Kashmir Portal

A digital Kashmir Info Network

Azad Kashmir (Travel Guide)

Posted by Kashmir Portal on June 5, 2009

Azad Kashmir

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia : Pakistan : Azad Kashmir

Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), or Azad Kashmir for short, is a self-governing state under Pakistani control. Azad Kashmir has its own president, prime minister, legislature, high court, and official flag. According to Pakistan’s constitution, Azad Kashmir is not part of Pakistan, and its inhabitants have never had any representation in Pakistan’s parliament but they have their own parliament. To this day, Azad Kashmir remains part of the Kashmir dispute and is claimed by India to be a Pakistani-occupied part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Regions

There are two division of Azad Kashmir

  • Muzaffarabad & Poonch – includes districts of Muzaffarabad, Neelum, Poonch, Bagh and Sudhnati – which are further divided into Muzaffarabad city, Rawalakot, Hajira, Abbaspur, Bagh, Haveli, Dhirkot and Pallandari.
  • Mirpur – includes districts of Mirpur, Bhimber and Kotli – which are further divided into Mirpur, Dudial, Bhimber, Barnala, Samahni, Kotli, Fatehpur and Sehnsa.

Cities

  • Muzaffarabad – the capital of the state and close to the epicenter of the 2005 earthquake
  • Mirpur – is the second largest city of Azad Kashmir. Popular for its nearby Mangla view resort.
  • Bhimber
  • Kotli
  • Poonch includes Rawalakot
  • Bagh
  • Sudhnati
  • Neelum

Other destinations

  • Mangla Resort [1]
  • Neelum Valley is a scenic valley located 240kms from Muzaffarabad. It runs parallel to Kaghan valley and is separated by snow covered peaks. It offers panoramic view of hills on both sides of the river, lush green forests, enchanting streams, high altitude lakes and attractive surroundings. It is also ideal for Mount tourism. A scenic road opens this valley to tourists up to Kel, 155 kilometers from Muzaffarabad. Buses ply daily on this route and accommodation facilities are also available in the rest houses at places of tourist attraction.
  • Jhelum Valley is another scenic valley located 59kms from Muzaffarabad
  • Palandri in Sudhnati: Baral is the village near Plandri is a a Beautiful Place.There is a fort of Dogra (sikh) period.
  • Billan Nar is the another small, beautiful place.
  • Niyarain sharif is a religious place.

Understand

Some parts of Azad Kashmir are off-limits to tourists, especially the 15-mile-wide buffer zone along the Line of Control that separates the state from the neighboring Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Large portions of Azad Kashmir were devastated in the October 2005 earthquake, which leveled entire villages and towns and killed over 75,000 people.

Talk

Urdu is the official language, but in practice, people speak a mix of Pahari, Gojri, Pashto, Mirpuri and Hindko. As elsewhere, English is fairly widely spoken among the educated classes and those involved in the tourist industry.

Get in

By plane

There are no direct flights to Azad Kashmir.

  • Islamabad International Airport [2] in neighboring Pakistan is currently scheduled to be expanded and modernized to meet future passenger needs, as the demand for air travel has increased dramatically. There are many airlines flying into and out of Islamabad, including Ariana Afghan Airlines, British Airways, and China Southern Airlines. When the Islamabad airport is used by local government officials and foreign diplomats, however, other travelers might find the airport temporarily closed to them for security reasons.

By land

Traveling by road to Azad Kashmir is itself an attraction as you come across the most beautiful scenes of winding rivers and hills. It takes about 4 to 5 hours from Islamabad to Muzaffarabad in a car or van. You also pass through the beauty of hills the Murree during the journey. This is the shortest route to this city.

Buses and MPVs leave from Islamabad, Pakistan approximately every 20 minutes for different destinations in Azad Kashmir.

Get around

By Bus

Muzaffarabad and Mirpur has the busiest bus network in Azad Kashmir, running from early hours of the morning to late night. Daily routes includs Bhimber District, Dina, Gujrat, Jhelum, Kharian & Kotli District.

The new coaches in Muzaffarabad / Mirpur travel to larger cities of Pakistan including Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi & Sialkot.

By Taxis

Also by Car hire

See

Azad Kashmir is rich in natural beauty. Its snow-covered peaks, forests, rivers, streams, valleys, velvet green plateaus and climate varying from arctic to tropical, join together to make it an excellent tourist attraction.

Visit scenic valleys like Neelum, Jhelum, Leepa, Rawalakot, Banjosa, Samahni & Baghser.

Do

Azad Kashmir has varied mountainous landscape ranging from low hills to high mountains (2000 to 6000 m) which are suitable for adventure sports like climbing, trekking, mountaineering, summer camping and hiking.

Its Rivers & Stream are suitable for white water sports, especially rafting, canoing and kayaking.

It has a varied wildlife to see which includes Leopard, Himalayan Bear, Ibex, Grey Goral, Musk Deer, Kashmir Stag, Monal Pheasant, Western Tragopan, Snow Pheasant, Red-led Partridge, Black Koklas Pheasant, Peacock, Dusk Markhor etc.

Eat

Kashmiris celebrate the first snowfall of the season by socializing over a barbecue. They relax in the cold crisp evenings with a cup of warm ‘Kahwa’… a black tea brewed with cinnamon, cardamom and honey. Also a perennial favorite is the pink colored ‘Nun Chai’ made with a special salt. Rich and redolent with the flavor of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and saffron, Kashmiri food is suitable for all palates.

Drink

Kashmir being a Muslim society does not have drinking as a part of her culture.

Stay safe

Azad Kashmir is considered to be relatively safe, but some parts of it are off-limits to tourists, particularly the 15-mile-wide buffer zone along the Line of Control that separates the state from the neighboring Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Domestic tourists can visit Azad Kashmir without any restriction but, however, are advised to keep their identity papers with them. Foreign tourists are only allowed to visit following places with permit; Dheerkot, Rawalakot, Chotta gala, Chikkar, Daokhan, Muzaffarabad, Mangia & Sehnsa. Permits are issued by the AJK Home Department at Muzaffarabad.

Large portions of Azad Kashmir were devastated in the October 2005 earthquake, which leveled entire villages and towns and killed over 75,000 people.

Get out

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