Aru Valley – Hidden Gem near Pahalgam (A Complete Travel Guide)

Jammu & Kashmir

Aru Valley Travel Guide

Last Updated on: May 12, 2023 

About this blog: Aru Valley, located near Pahalgam is one of the most beautiful destinations in Kashmir. In this blog, we will share our experiences of our visit to Aru, how to reach, what to do, where to stay and other relevant information.

There are some places that make you utterly content and happy. Aru Valley in Kashmir is one such place. Located about 12 km from the more popular Pahalgam, Aru is a small village among the green grasslands and great views. With our fondness for off-the-beaten-track places, we decided to stay at Aru Valley and not at Pahalgam. There was another reason as well. We had already visited Pahalgam and stayed there before during our Amarnath Yatra trek.

Meadows of Aru Valley

Well, Aru Valley is incredibly beautiful with picturesque vistas, majestic snow covered Himalayan peaks at the backdrop and the mountain river flowing through it. Being less crowded than Pahalgam, Aru Valley is like a solace for those looking for quiet and peace. Aru Valley is also the starting point of a number of treks in Kashmir. Definitely, it was a perfect place for us, looking for nature and peace and a little bit of activity.

Aru Valley or Pahalgam – where to stay?

Aru Valley is just gorgeous. The small village surrounded by mountains is a place for the quiet ones.

The tiny village is located at the end of the valley and is surrounded by pine trees, green hills and vast meadows. We saw a few shepherds moving with their flock of sheep and goats. Horses were grazing around. It seemed we were in some fairyland. And we felt that this is one place where we could stay forever!

A house at Aru Valley

The village hardly has a few homestays and guesthouses, a few small eateries and a few shops. Aru is a place where the people live and laugh with each other. The villagers will smile at you and welcome you to their humble abode. Nature is at her pristine best. Life is slow here and people enjoy talking to each other.

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Aru Valley is quite disconnected from the phone and internet services. It seemed only BSNL worked there. It was a perfect place for digital detox. Our homestay owner has a BSNL connection, but for checking mails, he usually goes to Pahalgam as ‘the internet is better there’.

And then there is Pahalgam. The place is captivating and will mesmerize you from the time you arrive. There are a number of attractions in and around Pahalgam. It is a small town with a busy market area having hotels, resorts and good restaurants serving a variety of food. You will get hotels of various budgets and also a plethora of adventure activities.

Beautiful Pahalgam

Also, there will be a lot of tourists, noise and cars that are usually associated with a popular tourist place.

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Both Pahalgam and Aru Valley are beautiful in their own rights. You have to decide your place of stay according to your choice. If you can spare a couple of days away from the digital environment, then we would definitely recommend staying at Aru Valley. You will not be disappointed.

Where is Aru Valley?

View of Lidder River on the way from Pahalgam to Aru Valley

Aru Valley is located about 12 km from Pahalgam, which in turn is about 54 km from Srinagar. The village is located amidst green grasslands overlooking the majestic Himalayan ranges. Aru can be easily reached from Pahalgam by hiring a car.

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Aru Valley serves as the base camp for a number of famous treks in Kashmir like the Tarsar Marsar Trek and Kolahoi Glacier Trek. There are many other small trekking trails starting from the valley making it one of the coveted destinations for adventure seekers.

Our Experience at Aru Valley

The weather was a bit gloomy when we started from Srinagar and it was drizzling when we arrived at Pahalgam. It was a bit exasperating that it had been raining since the day we arrived in Srinagar. We had been carrying our umbrellas and trying not to get drenched. We were waiting eagerly for sunny days so that we could explore more.

Pahalgam to Aru Valley

The road from Pahalgam to Aru Valley is quite beautiful through the winding mountain roads. The huge cedars, pine and oak trees kept us company all through the road. And so did the Lidder River. By the time we reached Aru Valley, it was raining quite heavily. We had booked our stay at the JKTDC Tourist Bungalow. However, we were in for a surprise (rather shock) when we reached there.

