fruitful the day had been. Sum Panzal is located on Kazi Nag Dhar ridge, famously called KND ridge and is a gateway to the monumental Vizi Top. 18 kilometres had to be travelled, which required ascending and descending heights and traversing extremely precarious routes.
There are longer, nerve-racking climbs over granite stones and simpler walking sections on flat meadows. The gorgeous trek in the region, without a doubt. It’s been accurately described as a scenic pleasure. You travel through large green meadows with sheep calmly grazing and colourful wildflowers splattered all over the trail as you ascend rugged mountains with water gushing into flowing streams. The cherry on top is that you get to visit the beautiful Rangwar, a sojourn of the Bhakarwal tribe of Rajouri, in June and July. There are numerous dhoks (wooden huts) of locals who can be seen grazing their cattle. The entire journey is like looking at a vast canvas that has been painted in a variety of colours and tones.
To complete the journey, you need strong lungs, solid knees, and a focused mind. Although physical fitness is crucial, your perseverance and mental toughness will eventually get you through.