We were on the arduous journey to Gurez, a valley tucked deep in the Bandipore district of J&K, the turquoise blue waters of the Kishenganga river bisecting it between India and Pakistan. The inhabitants of the valley belong to the Shina-speaking Dard tribe, a mountainous people who have spent centuries in the Himalayas; a larger section of the tribe now living in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. The isolation has been a boon, which has preserved the cultural heritage of the place.
Bandipora is the administrative headquarters of the district of Bandipora in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is located on the northern banks of Wular Lake - the biggest freshwater lake in Asia. Bandipora has a terrace garden similar to the Nishat Bagh in Srinagar. In Kashmiri there is a famous phrase about Bandipora or in other words Bandipora is famous for three A's - A'lim (knowledge), Adab (good habits or literature) and Aab (water). As can be known from the folklore, the name of Bandipora (pronounced as Band e pur) originated either from Band of Wullar Lake, due to the Bands of place or due the Closed (Band in Kashmiri) geographical location (i.e., Bandipora is bound by mountains on three sides and by Wullar Lake in the fourth).
Located on the banks of Wular lake (biggest freshwater lake in Asia), Bandipura is divided into three tehsils. Famous for its Forest Training and Research Institute, the town is close to Mt. Harmukh and is a good point to arrange transportation to the mountain.