Unexplored Tourism Destinations of Ramban District
Syed Aamir Sharief Qadri
The famous Persian couplet of Amir Khusrau attributed to Emperor Jahangir is frequently used by everyone to define the beauty of Kashmir.Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast Trans: If there is a paradise on earth It is this, it is this, it is thisThough these lines were not written to illustrate the magnificence of Kashmir but it was Jahangir who used these words to describe valley as paradise on the earth. What he exclaimed is very true about Kashmir. But it seems-The beauty of other parts of J&K didn’t attract the great Mughals?They also didn’t know what is on the other side of the Pir Panjal?Keeping in view the difficulty of times they had lived, it is simple to answer these questions. Today we have a great technology at our disposal; still, we are unable to locate beautiful places in our surroundings. We even don’t know how many popular lakes, meadows and side valleys surround our Union Territory. What about those unexplored beauty spots that are hidden between lofty peaks. In a bountiful manner the state of J&K has been blessed with uncountable natural resources. Between surfaces of the earth to the top of the snow laden mountains everything is beautiful. From Trans Himalayan Ladakh to Jammu plains the region is painted with many colors.Like every district in J&K, Ramban also got its share when God was distributing valuable gifts in the form of picturesque meadows, lakes, rivers and springs. While travelling on NH 44 that passes through Ramban district people usually recall the horrors of Panthal, Digdol, Kela Mod, Khoni Nallah etc. This road presents a dangerous look and claims many lives every year. To enter safe zones people drive their vehicles very fast and cross risky points in a short span of time. They don’t know the road that cut mountains in the middle, are full of beautiful meadows at top. Let me tell the people who cross this road half-heartedly- “Don’t bow your head anymore. Open your heart to look at the top of these mountains and feel the fragrance of multi-color flowers to make your journey comfortable”.The local people name hilly terrains of Pir Panjal by different terms. For example, the mountain top is known as Maal. The loft peak is called Daar/ Dhar. The pass that connects one area to another is known as Gali. The plain meadow is named as Madaan. The people move their cattle (Mal) to upper reaches in summer season for grazing purpose. These grazing lands are called Baas.
Some important tourist destinations of district Ramban are as under-1. Zaban Hill Station, Nilpal Lamber and Thandi ChhahThe scenic meadow of Zaban is located about 5 kms from the national highway from Nowgam (Banihal). The panoramic view of village Khairkoot in Sanglaab valley from the top of Zaban hill station is marvelous. The Bichleri rivulet in Zaban forms lovely waterfall. Zaban is a part of cacaw reserve. Hence a wide variety of wildlife can be seen here. Nilpal Lamber is situated at a distance of about 5 kms from Banihal railway station connected with a motor able road. The sloping meadows, waterfall, spring and streams make this place very charming. Thandi-chhah is 10 kms away from Banihal town. This scenic spot has two parallel streams flowing on either side of the vast meadows.2. Moh Mangith and Adjoining Areas.The twin villages of Moh Mangith are located at a distance of about 45 km from Banihal Town. Its tehsil head quarter is Khari just 5 kms from Nachlana, situated on National Highway. The pahari speaking people of Moh Mangith are culturally more close to Kashmir valley as compared to Jammu region. Though this area is not connected by road with Kashmir but still they prefer to cross just one huge mountain to reach Dandward- Chimer area of district Kulgam. Recently the area was connected to its sub district Banihal through road. Now people don’t need to traverse huge mountain to reach Kashmir for business purpose. The extreme ravishing beauty with gorgeous streamlets and creeks make this area much beautiful. The glamorous meadows are studded with bubbling springs and unique flora and fauna. The beautiful cascades on sprawling rivulets present an elegant look. The slopes are decorated with pine, fir, and deodar forests and mountains with grimy glaciers. Among the other places of equal importance it is necessary to add few more neighboring places to list. Damantrag, Aramnakh, Pathalan, Gudbeir, Nawan, Mohri, Trajbal, Ratan, etc. are worth mentioning. Damantrag is a beautiful meadow at an altitude of about 3450 meter. The snow cover remains for more than six months.3. Neel Top and Pogal ParistanThe impressive Neel Top is located at a distance of 25 kms from Banihal town. This place is situated at an elevation of about 2000 meter above mean sea level and can be visited by two routes. One route leads from Chamalwas and another from Magarkote. Both of these routes fall in Jammu- Srinagar national highway. The heights of Pir Panjal present a majestic glance. At top one can feel every moment very closely. The overhead floating clouds, bright sunshine, cold breeze that touches soft skin, and sometimes fog and terrifying dark clouds shroud you in such a way that it becomes difficult to move on. One can feel all these things at Neel top also. Neel top provides base for many trekking expeditions such as Wasa Marg, Ejan-tragh, Chang Top, Hals-dhar, Bari-naal, Zaradi, Devita-dhar, Wanbara, Hansraj pass, Perhinder, Daganbass, Sargali, Yamul Top, Mayalsar, Nandimarg, etc. Pogal-Paristan- The land of fairies is situated about 23 kms from Banihal. The tehsil head quarter is located at Ukhral just 8 kms from National Highway via Magarkote. Pogli is the main language of the area. They also speak Kashmiri and Gojri. The famous pogli-geet locally called Chan is sung by both men and women on special occasions. One can enjoy this song while roving freely in the lovely meadows of Pogal Paristan. The two rivers- Pogali nallah (Sundari) and Paristan nallah further adds beauty to verdant meadows. There are streams which provide comfort by producing burbling and tuneful sounds. The spectacular meadows are spread over a vast area. Some popular spots include Nandimarg, Mayalsar Lake, Yamal Top, Sargali, Gogli dhar (Sunseri), Devhira, Gagan Top, Sarvadhar, Hansraj