Aru is stunningly beautiful. Streams cut across impossibly green and thick meadows, and that is the only sound you hear, except for bird calls. On one side, the valley rises into a dense and dark pine forest. In front, the land goes beyond the reach of the trees into barren terrain, which then climbs up further into snow territory, joining the twin peaks of Katarnag, whose tops retain their snow most of the season.

THINGS TO SEE AND DO

So far, Aru gets two kinds of tourists: those staying in Pahalgam who come to Aru for a day trip, take photographs and pony rides; or trekkers, mostly foreigners, who stay in the guesthouses in the village, hire guides and ponies, and walk for days on end, visiting lakes, meadows and glaciers.

Viewpoints

The valley around Aru is a small opening in the narrow Lidder Valley, where the Lidder is joined by Naphran Nallah coming down from Katarnag, whose twin peaks rise above the valley. The village is at the bottom end, and the rest of the valley is covered in a plump green carpet. You can find a nice spot and enjoy the view around, or walk to Kothpathri, a rock at the beginning of the forest near which a spring emerges. The lovely forest beyond it and the grassland above the hillside on the left is Aru Valley. You can reach here in a little more than an hour at a relaxed pace.

Fodder Seed Production Farm

Up a steep but short climb behind the village, on the trekking route to Lidderwat, is the Fodder Seed Production Farm (FSPF) where different orchard grasses are being grown and researched. You can see small fields labelled red clover, fesque, timothy, dachylus, lupin, broom… which are all different type of grasses that either occur naturally in the meadows of this region or are being tested for their ability to grow in these climes. The views from here are breathtaking.

Sanjay Rawat
Pony riding in Aru Village
Pony riding in Aru Village

Dredad Trek

Adventurous souls should try the trek to the Dredad Meadow (3 km). It is on the route of the longer treks to Lidderwat Meadow and Kolahoi Glacier. Carry a picnic and it’ll make for a glorious half-a-day outing. You will meet only some shepherds on your way, and perhaps an occasional trekker.

Fishing

Fishing in the streams around Aru is allowed, albeit with a permit. Fishing permits have to be procured in Srinagar from the Directorate of Fisheries (Tel: 0194-2312046; Contact: 77-B, Gogjibagh, Jawahar Nagar; W jkfisheries.in).

WHERE TO STAY AND EAT

JKTDC’s Hotel Alpine (Cell: 09469515055, 09419450902; Tariff: 2,500-4,000) has seven double rooms and one suite, besides a dormitory (250 per bed).

Milky Way Guest House (Tel: 01936-210899, Cell: 09419435832; Tariff: 2,500-3,200) is the most pleasant. The others are cosy and comfortable as well: Snow Mount (Tel: 211083, Cell: 09419040337; Tariff: 1,500), Rohella (Tel: 211339, Cell: 09906886262; Tariff: 1,000-1,200) and Friends (Tel: 210928, Cell: 09469014916; Tariff: 700-1,000). Just before Aru is Aru Eco Resorts (Tel: 200008, Cell: 094190-15555, 09906071680; Tariff: 2,500) offering stay in comfy tents. Nearby, River Front Guest House (Cell: 09906500026; Tariff: 3,500), has a pleasant garden.

Food is available in all the accommodation in Aru, but only the restaurant in Hotel Alpine is open to non-residents. Expect mostly north-Indian food, with some snacks. The market has a few dhabas.

When to go April to September Location Aru sits at 7,967 ft above the confluence of the Naphran Nallah with the Lidder West River in Anantnag District Air Nearest airport: Srinagar Rail Nearest rail: Jammu

THE INFORMATION

Tourist Offices

Directorate of Tourism (Kashmir)

Tel: 0194-2502279

W jktourism.org

JKTDC

Tourist Reception Centre

TRC Road, Srinagar

Tel: 2457927-30

jktdc.co.in

Director, Tourism

Jammu, Tel: 0191-2520409

Leh

Tourist Reception Centre, Leh

Tel: 01982-252297, 252094

Tourist Development Authority

Tourist Reception Centre, Leh

Tel: 250866

Permits

Deputy Commissioner, Leh

Tel: 01982-252010, 252297

STD code 01982, 01985

Tourist Office, Kargil

Tel: 01985-232721, 232266

Zanskar Valley

Tourist Reception Centre, Padum

Tel: 01983-245017

STD code 01983

Manasbal

Wular-Manasbal Development

Authority

Tel: 01954-217541

Cell: 09622912407

Lolab Bangus Development Authority

Cell: 09419017791

STD code 01954

 

THE INFORMATION

Tangmarg

Tourist Reception Centre

Narbal-Tangmarg Road

Tangmarg

Tel: 01954-254436

STD code 01954

Yusmarg

Yusmarg Development Authority

Chief Executive Officer, Yusmarg

Tel: 01951-244266

Cell: 09419000272

STD code 01951

Achabal

J&K Tourism

Tourist Info Centre, Achabal

Cell: 09906606555

Daksum

JKTDC Tourist Bungalow

Daksum

Cell: 09469515050

Mansar Lake

Tourist Info Counter

Jammu Airport. Tel: 0191-2431917

Tourist Info Counter

Jammu Tawi Railway Station

Tel: 0191-2476078

JKTDC

Wazwan, Dilli Haat, Opp INA Market

New Delhi

Tel: 011-24670505

J&K Tourism

TRC, Gulmarg

Tel: 01954-254487, 254439

STD Codes Jammu 0191, Delhi 011,

Gulmarg 01954