A passion for mountains has been there in me since my childhood. The Kashmir valley, where I grew up, is known as one of the best places for trekking on planet Earth. With the growing age and passing time, the passion for the mountains has reached it's peak. The touch of untouched and raw nature was all that I wanted and desired for. The mountains, snow, waterfalls, springs and everything the nature has gifted us are at their best in a small town by the name of Surankote and the adjacent areas of the Mughal Road. A small town, located near the India-Pakistan border(LOC) comes under the Poonch district which is well known for it's everyday ceasefire violations. The place is neglected by tourists and the state government because of the war conditions and terrorist activities like infiltration. Although, to be honest, it is amongst the safest places for tourists in Kashmir. There are parts of the Kashmir valley which are very famous and rich with tourism which has lead to a mass construction of hotels and other facility houses affecting the flora and fauna of the place at a large scale. The nature lovers are in search of such a place, one that is pure and divine and has the serenity that calms their minds and souls.
Few months back, towards the ending of May, I along with few of my friends were working on a documentary based on the neglected beauty of the Mughal Road. We went to several well known places of this area which are very rich with the lushness of nature and working on a documentary in such places was truly a refreshing experience. After covering all the places, we were then supposed to cover the Peer Ki Gali- Mughal Road and then via Mughal road we were supposed to go to Srinagar city. Due to very bad weather conditions and continuous rainfalls which led to landslides, the road got blocked. It was a disappointment that we were not able to cover the place we were most excited for- the Mughal Road. It was after waiting for a few days that I was not able to control myself from going beyond the mountains and getting to know what it feels like. So, after convincing my family that I would take care and assuring them that if the weather turned bad I would return, they finally agreed and helped me in getting the permissions of the army and the police to cross the road that was strictly prohibited for the civilians because of the landslides and other worse conditions of the road, which in the past have also lead to many fatal accidents. Very early in the morning our car left from the town towards the mountains along with the cars of the local contractors who were supposed to clear the road covered with snow and help our car pass through the army and police barricades. It was with their help that we were able to cross last the army post at Peshana, just 25 to 30 kms away from Peer Ki Gali (the highest point of Mughal road) and from there we continued our journey alone. The road was covered with snow from both sides and there was a very little space left for the car to pass. It seemed like our car was passing through huge walls of snow on either sides with a huge risk of avalanches at any point of time. After passing through that narrow road we reached Peer Ki Gali and it was then that we realized that it was worth the risk we took.Peer Ki Gali was one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life. The road got cleared a little bit after seven long months and we were the first ones to step our feet on the shiny white blanket of the snow which was thick and spread over a vast area. Anywhere our eyes went everything was covered beautifully in snow and the sun shone brightly in the blue sky. That sight was a feast to my eyes, one which I cannot forget in this lifetime. Raw and untouched nature was at its best with the winds caressing our skins. A real paradise or we can say "The Lost Paradise" on which my coming documentary is based is under post production. The place is surely a must visit for nature and adventure lovers as there is more than 5 km of stretched area perfect for skiing and other winter sports. The aerial height from that point is perfectly suitable for other adventurous activities like paragliding. After trekking for a few hours from Peer ki Gali you will be able to see the seven lakes between the mountains known as Nandansar (Sar means lake) but unfortunately no such provision has been made there yet. That place is left ignored because of the negligence of the government and the promotion of other tourist destinations near Srinagar. This place never received what it deserved because of the poor administration and I'm not sure if this little effort on my part would make a difference to the present scenario of tourism and compel the administration to take steps in the betterment of roads and other major factors. Mughal Road, in my opinion, should be developed in such a way that affects the rawness of the nature present there in the least. The place is not in the need of any hotels or restaurants as they can be found in just about every tourist destination. What one looks out for in an adventure trip are the basic tents, adequate food and fire. Even though, the local people of the area are very poor, they are helpful by nature. They are always ready to serve the tourists visiting the place with a smile on their faces. So, what I suggest is that these native people should be aided by the government in such a way that they become the ones arranging for the tents, food stalls and other basic requirements for the ones visiting the place. The natives living an eco-friendly life has allowed the nature to remain raw and serene. Construction always ruins the peace and tranquility of a place and Mughal Road is among the very few places that have been left undisturbed and unexplored by the world. Mughal Road, in my view, should be developed following an eco-friendly approach as destinations with plush hotels and other facilities are many but ones close to nature are few. Therefore, the promotion must go hand in hand with the protection of the place.
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