peak, etc. Some of these places can be visited from Kapran (Verinag) area of district Anantnag. There is a vast meadow at Sargali which serves as playing ground for local youth. One can have a pleasant view of Pogal on one side and Banihal on other side from top. At Sarvadhar there is a famous 400 year old temple of Chamunda Mata which can be reached through a village called Senabati. From beautiful Kharwan plateau one can have a majestic view of entire Neel and Paristan areas. During Dogra rule a Fort was constructed there named Pogal Qilla. But today you can see only debris of this ruined fort.4. Gool Gulabgad, Dagan Top and Bhatni village.In the lap of lofty mountains, Gool tehsil is located 55 kms from Ramban. Some important tourist attractions of the place are Dagan Top, Hajam Marg, Jabar Sar, Gooda gali, Ramakunda, Mazamkunda, Tata Pani, Bhatni village, Ladha Dhar, etc. All these places are located in the vicinity of Gool town. The swirling cool breeze envelops the meadows of Dagan Top. This place offers a picturesque view of Gool town. At an elevation of about 2000 meter this place separates Ramban from Reasi. It is situated about 10 kms from Gool on Gool-Mahore road. At short distance a trek from Dagan top leads to forest covered meadow of Hajam Marg. At a distance of few kms from Gool, Jabar valley is surrounded by green trees and meadows. There is a small marshy lake called Jabar Sar. Gooda Gali is a heritage site famous for stone carved objects. The stones are engraved extensively and art is depicted in various forms. The popular form of art is number of beautifully trimmed horse sculptures decorated with different motifs, on which some riders are sitting on a horse back. Other things of attraction include religious scenes of different Hindu gods, feudal setup in which kings, queens and princes dominate the stage, etc. The hot water of sulphur spring at Tatapani is believed to possess extraordinary healing power to cure diseases like dermatitis and arthritis. Large number of people from J&K visits this spring every year. Bhatni village is about 32 kms from District head quarter Ramban. At top of village, on fascinating Ladha Dhar range the famous Shankpal temple is located which is famous pilgrimage center. Bhatnimela is held every year in the month of August starting from Nag Panchmi. The centuries old ritual dance Kud is performed in honor of lok devtas by people on these days.Scope for Adventure TourismThe promising tourist resorts of Pogal Paristan, Gool Gulabgad, and Moh Mangith have a great potential for adventure tourism. The majority of sites with beautiful landscape mentioned above are fit for summer and winter sports. The popular sports like snow sledges, paragliding, and skiing can be easily done here. MountaineeringDue to wide range of hills and mountains the local people love to conquer different peaks of the region. Some popular heights of district include Moh Peak, Reyod Peak, Hansraj Peak, Yamal Top, Gagan Top, etc. At top of Reyod peak, a concrete pillar is said to have been constructed by Britishers for unknown reasons before independence. This pillar is popularly known as Angrez Thumb.Trekking and CampingWalking on moderate to difficult paths, by covering grasslands, forests and rocky surface, in search of relaxed meadows, when someone pitch tent on best camping ground along the river beds, he can relish best moments of life. Camping and night stay is very enjoyable at highlands during summer season. Some appropriate bases for trekking are as follows-Neel Top- While starting a trek from Neel top one can explore large number of astonishing places. The whole area of Pogal Paristan and some areas close to Kashmir valley can be visited easily.Moh-Mangith- These two places serve a base camp for many treks. A few of these treks help trekkers to reach Danew Kandimarg area of Kashmir valley. Bhaajkote- The trek from Bhaajkote passes through beautiful places such as Mudushera, Sarvadahar and ends at Pogal Paristan. Bhatni village- This village provides a campground for many trails. One such trail from Bhatni village passes through Shankpal top to reach Sanasar area of Patnitop. People and CultureThe most beautiful thing about Pahari speaking people is- They are straight forward cooperative people. With simple food and dress, they live prosperous life. Living in natural environs they are much dependent on natural resources. Throughout the year people gather necessary products (Jadi Booti) from forests that cure some common diseases. Like healthy environment their hearts are alive, full of warmth. Free from greed they don’t love worldly things. They are God fearing people and staunchly believe in salvation through prayers. With the melting of snow in upper reaches they shift along with their cattle to settle in Dhokhs, where they live in Kothas for few months. Mostly they use wild variety of vegetables that are found in abundance. The popular dish include a variety of things consumed together such as they take bread made of maize floor known as Makai Chot, along with vegetables and a special type of curd known as Gurus.Valuable suggestionsThe real beauty of district Ramban is found on the upper reaches of hill tops. Most tourist spots are unexplored and lack some basic facilities such as road connectivity, electricity, drinking water, lodges, hotels and cafes. There is a need to gear up developmental programme in these unexplored locations so that it can benefit local people by creating a number of jobs. Besides tourism government must think how to uplift the downtrodden people living on mountain slopes. To eradicate poverty from the region it is necessary to exploit these beauty spots at maximum for the common good of people. With the huge inflow of tourists the local art and crafts will flourish as well. The government should endorse distinct culture of people by promoting local language and literature, music and dance, fairs and festivals, folk dances, etc.
Bio LineSyed Aamir Sharief Qadri is from J&K. He has completed post-graduation in History from the University of Kashmir and obtained an M.Phil. at Punjabi University Patiala. He also qualified JKSET in 2016. Currently, he works as a freelance writer for different newspapers as a guest writer. His articles got published in many leading newspapers .