Lifestyle, Tourist Spots Kashmir

Gurez Valley- People, Life And Culture.

Gurez Valley- People, Life And Culture.

“One of the most beautiful scenes in all of Kashmir” 

-Words of praise from British author Sir Walter Lawrence for the valley of Gurez,1895

Gurez, 123km away from the bustling city of Srinagar, is like a forgotten land nestled between the high-reaching Himalayas of Kashmir. On reaching the valley, you can easily spot a pyramid-like peak – famously known as the habba khatoon peak. 

The eye-catching peak is named after a celebrated Kashmiri poetess, Habba khatoon.

Gurez valley surrounded by mountains
Image Source: Google

Picture by: VargisKhan

The river flowing in front of the habba khatoon peak is known as “Kishanganga” and it flows throughout the Gurez valley before finally merging into the Neelum river near Muzaffarabad in Pakistan.

Did you know?

Gurez lies along one of the ancient pathways for the Silk trade between the west and the east, linking powerful civilizations such as Rome and China. 

A Little About The People Of Gurez- 

Little girl smiling
Image Source: Kashmir Post

The inhabitants of Gurez belong to a tribe called the Dardi-shina tribe, which suggests that they are Dardic (Indo-Aryan) and speak a specific language called “Shina”, along with Kashmiri and Urdu. There are several dialects of this language and surprisingly, it has no writing system.

Traditionally, occupation choice revolves around rearing animals like sheep, cows, and goats and selling them to buyers in Gurez and Srinagar and farming of fruits and vegetables. 

Amongst many qualities the people of Gurez possess, hospitable, generous, and resilient are few that cannot be overstated. However challenging life might be to the Shina, they will always take the opportunity to sit with you and talk about the beautiful valley they call home while offering copious amounts of tea.

The Life in Gurez-

Winter Life

Winter in Gurez Valley
Image Source: Google

Life in Gurez becomes especially tough when the winter season hits, causing the temperature to fall below -30 Celsius leading to heavy snowfall on the land. About 7-14 feet of snow falls annually, shortening their contact with the rest of the world.

The road to Gurez known as the “Razdan Pass” indeed remains closed for about six months due to heavy snowfall.

Their ‘6-month isolation’ from the world, forces the shinas to stock up on all essential items, for up to six months, just before the onset of the winter season.

In case of medical emergencies during winters, they rely on herbal or traditional medicines to cure the sick, and, in worse case scenarios they take the sick to a neighborhood clinic that is 2km away. 

In a documentary by video volunteers, a resident, Ishtiyaq Ahmad khan, says that the houses are specially made out of wood as concrete ones would never survive the harsh winters and deep snowfall. 

Summer Life

Gurez valley surrounded by green trees
Image Source: Google

Contrary to the lifestyle in winters, summers are much blissful for people. The valley is magical, and one cannot help but take dozens of photographs of its beautiful environment. 

The fresh air and lush green meadows of the valley give the visitor a sense of solace, hope, and healing to the soul. It is a lifelong experience to relish for a visitor. 

We have to admit, the journey up until Gurez is a long one, but the sights are worth it.  

Fact Check –

While it may seem that the population might be scarce in regions like Gurez, on the factual side, about 30,000 people, scattered among fifteen villages, live in the scenic valley of Gurez.

A Little About The Culture of Gurez-

Since Gurez valley is part of Kashmir valley, the traditions are interchangeable in terms of weddings and feasts although when it comes to their dressing, they dress in the same way as their kinsfolk in Pakistani-administered Gilgit-Baltistan.

Did You Know?

Up until 2018, the valley only had landlines and a single BSNL transceiver tower at Dawar (Main city). Things changed in 2018 when mobile phones rang for the first time in Gurez with 4G internet connectivity.


Gurez valley
Image Source: Google

Photo credits: Shakyasom Majumder

What can you experience at Gurez?

  1. A small Picnic on Razdan pass- you read that right. The highest meadow from where you can potentially see the entire valley, you can also sit and have a picnic of your own, take pictures, and make some unerasable memories of the scenic and majestically tall pine trees that surround the ridges of the road.
  2. The Kishanganga River we mentioned before, is a popular rafting destination for tourists and is a must-do when visiting gurez.
  3. Activities like trekking, cycling, driving, and camping, should be experienced when visiting Gurez.

As a tourist or a city visitor, there are many things you can add to your to-do list once you reach Gurez. We’ve summed up a few for you!

Tip of the day –

Save yourself some worry and make sure to carry along your identity proof (like adhaar card, passport, etc) as a routine checkup takes place at many army check-points, throughout the valley.

And that is a wrap!

We hope this article is of some help to you !