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Located in the Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir, Karnah is the largest administrative tehsil in the district. It is formed by three valleys and lies between the Shamasbari and Karanu peaks. The region comprises 42 villages with a small population of about 65,000 people. It is believed that Karnah lay on the route to the ancient learning centre of Sharada Peeth. Given its location, one must secure permission from the Deputy Commissioner in Kupwara before entering Karnah.

An Overview Of The Karnah Tehsil

A Breathtaking Valley in Kashmir Near Karnah

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Karnah is an administrative tehsil in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir in north India. It lies within the Kupwara district between the Shamasbari and Karanu mountains and is its largest tehsil. The biggest tehsil in Muzaffarabad prior to the Partition in 1947, Karnah found itself being divided into two, with only about 16 square kilometres making it to India’s side of the Line of Control.

The region comprises about 42 villages, inhabited by approximately 65,000 people, the majority of whom are Pahari people. Karnah is popular for its unmatched natural splendour, snow-covered mountains, dense forests, green valleys and pleasant weather. Moreover, the area is located close to the streams Kazinag and Batamoji which also make cultivation easy here. The locals are believed to have a rich history that goes back about 5,000 years and they are known for their food, folk music, dance as well as activities like lathi bazi and talwar bazi.

Must Read: Beautiful Places near Indian Border

The Historical and Mythological Significance of Karnah

The Learning Centre of Sharada Peeth At Karnah

Image Credit: Umar Jamshaid for Wikimedia Commons

Much has been written about Karnah because of its historical and mythological ties. The largest tehsil in Muzaffarabad before the Partition of India and Pakistan, it was at one point the residence of Raja Karan from the Mahabharata, and it was he who gave its name to the region; he is said to have named the region Karan-nah meaning “related to Karan,” and that the name changed to Karnah over the course of time. It is also said that excavations in the area revealed several valuable items pertaining to the Hindu civilisation.

Moreover, the mound between Gabra and Tangdhar called Karnu is believed to have been Raja Karan’s capital. You would find ruins of his palace here. According to another scholar, Lord Krishna once visited Karnah and following his visit, the river that flows through the region was named Krishan Ganga. During the time that Buddhism was spreading in Kashmir, the Sharda University was established close to where the rivers Kishan Ganga and Madhumati converge during the rule of Raja Ashok in 273 BC. Located at the foot of Nanga Parbat, the university was seen as a way to spread the religion; conferences were held here and the Sharada script was also introduced here. Following the 1947 Partition, Karnah was divided into two by the Line of Control and only about 16 square kilometres of the region remained on India’s side.

A Little About Sharada Peeth

The Sacred Sharada Peeth Near Karnah

Image Credit: Muhammad Usman for Wikimedia Commons

Sharada Peeth in the disputed Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir, administered by Pakistan, is an ancient Hindu temple that is now in ruins. The name signifies the “seat of Sharada”, which is the Kashmiri name given to Goddess Saraswati. It was also a centre for learning and in fact, it was one of the most prominent temple universities in the subcontinent between the 6th and 12th centuries CE. Sharada Peeth also happens to be one of the Maha Shakti Peethas which are pilgrimage sites in Shaktism, dedicated to Adi Shakti.

It is believed that the site of the temple is the spiritual location where Goddess Sati’s right hand fell. The Iranian scholar Al-Biruni wrote extensively about Sharada Peeth as a major pilgrimage site in India. Moreover, it has also been known as a prominent learning centre. It was known predominantly for its library which attracted scholars from all over and has been credited in popularising the Sharada script in north India; a script native to Kashmir, it is why Kashmir has often been referred to as “Sharada Desh.”

Suggested Read: Kashmir Travel Tips

Best Time To Visit Karnah

River in Kashmir

Image Credit: Shahnoor1 for Wikimedia Commons

Thinking of visiting Karnah? The best time to plan your trip is during the summer season so that you are able to enjoy the region’s pleasant weather. Its cool weather and picturesque landscape would make for a wonderful experience, especially if you live in the city and wish to get away from its heat. You could also visit during the winter months, but the temperatures drop quite a bit during this time, and it might even snow.

The local authorities often close the roads if it snows a lot. In order to be able to visit Karnah, all non-residents are required to seek prior permission from the Deputy Commissioner of the Kupwara district. This is because the Karnah valley lies very close to the Indo-Pak border which happens to be a sensitive area and therefore requesting permission is mandatory.

How to Reach Karnah?

Beautiful Valley near Karnah

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Karnah is located about 78 km from Kupwara and is accessible via road. The journey from Kupwara to Karnah passes by the Shamsbari range’s Sadhna Pass and offers stellar views of snow-clad mountains and dense forests. If you are planning to visit in the winter time, make sure to confirm that the roads are open because the local authorities often shut them in the event of heavy snowfall. There is no tourist accommodation in Karnah itself because of its proximity to the Indo-Pak border, so you would need to stay in nearby areas like Gurez or Sharda.

Further Read: Places To Visit In Kashmir

If you are keen on exploring the stunning region of Karnah in Jammu and Kashmir, this article should provide you with abundant information that would be of great help when planning your trip. Furthermore, since you are already thinking of visiting Karnah, it would also be a splendid idea to take a trip to Kashmir to fully understand why it is called “Heaven on Earth.” So make sure to book your tickets now for a fun-filled time with your loved ones!

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Cover Image credit: By Umar Bin Ilyass for Wikimedia Commons.

Frequently Asked Questions About Karnah

Is it worthy to visit Karnah?

It is definitely worthy to visit Karnah, be it with regards to the roads or the military. The road to Karnah is suitable for driving and would immediately be closed in case it gets dangerous due to the weather. On the other hand, despite it be close to the Indo-Pak border, it is safe since there are military personnel in the area and entry into the region is highly monitored.

Which languages are mostly spoken in the region?

You would mostly find the locals speaking the Pahari language but a small section also speaks Kashmiri.

Is biking advisable in Karnah?

Yes, you can go biking in Karnah since its rugged terrain would make for a challenging route.

What is Kashmir often known as?

Kashmir has come to be known as “Paradise on Earth” because of its overall natural beauty. The region is synonymous with magnificent snow-covered mountains, massive meadows with beautiful and often rare flowers, diverse fauna, dense forests and green valleys, serene lakes and so much more.

Which is the month when Kashmir is the coldest?

January is when Kashmir is the coldest since the temperatures go below zero and it snows in the region.

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