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5 years ago

Katora Lake Kumrat Valley Upper Dir

Katoora Lake (also called Jaz Dand) is situated in Lamoti Valley of Upper Dir, KPK, Pakistan at an altitude of 11,500 ft approximately. This lake is surrounded by high mountains covered with snow most of the times. Best season to visit is August/September however June or July is also good but do expect random showers due to monsoon. Trekking level can be considered ‘moderate’ for regular trekkers/hikers.

Travel towards Jaz Dand actually starts when you reach Upper Dir. It takes almost 7 hours to reach Upper Dir from Islamabad. This is the route we followed otherwise Dir valley is also connected with Swat Valley through Badgoi Pass. From Upper Dir, it takes almost 5 hours to reach base camp in Jandrai (also pronounced as Zhandrai). One has to leave the road (as there is none after this point) and start trekking towards Jaz Banda. It takes another 5 hours of trekking under dense forests to reach Jaz Banda. One can stay (or I would say one has to) in Jaz Banda for one night and then trek towards the Lake and reach there in almost 3 hours.

As far as accommodation is concerned, best option is the camping (as we did). However, for those who are not comfortable with the camping, there is one private rest house in Jandrai and one in Jaz Banda. These rest houses are owned/managed by Mr Raja Taj Muhammad. He is a renowned personality of the area and has been promoting tourism and also serving the visitors for more than 10 years now.

It's a must visit place- if I have to describe this place in just one sentence, I would say “It is just amazing”. The serenity pulls pains and troubles out of your mind and put you in a state from where there is no return- Peace prevails… One simply cannot forget the time spent there. And personally I wish to go there again and again. Streams of fresh and chilled water emanating from the Lake or high snowy mountains, meadows spread over large area, fresh and pure atmosphere are one of countless words to describe the serenity of this heavenly place. You will find yourself close to the nature- Guaranteed. And guess what! Even if you are feeling lonely, you won't be traveling alone, I am telling you, clouds won't leave you traveling alone at any point of time. And when you reach the Lake, it takes your breath away for a moment and then recharges your mind with its freshness and glory. Looks like I am missing it badly!

Moving forward, we cannot abstain ourselves from appreciating the hospitality shown by the local community as well. People in this place of our beloved country are simple, kind and hospitable. I have mentioned above about Mr Raja Taj Muhammad. During our visit, we were so impressed by his hospitality that we recorded his interview (in our own style) and requested him to brief us about this place and the clarify general perception in public about security situation. You can watch his interview here: http://dai.ly/x11tcpt. During trekking, we met many people who offered us a cup of tea at their own place and extended utmost cooperation. These people are pursuing a very simple life and eat a very simple yet healthy food. In pure economical terms, their cost of living is very low. One can guess their general political views through flags/banners by various political parties. Local cooperation within and self-reliance is quite evident from small irrigation channels and small scale electricity generation facilities. I personally feel that a better infrastructure would bring more prosperity to the area and for the people. They have great respect for their customs and traditions. As a general rule it also becomes the responsibility of a traveler to get familiar with and show respect for the local community manners.

Oh! At this point how could I forget my photographer community (of which I am also a part)? Guys!! Pack your bags and visit this place as soon as you could find time. This can bring a lot of fame for you through the eye of your gear.

We spent one night in Jaz Banda and then trek back to Jandrai on the other day. Our next destination was Kumrat Valley which is one the finest places in Dir Valley.

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