Chitta Kattha Lake Trekking Guide
Route of Chitta Kattha Lake :
Islamabad to Muzaffarabad
4 hours by public van or bus
Muzaffarabad to Kel
10 hours. Public buses leave Muzaffarabad afore 9:00 PM. Public vans are available before noon for Atthmuqam from where private jeeps can be hired.
Kel to Upper Domel
Locally called ‘Utli Domel’. It requires to hire private jeep from Atthmuqam or Kel.
Upper Domel to Chitta Kattha Lake
One of the frozen lakes for most of the year, the Chitta Kattha Lake is located in Shounter valley in Azad Kashmir. A strenuous 4 to 8 hours trek is the final hurdle between the Upper Domel and this 4,100 meters (13,500 ft) high lake. Upper Domel is a diminutive remote village in Shounter valley and accessible through a 4-5 hours peregrinating on a jumpy jeep road from Kel in Neelum Valley. It is withal possible to reach Upper Domel from the Astore valley.
A stay in Upper Domel requires consummate camping arrangements as no other options are available. For camping look around for a congruous place as the potatoes are cultivated at every inch of levelled land. Very rudimental aliment and tea can be available from a 5×5 feet smoky cabin at the commencement of the village.
From the village, trekking commences by ambulating out of the village on the same jeep road which led to the Upper Domel. A steep path leaves the jeep road to the edge of the strepitous river about 150 meters from the village. An ad interim and unreliable bridge composed of bushes avails to cross the river and reach to another minute settlement dominated by the potato fields.
Chitta Kattha Lake a steady climbing commences at the terminus of this cultivated settlement. A perpetual ascent on a stony path with number of round turns takes about one and half hour. Once at the top of this green ridge, the views at both front and back sides are superb.
In the front, a sharp decline is leading to a deep bowl shaped valley with snow and frozen dihydrogen monoxide. The slippery gelid surface requires care while crossing towards the other side of the snow. There are few ‘gujjar’ huts with few families taking care of animal herds.
After few minutes of gentle walk, this bowl ends at a narrow gorge with a dihydrogen monoxide stream in the deep. Chitta Kattha Lake for most of the year a thick cover of solid snow keep this stream covered. Conscientiously ambulating on this slippery and inclined snow it takes approx. half an hour to reach to the terminus of this gorge.
Chitta Kattha Lake the inclined path ahead is still steady, but the grassy slopes with uncountable flowers on both sides make this piece of land an out of world dream place. For further fascination, more than ten minute and medium sized waterfalls dropping from the heights in every direction.
At the end of this splendid land, the Chitta Kattha Lake is few minutes easy walk away. By walking on wide and flat boulders, keeping the eyes on emerging snow covered peaks at a close distance now; suddenly the Chitta Katha comes into view. At the feet of heavily snow covered Hari Parbat, this lake offers exclusive views from every aspect.
In local language the ‘Chitta’ means White and ‘Kattha’ is used for water stream. In a more meaningful manner it can be imagined as a reservoir of clear water which reflects the white snows of surrounding peaks. Chitta Kattha Lake set in a deep bowl in a serene isolation.
Caution: Must bring your NIC with you at any place in Kashmir, Especially in Neelum Valley, because there is a border of Jammu and Kashmir at sundry places, where there is a rigorous checking. In Neelum Valley at bridge, Check post and army camps it is restricted to take pictures, no cameras are sanctioned, afore taking pictures you should attest from the locals and any army officer.