Lolab Valley: Kashmir Unexplored

Lolab valley is in the northern district Kupwara of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Being very close to India’s most disputed border, Kupwara unfortunately ignites a lot of fear.

But things are changing now.

Lolab valley is studded with natural beauty and warm, hospitable locals. Minus the throngs of tourists. This part of Kashmir is as virgin as it gets.

Green fields, streams flowing through them, surrounded by the beautiful green Himalaya mountains, a typical landscape all through Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India.

This is an idyllic summer scene in rural Kashmir.

Wooden houses with tinned roofs surrounded by rice fields. And Himalayas over the horizon.

Reshwari, a border town in Kashmir

Reshwari is a border village in the Kupwara district of northern Kashmir.This is the stream that flows by the tourist bungalow in Reshwari. Local kids come here everyday in the summer for their after school swim.

On our first day in northern Kashmir, we stayed at a border village named Reshwari. It is locally also known as Nowgam. (Not to be confused with the Srinagar railway station.)

The tourism department of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is encouraging visitors to give this place a try. We stayed at the tourist bungalow run by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Department.

This was the view from our window. At the stream local kids were having their everyday after school swim. We shared a mutual curiosity with them. This made for an interesting conversation. Starting with their swimming skills and favourite subject in school. And them wanting to know the cost of our camera!

A typical village scene, wooden house surrounded by green rice fields and surrounded by the Himalayan mountains in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India.

In the evening we had tea / namkeen chai kahwa and local bread in the surrounding lawns. Then set out for a stroll among the deodars that line the village. Pluck some walnuts on the way. Apples were sadly yet to ripen!

Reshwari is set on a hilly forest. It is advisable to be back in the tourist bungalow before nightfall. For dinner, we had piping hot rice and Roganjosh.

Driving through Lolab valley

Lush green rice fields surrounded by the pine trees and the Himalaya mountains in Lolab valley in northern Kashmir, India

The next morning, we set out to explore the Lolab valley. This is an almost steady landscape in the Lolab valley in summer. Rice is a staple food here, as it is in the rest of Kashmir. The fields were lush green with the freshly planted paddy crops.

Women set out to the fields in Lolab valley.

Two women carrying sickles head to the farms to cut some firewood in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India

We saw them while roaming through a village road in Lolab valley.

Firewood is still a major source of fuel in the houses in rural Kashmir. Women make several trips in the day collecting wood for daily use in the kitchen. Around August, they also start stocking wood for the winter months.

People of the valley, Kashmir Kids of the hills

Initially surprised at seeing us, they soon became pally. It was amusing for them, that we wanted to click their pictures. But they were relaxed and actually enjoyed being photographed.

Chandigham in Lolab valley

A guest house, run by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department, surrounded by pine trees, at Chandigham in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India

After driving through the lush green fields of the Lolab valley, we headed to a small town called Chandigham. There is a beautiful tourist bungalow here. This one is also run by the tourism department of the Jammu and Kashmir government.

It is a perfect place for a lunch break just as we did.

However, if being surrounded by the fir forest at the back and the rice fields in front, catches your fancy, just stay on here.

Kalaroos village folks

Two old women dressed in traditional Kashmir attire curiously peek out of their windows in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India.

After resting for a while in Chandigham, we headed to a village named Kalaroos deeper in the Lolab valley.

It’s very rare that a car of tourists drives by these village roads.

And everybody is curiously peeping out of their windows!

A girl wearing a blue salwar kameez and surprisingly uncovered head poses for the camera as she climbs up the steps to her house in Lolab Valley in the Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India.

We saw her entering the house, while walking around in the village. When we took the camera out to take her picture, she stopped and posed. Then she ran into the house.There were no words exchanged.

This actually is a pretty rare sight in Kashmir: a female with the head not covered!

Satbern/ Satburn in Lolab valley

Satbern, a mysterious structure, with seven doors made in stone atop a hilltop in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India

Once in Kalaroos, we had to ask around for Satbern. Word got by and were soon surrounded a group of youngsters, eager to be our guide.

Not for money, mind you! Just for the pleasure of guiding – and showing off their local attraction!

