Warwan Valley: A hidden beauty

Greater Kashmir

Area With Tremendous Tourism Potential Neglected By Govt

Inshan (Kishtwar), July 23: The towering lush green buttes are astounding. The breathtaking waterfalls, clear sky and cool breeze are stunning. But what may be the greatest wonder of a visit to Warwan Valley is its clam, making this place a complete beauty, hidden from the world.
The Valley of Warwan, falling in Kishtwar district, is situated in the upper reaches of Himalayas at an altitude of around 7000 feet above sea level. It is bound by Kashmir Valley on one side and Ladakh on the other and remains completely cut off from the rest of the world for around 7 months in a year.
Just three hours drive from the renowned tourist place of Kokernag in South Kashmir’s Islamabad (Anantnag) district takes one to a place where hope is the only key for survival. A 50 kilometer bumpy drive is adventurous for a tourist but for the local residents the distance has kept them away from even the basic amenities of life.
A dog guiding a herd of sheep can be seen in the canyon below the Margan Valley, and often nomads on horseback greet visitors. Some of them even pose for photographs that too without any charge.
The hustle bustle ends at Shatroo, a small village of Islamabad (Anantnag) district, from where an uneven road amid eye-catching natural beauty is the only driving force which keeps one moving. Amid the roughed terrain one reaches Margan top – also known as the gateway of Warwan Valley.
An overwhelming quiet welcomes you amid the sound of water flowing down the Warwan River – one of the key tributaries of river Chenab.
Inshan is the first village in the Warwan Valley and the only one where you will find some official accommodation – that too in shambles. With high tourism potential, the area seems to be out of the map of tourism department.
A place which could have been a tourist paradise, has no electricity, no hospitals and only a few schools in the scattered habitation. The lush green mountains with dense forest have been a ‘curse’ for the local residents.
“You talk about tourism? Most of us have seen vehicle just a year back when the only road link, Vailoo-Inshan, road was thrown open for traffic”, Muhammad Ramzan, a local resident said.
However, in eighties this Valley was said to be a hub of adventure tourism, especially for the foreign visitors. The old and historical trekking routes especially from Inshan to Zanskar were well known among the foreign tourists.
The Valley had no source of any communication till two years back. The police and army wireless communication system was the only way to communicate even for the government officials. The government has, however, now provided satellite phones in some of the habitations.
The people here believe that the non-connectivity with the rest of the world has severally affected them. “Most of our elders here are illiterate and those of our age group have hardly gone to schools”, Nusrat Ali, a man in mid 40s claimed. He said that a few schools have been opened in the Valley but the government has hardly done anything to strengthen the standard of education.
“We have ReTs running these schools but honestly they are even not able to read properly”, another local resident claimed.
Though most of the villagers have nothing to cherish about, they say it is hope which keeps them alive. “Come winter and you will see how people survive with more than 8 feet snow outside,” Rahim Chacha, as he is know in the village at Afti, said.
“For at least four months our movement gets restricted to our homes only”, he said adding, “We eat what we produce in our fields during summer and store it for winters.”