Kumkadi Village-A Hidden Bowl of Peace & Tranquility
Not so far away from the maddening city life hustle lays a tiny hamlet in Kupwara district, named Kumkadi.
Kumkadi village did not ring a bell to me like any other place of Jammu and Kashmir would. For long I thought we were discussing a place in some other state of our country. I was not the only one though, the name was totally unknown to most of us. So what was this place all about and where has this been hiding all along. Trust Kashmir Off Road to explore and how.
Early morning on 27th of May, our pack of 34 Kashmir Off Road club members started to drive to this place unknown. In spite of the fact that we had already done most of Kupwara district extensively last year, this place remained hidden quietly till date.
Like all other border villages, visiting Kumkadi demanded extensive permission procedure and protocols to follow. Thanks to the Jammu and Kashmir Forest Department, Indian Army and J&K Police, we managed to procure all the necessary requirements but with a lot running around.
Our two-day trip started with a feisty breakfast at this village Sarpanch’s house in Trumnar (Batapora- Kupwara) from here we had to drive to Safawali Gali Pass which would take us to our destination.
Situated at an elevation of 3000 ft, Safawali Gali is 35 km ex-Kupwara town. With heavy gush of strong winds and eclectic weather conditions, we managed to reach this high pass rather easily as the roads were moderately paved. After clearing the registration process we then descended on to serpentine roads through lush greens of Deodars and Pines.
As the name suggests, we were ‘Fully Enchanted’ with the magnificence of this meadow, thrown open to us the moment we descended on the plains. Such large open green area, filled with dandelions and pines all around overlooking Shamasbari range. We halted and breathed the fragrant air, heaven it is!
Enroute to Kumkadi, we passed through Guthamdori village surrounded by several white water streams and a river, was all about 4-5 rustic houses and beauty all around.
Attention! The first ever visitors to the village have arrived. All the villagers and the armed forces were lined up on either sides of the main road with huge smiles and anticipation. We were actually the first ever group of guests that they were about to host probably in their lifetime. The skies were misty, the sun peeping every now and then, just like all the resident women and children from their houses, smiling coyly from their verandahs. Such was our welcome. Kumkadi village is a bowl shaped tranquil village, comprising all of 20-22 log houses with farm lands in the middle. The whole village did not have a single retail shop but a fully functional primary school and a mosque apart from army headquarters. The medical facilities to the villagers are provided inside the army camp by the resident doctor. As we were a large group of people and there were not enough houses to cater as homestays, we all pitched our tents and distributed our lodging in both homestays and tents. Like I have always felt in our previous visits to these far flung areas, the famous Kashmiri hospitality is at these places to find. Irrespective of their resources and with bare minimum amenities, these people make sure to treat you like kings and queens. Never a frown on their faces, always smiling and ready to cater to all our needs with whatever best they can provide us with. All our meals were full of local produce and prepared by the humble people of Kumkadi. This village was all about peace quite and happy faces all around. Next morning after scrumptious breakfast they village people took us for a trek to a nearby forest village.
Not much of a trekker myself, it was indeed a difficult hike for most of us as the forest did not have proper roads leading to the village. But thanks to the enthusiastic village companions we thoroughly enjoyed the uphill forest trek (about 2kms) to this hamlet called Kaiyan. The extremely tiny village was nestled in the middle of gorgeous meadows and farmlands. There we found an eighty-year-old mosque with natural Sulphur springs in it. We explored the area for some time and headed back to Kumkadi for our lunch and departure back to the city.
Special thanks to Zahid Mughal (DFO, KUPWARA) for providing us with the opportunity to visit such places. Speaking on which he says- “It’s always a pleasure to host such like-minded people who care for nature and want to explore while maintaining the ecosystem. I welcome such tourism wholeheartedly and do not mind going to extra lengths in providing whatever is necessary from my office capacity to ease their trip.
Speaking about the expedition, Ali Sajid (founder of Kashmir Off Road) said- “We have always been on the lookout for such unknown places. Kumkadi has all the beauty and charm a city dweller may want to use as an escape to unwind at. I am grateful to all the authorities for letting us visit such unknown places time and again. Our quest and hunt for ecotourism is bearing fruit now as many places we visited since the past year as witnessing tourist footfall and homestays are being used as stay options. We are hopeful of bringing many such places to the world tourism map. ”
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