The best way to spend a vacation is to go to the hills. When the plains get too hot to bear, we look to the hills for relief. Throughout the year we fantasise about the hills. Last week we chose to visit Chiranbal, a hill station in Kulgam district with the coordinates of 33°35’47″N & 74°49’16″E. Chiranbal is 26 km from Kulgam. My fascination with Chiranbal began as a kid when I heard travellers’ tales about this beautiful place. The stories which I often heard from my father, who used to travel a lot, ignited my dreams.
Chiranbal is the biggest subalpine meadow in the Kashmir division. It is located on the bank of Zajinad, the Veshew’s most important tributary. One can reach Chiranbal either from Manzgam via Hallan or from Aevil village.
The main journey starts from Manzgam when you start climbing a serpentine road after crossing Hallan village. The journey from Hallan, I can say, tests the patience of the traveller. The vehicle needs to be checked in advance before undertaking the journey, as the road is narrow and unimaginably rough, passing through rugged mountains.
Chiranbal is nature at her best. You will appreciate the total quietness and fresh air, despite the fact that you need to become acclimated to the low-oxygen atmosphere. It has an exquisite appeal with high mountain ranges, strong winds, thundering downpours, and its curious society. The meadow of Chiranbal is divided into two sections: Haer and Bon Chiranbal. Haer Chiranbal isn’t as big as Bon Chiranbal. From Chiranbal meadow, you can see a wide range of alpine margs or meadows, such as Kachoi, Bardalow Rehman Dar, Manzpal, Hapthnard, and others. It also leads to alpine meadows such as Kadalbal, Zajimarg and Hakwas, among others. The location is suitable for both day and night stays. Chiranbal is a combination of twin pastures, namely Haer Chiranbal and Bon Chiranbal, which are bowl-like and seem like an earthly paradise. The fields and pastures are boundless.
Chiranbal is unique in that it is unbelievably large. It is part of a unique ecosystem with a distinct biodiversity, an ideal setting that will surely capture the hearts and the minds of all visitors.
Pray for fair weather, though, or you can be stuck anywhere during the course of your journey. You may remain unattended without any aid for hours and sometimes for days together.
I believe one should not set out for Chiranbal with knowledge gained from random visitors. Beginners must consult an experienced mountaineer rather than doing it all by themselves. A lot of youngsters get stranded because they are ill-prepared for the trip and the mountain terrain.
Safeguards that should be taken:
1. Begin fitness practices fifteen days before your trip.
2. Plan the trip well after consulting experienced visitors.
3. Do not compromise on safety gear.
4. Get the vehicles checked by a specialist who has experience of preparing vehicles for rough terrain.
5. Prefer BS-VI motorbikes with minimum capacity of 150 cc engine.
6. Carry important medicines to manage in the extreme climate.
7. Avoid riding around at evening time on hilly courses.
The writer is a research scholar at Aquatic Ecology Laboratory, PG Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Kashmir. [email protected]