Muzaffarabad is the capital of Azad Kashmir in Pakistan. It is located on the banks of the Jhelum and Neelum rivers. The district is bounded by North-West Frontier Province in the west, by the Kupwara and Baramulla districts of on the Indian side of the Line of Control in the east, and the Neelum District of Azad Kashmir in the north. The population of the district, according to the 1998 Census, was 725,000, and according to a 1999 projection, the population had risen to almost 741,000.
Muzafarrabad was the epicenter of the October 2005 earthquake that killed over 75,000 people. The city was devastated and rehabilitation is finished but many people still live in shelters given during the earthquake days as aid.
The small domestic airport is currently not receiving flights.
Buses and minibuses make the scenic journey regularly from Islamabad (4-5 hours).
If you're self-driving, the route via Murree is probably the quickest. Kohala is the entry point into Azad Kashmir, where you'll need to get through a checkpoint.
On your own transport you need an hour minutes to reach Murree. After Murree the road becomes thin and winding (and very scenic). Give yourself 2 hours to reach Kohala Bridge and another hour to reach Muzaffarabad. Its approximately 4 hours in your own car. The road is in the process of repair/upgrading so there are slow, unpaved and bumpy sections. Driving this route in daylight, especially for your first time, is highly recommended.
You can adopt the route Islamabad - Abbottabad - Mansehra - Gari Habibullah - Muzaffabad as well.
- Muzaffarabad Fort There are two historical forts on opposite sides of the Neelum River. Red Fort and Black Fort The construction of the Red Fort was finally completed in 1646 by Sultan Muzaffar Khan, the founder of Muzaffarabad. After the Mughals took over Kashmir, the fort lost its importance. The Mughals were more interested in Kabul, Bukhara, and Badakshan. During the period of Durrani rule, however, the fort once again assumed its importance. Maharaja Gulab Singh and Rambir Singh, the Dogra rulers, reconstructed and extended the fort for their political and military operations. Towards the middle of 1947, the Dogra forces left, leaving the fort abandoned. The architecture of the fort shows that great experts in design and structure participated in its construction. It is surrounded on three sides by the Neelum River formerly known as the Kishenganga River. The northern part of the fort had terraces with steps leading to the bank of the river. The eastern side was very well protected from the hazards of flood waters, but some parts on the north side have suffered damage. There used to be an inn at the entrance to the fort, but only traces of that structure remain now.
- Pir Chinassi is located eastward of Muzaffarabad. Due to its scenic beauty, velvet green plateaus and wonderful climate, it wins the admiration of nature lovers. The view of the summit of the mountain peaks spellbinds a tourist. Devotees of Saint Shah Hussain Bukhari take pilgrimages to rejuvenate their heart. The adjacent Pirchinassi, Phawna da Danna and the areas in the bottom of Pirchinassi are also worth seeing and are ideal for hiking, trekking and camping activities. Tourism Department has also constructed a tourist lodge at Saran.
- Shaheed Gali is situated at the height of 1640 meters above sea level at a distance of about 16 kilometers westward from Muzaffarabad. From Shaheed Gali a trek of 4 Kms leads towards a spot namely "Sri Kot". A tourist is bound to be fascinated by the serenity for the backdrop of the area. A tourist Rest House is available for accommodation at Shaheed Gali.
- Patikka is located at a distance of 19 Km from Muzaffarabad and is a gateway to Neelum valley. There is also a mini-zoo and a fish hatchery. The Tourism Department has constructed a Tourist Rest House here, which is very popular among tourists.
- Buildings: AJK Assembly, AJK Supreme Court, Mosque Assembly Secretariat, Kh. Khurshid Tomb
- Kundle Shahi is 74 Kms from Muzaffarabad. Here a silvery stream joins the Neelum River, where trout fish are abundant.
- Chikkar is a beautiful summer station at a distance of 46kms from Muzaffarabad on top of the mountain. The outstanding features of this beautiful place are its climate and scenery. 10 Kms from Chikkar is another hill station worth seeing in the middle of dense green pine forests and is linked by a fair weather road.
- Peerchanassi Valley Guest House is also in the area of Peerchanassi, which hass a beautiful scene for tourists. Phone="03009101743"
You can indulge in different activities like hiking, trekking and camping at the foothill regions of the Pir Chinassi, Saran, Sun Bun, Muskhi, Sakki and Jarran.
- Handicrafts: Carpets, silk woolen clothing, woolen shawls, wood carving, Papier Mashie, rugs
- Other products and fruits: mushrooms, honey, walnuts, apples, cherry, medicinal herbs & plants, resin, Deodar, Kail, Chir, Fir, Maple and Ash Timbers etc.
The Pearl Continental has Chinese & Continental restaurants (with amazing views). Neelum View Hotel (which is no longer a hotel) has a nice terrace and OK food.
Pakistani and Kashmiri food is available everywhere. Many restaurants offer Chinese and Italian dishes as well.
If you are tourist here, please go to some reputed restaurants and ask what is freshly cooked.
Chicken Karahi is a dish recommended for Pakistanis and Kashmiris as it can be cooked easily and one can see this being cooked.
Kashmiri Nan are wonderful in taste.
Try Kashmiri Pink Tea. You can take Kashmiri Kulcha as snack. Kashmiri Kulcha is different from Kulcha sold in Lahore or Gujranwala.
If you have time and money, try typical Kashmri Dishes like Goshtawa, etc. (but its hard to find the real thing).
Goshtawa can be found in Kashmiri bazaar. Its in the middle of the city. You can reach there by taking a route of Upper Adda near AJK University or through Famous Madina Market. you can also find above mentioned Kashmiri tea, Kulcha & Kashmiri Bakar khani at same place.
Please drink bottled water (locally called mineral water). Its avaiiable in half, one and 3 litres bottles.
Soft drinks like Coke, Pepsi etc are also available.
Wine, etc. is not available as Pakistan is an islamic country, however alcohol can be unofficially purchased by slipping money to the right people at hotels.
There are various guest houses, rest houses, motels and hotels at most of the tourist spots which can be booked in advance from their offices in Muzaffarabad. (Tel: 058810-32625).
- Grand Motel, Bank Rd, ☎ 058810-47383. checkout: 3 PM. edit
- Sangam Hotel, near quaid-e-azam bridge & Red Fort, ☎ 05822-444194-95, . can haggle a room for Rs2500-5000. edit
- Agha Jee Hotel, Bank Rd, ☎ 058810-47383. checkout: 3 PM. edit
- Tayba Hotel, Tanga stand , muzaffarabad. edit
- Pearl Continental. checkin: noon; checkout: noon. Five star hotel. Rs 12,000. edit
- Orash Lodge Guest House, 61-B upper chattar, muzaffarabad, ☎ 05822-434997-8, . edit