About 70 kilometres distance from summer capital Srinagar, Aharbal waterfall comes under the jurisdiction of south Kashmir district Kulgam. This hill station in the south-western part of the valley has a mesmerizing beauty, having the potential to lure the visitor’s attention. The spot is suitable for trekking, vlogging, photography, fishing and expeditions as well. Those fond of fishing often visit this place on Sunday’s to enjoy the fish catching.
Like other tourist destinations of Kashmir, Aharbal possesses the mesmerizing look of meadows, pine and fir tree forests, the abutting snow-clad mountains. The waterfall has so far attracted the attention of lacs of national and international tourists.
The lush green surroundings, the wooden picturesque and thrilling noise of floating waters compel the hearts of visitors to bow before nature. The Aharbal waterfall is also known as Niagara Falls of Kashmir.
The waterfall in Noorabad Tehsil of district Kulgam of Jammu and Kashmir lies at an altitude of 2266 meters above sea level.
Aharbal is known for its waterfall known as Aharbal Falls, where the Veshu falls noisily 25 meters and 7 meters through a narrow gorge of granite boulders. Aharbal Falls are also referred to as the Niagara Falls of Kashmir, owing to the volume of the water that falls.
Being a key natural resource of the valley, the water volume of the Waterfall would be sufficient to generate 100 MW of hydroelectricity. Like Uri – I, II power projects constructed on the embankments of River Jhelum, this water resource can also be utilized for augmenting the power supply in the valley. The terraces leading to this fall have been fenced by the Aharbal Development Authority, a government agency responsible for developing this destination.
The agency has built tourist infrastructure including huts and a cafeteria and has also made available other lodging and boarding facilities for the visitors but still, developmental issues at this hill station are not up to the mark. There are many issues which need to be attended which can lead to the massive footfall of tourists here.
The Aharbal Waterfall is a base for adventure tourism. The Veshu River is stocked with a massive flow of trout. Trout undoubtedly is being consumed at a large scale in the valley and also being exported to outside parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The trade of trout from Aharbal Waterfall can provide a livelihood to thousands of youth, but there are serious steps needed from the Government.
On Sundays and other vacations, fish catchers often visit this place after obtaining a permit from the Fisheries Department at Aharbal.
“Kashmir has its unique beauty in the world but this waterfall is adding a feather in the crown of Kashmir. The department of tourism should develop this place at par as it can be a key source of their revenue,” Gulzar Ahmad, a native of Kulgam said.
He said besides fish catchers coming from other districts of the valley, there are hundreds of youth of Kulgam district who often visit this place for fishing. “Many consume these fishes in their homes while there is a majority who use them for selling purposes,” he said and added, “If Government can establish a trout market here, it can be a source of income to hundreds of unemployed youth”.
The Aharbal waterfall has enough capacity to cater to the needs of the people of Kashmir. Generating hydroelectricity and developing trout markets is the important one, but Governments attention is the need of the hour.
By: Irfan A Mir