Seoz Dhar-Kailash Kund – A Hidden Paradise

Seoz Dhar-Kailash Kund – A Hidden Paradise

There is a need to develop it into a tourist site by providing a road

The Seoz Dhar-Kailash Kund trek takes you to Kailash Kund, a lake situated at 12,887 ft above sea level. It is a lake shrouded in mystery and lore and is considered a holy place for the people of Bhaderwah, in the Doda district of Jammu.
The Kailash Kund yatra — a three-day holy walk — conducted every year is dedicated to the deity of Bhaderwah town, Vasuki Nag, and has been followed for thousands of years. This ritual brings a lot of pilgrims to Kailash Kund only on these three days of the procession that takes place between August and September. The three days usually fall in the last week of August based on the Hindu calendar and thus the dates vary every year. For the exact dates of the yatra, one can check the local news from Jammu, if interested to experience the culture and tradition.
Myth aside, the trek to Kailash Kund takes you to the foot of Mt Kablas (as the locals call it), on a rugged landscape where the mile-wide, stark gray lake sits.
The usual trail to Kailash Kund starts from the Vasuki Nag temple at Gatha village in Bhaderwah. The trail then goes through a series of villages before reaching the beautiful Seoj Dhar meadows. The pilgrimage route is filled with folklore and there is a story behind each rest point the pilgrims halt at, and each temple they visit along the way. If you are someone who has a keen interest in knowing the culture of a place, then this route and the yatra are for you!
At Indiahikes, we explored the Kailash Kund trek from the other side, starting from the road ahead of Chattergala Pass. This trail is more scenic and secluded and in all probability, you’ll be the only one trekking before the yatra season begins, or after the yatra season ends. This makes the trek unique as it remains untouched for the whole year, except for three days. The best part of the trek is, you get to see Mt Brahma I and Mt Brahma II as you climb up to Kailash Kund! Considering the landscape of Jammu and Kashmir, this is a refreshing view one can ask for on their trek.
The trail takes you through the coniferous forests of pine, fir and cedar trees, through the meadows and steep ascents through rocky sections before finally reaching the rugged, boulder-filled plains at the base of Mt Kablas (Kailash).
From Mt Kablas, you descend through the Seoz Dhar meadows. If we say meadows, the first image that comes to mind is kilometers of lush green grass. But, that is not the case with Seoz Dhar. Along with lush glades of grass, it is filled with smooth boulders of various sizes, which make you wonder where on earth they came from!
The Seoz Dhar – Kailash Kund trek is a refreshing change in terms of scenery in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, which gives a peek into the culture and local traditions of Bhaderwah too. The UT of J&K has been blessed with unparallelled and breathtaking natural beauty. There are high snowcapped mountains, lush green meadows, bubbling springs and meandering slopes which mesmerise the visitors. It is this captivating beauty that attracts a large number of tourists to visit tourist spots such as Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Patnitop, Srinagar, etc. Along with these world-famous tourist spots, there are some other spots that abound in natural beauty but have remained unexplored and their vast tourism potential and pristine beauty have not been exploited. One such spot is Seoz Dhar or Seoz Meadow which is located on the higher ranges of mountains above Bhaderwah, at a height of about 11000 ft from the sea level. This region is so far not connected by road and no attention has so far been given to it to develop it into a tourist spot. In the winter season, this region remains covered under the thick carpet of snow and thus, remains cut off from the other regions. But in summer, it bubbles with human activity as hundreds of nomads take their flocks of sheep, goats and cattle to spend the summer season there in the cool weather and serene locations. Moreover, there is sufficient grass for the animals to graze in Seoz Dhar in summer. Along with lush green blades of grass, there are big smooth boulders of different sizes dotting all over the grassland in these vast and beautiful meadows located far away from the din and noise and pollution of the cities.
Seoz Dhar meadows are a trekker’s paradise spread across miles. These meadows can be reached via two trails. Both trails pass through coniferous forests of pine, fir and cedar trees. People venturing for adventure treks to these meadows have to carry their food and items of tenting as there are no facilities for boarding and lodging except on the occasion of Kailash Kund Yatra when some people and religious organisations set up langars here. Seoz Dhar meadows are, perhaps the largest meadows in Jammu & Kashmir. These meadows are really a tourist paradise surrounded by magnificent mountains which remain snow-clad for most of the time during winter. Apart from lush green meadows stretching for miles together, there are other, attractions also. There are dense forests all around with small brooks flowing with murmuring crystal clear water. Woolly clouds floating from one part to another in the sky add more beauty to these meadows. The flock of sheep and goats and the herds of cattle cropping the turf and the nomads dressed in their traditional dress tending to them and controlling them by whistling in their unique manner make the visitors spellbound and wonder if they have come into an altogether new world far away from the hectic world of dirt and pollution. There is a great change in temperature during the daytime and at night and winds blowing in the open add to the chilling temperature. When the days are bright, the sky is brilliant and blue. En route, trekkers trek over tiny flowers of various colours and hues ranging from violet, blue, red, purple and white. In August -September, a three-day yatra is organised to the 14,700 feet high Kailash Kund from the centuries-old Vasuki Nag temple at Gatha in Bhaderwah in Doda District and from Vasuki Nag temple in Dudu in Udhampur District. The devotees have a second-night stay in the picturesque Seoz Dhar meadows. On the morning of the third day, they reach the high-altitude Kailash Kund lake, perform traditional prayers and have a dip in the ice-cold water of the holy lake.
But there are a few instructions for the devotees and the visitors to follow before undertaking this arduous trek. As this trek involves steep ascent and big boulders, the visitors should wear shoes that are sturdy, have good grip, and ankle support and can handle snow. They must carry waterproof backpacks containing full sleeves and dry-fit T-shirts having collars to prevent their arms and neck from getting sunburnt. In the rarified air on the trail, especially at high altitudes, UV rays can burn the exposed skin in no time. At the same time, they must wear sunglasses, particularly on the snowy section of the meadows as fallen snow acts like thousands of small mirrors which reflect direct UV rays. They need to wear snow caps, synthetic hand gloves, warm padded rain jackets, socks, lip balm, cutlery, medicines, etc to make their trek pleasant and memorable. As it can rain here at any moment, they should have sufficient plastic sheets with them.
This region is believed to be rich in valuable herbs and the nomads who spend their summer in these meadows, believe that many rare and valuable herbs including the wonder herb ’Sanjeevni Booti’ could be found in these meadows if proper research is conducted. In fact, the nomads treat their minor ailments themselves by making use of locally available herbs and a lot can be gained from their traditional knowledge about these herbs. There is a need to develop it into a tourist site by providing a road.
Author is Environmental Science Lecturer at Government Higher Secondary School Khellani Doda

 

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