Satbern is a rocky structure with seven doors. These doors lead to nowhere. Mystery seems to be its only purpose. This whole structure is supposedly traced back to the time of the Pandavas – from Mahabharat!

Kalaroos caves in Lolab valley

Two boys guide us out of the Kalaroos caves in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India.

Further up from Satbern/Satburn are the Kalaroos caves. These caves are even more mysterious than Satbern.

It was our first cave experience. This made the steep climb through the dark cave even more exciting.

The Kalaroos caves are still archaeologically unexplored. Folklore says they extend all the way to Russia!!

Kalaroos village view

Verdant fields of rice stretch all the way to the horizon surrounded by mountains on all sides in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir.

This was the view atop the hills that house the Satbern and the Kalaroos caves. Green carpets rolled all the way to the horizon!

Khumriyal in Lolab valley

A guest house, run by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department, surrounded by pine trees, at Khumriyal in Lolab valley, Kupwara district in northern Kashmir, India

The spacious tourist bungalow in Khumriyal village of Lolab valley was the last stop of our day.

Sipping some pink coloured namkeen chai (salty tea), we watched the sun set in the Himalayas. Flocks of birds were returning back to their homes in the firs and pines surrounding the tourist bungalow.

The entire village came to visit us. Along with the staff they were all eager to cater to our needs. The kids wanted to play with us (and the camera!). The women particularly told us to let them know if we needed anything!

In such pristine surroundings, there’s little else that one could want!

This is the map of the above places of the Lolab valley. The place on the extreme left on the map is Reshwari

These travel stories will help you plan your trip to Kashmir

Guide for offbeat travel to Kashmir, India

srinagar tourist attractions dal lake kashmir

chatpal offbeat places kashmir

day trip kokernag kashmir

amarnath yatra on foot pahalgam

Or if you are traveling ahead of Kashmir to Ladakh

leh manali road trip

tso moriri ladakh

drass stay kargil ladakh

Lamayuru Ladakh moonland offbeat

And Zanskar too…

Zanskar journey India travel

Need help planning your trip to Kashmir?

Tell us your requirement.

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Sandeepa and Chetan. Married. Indians. Exploring Travel as Lifestyle. Featured by National Geographic, Yahoo. We hope that through our travel stories we inspire others to make their dream into a reality.

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45 thoughts on “Lolab Valley: Kashmir Unexplored

  1. Balaji Subramanian

    Hi Sandeep,

    How to book the JKTDC cottages. I am not able to find any online cottages the link for booking the cottages. Please let me know how

    1. Balaji Subramanian

      Hi Sandeep, one more question is that how to reach Bangus Valley. Have you been there? Do we need any permission to reach?

      1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

        Hello Balaji, Bangus was off limits for civilians when we visited. It depends on what the Indian army has decided for a particular period. You can call the Lolab-Bangus Development Authority at 9419017791 to find out about the present situation.

  2. Subhkirti Sinha

    Hi Sandeep, Very inspired by your pictures.. I am planning to go to Lolab Valley for a 3 day trip.. Just wanted to know how convenient is to get a cab there from Srinagar? Plus, whats the mode of commute in the valley itself? My wife had a broken leg two months back, and so travelling on foot extensively is not a very good option for us. Can you also recommend a place to stay in Lolab?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      There are several guest houses run by the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism department in the Lolab valley. They are situated in beautiful locations and have nice rooms. You can hire a cab to take you to Lolab valley from Srinagar. Since your wife has had a broken leg will not recommend public transport, else shared Sumo taxis are everywhere in the valley. We would recommend heading to the Kupwara tourism office which is on the way to Lolab valley. They can help you chalk out a detailed itinerary for Lolab, including the exact locations of the guest houses.

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  4. Afzal Khan

    Hi,

    Very well covered & highlighted the Lolab Valley. I have been to kashmir couple of times, this time I want to cover the non-tourist spots. Was confused between Lolab Valley & Gurez Valley.

    Thanks for your beautiful post, now I am planning for Lolab Valley.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Thanks, Afzal! Gurez is also very beautiful though we have heard. We never went there but definitely will the next time. Lolab valley is a very different landscape than the rest of Kashmir.

