Lolab Valley and Mysterious Kalaroos Caves – Unexplored Kashmir

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Last Updated on: Jun 28, 2021 |

About the blog: Kashmir is undoubtedly a paradise. In our recent trip to Kashmir, we not only travelled to the common tourist places, but also explored a number of offbeat places. In this blog, we will give you a glimpse of an unexplored gem in Kashmir – the Lolab Valley and Kalaroos Caves. Read on to know more.

Did you know there is a tunnel that connects Kashmir all the way to Russia? While the veracity of these facts cannot be claimed, the romanticism of such an existence is quite prevalent in part of Lolab Valley in Kashmir. This blog is your detailed guide if you want to visit Lolab Valley and Kalaroos Caves in Kupwara district of Kashmir. 

IS KASHMIR SAFE FOR TOURISTS? READ THIS BLOG TO KNOW ABOUT TIPS FOR A SAFE VISIT TO KASHMIR

It was bright and sunny after a few days of rain and clouds when we started from Srinagar early in the morning. Our destination for the day was the beautiful Wadi-e-Lolab or the Lolab Valley. This oval-shaped valley is located in Kupwara district in Northern Kashmir. Kupwara used to be one of the disputed border areas in the state of Jammu and Kashmir and tourism was quite limited there. But things are changing now for the better.

Meadows and pastures at Lolab Valley

Even while I was planning our Kashmir trip, I wanted to visit the offbeat and unexplored places in Kashmir like Gurez and Lolab Valley. Unfortunately, Gurez was still not opened for tourism because of excessive snowfall at the Razdan Pass. But we did have the opportunity to visit the gorgeous Lolab Valley.

Where is Lolab Valley Located?

Lolab Valley is located in the Kupwara district of Northwest Kashmir very near to the most disputed Indo-Pakistan border. The valley is known for its natural beauty and is fondly known as the “Land of love and beauty”. To be honest, we really did feel love and beauty all around Lolab.

Lahwal River at Lolab Valley

Lolab a small valley about 5 km wide and 26 km long located between Kashmir Valley and the Neelum Valley. The entire region consists of three valleys – Potnai Valley, Brunai Valley and the Kalaroos Valley. Nagmarg meadow separates Lolab from Bandipora district. Lolab valley is located about 120 km from Srinagar and can be reached through Kupwara town. The main towns in the Lolab Valley are Chandigam, Sogam, Kalaroos, Kigam, Lalpor, Tekipora, Kandi and Muqam.

Our Experience at Lolab Valley – the Land of Love and Beauty

It took us almost 3 hours to reach Kupwara town from Srinagar. The road to Kupwara goes through Pattan, the ancient capital town of Srinagar and Sopore. The road towards Lolab Valley is through a huge army camp. However, that day there were some military activities going on and that road was blocked.

Road to Kupwara

We took a long detour towards Lolab and soon we reached the entrance to Lolab Valley – a gate with a sign “Welcome to Wadi-e-Lolab”. The beauty of the valley was quite apparent as we passed the gate. The river kept us company and the pine and fir trees around us made the place look simply beautiful.

Lolab Valley Entrance

Lolab Valley is known as the “Fruit Bowl of Jammu and Kashmir”. Fruits like apple, cherry, peach, apricot and walnuts are quite common in Lolab. The valley also has large pastures of land and rice fields that are dotted by small houses with tin roofs. And you can see the Himalayan ranges in the distance.

After a few minutes’ drive, we reached Khumriyaal, a small village in the Lolab Valley. We were driving without any particular destination in mind at that time and were thoroughly enjoying the views Lolab Valley had to offer. After all, we did not have any particular plan in mind and this aimless driving was quite a unique experience. Of course, we had our Kashmiri friend, Aarif with us who was also one of the best guides that we could have in Kashmir.

Mountain views from Lolab Valley

Lolab Valley is simply stunning. Vast expanses of green paddy fields and pastures looked ethereally beautiful. We saw the locals working at their fields with huge smiles on their faces. To be honest, we hardly saw people at Lolab valley. Forget about tourists, locals were also very few in number.

The Lahwal River traverses through the valley. Thick pine and fir forests form a significant part of the surrounding mountains. There are small lakes and pristine meadows nestled within the mountains and hills. Numerous springs and nameless waterfalls come down these mountains. And beyond the horizon you can see the snow capped Pir Panjal ranges. Lolab Valley is untouched and pristine.