We reached the bungalow only to find that the bungalow was closed and there was no caretaker there. A few locals called the caretaker on the phone after seeing us. After some time, the caretaker came to the bungalow and with a very guilty expression, gave us shocking news. It so happened that there was no electricity in the tourist bungalow. The electric cable had snapped a couple of months back and it was not repaired. Added to the fact was that not a single tourist had booked the bungalow for the last few months, before we did.

Aru Valley

To cut a long story short, there was no electricity in the tourist bungalow and it was raining heavily. The caretaker was quite apologetic and he called his boss at Pahalgam. The Tourism officer at Pahalgam also apologized to us and offered us a stay at the Pahalgam Tourist Bungalow.

Well, it was definitely a good option to go back to Pahalgam and stay at the Tourist Bungalow there, but we wanted to stay at Aru only. We thanked the Officer for his offer of stay but informed him about our decision. The caretaker ruefully asked us to stay at his house! This is what Kashmir is all about. If the locals see any tourists in trouble, they open their hearts and houses for them.

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Regardless, we found a beautiful homestay near the small market place of Aru and decided to stay there. It was a cosy homestay having a great view of the mountains from the rooms. As we were the only guests there, we got to choose the best room in the homestay with the best views.

View of Aru from our Homestay - Aru Heights

As soon as I woke up the next morning, I went to the window to pull away the curtains. And I was totally mesmerized by the views in front of me. It was simply breathtaking. And oh! The rains had stopped; the sky was blue with cottony clouds moving over the mountain ranges. I could view the vast greenery just from the room.

We did not want to waste another moment. So we freshened up quickly, took our cameras and went out to explore Aru Valley.

Beautiful landscape of Aru Valley

Aru Valley can be best explored on foot. There are a couple of day hikes from the village. And if you are not much fond of hiking, you can take pony rides to different points of interest.

The first place we visited was the Green Top. It is a steep climb to a green patch on the ridge of the range from where you get a great view of the surrounding mountains and the village. The last part of the climb was a bit steep and our legs were screaming for attention. But the views from the top are totally worth all the pain.

Green Top Trek Aru Valley

After the hike, we explored Aru Valley on foot. We went to the J & K Tourism Park, located beside the Tourist Bungalow. We met the caretaker again and he seemed to be arranging for restoration of the power supply. He invited us inside and served us a hot cup of kahwa.

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We spent some lazy time at Aru Valley enjoying nature and solitude. We had planned to stop at Pahalgam while returning and explore Pahalgam as well. Unfortunately, it again started raining quite heavily and we could not explore Pahalgam this time. Nevertheless, Aru Valley was perfect and we enjoyed our time there to the fullest.

Now let me share a few of the things that you can do at Aru Valley.

Things to do at Aru Valley

Trekking

Trekking in Aru Valley

Aru Valley is a haven for trekkers and hikers. You can trek to Green Top and Base Camp if you have only a day. Another beautiful place where you can visit is Lidderwat. However, you will need 2 days for trekking there. Lidderwat is about 8 km from Aru Valley and it will take you a day to reach there. You can camp at Lidderwat and return the next day. You will need to hire guides for this trek.

Also, Tarsar Marsar Trek and Kolahoi Glacier trek can be done from Aru Valley. All these treks are multiple day treks and you will need guides for these treks.

Go for a pony ride

Rates for pony rides in Aru Valley

There are many points in Aru Valley where tourists can visit on a pony. You can visit the River point, Kootpathri, Posh pathri, Kastoorvan and a few other places on the pony. There is a fixed rate of the pony, but you can bargain a bit.

Is it safe to visit Aru Valley?

Aru village

Yes, Aru Valley is safe to visit. Inspite of all the concerns in Kashmir about militancy and Indian military, tourists in Kashmir are quite safe.

Infact, Pahalgam is one of the safest places I have visited in Kashmir. I say this from experience. The last time we were in Kashmir was in 2016 for Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari, near Pahalgam is the starting point for the Yatra. When we were on the road from Jammu to Pahalgam, we were stuck in a riot near Ramban. We were stuck at the same place on the road for almost 6 hours and reached Pahalgam at 11 PM in the night. While Srinagar underwent curfew, everything in Pahalgam was peaceful.

