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The Kaghan Valley (Urdu: وادی کاغان ) is an alpine-climate valley in the north-east of Mansehra District of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. The valley is a popular tourist destination for Pakistanis, and smaller numbers of foreigners. The valley has largely rebuilt after the devastating 2005 Kashmir Earthquake.
Named after the nearby town of Kaghan, rather than the river which cuts through it (Kunhar River, the valley extends 155 kilometers (96 mi), rising from an elevation of 2,134 feet (650 m) to its highest point, the Babusar Pass, at 13,690 feet (4,170 m). Despite being named after the nearby town of Kaghan, the valley's new tourist base is in the town of Naran), which is a base station that allows further travel to sites such as Lake Saif-ul-Malook and Lalazar.
Geography and Climate
Laying in lower Himalayan mountains range, the Kaghan valley is at a distance of 64 km from Balakot. It iw well known throughout Pakistan for its waterfalls, glaciers, lakes, and pleasant summertime weather. The region is Alpine in geography and climate, with streams and meadows dominating the landscape below peaks that reach over 5,500 meters. The valley is about 160 kilometers long, and the valley floor has an elevations of approximately 1000 meters.
In May the temperature ranges between a maximum of 11 °C (52 °F) and a minimum of 3 °C (37 °F). From the middle of July up to the end of September the road beyond Naran Valley is open right up to Babusar Pass. Movement is restricted during the monsoon and winter seasons. The best time to visit Kaghan is in summer months (May to September). From the mid – July up to the end of September, the road beyond Naran, snow-bound throughout the winter, is open right up to Babusar Pass. Movement may be restricted during the monsoon season due to heavy rains and landslides.
Settlements in the Valley
At a distance of 34 km from Balakot, lays the village of Shogran. SIituated on a plateau, it is considered to be a scenic spot on the way to Naran. Surrounded by peaks and forests, its name means "Forest of the Sky." It also is the base from which to explore the Payee Lake, via the town of Kewai - accessible only by 4x4 vehicle. The town has a lodge for tourists.
Situated on the road leading to resort of Naran, Jared is a small hamlet about 40 km from Balakot and just beyond Shin. Jared is known for producing traditionally carved furniture, hand-made woolen shawls and namda rugs.
Naran is the largest town in the valley, and is the base for vast majority of travelers to the region.
The town of Naran has over seveal hotels of various grades of quality ranging from luxury hotels to very low priced motels. Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) also has a motel situated in the north of town which can accommodate people on different tariffs, from average rooms to costly huts besides the River Kunhar. Electricity is not available here from national grid however diesel generators are use in hotels and shops for lighting. The town also has a small bazaar.
Now the road is suitable for all types vehicles, up to Naran. Adding a little flavor of the old days however, are a couple of glaciers that have not yet lost their snowpack in the early tourist season, and are difficult to cross with cars. From mid-June onward the road to Naran is open for regular cars, vans and coaches.
In the tourist season (1 June to 31 August) public transport runs daily between Mansehra and Naran. PTDC also runs an air conditioned bus between Rawalpindi and Naran daily in season. Taxis, cars and jeeps are also available from Mansehra for valley in all seasons.
The Kaghan Valley's remote mountains, dales, lakes, waterfalls, streams, and glaciers remain in a pristine state, with some within Lulusar-Dudipatsar National Park. The valley is a prime destination during summer, from May through September. In May the temperature ranges between a maximum of 11 °C (52 °F) and a minimum of 3 °C (37 °F).
From the middle of July to the end of September the Naran-Babusar road beyond Naran is open through Kaghan Valley and over Babusar Pass. Access is restricted during the monsoon and winter seasons. The Kaghan area can be reached by roads via the towns of Balakot, Abbottabad, and Mansehra on the Karakoram Highway. In Balakot, one may find buses and other transports to reach Naran and the valley.
The road from Balakot ascends along the Kunhar River through beautiful forests and the villages of Paras, Shinu, Jared and Mahandri. The valley narrows along this part and the views are intimate scenery until ascending the pass when the surrounding peaks come into expansive view. One locale surrounded by peaks and forests and famous for its view is Shogran village, east of the main Kunhar River. The scenic Payee Lake, and Malika Parbat, Siri Payee, and Makra Peaks are nearby.
Trekking and Hill Walking
Kaghan is an excellent destination for trekking and hill walking. There are a number of trekking routes all along the valley. Brief descriptions of some famous trekking routes  are given in Annexure-IV. Naran, Shogran and Sharan are ideal base camps for one to three days outings. There are also good opportunities for those interested in more leisurely day trips, hill walking or nature study walks.
