Out of all the popular tourist spots in Kashmir, the Aru valley, around 11 km from Pahalgam, happens to be a wonderful spot for people who love peace and quiet, surrounded by exquisite scenic beauty. It’s a low-key place, is lesser known, and hence, is less crowded. It is also the perfect spot for people who love hiking and skiing, when snow falls. It has open meadows with small streams running across them. A lot of people hire horses to go further up on the hill. It is also a wonderful place for photography enthusiasts- the sheer beauty of the green grass, the vast meadow, and the grazing horses make for a very picturesque location. What caught my attention was the journey from Pahalgam to Aru. When you’re driving up or back down, the surrounding mountains and the mighty Lidder River cutting through them are downright hypnotizing to look at. Imagine being on top of a mountain and looking down at a beautiful river flowing between two sets of mighty mountains that are so fantastically green…there really is nothing quite as breathtaking as this view. To be completely honest, it looks like it’s come straight out of a painting. It took me a while to realize just what I was marveling at. It was fantastic.
The Aru village is a base camp for several hiking activities as it goes higher up to the mountains, namely to the Kolahoi glacier, the Tarsar-Marsar lakes and the Katrinag valley. Like I had mentioned before, the abundance of meadows is the main attraction of this place. Often, you’ll find the locals of Aru playing cricket, and bringing their horses to graze. You could lie down on the grass and stare at the snow-capped mountains that almost touch the sky, or join in with the locals as they play. It’s all up to you. It is, all in all, a peaceful and quiet place.
There are car services available at Pahalgam-ones that take you up there and leave you there to explore the place. It’s a steep drive, which adds as a small adventure. Since I had already booked a room in Pahalgam, I didn't stay at Aru. However, there are several lodging and dining facilities easily available there.
Personally, out of all the places in Kashmir I have been to, the Aru Valley made for my most memorable experience. There was a dearth of people which made me feel like I was the only person there, surrounded by the lush green grass, with the mighty Himalayas watching over me. It was liberating. I would suggest that everyone go there at least once. The solitude and peace just might be something you’d need to find yourself.