Aru valley is hardly 12 kms from Pahalgam, but is a small village quite self sufficient. Beauty of this surreal valley is going to enchant you and make your soul happy. The valley is like the imagination of a fine artist. Green meadows with snow clad mountains in backdrop and a river flowing through it. Yes it has got it all and all this comes with fresh air and simplicity of the people of the village.
The river flowing here is Lidder river, rich in good quality fish. Kolhoi glacier and Tarsar lake are in close vicinity and many choose to put up a base camp here and go out for day trekking. There are also adventure activities for those who are seeking thrill in life. It has something for everyone to remember all their life.
Best Places to visit in Aru Valley
The glacier is at 3200 meters and at a distance of 24 kms from here. The route has to be trekked on foot. Many people form a base camp here and then move forward. Though the summers are a pleasant time for this trek but still it does get cold at night and the weather cannot be fully predicted. So you have to have an experienced and professional team with you. Be prepared with extra set of dry clothes and pack some extra dry food.
It is another trekking trail for those who do not want to go as far as Kolahoi glacier. The way has magnificent view and is as rewarding as the destination you take a slow pace and enjoy your journey as you move ahead. It will lead up to the twin lakes of Marsar 3788mts and Tarsar 3794 meters. Both the lakes are a perfect destination for relaxing and having some quality time with family in the lap of Mother Nature.
Aru Biosphere Reserve
It is a protected area for the rare species of the area. It consists of a variety of green trees such as Cedrus Deodara, Pinus Griffithii, Conifers, Aesculus Indica and many more. There are many shrubs and herbs known to have medicinal values. As very limited number of people come here so the beauty of the place is almost untouched and at its best. In the reserve you will also be able to see endangered species living with harmony. You may be able to spot Musk Deer, leopards, Himalayan mouse, Rhesus Macaque, Hangul, snow cock, koklas, Hare, Monal, brown bear, serow, grey langur and many more. You have to be a silent and patient watcher to see these animals.
Things to Do in Aru Valley
The best thing to be done is explore nature on foot; you can trek around and reach places from here. You can also stay back and enjoy the valley by itself. The place is a perfect halt for the honeymoon couple or a family looking to spend time together. Even a solo traveller can sit back and real while pondering over your life. You will certainly be refreshed from within. There is no rush for anything among the local people. You can indulge in fishing at the lakes or the rivers but with prior permission.
During the winter this valley turns in to paradise for snow adventure sports. The slopes are perfect for ice skiing or snow-boarding. If you do not have very excessively warm clothes you do not need to worry. You can buy them or take them for rent from the professionals providing the services for the adventure sports. They will have all the gears ready for you. As photography there is no season. You can click as many pictures as you want, in any weather that you like. The view is amazing in every season. In shades of green or white it will be great backdrop of your pictures.
Where To Stay?
The best place would be the state run tourist bungalow as it offers the best view of the valley. But there are many budget hotels as well. You must try the local delicacies and also savour Kawaah. Khawa or herbal tea is a must have in the Kashmiri house hold as it is going to wash down all the oil from your throat down to your stomach and help digest it. It has a distinct flavour.
As we all know that Kashmir is very cold throughout the year; this tea has herbs in it which help you fight against the chill and keep healthy from within. Kawah is basically cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and saffron infused. The tea generally has a pink colour to it after preparation when milk is added. It can also be had without milk, so those who prefer green tea must try this tea as well.
Best Time to Visit in Aru Valley
The winters are very chilly and sub-zero levels temperatures are attained with snow now and then. But this will also be the best time for the adventure snow sports. All you have to do is be prepared for the weather and have fun. In the summers the valley is full of green grass and flowers for you to enjoy. You can also trek and see the area around as the days are warm and there is a comforting cool breeze, not chilled icy wind. Still have an extra set with you, as it may rain now and then.
How to reach Aru Valley?
The nearest airport will be Srinagar Airport. Then you will need to drive up there. The distance is 102 kms between Srinagar and Aru Valley. It is approximately 3 hours drive. The other option is by train. Jammu Tawi is the closest railway station and then again you shall have to proceed by road. The highway is an all weather highway so the route is safe and good. The nearest big city would be Pahalgam at a distance of 12 kms. So, you can find all major facilities in the city of Pahalgam like banks, ATM or any other services.
You must visit the Aru Valley to have once in a lifetime experience. The view is going to be inscribed in your memories for ever and you will cherish them with all your heart. Have some quality time away from the cacophony of the cities and live laid back laze life for a few days. The air is so pure that you will be rejuvenated from within.