Around 128 Kilometers away from Srinagar, at an altitude of 10,000 feet above sea level, with lush green meadows and majestic mountains lay a beautiful valley of Bangus. Situated in the northern region of Kupwara district, the Bangus Valley is a Himalayan sub-valley of the Kashmir Valley.
The Valley is as beautiful as Gulmarg and Pahalgam, but less spoiled and more pristine. The principal valley is locally known as ‘Boud Bangus’ (Big Bangus) and has an estimated area of about 300 Square Kilometers. It consists of a linear elliptical bowl aligned along the east-west axis and is surrounded by Rajwar and Mawar in the east, Shamasbury and Dajlungun Mountains in the west, Chowkibal and Karnah Guli in the north and Leepa Mountains in the south. A smaller valley, known as ‘Lokut Bangus’ (small Bangus), lies on the north-eastern side of the main valley. Both the valleys comprise level green meadows surrounded by low lying mountains covered with dense pine forests.
The Bangus Valley gets its name from two words, “Ban”, which is an interpretation of sanskrit term “Van”, meaning Forest; the second part “Gus”, means the “Grass”. The valley is traversed by many small streams with nearly 14 tributaries, including the Roshan Kul, Tillwan Kul and Douda Kul. The water of these streams forms one of the headwaters of the Kamil River; which in turn joins the Lolab stream, forming the Pohru River.
Bangus has remained largely restricted and an unfavourable tourist spot due to the conflict that largely affected this area. However, in recent years, efforts have been made to bring the valley on the tourist map. Bangus valley is now coming up as one of the most exotic places in Kashmir. During the lockdown people, especially youth started exploring unknown places as means of escape and Bangus Valley was one of them. Now, every day, scores of people visit the valley, trekking through the absorbing meadows and hills and spend days exploring its beauty.
The Valley has two routes through which people can reach the place, one is from Mawer, Handwara and the second one is from Chowkibal, Kupwara. The Bangus valley is a part of a unique ecological area, comprising mountains, grassland and Coniferous forest. This valley is replete with natural vegetation and flowers of wild nature. The meadows and the slopes of the side plateaus are covered with a range of flowers and medicinal plants. Freshwater fishes of moderate size and their fingerlings inhabit the streams. The valley's forests and plains serve as the breeding, feeding and protection grounds for many wild animal species. The wildlife includes about 50 species of animals and about 10 species of birds. The animal species include the musk deer, antelope, snow leopard, brown bear, black bear, monkeys, and red fox.
A large number of resident and migratory birds can also be found feeding and breeding in the valley. The prominent resident birds include pheasants, tragopan, monal pheasant, black partridge, bush quail, and wildfowl. The vast green plains look like natural tapestries, as if spread by divine hands. Extreme natural beauty, serenity, splendour are few synonyms associated with the majestic Valley of Bangus.
As the valley is coming into the limelight with tourists from different states visiting it, the government must ensure that an increasing population, accompanied by expanding settlement, growing mechanization and ensuing development activities do not occupy and modify the natural beauty of the Bangus valley.