Saturday, June 20, 2015

Chandanwari, Betaab and Aru Valleys

With Pahalgam as the base station, tourists make trips to nearby valleys and trekking spots. Baisaran valley is one of the most popular attractions. Chandanwari, Betaab valley and Aru valley are other  highly visited destinations, covered from Pahalgam. A one-day tour covering these three points are generally taken by tourists staying at Pahalgam. The trips are a delight to the eyes and provide varying sights; from snow-clad white regions to green-filled meadows and rocky terrains to dense forests.  These trips are done by hiring taxis available locally. While private vehicles can ply to these destinations without any restrictions, taxis coming from other parts of the state like Srinagar are not allowed to ply to these view points.

Pahalgam is itself a hill station and is at an elevation of 7,900 feet.  The other destinations mentioned above are at higher altitudes in the Himalayas. Chandanwari, Betaab and Aru form a triangle as we climb up from Pahalgam. Chandanwari is at a distance of 16 Kilometers from Pahalgam and at a height of 9,5000 feet. This is the starting point for "Amaranath Yatra". The short journey from Pahalgam to Chandanwari itself is quite enjoyable and a travelers delight. Lidder river flows on one side of the road and mountains with green vegetation provide the setting on the other side. There are innumerable streams flowing down from the snow-clad peaks. After reaching Chandanwari, tourists can have a sight seeing stop and enjoy the scenery. A picture given above shows the melting snow converting into a stream and flowing downwards.

While tourists can drive up to Chandanwari, further journey to Amaranath has be either on foot or ponies.  There are two more stops on the way for tourists before they reach the Amaranath cave.  Sheshnag Lake is the first stop and at a distance of 11 Kilometers from Chandanwari.  This lake is at a height of 11,725 feet. After Sheshnag lake, tourists camp at Panchatarni after covering another 13 Kilometers. Amaranath cave is a further 6 Kilometers from there and at a height of 12,100 feet. Our trip was up to Chandanwari only as the Yatra season had not yet started when we visited that place.

After visiting Chandanwari, Betaab Valley is the next destination. The original name for this valley was Hajan Valley and is at a distance of 15 kilometers from Pahalgam. A Hindi film by name "Betaab" was shot mostly in this valley and the valley is now known as "Betaab Valley".  It is a beautiful valley with the background of mountains and a long valley through which a river flows. A beautiful park is created along the river. When the days are bright and sunny, a whole day can be spent in the park to enjoy the scenery and flowing waters of the river. Warm clothing and umbrellas are available for hire at the entrance of the valley to protect the tourists from sudden change in the weather. 
Another valley in the area is Aru Valley which is known for camping and trekking activities. This valley is at a height of 8,000 feet and provides wonderful scenery all round.  The drive through Aru valley is itself quite enjoyable and a travelers delight. This is also the starting point for trek to Kolahoi glacier. Enthusiasts of long trekking expeditions can even go to Sonmarg after a long trek of three days.  Twin lakes of Tarsar and Marsar can be reached from Aru valley, again after a 3 day trek.

Physical fitness and the urge to enjoy the beauty of the hills and valleys are the only limiting factors. If one is ready to camp on the way and put up with the limited facilities available, man can merge with nature and lose himself or herself, at least for a few days.    


  1. At least youngsters like us who plan to go to Kashmir ever, will definitely find this information interesting and useful.
    And sir, we salute your spirit which you show, at this phase of life :-)


  2. Very well written informative article about the valley.