Lidder Valley is a dream destination for hiking and camping. Traversing the trail from Aru to Lidder Valley was worth every step. Narrow footpath had become slippery after the rain, mud beaten up in heavy slush and tramping of cattle. The road cuts through a rather steep pine-wooded stretch, after half an hour walk from Aru. After an hour walk or so, the valley widens in the form of gorgeous, gentle grassland. Along this 12 km stretch, there were no settlements, except for makeshift huts built by the Gujjars for their nomadic routine.
Owned by Malik brothers, our camp was new and had no name yet. The Malik brothers set their camp at Lidder valley, 12 km hike from the nearest village Aru and were doing it on a relatively larger scale for the first time. They needed a new name to establish and steady their brand and so we were asked to come up with names for our camping site. Here are some of the names that we suggested: Heaven’s Walk, Paradise Valley, Peace on Earth, Roaring River Campsite, Lidder Valley Camp, and many more.
Our group was made up of two middle aged American couples and a 50 something British woman. We had laughed with almost every name that came up and the activity dragged on longer than what we thought it would. The most common words that crossed our mind were ‘peace’ and ‘paradise’. Though I left the Valley still undecided with a name for the campsite; as I look back I feel as if those two days at the camp were like a therapy; it worked wonders for my mind.
I came across a lot of Gujjars and a bewildered Korean tourist who was on a pony with a guide. The valley was just perfect even for a day hike but it would be a waste not to spend a night at this beautiful valley. Our campsite was at Lidder valley (the locals call it Lidder Vat) just on the bank of the Lidder river. The State tourism department had tourist guest house nearby and it was the biggest valley in the nearby areas. It was more like a playground where even Gujjar children play every evening.
After almost 3 hours we reached our camp. It would not have taken so much time had I not lingered around the landscapes. The place and the people living here mesmerized me so much; it is definitely the most beautiful place I had been to on a trekking trip.
As soon as we reached the camp we were served tea and biscuits and I was taken to my tent. It had been a wet-cloudy day and the sky was still gray. The rain poured again heavily when we were sitting at a campfire. We had planned our dinner by the campfire but it had to be abandoned because of the rain that showed no sign of stopping. Under a solar lamp, we had one of the most sumptuous meals of rice and mutton. It rained hard and knocked off any effort to start a good conversation. We retreated to our tent early but the ferocious thunder and lightning kept us awake.
At first I was skeptical about the idea of sleeping in tent on a rainy night. I thought that the ground would soak up the water and we’ll have a hard time keeping it dry. But there was no such issue. It was very pleasant and I slept like a rock.