Neelum Valley is a 200 km long bow-shaped deeply forested region in Kashmir, Pakistan. In this narrow strip of land there are various attractions, including famous lakes like Chitta Katha and Ratti Gali, for tourists and one of them is Arang Kel.
Arang Kel is a small village across the Neelum river. It takes an average trekker an hour of trekking to reach there from Kel. There are two tracks to the top of Arang Kel and both go through dense forests of pine trees. One also come across fresh water streams while going through the track.
In the whole Neelum Valley, Arang Kel is my most favorite place and it must be because it had a spell binding effect on me as soon as I reached there for the first time. Our tour organizer had booked rooms in a hotel at Kel but I told him that I will spend night at Arang Kel at any cost. The decision to spend night at Arang kel was not only due to the beauty of it but also due to the reason that it offered much more value to a photographer.
As soon as our tour organizer allowed me to stay at Arang Kel, other members also demanded to stay there. In the end we four photographers got the permission to stay at Arang Kel instead of going back to Kel to spend night. First we tried to book a room in one of the two hut hotels but we eventually decided to spend the night under the open skies and try to capture Milky Way galaxy.
It was almost full moon night and weather was cold. We chose a rocky spot and sat their for a gossip. All of us tried to took some night shots before the rain started and we had to take a shelter in the corridor of a school. The rain didn’t stop until morning so the only choice we had was to play cards game. We played ‘Thula’ game all the night as that was the only cards game we knew (I learned this game in another trip to Rupal side of Nanga Parbat in June 2013).
The morning offered beautiful views all around and I was lucky to capture some shots. Unfortunately we had to leave early as we had to go back to Kel to catch the rest of the group members and depart for Taubat.
Arang Kel has left a long lasting impression on my mind and I hope that it remains clean and beautiful as I will be definitely visiting this magical place again & again. I recommend it to all the tourists but at the same time I request all of you to keep it clean and avoid littering there, please.
Traveling is living!
Photography by: Sher Ali’s Photography