Lolab Valley landscape

My words would do no justice to the place. Because I cannot use enough adjectives to describe Wadi-e-Lolab. So let the pictures do the talking!

The Villages of Lolab

Lolab Valley is dotted with a number of villages. The main occupation of the villagers is farming and cattle herding. As we traversed through the villages we saw the local Gujjars doing their own chores. Many were working in their fields and a few were in the shops waiting for customers. Most of the barren land we saw was the barren paddy fields. It was the dry season. But we knew that in a few days the fields would look emerald green. 

Chandigam village offbeat place in Kashmir

There is a Government tourist bungalow at Khumriyaal. But we did not find anyone at the bungalow. There is another tourist bungalow at Chandigam which is apparently in a better state and has a caretaker.

We explored around Khumriyal and then we decided to visit the Kalaroos Caves. Google Maps are not quite trustworthy in these areas. We put our destination in Google Maps and roamed around the same region for some half an hour. Finally we gave up on our Google search and went back to the age-old practice of asking for directions. Of course, the villagers were quite happy to point us in the right direction.

Villages of Lolab Valley

Kalaroos

Kalaroos is another quaint village of the Lolab Valley. But what is most interesting in this village is the Kalaroos Caves. Kalaroos is quite popular in Kashmiri oral and textual traditions for the cave located high up on the mountain surrounding the village.

Way towards Kalaroos Caves

After asking for directions at every turn, we finally reached the end of the village where the hill stood. We hiked through the muddy village road towards the hill. It had rained the last few days and the trail was extremely muddy. We had to carefully walk on the stone slabs that were placed on the muddy trail. Finally we reached the base of the hill. We have to hike up the hill for about a kilometer to reach the caves. 

Kalaroos Caves

Halfway up, we saw the first glimpse of the Kalaroos caves. A huge cave like structure stood having seven arched niches carved into the stone. At a first look, it seemed like a meditation place for Buddhist monks. Maybe, this place was once the meditative zone for a monk, who knows! The local Kashmiris call this natural cave is as Satbern or Satbaran.

Lolab Valley Unexplored Kashmir

Mystery of Kalaroos caves

The locals believe that Satbern or Satbaran are the entry point of the Kalaroos caves – the caves leading all the way to Russia! This is the local legend of the Kalaroos caves.

Such is the significance of the caves leading to Russia, that the entire village is named after it. The name Kalaroos comes from the word “Qil-e-Rous” that literally means Russian fort. It was a passage to Russia and the neighboring Central Asian countries in the good old times.

Satbaran at Kalaroos Caves

satbaran, Kalaroos caves, Lolab valley - offbeat Kashmir

The seven door huge rock structure or Satbaran does look like a formidable fort entrance. The name Satbaran comes from the word “Sat Barr” meaning 7 doors. These seven doors signify seven distinct routes to Russia! A local boy we met even said that his great great great grandfather used to come from Russia using these tunnels!

Not mucgh is known about the historical origin of Satbaran. It is believed that Satbaran was an ancient temple where the Pandavas used to worship.

On top of Satbaran at Kalaroos Caves

Well, whether or not these caves lead to Russia, we do not know. Infact, all that is known about these caves are from the exploration of the caves by a Virginia based couple Amber and Eric Fies. They led the exploration of the caves in 2018 with appropriate caving gears, headlight and oxygen. They explored 3 visible caves and reached the termination points of 2 caves that ended blindly. The Indian army had sealed the third cave years before.

Satbaran today hardly leads to 50 meters and ends abruptly. It might be possible that they were once a part of a larger archaeological system. However, after our exploration of Satbern, we decided to hike beyond. We heard that there is another cave a few metres ahead of Satbaran.

Waterfalls at Kalaroos Caves

We crossed a mountain stream, hiked within the pine trees and once again were not able to find the cave. After roaming for almost half an hour, we saw a young boy coming down from the hill. We stopped him and Aarif asked him for directions. As lovely as he was, he took us to the cave.

This cave had a small opening that led to its crevices. I was a bit skeptical of entering the cave. Aarif and our local guide were already climbing up and were almost inside the cave. Finally, my curiosity gave in and I too went inside the cave. It was not quite easy, I was scraping to hold anything and everything. But finally I managed to reach the inside of the cave.

