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Dudu Valley in Udhampur district lies amidst the lush green vibrant coniferous forest intermingled with broad leaved trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers with multihued variety of other flora. The valley lies around 171 kms from Jammu city itself. The break up journey through local buses, hired/ owned vehicles is from Jammu to Chenani (100 kms), Chenani to Man-talai (50 kms) through various hamlets viz Basti, Bast, Gauri kund, Sudmahadev (where 2800 years old lord Shivas temple) exists. At Sudmahadev an annual Shiv mela is religiously celebrated. Pilgrims across the country assemble in the form of a pilgrimage in the first week of June every year here.
The journey onwards passes through Mantali (12 kms) prominently famous as a beautiful spot amidst deodar, kail and chir forest. Here, late Dharendra Bhramchari raised beautiful structures for yoga center of international fame apart from petrol pump, gaushalla, mini zoo, rosary, and a swimming pool. With his death, all his further ambitious planning stood at standstill. It is painful to add here that many writers have repeatedly emphasized about the hefty invested money on yoga ashram together with allied developments warrant their up keep, preservation and further enhancement to restore the beauty of the spot by bringing it under Patnitop Development Authority (PDA) but nothing concrete has been done so far.
When I was posted as a Forest Officer (Headquarter Chenani had occasional deliberations with yog guru who used to tell that he had taken up the issue with Hilton Group Of Hotels for the further development of this picturesque spot but unfortunately no head way could be made.
It would be incomplete to make a mention about the legendary multistarrer movie “Jani Dushman” by R K Kohli, most part of which was shot at Chenani and its mesmerizing spots. Sh Dharendra Bharmchari was forest conscious and as requested, he raised a nursery with around one lakh seedling in poly pots which afterwards were planted out in the vicinity of the area. Apart from that he was very affectionate as he provided employment to the locals of the area who still remembers him whole heartedly.
Now, onwards from Mantalai the road winds through various hamlets viz Bap, Srara, Marothi, Koi, Latti, Dhoona, Jakhed and finally Dudu valley. However this road has further extension to Seri the main base camping point. And Uphill there is suez dhar and further trekking the Suez dhar is hazardous. Suez Dhar forms the northern aspect of the Dudu Valley.
It will be most interesting and enchanting to make a mention that while the writer with his staff was conducting markings in the Dudu Valley, I stayed most of the time at Chari forest rest house. It was to my astonishment to see glow worms while viewing northern aspect of the Dudu Valley.
And on enquiry from the locals, I came to know that there is a vast potential of multi medicinal herbs. Also they told that one can conveniently trek from base camp chari during the day. But with the sunset, the herbs emit fragrance which makes one drowsy and it becomes cumbersome to cross the area.
The top of the Suez Dhar is just like a small plateau and on the other side there are lush green forests of deodar, kail, coniferous and spruce with broad leaved trees such as maple, rhododendron. And descending down one lands in charming Chenab Valley. So , desencending down from the top of Seuz Dhar means to land into Bhadharwah Valley which is still more thrilling and enchanting.
Concluding, therefore, it is prudent to mention here that nature has all along been worshipped across the globe for its timelessness. The mesmerizing meadows and mountains make for a great home. Everyone experiences richness of nature and all its bounty at least ones in lifetime.
Let we, therefore, spend time with nature, accepting the diversity and brilliance of what is really a gift to mankind. Let us learn to revere and preserve nature at all costs and at all times.
For those who feel like trudging a lonely track or standing atop a mountain pass, wish to get lost in wilderness; feel a strong wanderlust as if the mountains are calling or if they wish to be one with the nature, frolicking in a icy stream; picking a rod to challenge a trout then Dudu valley nestled in Seoj Dhar range is a perfect getaway from the glamour and glitz of the city.
To reach Dudu valley, one has to take a turn for Shiv Gali a mountain pass at Triunglian which is just eight kilometers prior to Basantgarh on Ramnagar-Basantgarh road. A steep ascent till Shiv Gali is rewarded by a breathtaking view of the Dudu valley, with thick pine forests on mountain slopes and snow clad mountains to the north. The geographical significance of the Shiv Gali is that it is right on the edge of two great watersheds – one sloping toward Ujj river basin flowing through Basantgarh and secondly sloping towards Tawi river basin of the Dudu valley. Two temples at Shiv Gali add spiritual dimension to the mountain pass. A tourist Sarai is coming up at Shiv Gali which already has a view-point with a panoramic view of the two valleys and adjoining Dhars covered with conifers.
