Kashmir Off Road: Exploring the Unexplored: Tutmari Gali

Strategically placed on the borders of LOC, picturesque Kupwara District is considered the ‘crown’ of the valley of Kashmir. The district boasts gorgeous valleys and high passes, all of them barely visited and waiting to be explored

Strategically placed on the borders of LOC, picturesque Kupwara District is considered the ‘crown’ of the valley of Kashmir. The district boasts gorgeous valleys and high passes, all of them barely visited and waiting to be explored


Farah Zaidi


Srinagar June 16 (KNS):  In acknowledgement of our continued efforts to promote lesser known tourist destinations and seeking provisions of sustainable and experiential tourism, the forest department of Jammu and Kashmir in association with Indian Army facilitated Kashmir Off Road’s exclusive trip to Tutmari Gali and adjacent places, which are otherwise restricted for any civilian movement without prior necessary permissions.|

Early Saturday morning, on 11 th of June 2022 a soothing tranquility envelops us as we leave the Srinagar highway behind and descend into the embrace of the legendary Kupwara district. Dotted with sprawling apple orchards, we plunged across Baramulla-Handwara highway. The embroidered edges of northern Himalayan range by pretty meadows and cultivated fields were a sight to behold.

DAY-1: Reshwari


On day one, we were heading towards the Reshwari village, which lies on the foothills of Bangus Valley. After driving for almost about 2.5 hours, we witness this untouched hamlet, sitting cozily on the banks of Mawar River. Upon our arrival, we were warmly welcomed at lush green Forest Cottage by the whole team of Jammu & Kashmir Forest officials. There we were served freshly prepared breakfast and an array of Kashmiri teas.

After a detailed introduction and Do’s & Don’ts about the places we were about to venture into, the DFO flagged off our onward journey to the place, almost forbidden to civilians.

Tutmari Gali here we come!


Tutmari Gali (also known as TMG)

Driving up to TMG, it’s not easy to ignore the heavy Army presence in this frontier region as it lies; right on the sensitive LOC. (We had to procure all prior permissions from Indian Army, without which one cannot go past Kishtiwar village, (not to be confused with Kishtwar District). In spite of the fact that all the army posts were informed much in advance about our expedition and we were chaperoned by the whole team of forest officials, we had to stop several times at all the check points and get the necessary paper work done, which is adhering to the protocol.

Shamsbari Range/ Leepa Valley

All the tension eased when we drove past the heavily guarded TMG post and started driving across the untouched Shamsbari Range overlooking Leepa Valley. “Heaven it is” was our spontaneous reaction after seeing the mountains around, all covered in bright yellow flowers. If only photographs could do justice to what we saw, this place was so virgin and breathtakingly beautiful, totally surreal.

We were now cautiously descending towards the Peer Baba shrine that lies in the middle of the forests on the foothills of the Shamsbari and yes, this is LOC. Snaking down slowly and steadily we were then inching towards the holy shrine. The gods have been generous to this verdant valley, which has many freshwater springs, deep ponds and the shimmering river, swollen with the offerings from the thick surrounding deodar-rich forests.

Peer Baba Shrine



“Apni apni gaadiyan ek side me lagayiye, saare phones camera wagera gaadi me chhod ke ayiye, yahan par photo lena video, banana varjit hai”, -said a jawan. Heavily guarded by the Indian Army with no other habitation in the vicinity, there we were at Peer Baba shrine, located right in the middle of dense forests, situated on the line of control. Legend has it

that back in ancient times, this particular region faced a severe drought and it was then the Peer Baba stuck his staff to the ground and miraculously accumulated water and brought relief to its people.

The way to the holy shrine was vibrantly ornamented with peculiarly ‘framed’ gates after gates with brass bells hanging on each one of them. All were marked with the years of several army brigades that served the region in the past years. I reckon it must be a ritual to put up a fresh framed gate for each brigade as they pass on.


Puthmari Village

By 4:30 that evening we drove down to Puthmari Village where we were to stay for the night at local home-stays. We were offered two humble village log-houses which easily accommodated 25 of us (all men, women and children). After stowing our luggage into our respective rooms, we were served generous amount of noon chai and freshly prepared bread for our evening high tea. Later that evening we were all treated with nice home cooked dinner followed by a bon fire, we retired for the day.

DAY- 2

Its dawn at Puthmari, a typical village morning, sun shining hesitantly through the lush green surroundings, birds chirping, cows mooing and bleating sheep made up for the morning jingle. There I was soaking in the stillness and allowing my toes the luxury of feeling the dew in the grass. With the towering Shamsabari peaks as the backdrop, breakfast summons us and we’re off to a fresh day at Bangus Valley. After spending one wholesome day at Bada Bangus we all returned back to Srinagar.

We stepped out to explore a new place; we returned with countless memories


(Note- All our home-stays and meals throughout the expedition was prepared by the local villagers courtesy J&K Forest Department)(KNS)

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