Exploration of Peer Panchal

Beyond Conventional Tourism

Imtiaz Ahmed
The paradigm shift from conventional tourism to exploration or adventure tourism is a way trending these days. This transformation filled us with the sense of connection with nature like fueling body with nature’s chakras and rejuvenate one’s soul . Those who aspire to explore mountains, valleys , rivers ,lakes and want to seek a sort of refuge in nature or to rebuild their bodies and souls away from hustle of life, this is a yes exploration for them.
Exploration is a naturopathy where nature heals the soul and every season opens its colours to provide its soothing effect to those who explore it heartily. To offer new destination to those who seek nature’s interface and want to zip in for them one such avenue is ‘exploration’ . Exploration is totally different from so called “conventional tourism. Conventional tourism offers you fixed amenities whereas exploration takes you to new paths yet to be discovered. Exploration sync your body and soul to new energy level and this ramps up your love and appreciation for nature and creatures. Trekking to trails is instance of exploration where you explore a sort of sequence built by nature. One encounters colourful mountains , green valleys , gushing crystal water, floating mist, dew filled grass , limitless sky, touchy breeze and the best thing is a soothing silence. This is what Exploration offers when one plans to jump into this. In context with Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir Tourism always remained a Brand name and same remained magnetic worldwide owing to its mind-blowing nature bestowed to this part of our country. Though Kashmir doubtlessly remained tourism centric for years together it is Peerpanchal region which is obscure to the world.
But there is a lot more yet to acknowledge in this region and that is what exploration push us towards. Peer Panchal includes meadows , mountains, glaciers, valleys, rivers, lakes and other natural formations located in twins border District of Rajouri and Poonch. Attempts were made by Tourism Authorities of these twin districts to bring it on tourist map and one such attempt included Seven Lakes / ShakerMarg Project . But again this confined within the created infrastructure. Neither it fulfills the purpose of exploration in its essence nor it gives sustenance to nature therefore we need to think beyond conventional tourism avenues and one such way is the idea of exploration through trekking or hiking. Peer Panchal range is ultimate destination. One such instance is a simple trek of 2 or 3 days to Highlands pocketing seven big lakes and that will fill you up with an amazing soul stirring experience. Trekking through dense forest fills one with refreshing mist and soothning buzz of flowing water when one begins hiking towards uphill from base of these mountains located in north of Rajouri and Poonch Districts. Main base camps are “Brehmgala” in Surankote of Poonch District and other one is “Budhkhanari” in Darhal of Rajouri District.
Besides, there are some others too like “Khori Hill” in Kandi of Kotranka Tehsil, Budhal and so on. During the trek one can feel a unique kind of vibe so refreshing and harmonious that one feels fully thrilled and connects with nature. It gives artistic eye and a peace of mind to travellers . A tourist bag ,a tent, some eatables and a walking stick is all what one needs to start this wonderful journey and ofcourse, a good Camera will be an add on. When one reaches the locations of seven lakes the ‘no connection zone’ and different colours of lakes presents magnificent view and a relief to mind and soul. Other activities including, hiking, camping, horse riding, cooking in nature with woods, photography, fiddling with cold water, barefoot walks is what these meadows offers and this experience totally aligns mind and soul chakras. Nomads often visit these places with their folks and families. They reside there in their Mud houses and are the keepers of historic stories of these mountains and their cultural stories.
They are warm people and often offers their traditional food like pure makhan (Fresh butter),ghee, bread, and locally available veggies like Gnaar, Khat a ula, Khati Currey, Kalaryii, buttermilk , corns etc which are pure and organic. These meadows and gushing lakes are still maiden and these should be made available for exploration with a “touch me not” policy. It should be on the toursit map but without infringing fragile ecosystem . This area will surely boost tourism but we should be focussing on the concept of exploration by ‘hiking’ and ‘trekking’. And this is trending among travellers these days. To put this paradise on the map proper projection and advertisment among stake holders is needed. Further it can be a source of minimum investment and maximum earnings for the department and for local youth as well. These avenues will be a boost for Green economy and mesmerising beauty of peer panjal can be explored well.
(The author a enthusiast trekker is a KAS Officer, presently posted as Tehsildar Pargwal District Jammu).