1. Ratti Gali Lake, Ratti Gali lake in Neelam Valley is located at a whooping altitude of 3700 meters (12700 feet), Ratti Gali means a splash of redness in local language, the true colors of this lake bloom during the sunset and sunrise when the red color of the mountains surrounding the lakes captivates you in it’s marvelous spell, this lake has a single spillway which also makes a beautiful waterfall on your way, Ratti Gali is accessible from Dowarian, Azad Kashmir, which is also called it’s base camp. One needs to hike 12 miles on feet to reach here.
2. The Hans Raj lake has been named after the large Raj Hans birds that are once thought to inhabit the lake as per local mythology, this lake is enchanted with dark blue waters that are so clear that one finds it difficult to distinguish between the mountains and the lake due to surreal reflection of the water. In winters the lake becomes completely invisible when a blanket of snow covers the valley! This lake is also at an altitude of 12000 feet and one can usually reach it by hiking towards Ratti Gali.
3. Landa Sar Lake is located at Neelam Valley at an elevation of 12300 feet, this lake is still highly inaccessible due to difficult trek and hike on tough slopes, only a few people get to visit this mostly lonely lake per year, this lake is surrounded by beautiful red flowers that add so much colour to it’s surroundings!
4. Banjosa Lake: Banjosa Lake is one of the oldest tourist spots of Azad Kashmir and it is perhaps the only lake that remains accessible even in winters because of it’s low altitude, this lake mostly gets it’s water from the natural perpetual springs that gush from the towering green hills of the Neelam Valley, the water is crystal clear and this lake is also house to a lot of trout farms. It is located in Rawalakot and It can be accessed via jeep.
5. Chitta Katha Lake: Chitta Katha lake is named Chitta Katha because of the white colour of the 6000 meter long peaks surrounding it, this lake is known as the second highest lake of Kashmir (13500 feet), the largest peak infront is called Hari Parbat 6000m which the locals claim is the throne of Shiva. This lake is completely closed and the water drains through an underground tunnel that makes a large waterfall at the river. Chitta Katha offers a very tough hike for atleast 7 hours in sharp glaciers but the majestic beauty of this lake makes the hikers forget all stress and bow down to the pristine wonders of nature. Due to snow fall it is only accessible in july and august. Hari Parbat has never been climbed due to steep slope.
6. Saral Lake: Saral lake is also known as one the very first lakes of the Neelam Valley when you enter from the Kaghan Side via hiking, this lake is accessible from Kaghan Valley by a 10 hours hike and is located at an altitude of 13600 feet, also known as the highest lake of Neelam, this lake is deep blue in colour and the glorious mountain ranges make it’s view so enchanted that one becomes spell bounded and hallucinated thinking he has landed in a real life heaven. Saral Lake is usually lit by camps at night because hikers who visit here have to spend the night here with no contact to the outside world.
7. Shounter Lake is a small tear shaped lake in Shounter Valley at an altitude of 10’200 feet, this lake is inhabited by local legends who say that fairies come to bath here at night and if you sleep at night here, you might as well be abducted by them, no one is allowed to camp here.
8. Ambaish Lake: Ambaish Lake has just recently been discovered at Dadaralli pass. Little is known about this lake due to difficult terrain.
Picture credits: Dr Zia RMC
9. Dadaralli lake is located at a whooping altitude of 1500 feet,this lake is usually frozen most of the year and to find it, you need to cross the Dadaralli pass, which is a daredevil hike because of the dangers associated with it.
10. Machlok Lake: Machlok lake is a lake of stony mountains, this lake is said to be haunted so locals mostly refuse to be your guide, this lake is said to be inhabited by a mountain baboon like creature who throws away stones on every one coming here, locals believe that huge caves of diamonds exist at bottom of this lake due to which water shines.
11. The Parrian Sar Lake: This lake is said to be the house of fairies, the local Kashmiri girls living next to it, often present a live picture of fairies.