So yes, Aru Valley is quite safe for tourists. You will also not see many military or army on the streets unlike the highly militarized Srinagar. The place is peaceful.

How to reach Aru Valley?

To reach Aru Valley, you have to first reach Srinagar and then Pahalgam. Aru Valley is about 12 km from Pahalgam. From Srinagar, you can get a cab to Pahalgam.

Srinagar to Pahalgam by shared cab

Srinagar to Pahalgam

I don’t think there are direct shared cabs from Srinagar to Pahalgam. You have to first take a shared taxi from Srinagar to Anantnag/ Islamabad. You will get shared taxis from HP petrol pump near Jan Bakers. It is a few minutes’ walk from Dal Gate.

From Anantnag/Islamabad, you have to take another shared taxi to Pahalgam. You will get a shared taxi from Anatnag taxi stand and the distance is about 40 km.

View of Pahalgam Kashmir

How to reach Aru Valley from Pahalgam?

You can take a shared taxi from Pahalgam to Aru Valley. It takes about 45-50 minutes to reach. The taxi will start only after it gets filled up. You can also get a reserved car from Pahalgam to Aru Valley.

Foreign tourists would require a passport and a tourist e-visa to travel in India. You can get your passport ready online, get an e-visa, pack your bags, and then visit the Paradise on Earth!

Where to stay in Aru Valley?

Alpine Resort - JKTDC Tourist Bungalow

There are a few homestays and guest houses at Aru Valley. All these places are quite cosy and comfortable. They also provide meals for the guests.

You can also stay at JKTDC Tourist bungalow. You can book there online. But I would suggest talking to them beforehand about the condition of the bungalow.

Homestays and Guest houses in Aru

  • Rohella Guest House, Contact – 09469391802
  • Friends Guest House, Contact – 01936 210 928
  • Aru Heights, Contact – 09469218170 (We stayed here)
  • Aru Eco Resort, Contact – 094190 15555

Places to visit at Pahalgam

Lidder River in Pahalgam

We were unable to explore Pahalgam as it rained a lot, but Pahalgam also has a lot of places to offer. I will just give you a list of places to visit in Pahalgam.

Places to visit in Pahalgam

  1. Betaab Valley
  2. Mamaleshwar Temple
  3. Aru Valley
  4. Baisaran Hills
  5. Avantipur Temple
  6. Chandanwari
  7. Pahalgam Golf Course
  8. Lidder River
  9. Aishmuqam
  10. Shikargarh
Betab Valley
Betab Valley | Source: Wikimedia

A Few Tips about Pahalgam

  • Usually tourists stay for 2 days in Pahalgam and explore the main tourist destinations. However, you will not be able to cover all the places mentioned in 2 days. If you add 1 more day in your itinerary, you can perhaps cover all these places.
  • The most popular tourist attractions in Pahalgam are Betaab Valley (where the movie Betaab was shot), Aru Valley and Baisaran Hills (It is known as mini Switzerland).
  • At Pahalgam, you will have to take a car from Pahalgam to explore around. Cars from outside Pahalgam are not allowed to take tourists around.
  • Many pony owners and guides will approach you as soon as you reach Pahalgam. And they will continue to follow you around. The rates of hiring pony are prescribed, but you can bargain a bit with the owners.
  • Pahalgam market area has a lot of shops from where you can buy souvenirs. You can buy Kashmiri carpet, shawls, pashminas, dress materials, handicrafts and kahwa.
  • Amarnath Yatra starts from Chandanwari near Pahalgam. During the Amarnath Yatra season (July and August), Pahalgam is full of Yatris. So it is advisable to book your stay from before.
Lidder River on the way to Pahalgam

Where to stay in Pahalgam?

There are a number of hotels, resorts and guest houses in pahalgam catering to all types of budget. You can also stay at JKTDC Tourist Bungalow in Pahalgam.

