Neelam Valley is one of the most beautiful places of Azad Kashmir. With excellent scenic and panoramic views, towering hills on both sides of the Neelum river, lush green forests and enchanting streams is also called as the 'Paradise of Kashmir'. Running parallel to the Kaghan Valley, Neelam Valley is dipped in most amazing beauty and attracts large number of tourists particularly in summer from within and other foreign countries. The Neelum river is also famous for its fishing and it has Trout fish in abundance.
Neelam Valley is about 200 kilo-meters long and is situated to the North and North East of Muzaffarabad. The valley can be approached from two different points, one from Kaghan Valley and the other is Noori Top. It has many minor passes as well. In addition to that there is also a 'Line of Control' (LOC) between Azad Kashmir and Indian Occupied Kashmir where relatives can cross the bridge and can meet their relatives on the other side of the bridge twice a month.
Neelam Valley is also famous for its mineral mines and local fruits of great taste including Apples, Apricots, Walnuts and Plums. The whole valley gives fascinating and beautiful scenery. The valley includes lush green forests and high-altitude lakes makes the surrounding heavenly and it is like a dream come true for the people who visit it. The Snow-capped mountains and the fast flowing Neelum river all make tourists believe as if they are in some part of Switzerland. Many of the tourists who are interested in mountain tourism also come and enjoy the Neelum Valley.
Some of its famous places like Shounter Pass, Chita Khata, Ratti Gali, Baboon, Noori Top, Sharda, Kel, Surgon and many more are mentioned by famous tourists like Mustansar Hussain Tararr etc. The three rivers present in this area are Jhelum, Neelum and Poonch.
The Neelum valley is no doubt a great place to visit specially with frends and family to enjoy the great relaxing holidays close to the nature. Some of the important areas of the valley include;
Kutton and Jagran
It is situated in the lower part of Neelum valley, Jagran Nullah (stream) plays pivotal role in the formation of its landscape beauty and charm which reveals the richness of the area. For the convenience of tourists, AJK tourism Department has constructed a rest house here. A mega hydro-electric project is installed here to produce electricity. A long and beautiful series of Himalayas mountain starts from here to Kaghan, Skardu and Chillas.
This valley town is very unique in its beauty. It is also significant, as it marks the beginning of control line with Indian Held Kashmir in Neelum. It is named Authmuqam because it is 8th station from Muzaffarabad to upper valley. From here upwards starts the typical Kashmiri living pattern with houses built of wooden logs, most of them double storied. Hiking tracks for surrounding mountains are also traced from here by tourists.
Sharda is one of the most beautiful places with its lush green planes, smooth flowing river which freezes in severe cold season and serves as passage for people of both sides of the river. This place from the point of view of tourists is so attractive and they get their money's worth when they spend a few days here. In Sharda one also finds ruins of an old place of learning. There are some ruins which might be interesting for people doing historical research. Also, there are signs of an old university and was the centre of knowledge for the people of China, East and Central Asia.
It is also one of the attractive places of the valley neelum. One of the facts is that there is a long track goes towards Nanga Parbat. People can actually see the Nanga Parbat mountain from here and is a beautiful sight for everyone who visit Kel.
The official language spoken in the valley is Urdu because it can be understood by the majority of the people. The local people speak their own local languages Kashmiri or Pahari or Hindko.
People from Neelum valley are good in making handicrafts like Carpet, Namda and Gubba. They are also famous for their silk and woolen clothing. People also make woolen shawls and are good at Wood Carving and in making Rugs too.
The area is famous for its dishes like Gushtaba. Gushtaba with rice is the most favourite dish for Kashmiri people. Tabak Maaz is also eaten in the valley and its preparation is considered an art and a pride in Kashmiri culture.