The Upper Kaghan Valley, Mansera, Pakistan - June 2009
The Kaghan Valley (Urdu: وادی کاغان) is a valley in the north-east of Mansehra District of the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan. It attracts many tourists from around the country. The inhabitants were affected by the earthquake disaster on 8 October 2005.
The Kaghan valley is named after the town of Kaghan rather than for the Kunhar River which flows through the length of the valley. The valley extends 155 km, rising from an elevation of 2,134 feet (650 m) to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 13,690 feet (4,170 m). Popular languages are Hindko and Gojri, while Urdu, Pakistan's national language is also familiar among the locals. The region is Alpine in geography and climate, with forests and meadows dominating the landscape below peaks that reach over 17,000 feet.
Its mountains, dales, lakes, water-falls, streams and glaciers are still in a pristine state. Kaghan is at its best during summer (from May to September). In May the temperature ranges between a maximum of 11 °C (52 °F) and a minimum of 3 °C (37 °F). From the middle of July up to the end of September the road beyond Naran is open right up to Babusar Pass. Movement is restricted during the monsoon and winter seasons. The Kaghan area can reached by road via the towns of Balakot, Abbottabad and Mansehra. In Balakot, one may find buses and other transports to reach Kaghan or Naran.
The road from Balakot ascends along the Kunhar River through lovely forests and the villages of Paras, Shinu, Jared and Mahandri. The valley is somewhat narrow along this stretch and the views are limited but as you ascend, the surrounding peaks come into view. One spot that is quite famous for its spectacular view and scenery is 'Shogran'. This village, surrounded by peaks and forests, is east of the main Kunhar River. It hosts the famous Siri Payee Lake mountain with breathtaking views at its top.
Kaghan Valley is home to many a tourist attractions, especially its lakes. There are more than a dozen big and small lakes in the valley, but three are more popular among the tourists: Saiful Muluk Lake, Dudipatsar Lake and Lulusar Lake.
Saiful Muluk, named in a folktale—the Qissa Saiful Muluk—about a romance between a Persia prince and a fairy princess. In the folktale. The lake is mentioned as the meeting site of the lovers in the folktale. lake Saiful Muluk is 10,578 feet (3,224 m) above the sea level, it is one of the highest and most beautiful lakes in Pakistan. The water of this over a mile in diameter oval shaped lake is spectacularly clear with a slight green tone..
It is accessible by a motor-able road during the summer months or can be reached by tracking from the nearest village Naran, some 10 kilometers away in four to five hours. The clarity of the water comes from the multiple glaciers all around the high basin feeding the lake.
Dudipat Lake is enclosed with high peaks. It is one of the hardest places to reach in the valley, requiring a tough hike lasting four to seven hours. The hike is rewarding, as tourists are greeted with green pastures and the lake's blue-green waters.
Lulusar Lake is approximately 48 kilometers away from Naran and has an altitude of 10,910 feet (3,330 m). Surrounded by wildflowers in almost all colors imaginable, this lake is the main source for the Kunhar River. Lake Lulusar is said to be one of the most tranquil spots on the Kaghan Valley, the lake is fenced by snow capped mountains whose image is reflected on the standstill blue-green waters of this approximately three kilometers long "L" shaped lake. Jared is a very beautiful village with having special attraction for tourists,In this village there is one small industry of wood working which is point of attention for visitors.The peoples of this village are mostly Hindko speakers and mostly belonged to Swati caste.This village is about 80 km from Mansehra city and almost 40 km from Naran.
There are many hotels in the Naran valley. One of the most popular is the New Cecil Hotel. Among other Fairy land Hotel is also situated in midway of kaghan valley near Malakandi with exciting natural scenaries,
Fishing is the chief sport in Kaghan. Brown Trout and Mahasher are stocked in pure silvery waters in the upper parts of the valley. The Kunhar river trout is considered to be the best throughout the sub-continent. Fishing licenses are issued by the 'Fisheries Department at Naran' or by the 'Trout Hatchery' at Shinu. Apart from this there are some other private trout fish farms at Kawai (also spelled as Kiwai) and Kahania, these are owned by pine park hotels, a well known hotel chain in Kaghan valley.
Onwards a 3 hour drive away from Shogran is Naran. It is a small tourist village open only during the tourist season of May to September. The rest of the time it is covered with snow. All visitors come to Naran to pay a visit to the Saiful Muluk Lake (10,500 feet) 6 miles east of town. If the road is open transportation by jeep can be arranged. If the road is closed, it is an easy, gradual three-hour walk, and the lake is a lovely spot for a picnic.
If you are walking directly up-valley from Naran to Babusar "Top" the loveliest spots to camp on this trail is at "Lulusar Lake". Located just before the final grade to Babusar Top and surrounded by tall peaks, Lulusar is just one many high elevation lakes that sit along the crest of the ridge.
One of the most interesting features of the Kaghan area is the Gujar (herder) families you'll see along the way bringing their animals up to the summer pastures. The Kaghan valley is one of their most popular destinations in Pakistan. You will find them camped along the road in their tents or moving up the valley with their goats, sheep and pack animals around the start of summer and on their way back to lower altitudes around the beginning of winter.