We were at Cham, a beautiful waterfall, on our way towards the Chakothi sector near the Line of Control. It is probably the biggest and most spectacular waterfall of the state, some 300 metres in height. Situated in Chinnari, a beautiful town in Jehlum Valley, the waterfall has become a big attraction for tourists in the region. The waterfall is accessible from Muzaffarabad, at a distance of 51 km.
As I was experiencing what was likely to be one of the most beautiful sight of my life, I was recalling a quote from famed Turkish writer Mehmet Murat Ildan, who once said, “Waterfalls are exciting because they have power, they have rainbows, they have songs, and they have boldness and craziness!”
I would argue that the waterfalls in Kashmir are more than that.
Kashmir, after all, is a glorious landscape of blue rivers, snowcapped mountains, crystal clear streams, thick green forests and countless natural waterfalls. Although the entire valley is worth visiting, the enchanting glimpses of the waterfalls are perhaps more captivating and spell-binding than any other sight to be seen there.
Dr. Mohsin Shakeel, a historian while narrating the historical significance of the waterfalls in Kashmir, tells me: “The waterfalls of Kashmir are enchanting people since ancient times. They have had many great admirers, including Mughal Emperor Jahangir and his Empress Nur Jahan, who fell in love with a waterfall near Suran Kot on the way to the valley, on the famed Mughal Road. They always stopped and spent some time at this fall, making it the most famous fall of the erstwhile state. People still call it ‘Nori Cham’ after the name of the Empress. Here, ‘Nori’ refers to Nur Jahan and ‘Cham’ is the word for waterfall in the Pahari and Dogri languages. The Kashmiri name is ‘Shontar’.”
But Cham is not the only remarkable waterfall in the area. Amra Sawan is another beautiful waterfall located between Sawan and Chinari. Sawan is stunning place in the vicinity of Chinari, six miles away from Hattian Bala, district headquarters of the Jehlum Valley.
Jaskul, another less explored waterfall, is located two kilometers away from Chinari in the valley.
While coming to Muzaffarabad via Murree Kohalla road, visitors will be enthralled by the Kashmir Abshar at Dullai, about seven kilometers before entering into the capital city. Kashmir Abshar also offers a little adventure to the tourist. One has to cross the river in a ‘Dholi’ (local version of a cable car) to reach their destination.
Dhani Noseri Abshar is another magnificent waterfall, located at a 40-minute drive (30 kilometres) from Muzaffarabad and accessible via a main road leading to the Neelum Valley. With a 15 metre fall, it forces the visitors to stop and enjoy the natural treat while travelling from the scenic Neelum Valley.
Kuttan Waterfall is one of the famous waterfalls in the valley 73 km (2.5 hours if you drive) away from Muzaffarabad towards Neelum Valley. The Kutton Resort is also 5 km away from the waterfall, and is the best accommodation in the Neelum Valley. Swiss engineers built it on the design of cottages from their homeland a few decades back, while they were working on some project in the NeelumValley. In fact, the Neelum Valley offers scintillating views from the Kutton Jagran resort, in a cozy environment.
Jamgar fall is another beautiful and refreshing waterfall located in Neelum Valley. Waterfalls at Kel Seri, Machal near Halmat and Kishan Ganga on the Taobut road near Kail are also wonderful.
In Kotli, two interconnected waterfalls known as Gulpur Waterfalls are located southwest of Kotli city, on the junction of the Kotli-Mirpur and Kotli-Rawalpindi road. One can view them both from a nearby hill.
Tillni Waterfall, not much explored yet, is located in Baithak Baloch in Sudhnuti District of Azad Jammu and Kashmir.
The Kotla waterfalls in Bagh, Sanjani waterfall in Haveli and some waterfalls of Rawalakot are also popular tourist destinations.
There are many more waterfalls in the region: still hidden deep inside the mountains – waiting to be explored, photographed and appreciated!
Mubashar Naqvi is a freelance writer based in Muzaffarabad. He writes on culture, tourism and various socioeconomic challenges in the region. He tweets at: @SMubasharNaqvi