Here is a list of hotels you can check. We usually use Booking.com for our online hotel bookings.

Booking.com

Network in Aru Valley

Only postpaid connection works in Jammu and Kashmir. So you need to have a postpaid connection at Aru Valley. Further, only BSNL works at Aru. Network is intermittent and the internet is very slow. You will get a proper network and internet connection at Pahalgam.

Pir Panjal ranges as seen from Aru Valley

Aru Valley is a special place. We enjoyed our time there without a care in the world. We reveled in the scenery, the hospitality of our hosts, enjoyed our cups of Kahwa and the conversation with the locals. Aru was definitely one of the most beautiful places we have visited in Kashmir. From Aru, we next visited Aharbal Waterfalls, another beautiful destination in Kashmir.

View of Pahalgam
Road to Pahalgam
Landscape of Aru Valley
A bridge over Lidder River

Did you like the post? Will you visit Aru Valley? Let us know in the comments below. If you like this post and found it useful, please share this with your family, friends and neighbours.

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Aru Valley And Pahalgam Travel Guide
Things to do in Aru Valley
Agni Amrita Travel Blogger

Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the 2 Backpackers embarked on the adventure of life together. In between, travel makes us happy as we explore offbeat places and Untold Stories.

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22 Comments

  1. These places simply awesome, when you visit these place you feel that you Are alive and satisfy with your life. I was also had a good experience in Jim Corbett. I have same feeling now , while reading your article. Nice pictures. Thanks for a beautiful article.

    Reply
  2. Beautiful and eye catching place and your words just enhance its beauty. From pahalagam you can also visit betaab valley which is just 15 kms from pahalgam.

    Reply
    • Yes of course! Betaab Valley is wonderful as well and we have mentioned it. We could not visit there as it was raining a lot when we visited there. Thank you for the comment.

      Reply
  3. Really THis is a gem.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much!

      Reply
  4. Wow! Stunning. During which month you were in Aru valley. Any month where we can find the autumn colors and snowy peaks at the same time? Or the green meadows and snow mountains. In July to September, we do not see snowy mountains

    Reply
    • Thank you so much Abhiskek. We had visited Aru Valley in April. It was a beautiful season there. You will see the autumn colours in November.

      Reply
  5. I have been to Pahalgam decades back, as a child. Your post brings back a lot of memories of those simpler days. Thanks a lot

    Reply
  6. I can definitely feel that Aru Valley is gorgeous through your pictures. The valley is absolutely breath taking and I will remember to stay here for a few nights when I visit Kashmir. As it is just 54 kilometres from Sirnagar, it will be an easy trip I hope. Thanks to your posts, which are lovely by the way, that I am adding more places to my list.

    Reply
    • Thank you Raksha! Aru Valley is really a beautiful place.

      Reply
  7. It would be nice to go to Kashmir again. The place is so untouched and awesome scenery. I have never stayed in homestays there, so it would be a good experience.

    Reply
    • This is so true about Kashmir – untouched and awesome!

      Reply
  8. The more I read of Kashmir the more fascinated I am and wish to go there again. Pahalgam was one of our memorable stays when we went last.

    Reply
    • Yes, Pahalgam is so beautiful! Thank you for the comment!

      Reply
  9. Aru Valley looks amazing and quintessential Kashmir. Nature is of course the star of the state and comes alive in so many ways. The Homestays in Aru look really beautiful and great places to wake up in.

    Reply
    • Nature is always the star in Kashmir. Thank you for the comment!

      Reply
  10. Aru Valley looks straight out of the movie. The place is mesmerizing and love the detailing of how one can reach and travel to Aru valley from Srinagar.

    Reply
    • Thank you Afreen!

      Reply
  11. Such a scenic place this is. Apart from trekking, I’d just love to stay around and enjoy the views.

    Reply
    • Yes, Aru Valley is simply to be enjoyed!

      Reply
  12. Wow. This place looks so scenic. Trekking here and roaming around will be epic.

    Reply
    • I am sure it will be!

      Reply

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