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  6. Pritam

    Hi Sandeep great post man. We are a group of nine adults visiting Kashmir. Reaching Srinagar on 4th Oct n leaving 12th Oct. Please help me to finalise the itinerary. Keep travelling buddy.

  7. kushagrachaudhary

    Hi Sandeep. I am planning to visit Kupwara area. How safe is it for a solo traveller by bike. Also please suggest some more places than what is explained in your blog. What about the accommodations in these areas. Please suggest.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hello Kushagra, keep a watch on the local news about the situation when you intend to travel. As long as things are normal, Kashmir is a safe place to travel, the locals are friendly and look forward to having tourists. All the places mentioned in the post have accommodation facilities by the Jammu and Kashmir tourism department. You can find the booking information by contacting the Lolab Bangus-Drangyari Tourism Development Authority.

  8. Tushar Kundu

    Last year I along with my friends went to Zanskar in July’15. What a beautiful places like Drass, Kargil, Rangdum and Padum. Next year, we are planning to visit few new places including Lolab. Hope we get more beauty of unexplored Kashmir. Can u recommend few new places of Kashmir for 15 days. This Oct’16 we have planned to go to Sach Pass, HP.

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Zanskar is still so unexplored, isn’t it? Besides the Lolab valley, you can go ahead to Gurez in the northern direction. We didn’t go here, so no first-hand information about that. Southern parts of Kashmir are also full of beautiful and offbeat locations. Chatpal is remote and a very few people know about it. Even within Srinagar itself, you can go to places like the Pari Mahal (walk up there!) which many tourists don’t. Yusmarg is another place for everything to relaxation to light, or extensive treks. All the best for your trek to Sach Pass.

  9. Elegant Wooden Homes

    Lolab valley is very pretty. The pictures are just perfect and I have planned to visit Kashmir for vacation for sure. Can’t miss the beautiful nature.

  10. Neelima V

    Oh my god! This is brilliant! Such a lovely place and GORGEOUS pictures, as always. 🙂 Did you also go to Wular Lake? I’ve been wanting to go there for so long. Also, how many days did you explore in Kashmir?

    1. Sandeepa Chetan Post author

      Hey Neelima, we spent around 45 days in the valley. Wular and Gurez are two places we have left for the next time 🙂 Trust us, those 45 days went in a breeze once we got out of Srinagar, can stay another 45 again! You will love the treks in the green Himalayas 🙂

  11. Shravi

    I so enjoyed reading your blog and looking at the beautiful pics!! Makes me wanna a plan trip to this place already! Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience, it is inspiring too 🙂

    1. irfan Ahmad

      aSSALAMU aLIKUM zUBAIR BHI AS WE HAVE HEARD 26TH JULY IS YEARLY ISLAMIC GATHERING THERE WE ARE PLANING TO JOIN WE ARE NOT AWARE ABOUT LOLAAB WE WANT TO KNOW ABOUT ISLAMIC PRECIOUS PLACES LIKE HAZRAT ALLAMA aNWAR SHSH KASHMIRI (ra) ETC

  12. Rajiv Chavan

    Hi Sandeepa Ani Chetan,
    Congrats!!!! Tumcha Blog khupach sunder aahe. Khup mahiti milte. Mi Mumbai Parel warun aahe. Mala pan travelling chi aawad aahe. Mala tumacha blog wachaila aawadel. Specially the way you explored kashimir…really nice.
    Congrarts

  13. Romesh Bhattacharji

    Very informative and detailed account + lovely pictures. It is still beautifully intact despite years of trouble.

  14. Rajagopal

    Good to read about these unexplored parts of India. How do to make travel arrangements in Kashmir ? Do you have any contacts since these are remote areas and the tourists vehicle driver should be familiar with the routes I plan to to visit Gurez Valley in Kashmir

  15. Tamanna

    Hi Sandeep iam planning to Visit Lolaab valley in June. Can you share the details as where to stay and how many days will it take to see the whole village.