Inside the Kalaroos Caves

The various formations inside the caves proved that the cave was rich in copper. We used the torches in our mobile for light. Our guide took us quite inside the cave all the way to a place that looked like the opening of a tunnel. This is one of the caves that leads to Russia, supposedly! Russia or not, our young guide told us that if we walked through the tunnel for almost 2 hours we would reach some other part of the Lolab Valley.

Well, this sounded quite plausible. Russia seems too far!

We explored the cave for about 45 minutes and then returned back to Satbern. Agni was waiting for us there. He usually does not prefer caving and so stayed back to take pictures and to enjoy the beautiful valley.

View from hill top at Kalaroos

After our cave exploration, we simply sat in front of the Satbaran enjoying the crisp mountain air and the cool sunlight on our skin. Everything was so simple and beautiful. In the meantime Aarif continued his conversation with our local young guide. Finally we hiked down to Kalaroos village.

While I was quite careful on my way to the cave, the return was not the same. And so I fell! Into the mud! While crossing the muddy tract, I slipped to my fall. Thankfully no one was there to see my clumsiness, but my jeans and shoes were all muddy. As I was crossing the village, one young woman saw me and invited me to her house and asked me to wash my shoes and jeans. After that she served us all Kahwa!

Gujjar Woman at Lolab Valley
Children of Khumriyal village

There is something so beautiful about Kashmiri Kahwa. People bond over cups of Kahwa here in Kashmir. 

Kalaroos village is quite friendly. A few women looked at us from their windows curiously and returned a smile when I waved at them. A few who could speak Hindi would come and talk to us. There were even a few who wanted us to stay back at their village. They were quite happy to open their homes for us to stay with them and enjoy the Kashmiri hospitality. It was a lovely feeling.

Although we could not stay back this time, we promised the villagers as well as ourselves to return to Lolab Valley again!

Road to Lolab

How to reach Lolab Valley?

Lolab Valley is located about 120 km from Srinanagr and the entry to Lolab Valley is 9 km from Kupwara town. You can hire a car from Srinagar and visit Lolab Valley. You can do a day trip to Lolab from Srinagar.

Local buses are available from Srinagar to Kupwara. From Kupwara, you have to take a local vehicle to reach Kupwara.

Paddy fields at Lolab

Where to stay at Lolab Valley?

There are J&K Tourism department tourist bungalows at Chandigam in Lolab Valley. There is also another tourist bungalow at Khumriyal village. We did not see any homestay facilities at Lolab Valley, though the locals invited us to stay at their place.

Kupwara town has a few hotels where you can stay. However, the stay options are basic.

As for food, if you are staying at the tourist bungalows, have your meals there. Kupwara town will have a few eateries.

Mountain view from Lolab

Lolab Valley is beautiful. Added to the mystery of Kalaroos Caves, the place is quite irresistible. However, tourism is at nascent stages here. The place is tucked away from commercialization. Although the villagers want tourism, they also seem to be wary of crowds and people. Lolab Valley has all the potential to become a tourist destination. However, it has to be done with care, keeping in mind the sensibilities of the local people.

Lolab Valley Travel Guide – FAQs Answered

Where is Lolab located?

Lolab valley is located in Northwestern part of Kashmir in the Kupwara district. The entrance to the valley is 9 km from Kupwara city and the centre of the valley is about 120 km from Srinagar city.

How do I get to Lolab Valley?

To reach Lolab Valley, take a bus from Srinagar to Kupwara. From there, hire a car to reach Lolab Valley. You can also hire a car from Srinagar to visit Lolab valley and Kalaroos caves.

How far is Kupwara from Srinagar?

The distance between Srinagar to Kupwara is 85 km and it takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to reach there.

Where is Kalaroos Cave?

Kalaroos Caves is located in Kupwara District of Kashmir in Lolab Valley. These caves are surrounded by some interesting myths. It is said that these caves lead all the way to Russia.

Is there a tunnel from Kashmir to Russia?

It is believed that the Kalaroos Caves have tunnels that lead to Russia and the Central Asian countries. But no archaeological proof has been found yet conforming to the fact.

Is Kashmir safe for tourists?

