The River Neelum, formerly known as Kishangaga is the largest tributary of the river Jhelum (Azad Kashmir) and receives a large number of tributaries itself. In summer, most of the inflowing streams are turbid and in flood.
The Neelum water temperature ranges from 0 to 12 degree Celcius. The river and some of its tributaries have been stocked with rainbow and brown trout. However, the indigenous snow trouts dominate the fish stocks. Downstream of Muzaffarabad, the water temperature in the Jhelum (Neelum) increases ranging between 8 to 30 degree Celcius.
The river Kishangaga or Neelum originates from Krishansar (Kishansar) Lake in the vicinity of Sonamarg and runs northwards to Badoab village where it meets a tributary from the Dras side and runs westwards along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
It is fed by many glacial tributary streams on its way. It enters Azad Kashmir in the Gurez sector of the Line of Control, and then runs west until it meets the Jhelum River in Muzaffarabad.
The Neelum River is 245 kilometers long, it covers 50 kilometers in Jammu and Kashmir and the remaining 195 kilometers in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
In fact, the Neelum Valley is a Himalayan gorge in the Kashmir region, alongside the river. This green and fertile valley is hundreds of kilometers in length and stretches its way from Muzaffarabad all the way to Athmuqam and beyond Taobutt.
It is named after the river Neelum, which is famous for its crystal bluish water and that is the reason for its name Neelum. There are two entrances for Neelum valley, one Neelum Road by Muzaffarabad and the other by Kaghan the Jalkhad Road.
Neelum is one of the most beautiful valleys of Azad Kashmir, and it hosts several brooks, freshwater streams, forests, lush green mountains, and the river. Here, you see cataracts falling down the mountains; their milky-white waters flowing over the roads and splashing against the rocks, before commingling with the muddy waters of River Neelum.
Before the partition of sub-continent, this region was known as Drawah. The Azad Kashmir government, in 1956, rechristened the River Kishanganga as the River Neelum, and the Drawah region as Neelum Valley.
The valley is famous for its lush greenery, fir forests, slop hills and waterfalls-
Photography: Syed Mehdi Bukhari