A mountain meadow close to the view point offers camping ground with unparalleled view. The mountain pass remains snow bound during winters and people have to take a circuitious route from Basantgarh to Udhampur to Chenani to Sudhmahadev to Mantalai and Latti – a distance of over two hundred kilometers to reach Dudu valley. Descent to Dudu valley from Shiv Gali is by a road which passes through a thick forest which is not only snow bound in winter but also turns treacherous and marshy during the early spring owing to thawing of snow. As one approaches the valley, the coniferous forests give way to lush green terraced fields.
As one reaches the bottom of the valley, one encounters Tawi river exuding a youthful exuberance. Carved and chiselled by the waters of Tawi river – the famed Suryaputri of the Duggar region, Dudu valley presents its sylvan surroundings to the visitors.
Forest Department has established a collection centre on the river for fallen timber pushed into river from the higher reaches. The fast current carries the timber to the collection point which otherwise is not possible in mountainous areas inaccessible by road.
After crossing the iron-bridge over the river a traveller encounters a beautiful waterfall just on the edge of the road. The strong gush of milky white water creates a deafening sound showering icy cold droplets on the vehicles. At such a sight no occupant of vehicle can deny himself an opportunity of getting a few photos clicked to bear witness to the nature’s brilliant spectacle.
The temple of Vasuki Nag in a sacred grove of Moro Oaks and Deodars in the middle of the valley is the socio-religious epicenter of this region. For centuries the people of the region have congregated and commenced the yatra to Kailash Kund, a glacial lake in Seoj Dhar held sacred by the people living in the valleys and mountains of middle Himalayas including Bhaderwah, Bani, Billawar, Dudu-Basantgarh, Bhalessa etc.
The annual Kailash Yatra from Dudu traditionally takes two days to reach the glacial lake. The track to the lake which is at the altitude of fourteen thousand feet can be undertaken only in monsoons when warm monsoon clouds after creeping through the valleys up to Seoj Dhar have melted most of the accumulated snow.
Dudu valley is a perfect base camp for trekking enthusiasts to explore the nature’s trail to Shiv Gali-Basantgarh-Chochru Gala to Bhaderwah. Similary trail from Dudu to Majouri via Pachound can be undertaken.
The mountain slopes of the valley are densely forested with Oaks at the foothills, Deodars in the middle reaches followed by open mountain meadows at the top which unravel their beauty and vegetation once winter snow vanishes. The captivating natural scenery of the vale is matched by the kind and pleasant demeanour of its people.
A visit to Dudu for the biking and motoring enthusiasts should be ideally undertaken on Ramnagar-Basantgarh, Dudu-Latti, Mantalai-Sudh Mahadev-Chenani axis. The spiritual circuit has temples dedicated to Naga cult at Tarmayan (Ramnagar), Gandh Top, Basantgarh, Shiv Gali and Dudu which ultimately give way to eminent shrines and temples dedicated to Shaivism at Mantalai, Sudh Mahadev and Gouri Kund. With the trend of Bikers clubs fast catching up in Jammu, the biking enthusiasts have a unique opportunity of both discovering the nature’s bounty and experiencing the spiritual journey with Dudu valley as its high point.
Realising the potential of angling in the Dudu valley, the Department of Fisheries has set up a Trout farm at Kirchi in Dudu Block to stock the crystal clear mountain streams endowed with highly oxygenated waters with trout which is considered to be anglers delight. A drive from Dudu valley – Jakhed towards Tehsil headquarter at Latti has a excellent view of Tawi river gushing and frothing offering favourable spots for angling.
As regards tourist infrastructure, Dudu has a lone dormitory accommodation made available by Patnitop Development Authority. A three room inspection hut of Department of Rural Development is coming up shortly. A PWD guest house and a forest hut are available at Latti which is twenty five kilometers from Dudu.
As one leaves enchanting Dudu valley – a traveller is forced to look back at the natural beauty amidst the snow capped mountains. While the body adjusts to the city life, the soul yearns to go back again to the nature’s lap offered by the picturesque valley.