Kashmir is quite safe for tourists. Kashmiris are one of the most affable hosts and they welcome tourists with a warm heart. Touristic destinations like Gulmarg, Sonmarg, Pahalgam and Srinagar Dal Lake are quite safe. Tourists are respected in Kashmir.

Did you like the post? If you liked it, please share this with your friends, family and neighbours. Will you visit Kashmir? Do let us know your thoughts on visiting Kashmir in comments below.

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Mystery of Kalaroos Caves
Lolab Valley Travel Guide
Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

by Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life.

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24 Comments

  1. Kashmir is so beautiful! I’ve been to some of the cities but not Lolab Valley and honestly, it looks breathtaking! I’m quite amused with the theory of a tunnel connecting Kashmir and Russia haha.

    Reply
    • Yes, I was also quite intrigued about this “tunnel going to Russia” theory. Nevertheless, the place is absolutely breathtaking.

      Reply
  2. As a kid we knew about Dal Lake and Gulmarg in Kashmir. But so many hidden treasures are now revealed. Seems like a dream trip.

    Reply
    • There are so many offbeat places in Kashmir. It was indeed our dream trip.

      Reply
  3. Such an informative post about Lolab valley and beautiful pictures. Great post.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Pamela!

      Reply
  4. I was lost in your post, I felt it transported me to Kashmir. I have been there and haven’t explored so much. Kashmir is truly fascinating the more I read about such places.

    Reply
    • Thank you Manisha!

      Reply
  5. Lolab Valley looks so beautiful and quintessential Kashmir. But what fascinated me was reading about the Kalaroos caves. They look so intriguing. The legend of the caves extending all the way to Russia sounds so interesting.

    Reply
    • Thank you! Lolab and Kalaroos are definitely quite interesting.

      Reply
  6. The Kalaroos Caves look so interesting with 7 doors. It’s interesting to read about the theory that it has tunnels that lead to Russia! Also, the Lolab Valley is so charming with pine trees and beautiful nature. Would love to visit both of them.

    Reply
    • I am sure you will love to visit Lolab Valley!

      Reply
  7. Are the snowy mountains in the background part of Razdan Pass? They look gorgeous.
    How lovely that the woman in the village invited you into her home to clean up after you fell over.

    Reply
    • The snowy mountains are a part of the Pin Panjal ranges. And yes, the lady was really lovely!

      Reply
  8. I’ve never heard of the kalaroos caves before and you’re right, the photos really did the talking as the village looks beautiful. The Satbaran in particular is stunning. Thanks for sharing your guide

    Reply
    • Thank you Kerry!

      Reply
  9. Interesting reading! I have been to Kashmir twice and not heard about Lolab valley. Your images of the valley and the river are stunning. It would be truly adventurous to walk through the tunnel and see the other part of the Lolab valley, or Russia! 🙂

    Reply
    • I dont know about Russia, but I am sure we will reach somewhere in Lolab Valley through the tunnel. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Kashmir is my dream. I had very lightly touched the part when I visited Jammu and Ladakh. I wish to go to Kashmir and explore more and see the divine beauty. I did not know about Lolab Valley or Kalaroos caves. I have now added them to my list of places to visit when I am in Kashmir. Thanks for this article.

    Reply
    • Kashmir is so beautiful! I am sure you will visit there soon.

      Reply
  11. I would go to Lolab Valley just for the cherries, peaches, apricots and walnuts, which are some of my favorite things to eat in the world! WI hat an amazing story about the woman who offered to wash your jeans and shoes – a priceless travel moment, for sure. I can’t believe there is somewhere in the world that is so beautiful and so undeveloped. I wonder which of the major global hotel chains will stake their claim first! Thanks for telling me MANY things I didn’t know!

    Reply
    • Lolab Valley is so unique and beautiful. And I would sincerely hope that it remains as pristine.

      Reply
  12. Kashmir has always seemed like such an exotic spot. And that was before I knew there was a tunnel to Russia! How great to plan a trip to visit the less discovered places like Lolab Valley. I can see why it might be called the Land of Love and Beauty. The outdoor landscape looks lovely. I might feel like meditating if I visited the Kalaroos Caves too!

    Reply
    • Thank you Linda! Kashmir is beautiful and so is Lolab. Although I am not quite sure of the Russia aspect!

      Reply

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Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

Hi! we’re Agni & Amrita.

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