    1. sandeepachetan

      Hello Tamanna, great to know of your plan to visit Lolab valley. J&K tourism has excellent stay facilities, like the one at Khumriyal and Chandigham that we have mentioned in our post. We suggest you call the TRC (Tourist Reception Centres) in your city, or their office in Kupwara for the details. We do not have these numbers, but you should be able to find them online. We have been told by our readers that they are really friendly people.
      Lolab valley has a lot to offer and no of days depend on how deep you decide to go. To have a quick look at it all, we suggest 2-3 days.

        1. Tamanna

          Hi just needed to know since you have visited Lolaab have you taken any permission. I need to visit Kalaroos caves and Sataburn monument

          1. sandeepachetan

            For Kalaroos and Satburn parts of the Lolab valley, I don’t think any permissions will be required. We hadn’t taken any and we didn’t see any checking points on the way either. However, just to be absolutely sure of the present circumstance, we suggest talking to a tourism officer for Kupwara or the north Kashmir region.

  16. Tarun Reddy

    Hi Sandeep,

    Thanks a lot for that information. We have a question regarding our itenary. Would be great if you could help us with this.

    The issue is we have just 5 and half days. half a day would go in srinagar because we are landing in the afternoon. So technically we just have 5 days.

    We are confused whether to go to pahalgam and go around places like Aru, Baisaran, Achalabal, Daksum, Sintan Top etc or do we go to Gulmarg and the places around it like Tangmarg, Kilanmarg, Alpather Lake, Lolab Valley and Bangus Valley.

    Which do you think we should choose? Or do you think we can do both sides but visit selected places.

    We are looking for lush green places and snow capped mountains. Having said that I am assuming most places in Kashmir are like that. But which places do you think we should pick.

    Would be great if you could help us with this.

    Thanks and Regards

  17. tarun reddy

    Thanks Sandeep. That was very useful. I will definately go to Lolab in Sep.

    Could you also tell me any other uninhabited pristine places like Lolab in K ashmir.

    Thanks

    1. sandeepachetan

      Hello Tarun
      There are a lot of pristine untouched places in Kashmir. Chatpal is one of them. South Kashmir- Achabal, Kokernag-Sinthan Top, though not exactly untouched, is far better than their over crowded counterparts like Gulmarg and Pahalgam.
      Even in the very touristy places, there are places that aren’t so popular. Drung near Gulmarg (3km from Tangmarg) is one such place.
      There are a number of day treks in Yusmarg where you can experience untouched beauty. Skip the ponies and walk down to places like Neelnag.
      Watch this space for more posts on these places!
      Feel free to ask any more questions you have.
      Have a great trip in this wonderful place!

  18. Tarun Reddy

    Hi Sandeep

    The pictures are absolutely stunning. I am planning a trip to Kashmir in Sep. I would love to visit this place.

    Just wanted to know if it is safe to travel to Lolab Valley given that the entire Kupwara district has been a sensitive area in the past. Also could you tell me the accomodation options in this area.

    Thanks

    1. sandeepachetan

      Hello Tarun
      Thank you so much. We are glad you are considering a visit to Lolab valley on your trip to Kashmir. As for accommodation in Lolab, the tourist bungalows by the JnK tourist board are an excellent option. You can contact their TRC (Tourist Reception Centre) in places like Srinagar once you get there, or a TRC in your city before you leave.
      About safety, what we can say is, we hadn’t faced any problems in the 45 days we spent in Kashmir. Yes, there is heightened security in certain areas. One does need to be cautious. Before actually visiting a lesser known place, look at the news and ask around about the place. The locals are a friendly people keen on having tourists. They will guide you well.

  19. Gopal Garg

    Sandeep, your post looks beautiful. What camera are you using ? Because the pictures look amazing. I think you have captured the moments perfectly through your lens. It is always a pleasure visiting such a heavenly destination. I must admit “I love Kashmir”.I would really appreciate if you could check my blog http://adventurousgopal.wordpress.com and let me know if you like it.

    1. sandeepachetan

      Thank you so much for your compliments! Kashmir is one place you instantly fall in love with, the more you stay, the more there is to see. Which is your favourite place in Kashmir?
      The EXIF data is attached to all our photos. We use Canon 5D.