Seoz Dhar-A hidden paradise

Ashok Sharma
The UT of J&K has been blessed with unparallalled and breathtaking natural beauty. There are high snowcapped mountains, lushgreen meadows, bubbling springs and meandering slopes which mesmerise the visitors. It is this captivating beauty that attracts a large number of tourists to visit tourist spots such as Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Patnitop, Srinagar etc. Alongwith these world famous tourist spots, there are some other spots which abound in natural beauty but have remained unexplored and their vast tourism potential and pristine beauty has not been exploited. One such spot is Seoz Dhar or Seoj Meadow which is located on the higher ranges of mountains above Bhaderwah,at a height of about 11000 ft from the sea level.This region is so far not connected with road and no attention has so far been given to it to develop it into a tourist spot. In winter season,this region remains covered under the thick carpet of snow and thus, remains cut off from the other regions. But in summer, it bubbles with human activity as hundreds of nomads take their flocks of sheep, goats and cattle to spend the summer season there in the cool weather and serene locations. Moreover, there is sufficient grass for the animals to graze in Seoz Dhar in summer. Alongwith lushgreen blades of grass, there are big smooth boulders of different sizes dotting all over the grassland in these vast and beautiful meadows located far away from the din and noise and pollution of the cities.
Seoz Dhar meadows are a trekker’s paradise spread across miles.These meadows can be reached via two trails.Both the trails pass through coniferous forests of pine,fir and cedar trees.People venturing for adventure treks to these meadows have to carry their food and items of tenting as there is no facilites of boarding and lodging except on the occasion of Kailash Kund Yatra when some people and religious organisations set up langars here. Seoz Dhar meadows are,perhaps the largest meadows in Jammu & Kashmir.These meadows are really a tourists paradise surrounded by magnificent mountains which remain snow clad for most of the time during winter. Apart from lush green meadows stretching for miles together,there are other, attractions also.There are dense forests all around with small brooks flowing with murmuring crystal clear water.Woolly clouds floating from one part to another in the sky add more beauty to these meadows.The flock of sheep and goats and the herds of cattle cropping the turf and the nomads dressed in their traditional dress tending to them and controlling them by whistling in their unique manner makes the visitors spellbound and wonder if they have come into an altogether new world far away from the hectic world of dirt and pollution.There is great change in temperature during daytime and at night and winds blowing in the open add to the chilling temperature. When the days are bright, the sky is brilliant and blue. Enroute, trekkers trek over tiny flowers of various colours and hues ranging from violet, blue, red, purple and white. In August -September, a three- day Yatra is organised to the14,700 feet high Kailash Kund from centuries old Vasuki Nag temple at Gatha in Bhaderwah in Doda District and from Vasuki Nag temple in Dudu in Udhampur District. The devotees have a second night stay in the pictursque Seoz Dhar meadows.On the morning of the third day, they reach the high altitude Kailash Kund lake, perform traditional prayers and have a dip in the ice cold water of the holy lake.
But there are a few instructions for the devotees and the visiors to follow before undertaking this arduous trek.As this trek involves steep ascent and big boulders,the visitors should wear shoes which are sturdy,have good grip,ankle support and can handle snow.They must carry water proof backpack containing full sleeve dry fit T-shirts having collars to prevent their arms and neck from getting sunburnt.In the rarified air on the trail, especially at high altitudes,UVRays can burn the exposed skin in no time. At the same time, they must wear sunglasses, particularly on the snowy section of the meadows as fallen snow acts like thousands of small mirrors which reflect direct UV rays. They need to wear snow caps,synthetic hand gloves,warm padded rain jackets, socks, lip balm, cutlery, medicines etc to make their trek pleasant and memorable. As it can rain here any moment, they should have sufficient plastic sheets with them.
This region is believed to be rich in valuable herbs and the nomads who spend their summer in these meadows,believe that many rare and valuable herbs including the wonder herb’Sanjeevni Booti’ could be found in these meadows if proper research is conducted.In fact,the nomads treat their minor ailments themselves by making use of locally available herbs and a lot can be gained from their traditional knowledge about these herbs.There is need to develop it into a tourist site by providing road connectivity,toilet facilites,boarding and lodging facilities.Temporary sheds for accommodating the visitors in times of rain and view points also needed to be provided to the visitors.Parks and potato/herbs farms as also Herbs Research Centre need to be set up at Seoz Dhar to conduct research in order to develop medicines/grow herbs on a massive scale and boost the local economy.If proper facilities of boarding and lodging are provided, Seoz Dhar can prove to be a hidden paradise and popular tourist resort in Jammu region in summer and in winter,winter sports can be organised at this site.
(The writer is serving as Sr. Lect. English, in SIKS Boys Model Hr. Sec. School, Udhampur. )