leepa valley pakistan

This beautiful green valley looks like it was photographed in early spring somewhere in the Alps of Europe, perhaps Switzerland, Austria or southern Germany. It wasn’t. Its the Leepa Valley in northern Pakistan, in the province of Jammu and Kashmir, and the picture was taken in the late summer.

The Leepa Valley is an interesting place. Obviously, looking like this, it attracts tourists with cameras, but it’s a pretty dicey area for tourism due to the precarious political situation–the Kashmir province is heavily disputed between India and Pakistan, and the two countries have been fighting a low-level war over it since 1989. The lush greenery you see here is rice. Check out the full panorama from 360cities.net to appreciate the full beauty of this place.

I’m not sure the Leepa Valley is technically in the Himalayas, but it certainly reminds me of the central locale of my as-yet unfinished book The Valley of Forever, which features a beautiful valley like this one where time stands still. The concept of timeless Himalayan paradises is a common one in fiction, most notably Shangri-La, the “Valley of the Blue Moon” described in James Hilton’s 1930s novel Lost Horizon. (A similar theme appears in the Star Trek film Insurrection, but the “valley” there is a hidden planet). In my book the Valley of Forever is the site of a small Norwegian village called Nesbergvik, whose inhabitants are unaware that they’re living in Asia or that the passage of time in their small pastoral village has ground to a halt.

This photographic panorama was taken in August 2012 by Mobeen Mazhar.