The Vale of Kashmir was historical connected to the outside world mainly through Afghanistan, Central Asia, Chinese Turkistan, and Iran. Kashmiris had established strong trade and cultural links with the societies of these regions. Kashmir was also a hot-spot destination along the erstwhile and famed “Silk-Route,” and it was only through this route that the rich Sufi culture and great civilization descended in the valley. Introducing seven historic routes to Kashmir.
1. Banihal Route:
Only popular Banihal Route is the extension of Sialkot-Jammu road, 203 miles from Jammu city to Srinagar via the notorious landslides region of Banihal Pass. Earlier, this route would connect Kashmir only with Chenab valley. The route actually started from Verinag (now Qazigund).
2. Haji Pir Route:
Easiest Haji Pir Route starts in north Uri, beyond Baramulla (Varmul) in the Jhelum Valley and ascends into the mountains on the left-side of the river, to cross a depression called Haji Pir Pass (altitude of 8500 ft). It leads to Poonch where-from travelers used to move on to Kotli and Rawalpindi.
3. Jehlum Valley Route:
All whether Jhelum Valley Road runs alongside the Jhelum River for 132 out of its 196 miles. This road began in Rawalpindi where there was a railhead, and then went via Murree and Domel near Muzaffarabad to Srinagar. The ancient Pakli route connects Baramulla (Varmul) to Domel, Muzaffarabad, Abbottabad and Rawalpindi.
4. Havelian Route:
North West Front Province’s rail terminus of Havelian road went from the seventy-one miles further north of Rawalpindi via Abbottabad to Muzaffarabad and then would lead to Srinagar.
5. Pir Panjal Route:
The Pir Panjal Route is the most ancient well known salt route of Kashmir. It starts from village Hirpur, beyond Shopian and after passing through defiles reach Aliabad Sarai. Beyond this point, there is an easy path upto Pir Ki Gali. On other side of the mountain Rajouri and Poounch are accessible. Auranzeb, Jehangir and Shah Jehan has used this way to enter to Kashmir valley.
6. Tos’maidan Route:
It is another ancient but unpopular route that starts from village Drand in Biru area and ascends through a forest to village Barbal which opens into a vast sloping meadow called as Tos’maidan. The ascent beyond the pasture is easy up to the pass of altitude of 13000 ft. It’s the direct route to Poonch. In 1964, state awarded 3000 sq km stretch of Tosa Maidan meadow to Indian army on lease for conducting firing drills. In the span of 53 years, more than 63 residents have been killed by artillery drills and 43+ have been left maimed. Violent bangs and incessant shaking of ground have radically impacted the daily routine of people living here.
7. Tragbal-Burzil Route:
The route starts from Bandipora along the course Mudhumate Nallah and then ascends up to Tragbal Pass on way to Gurais. During Dogra rule the villagers would be dragged along this route for forced labour (literally: begaer).