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Unseen Kashmir – Bangus and Lolab Valley - The Magic


The Valley of Bungus
The Valley of Bungus

Unseen Kashmir – Bangus and Lolab Valley - The Magic

Continued from 



Bungus valley is located at a height of 10000 feet. This valley consists of Chota Bungus called Lokut Bungus in Local Language and Bada Bungus called Bod Bungus. Both the valleys have lush green meadows surrounded by low lying hills with a dense cover of coniferous forests and also have beautiful streams flowing through the meadows. For nine months of the year, the area of 300 square Kilometers, is under the snow up to twenty feet. With the onset of summer, the snow starts melting giving way to a thick carpet of grass dotted with wildflowers.

Tourist huts being constructed at Neelvan
Tourist huts being constructed at Neelvan
View of the Hills around at the starting of Trek to Bungus
View of the Hills around at the starting of Trek to Bungus

          Everybody was eager to witness the magic of Bungus, so when Majid Khan returned with the third horse, we started off immediately. After walking for about 500 meters, we entered a Jungle. A river was flowing alongside the mule track. Anupma and Sarthak were on horsebacks while me and Jyotsna were on foot. At one point we had to cross the river and a passage was made laying a tree trunk across the river. It was scary, but somehow we crossed it and were in the thick pine forest.


Chota Bungus
Chota Bungus

A small stop at Chota Bungus
A small stop at Chota Bungus


Horses Playing at Chota Bungus
Horses Playing at Chota Bungus

            We were having fun walking playfully. Sarthak was enjoying his horse ride and was handling the horse on his own, while Anupma was scared riding it. Majid Khan had brought along his son to handle the horse, however, the horses were used to on walking on those mule tracks and were walking very safely. Soon we were in a small meadow, where a nomad family had set up their tents. The kids were playing, horses were grazing and women were busy with their household chores. Majid Khan announced that this is Chota Bungus. It was time for some rest. Majid Khan knew the nomad family well. Till now he had made the saddles on mules by tying blankets on their back, which kept on slipping. Here he took proper leather saddles from the head of the family and mounted them on horsebacks with his help.

After soaking the beauty of the place for some time and relaxing, we continued our journey. The meadow gave way to a dense forest again and now the thing which we were dreading happened. It started to rain. We had nothing to protect ourselves and we took shelter under the trees. Rain stopped after some time to start playing hide and seek with us and made us stop a few times.

wild flowers are in abundance in Bungus
Wildflowers are in abundance in Bungus

                                   I and Jyotsna were discussing that the trek was an easy one and those guys unnecessary made a mountain out of a mole and hiring the third pony was a waste of money. As if Majid Khan had been waiting for this discussion, he announced, that now the tough part of the trek will begin and it actually was. A path full of loose stones and gravel with an incline of more than sixty degrees. Yes, it was a tough one. Now the pit stops became frequent and we were panting. This part of the trek was for approx 2-3 kilometres.

First glimpse of Bada Bungus
First glimpse of Magical Bada Bungus

Taking refuge under trees while it rains
Taking refuge under trees while it rains

            And then suddenly a magic happened a HUGE elliptical bowl-shaped meadow of Bada Bungus appeared in front of us. Yes, it was truly magical and mesmerizing. God has not gifted me with the art to play with the words to describe the beauty of that place. That figure is still etched deeply in our minds. But it was raining here in the valley. We had to again take the shelter under the trees. Majid Khan let the horses to graze and we sat there chatting. Sarthak and Anupma had been tiding and were wet, so they were feeling cold. I give my Jacket to Srthak as the strenuous trek had warmed me up and I was sweating. We were in awe after seeing such a big meadow and were waiting for for the rains to stop.
Beautiful mountain ranges with clouds looming over them
Beautiful mountain ranges with clouds looming over them

The snow clad peak
The snow-clad peak
                       The same snow-clad peak, which we clicked at the at the starting of the trek is covered with clouds now. 


Huge meadows of Bungus and the rains
Huge meadows of Bungus and the rains

                          The vastness of the meadow can be judged from the perspective that the tiny looking poles in the middle of the meadow are nearly 12 feet tall.

We had been sitting there for nearly half an hour when the sky started to clear from one side. The distant hills and the snow on them were now glistening in the Sun. We thanked God for this and started walking into the Bada Bungus. This was the experience for which we had travelled and trekked. Everybody was on mules except me. Walking on the thick grass was like walking on a plush carpet. The flowers all over made it stunningly beautiful. We were enjoying the vistas and surroundings. In this such a vast tract, there was nobody except us.

Skies are clearing up over Bungus
Skies are clearing up over Bungus
Skies have started to clear up and the distant hills, which were not visible till now are looking majestic.

We start to go into the meadows of Bungus
We start to go into the meadows of Bungus



It is flowers in the carpet of Grass or grass in a carpet of flowers
It is flowers in the carpet of Grass or grass in a carpet of flowers

Marching into the Bada Bungus
Marching into the Bada Bungus

Majid Khan and his son with my Family pose for a photo while Horses feast on flowers and grass of Bungus
Majid Khan and his son with my Family pose for a photo while Horses feast on flowers and grass of Bungus

                           Majid Khan suggested that at some distance there are Nomad huts. We can take shelter there and start a fire and warm ourselves up as everybody except me was feeling cold, because of wet clothes and riding of horses. That some distance must not be less than 4-5 kilometre. We had been walking for about one hour, and it had started to rain again. When we reached a point when the treeline on our left ended and we saw that there was an extension of this meadow behind those trees and there were few Bakkarwal huts there. Majid Khan opened one hut and we went inside. He set out to search for his matchbox in other huts. These nomads leave firewood matchboxes etc in the huts only. But luck did not favour him and he could not find any. He was going from one hut to other in rain-drenched. I asked him to forget it and join us to eat some snacks wafers, biscuits, that we were carrying. His son was already with us and soon he also was sharing our food.