River Rafting and kayaking are new sports currently under development along the Kunhar River. As the lifeline of Kaghan Valley, Kunhar River is excellent for rafting. Some sections between Naran are quite technical and suitable only for experienced white water paddlers. Other sections of the river, above Naran and below Balakot, are fun for beginners and are of relatively easy grade. Adventure Foundation Pakistan offers basic and advanced training courses in river running during October and April.
In addition to short duration jeep rides to Sri Paya, Saiful Muluk, Lalazar and Sharan, Kaghan Valley also ideal for thrilling jeep rides from Naran to Babusar Pass and Nori Top. All these places are unique in landscape and their details are given in the Introduction section. While going on a longer duration jeep ride make sure you have selected a good local driver and jeep for a safe journey on the rough roads.
Trout fishing is a popular activity in the Kaghan Valley. Fishing for brown and rainbow trout in the crystal clear water of the valley lakes and in the Kunhar River is favorite pastime for many. A fishing permit can be obtained from the Fisheries Department at Shinu or at Naran. Bringing your own angling gear is optional as you can rent equipment from shopkeepers in Naran Bazaar. Use of fishing nets and explosive materials for fishing in rivers and lakes is forbidden.
Fishing is the chief sport in Kaghan. Brown Trout and Mahasher are stocked in pure silvery waters in the upper parts of the valley. The Kunhar river trout is considered to be the best throughout the sub-continent. Fishing licenses are issued by the 'Fisheries Department at Naran' or by the 'Trout Hatchery' at Shinu. Apart from this there are some other private trout fish farms at Kawai (also spelled as Kiwai) and Kahania. Fishing equipment is also available.
Mountaineering and Rock Climbing
Kaghan Valley has a lot of potential for mountaineering and rock climbing. Malika Parbat is highest peak in Kahan Valley which is climbed by European and Pakistani Climbers.
Kaghan Valley is home to many a tourist attractions, especially its lakes. There are more than a dozen big and small lakes in the valley, but three are more popular among the tourists: Saiful Muluk Lake, Dudipatsar Lake and Lulusar Lake.
Saiful Muluk, named in a folktale—the Qissa Saiful Muluk—about a romance between a Persia prince and a fairy princess. In the folktale. The lake is mentioned as the meeting site of the lovers in the folktale. lake Saiful Muluk is 10,578 feet (3,224 m) above the sea level, it is one of the highest and most beautiful lakes in Pakistan. The water of this over a mile in diameter oval shaped lake is spectacularly clear with a slight green tone. It is accessible by a jeep road during the summer months or can be reached by tracking from the nearest town Naran, some 10 kilometers away in four to five hours. The clarity of the water comes from the multiple glaciers all around the high basin feeding the lake.
Dudipat Lake is enclosed with high peaks. It is one of the hardest places to reach in the valley, requiring a tough hike lasting four to seven hours. The hike is rewarding, as tourists are greeted with green pastures and the lake's blue-green waters.
Lulusar Lake is approximately 48 kilometers away from Naran and has an altitude of 10,910 feet (3,330 m). Surrounded by wildflowers in almost all colors imaginable, this lake is the main source for the Kunhar River. Lake Lulusar is said to be one of the most tranquil spots on the Kaghan Valley, the lake is fenced by snow-capped mountains whose image is reflected on the standstill blue-green waters of this approximately three-kilometer-long L-shaped lake.
There are many hotels in the Naran.
The peoples of the valley speak Hindko as their main language but some other languages like, Pashto, Kohistani and Gojri are spoken as well. Urdu is used as the lingua franca due to the presence of the tourist industry. People of the valley have diverse ethnic origins, although the Majority of Hindko speakers are ethnically Pathans. Swati(Pathan) tribe along with Syed Family, have always had strong cultural, economic and political dominance across the valley. Historically oppressed Gujar tribe in valley also emerged as political reality due to their vast Vote Bank.One of the most interesting features of the Kaghan is the Gujar (herder) families you'll see along the way bringing their animals up to the summer pastures. The Kaghan valley is one of their most popular destinations in Pakistan. You will find them camped along the road in their tents or moving up the valley with their goats, sheep and pack animals around the start of summer and on their way back to lower altitudes around the beginning of winter.
- "Groups | Rafting at Kohnar River Kaghan | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- "Jeeps and Kaghan valley in background as seen from Payee, small siri lake is also visible in background - Fine Art Prints by Awais Yaqub | Order online | Ships to USA, UK, Pakistan and rest of world!". Awaisyaqub.com. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
- "Fishing in Kaghan". Tour-pakistan.com. Retrieved 22 May 2012.
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