Leepa is an enticing and beautiful valley in Azad Kashmir that is 2,133 metres (6,998 feet) above sea level. It is 105 kilometres (65 miles) from Muzaffarabad, the capital of Azad Kashmir. Reshian and Dao Khan are on the way to Leepa. The valley lies along the Line of Control (LOC). Naukot is the largest village, located 8 kilometres from Leepa’s main bazar. Throughout the winter, the valley is blanketed in snow. From May to November, the tourist season is in full swing.
Leepa, previously known as Karnah, was a Princely State of Azad Kashmir. Naili, Reshian Gali, and Dao Khan connect it to Muzaffarabad. Reshian Gali is a beautiful place with approximate elevation of 3,200 metres (10,499 feet) above sea level. A downward journey begins from Dao Khan towards Leepa. The height of the valley is 1,677 metres (5,502 feet) above sea level.
Other than Naukot, the villages in the valley include Moji, Lubh Garran, Said Pura, Chak Muqam, Banna Mula, Kahsra, Gajj Pura, Batllian, Gijjar Tahr, Satpura, Mandal, Kasr Kot, Huddan, Chanola, Munda Kulli, Chananian, Khalwara and Karayaan.
Shamsa Bari is the highest peak in the Leepa valley which remains snow-capped almost all year.
The architectural style is wooden and ancient. Every house structure is a work of art itself. Typical Kashmiri architecture makes it worthy to visit.
Leepa is a fertile and productive valley. Main attraction of the valley is the rice fields, which are a real summer treat. The variety of it’s crops particularly the red rice and red beans, is its forte.
Walnut of the valley is well-known throughout the country and even exported to various countries. Almost every family in the valley owns a grove of walnut trees. They earn handsome profit from the export. Their standard of living gets significantly higher. Aside from walnuts, cherry, apples, and a variety of other fruits, the Leepa valley is known for producing high-quality honey.
Residents of the Leepa valley speak Kashmiri, Hindko, and Urdu. The population is around 75,000 people. Their source of income is farming, cattle rearing and small business such as the sale of walnuts, fruits and honey. They gladly provide tourist services as well. In a nutshell, they are mostly self-employed.
There is a small hydroelectric project that generates 2 MW of electricity. It is more than enough for the local population.
A metal road leads to the valley, passing through Muzaffarabad, Garhi Dupatta, Dhanni Baqallan, Hattian Bala, Naili, Sain Bagh, Reshian, Dao Khan, and finally entering the Leepa valley from Moji.
Reshian is the main entrance to the valley. There are three routes that lead to Leepa valley.
- The Defence Road, which connects to the valley at Hanjna
- Barthwar Gali
- Bali Camp
Now a car can go up to the valley. But some patches of the road are shingle in forward areas where a four-wheel vehicle is must for a safe and enjoyable journey.
Tourists can stay in a Private Tourist Rest House or a Forest Rest House. However, because the number of tourists increases significantly in the summer, the Tourism Department of AJK provides Tent Services as an alternative.
The best time to visit Leepa valley is from May to September.
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