The Pony, Pony-wala, the rider and lush green Bungus
The Pony, Pony-wala, the rider and lush green Bungus

A temporary bridge over a small stream
A temporary bridge over a small stream

  Small streams carrying icemelt water crisscross the meadow and temporary bridges are made over them by laying wooden logs and tree trunks. One such passage in the pic above.


These beautiful flowers dot the entire Bungus
These beautiful flowers dot the entire Bungus



And there are so many of them
And there are so many of them


Bakkarwal huts at Bungus
Bakkarwal huts at Bungus

                              Within a few minutes, the rain stopped and we came out of the hut and sat there enjoying the environs and snacking. Soon the clouds cleared and Sun started to shine brightly. We came out in front of the hut The Sunshine was so bright that we could see a thick layer of water vapours arising from our wet clothes and within no time they were partially dry. We sat there chatting relaxing and appreciating the views. Once the hunger had been taken care of, we started to move ahead as Majid Khan suggested that skies will clear now and we can walk up to army post which was 1 – 1.5 hours walk away. But fate had something else in store for us. Soon the distant hills got covered in clouds. I took the call and decided that we return. We took the final parting shot of the Bada Bungus and started our journey back with a resolve to come again and do one night camping here. It had started raining on the hills and for the first time, I saw rain running towards us.


Parting shot of  Bungus.
Parting shot of  Bungus.
           This is our shot of Bungus when we made a retreat. On the extreme left are some more Nomad huts and in the centre, three white dots ( very frail and will need full-screen display) are the army post tents


Horses enjoying the feast even in rain
Horses enjoying the feast even in the rain

                           I was walking fast, but rains were faster and caught us up again, however, did not last for long and stopped much before we reached the point where we said goodbye to Bungus and started our descent. The descent seemed to be tougher than ascent as it was slippery. Majid Khan advised that we all cover the steep descent part on foot. I was helping Anupma in descending while Jyotsna and Sarthak formed the other team. Descending seemed to take longer than ascending. Finally, we reached the roadhead. At this point, we realised that we had not planned anything for our return from this point to Reshwari. We saw a Taxi down there on the road but it left soon. We were walking merrily towards the main road. When we reached on the main road, we became a point of attraction for the group of locals there as they were not used to much of urban visitors. They told us that we can get a shared taxi or some other vehicle to Reshwari. We were sitting in sun drying and warming ourselves. A Petroleum Tanker was coming from the other side I waved him and he agreed to give us the lift till Reshwari. On reaching Reshwari, when I offered him money, he politely declined.

We reached guest house to see that it was locked and there was no sign of caretaker. Tried calling him up and his phone was switched off. We wanted to wash ourselves, change and collect our knick-knacks. I had not even settled the bill. We waited for about half an hour and then decided that we leave and will ask Mr Asadullah and either hand over the money to someone in Srinagar or send from Ludhiana. But travelling in soiled and wet clothes for 100 Km was going to be very uncomfortable. I stopped in front of Majid Khan's house and asked him if we can change there. He and his whole family welcomed us in true Kashmiri hospitality. His entire family was around us and it was evident from their faces that they were genuinely happy to have us there. We were served tea. After changing and having tea, we left. Anupma gave some Shagun to his daughter. Majid Khan also tried calling the caretaker, but same response.

Anyhow, we started and told Majid khan that to ask the caretaker to call me up and let me know how much to pay and to whom. We were about 15- 20 Kilometer from Reshwari when I saw one of the persons from the group who were at Reshwari yesterday. I stopped to just say a goodbye and thank him for the help. He told me that he had received a call from the caretaker and I had been portrayed as if I had run away without paying intentionally. He said that the caretaker was on his bike behind us as if chasing us. I asked him if he can ask how much I owe him, I can hand over the money to him and leave. He said to wait and settle my self. In 15 - 20 minutes, the caretaker reached. He started accusing us of not paying and demanded 2500 rupees. 1000 towards that dump of a room and 1500 just for cooking the meal. It was a loot. I had to take a stand and even raise my voice. I wanted to call the police, but the advocate intervened and started saying “ Garib hai” and all that stuff and persuaded me to pay him Rs. 2000. Reshwari Guest house again left a bad taste while leaving also.

P.S.  - Someone who read my previous post and commented that he has recently visited Bungus, on enquiring told me that the guest house is now being run by JKTDC and is well maintained now.


                 By evening we were at Srinagar and settled in our regular hotel at Lal Chowk.


 Next day we left early morning to drive back home with beautiful memories of a road trip, which led us to the mystic and unexplored valleys of Lolab and Bungus in Kashmir, where the white clouds kissed the beautiful peaks and the unending meadows welcomed us with their open arms.


An abandoned inn of Mughal era on Mughal Road
An abandoned inn of Mughal era on Mughal Road


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