Exclaimed as “Mini Kashmir” by the great Huien Tsang, the infamous Chinese traveler who traversed this way in the 6th century, the region of Poonch or Punch has a long history and the charm of being acquainted with some of the most historical figures the world has ever seen. Visited by Alexander the Great, who in 326 BC, invaded the Jhelum belt to war with Porus, Poonch was vacillated in the war among the humans for ages until the Indian independence settled part of its location firmly within the country. Bound by the Actual Line of Control (A.L.C.) between India and Pakistan, the Poonch district was divided into two parts after the partition in 1947. Partially lying in Pakistan, this district is still one of the remotest in the state of Jammu & Kashmir and in India, the traumatic experience of the partition not having healed the region completely. Also a region of harsh and wondrous beauty, Poonch has many breathtaking sights that transports one back to the ancient past. The five best sites in Poonch are listed here.
1. Poonch Fort
Poonch fort’s foundations were laid by Raja Adbul Razaq Khan in 1713 A.D. and the construction was carried ahead by his son, Raja Rustam Khan. A great admirer of architecture, Raja Rustam Khan planned the structure to be a Royal Palace as well as serve as a fortification structure for the town but in the end couldn’t build it the exact way he had planned. Containing vivid Mughal influence in the architecture, this marvelous structure stands stretched across an area of 7,535 square metres. Further architectural changes were brought about when the Sikhs governed the region adding a dash of the Sikh architectural style to the now 220-year-old building.
2. Noori Chhamb
A mesmerizing sight, Noori Chhamb was named by the Mughal emperor Jahangir after his wife, Queen Noor Jahan who, it’s believed, used to bathe here during her visits to Kashmir. It’s also believed that she had a mirror fixed on the mountain wall where she used to get her make-up done after her bath. The remnants of the mirror are still present to this day. Famed for its scenic sights and breathtaking waterfall, Noori Chhamb has become a very popular tourist destination. Situated 45 kilometres from the town of Poonch in Surankote tehsil and 200 kilometres from Jammu, this 75 feet fall originates from Panjtarnee Marg and Gumsar- Mastan Marg and eventually coalesces with the Suran river. A lovely sight, the droplets of water rise as mist and engulf the surrounding regions, giving a magical feeling.
3. Girgan Dhok and its Lakes
70 kilometres from the Poonch town is the enchanting valley of Girgan Dhok. Also known as the “Valley of Seven Lakes”, Girgan Dhok comprises of seven shimmering lakes and awe-inspiring scenic beauty. Perched at an elevation of 12,000 feet above the sea level in the Buffliaz Belt of the Himalayan mountains, visitors from all over the world are drawn to the breathtaking charm of this valley. The seven lakes are the main attraction of the valley and these include Sukh Sar, Chandan Sar, Bagh Sar, Neel Sar, Kali Dachani, Katora Sar and Nandan Sar, of which Nandan Sar is the largest, spreading to over 2.5 miles in length and more than 0.5 miles in width. The Nandar Sar lake drains towards the Alibad Sarai in the Kashmir Valley while the others drain into the Poonch region. Pleasant to visit anytime of the year, the valley is a captivating sight.
Located 12 kilometres from the Loran village and 33 kilometres from the town of Poonch, Nandishool is a wonderful waterfall. With the view of majestic snow-capped Himalayan peaks, this 150 feet high waterfall makes a magnificent sight. Originating from Pir Panjal and the glaciers of the region, this waterfall is a relatively unexplored site, and thus free from the throng of tourists. Quiet and peaceful, set in the beautiful lush mountain ranges, Nandishool is a tiny paradise by itself.
5. Peer Ki Gali
Resting on the Mughal road, Peer Ki Gali dates back to early 13th – 14th century. Deriving its name from a converted Hindu saint, Sheikh Ahmed Karim, the site is of significant religious relevance. Sandwiched between the villages of Poshana and Heer Pur, the shrine is a charming relic of the times depicting terrifying religious practices and beliefs. It is believed that the peer or a religious person, as per the Muslim faith, used to meditate at this site and could perform miracles, according to some legends.
Five offbeat and incredible places to give you an up-close and personal interaction with the wondrous region of Poonch. Head here for a respite from your tedious life and rejuvenate yourself in the fresh mountain air.
Some More Tourist Destinations In Jammu and Kashmir: