Leepa Valley

The Leepa Valley (Urdu: وادی ِلیپا ‎) is in Azad Kashmir, which is the Pakistani-administered part of the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir now in Pakistan. It is located 105 kilometres (65 miles) from Muzaffarabad. A fair-weather road branches off for Leepa from Naile 45 kilometers from Muzaffarabad, climbs over Reshian Gali (3200 meters above sea level) and then descends to 1677 meters on the other side into the Leepa Valley.

Leepa Village at 1921 meters (6302 ft) height from sea level lies in the center of Leepa Valley. This is one of the most fascinating places of the valley. It is nearly 38 kilometers from Reshian and almost 60 kilometers from Nail. It’s grooming fields of rice, classic wooden houses of Kashmiri style and trees of apple, walnut and cherry present a marvelous view to the tourists during summer.

Apple is grown in the valley in its different varieties, most popular being Golden, Delicious and Kala Kullo King. Leepa is also very famous for its fruits and honey.

The people in Leepa are highly religious and speak Kashmiri as well as Hindkoh. Urdu is nevertheless widely spoken and understood. The valley has a population of about 75000 inhabitants who generally indulge in farming, cattle rearing and tourism related services. Unemployment and poverty are rampant. Power shortages are a daily routine (there is only one power generation unit at Channian) and malnutrition is common as in rest of the country.

How to Reach

From Reshian, the gateway to enter the valley, there are three different routes which take to Leepa. The zigzagging Defence Road meets the valley at Hanjna, via Barthwar Gali and Bali Camp. Locals mention 72 u-turns on the way. Forest and military vehicles are a common sight in the area.

Nearly 400 jeeps ply daily from Reshian to Leepa and back. Jeeps are the only mode of transport in the valley though motor bikes are now also seen in ever increasing numbers on the bumpy road. One has to cover a distance of 15 km over a stony path (more aptly a footpath) via Panjal Gali which is approximately 10,000 ft high.

This route is a shortcut to Leepa’s most important commercial centre, the Kappa Gali. The third route passes through Dao Khan, Sher Gali and enters the vale at Muji, where Indian military personnel stand eyeball to eyeball. All three passages are blocked in winter due to heavy snow and inhabitants must store eatables and other items of daily usage in large quantities to consume throughout winter.