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.
There are four things about the trek that make it the greatest adventure.
1. It is a crossover trek from Zanskar to Kashmir. What will stun you is that when you are in Zanskar you are in a mountain desert. The mountains are stark and stunningly beautiful. It is no wonder people travel miles just to see the mountains of Ladakh. And then out of this starkness, you cross over to a lush green Kashmir. That too a side of Kashmir that is so beautiful that even locals swear by it. We admit, it is a little too much for the mind to take in.
2. The terrific Lomvilad pass crossing day is highly adventurous. We step on glaciers, crevasses and rumble down moraines. There are two massive glaciers to cross of which the Bracken glacier takes the cake. Not only is the sight imposing, we actually walk the entire length of it! Even the pass crossing is terrific. Climbing up to the big snow fields at the top of the pass is something to look out for.
3. People know Kashmir has terrific grasslands and valleys. It is not until you step into Warwan valley do you realise how spread out these can be. The size and scale is vast. Besides, the valley is so uniquely beautiful and landscaped that it will often make you feel that no part of our world can match up to it.
4. Warwan valley is an isolated and untouched side of Kashmir. People who are tourists to Kashmir do not even know such a place exists. So remote is this place that people move from one village to another on horses! Just to see this side of Kashmir is a reason enough to do the trek.