The Lulusar Lake is a gorgeous lake and a major tourist attraction located in the Kaghan valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. The lake is situated at an elevation of 11,200 ft (3,410 m) above sea level on the main Naran-Babusar road. Lulusar basically is the name of a mountain and the lake was therefore named after it. The term Lulusar is the combination of two words Lulu and Sar where the word “Sur” means top or peak in Pashtu language.
Lulusar is prominently located about 48 km north of Naran reachable in an hour or so. Tourists traveling around Naran usually plan a half/full day excursion to the Babusar Pass and Lulusar being 15km short of the pass becomes the part of the trip on the way. The road is asphalted and suitable for any type of vehicle. Besides Lulusar Lake; there are several other attractions on and off the way. The soft top trendy Willis Jeeps in Naran are available for day excursions.
The entire Kaghan Valley remains inaccessible during winters – roughly from November till June – almost for the most part of the year due to heavy snowfall in the region. As soon as the snow melts and Babusar Pass becomes accessible, domestic and international tourists visit the region in thousands each day.
Lulusar Lake is larger than any other lakes found in the Kaghan valley. The 3,400m long lake is fed by the Kunhar River originating from the mountains surrounding the Babusar Top and flows southwards through the length of the Kaghan valley via Jalkhand, Naran vale, Kaghan, Jared, Paras, and Balakot till it meets the Jhelum River.
The crystal clear water reflection of the Lulusar Lake contains peaks topped by dense white layers of snow. During summers, the lake is surrounded by local herds of cattle as the lower parts of the mountain surrounding the lake are clustered with grass and wildflowers.
Lulusar Lake serves as a bird sanctuary and offers a splendid opportunity for fishing. The lake also has a historical significance and marks the arrest place of the 55 participants of the 1857 war of independence.
The Naran-Gilgit road is the ultimate choice of tourists traveling up Gilgit-Baltistan during summers being it comparatively 100 km shorter and scenic. Most tourists making their way onwards to Fairy Meadows, Gilgit, Hunza & Nagar, and Skardu via Babusar Pass during summers make a must stopover at Lulusar Lake on the way. Its scenery and serenity make it an ideal spot for relaxation. For the best view of the lake, there are several elevated spots along the roadside.
Babusar Pass or Babusar Top is a mountain pass at an elevation of 4,170 m (13,690 ft) connecting the northernmost edge of the of the 160 km long scenic Kaghan Valley of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province of Pakistan with the southern limits of Chilas in Diamer District of Gilgit-Baltistan. A sharp descend along the 45 km downhill gorge called Thak Nallah strikes the Karakoram Highway (KKH) 5 km north of Chilas in Gilgit-Baltistan.
Historically, Babusar Top, making the summit of Kaghan Valley, was the part of old summer route giving access to the Gilgit-Baltistan area before the advent of the all-weather Karakoram Highway. It was the prime route from 1947 to 1978; by the time the KKH was officially opened for conventional transportation. It was built by the British in 1890 to connect Gilgit-Baltistan with British India. Before the separation of the subcontinent, people would travel from India and Kashmir through Babusar Pass to Gilgit-Baltistan. Even before the invention of Babusar pass, Burzil Pass (4,100m) was the caravan route from Srinagar to Gilgit via Astore. Most of the Kaghan Valley runs parallel to the Neelum Valley of Azad Kashmir only separated by a mountain ridge.
The Kaghan road passing through Babusar Pass is the shorter and scenic passage to Gilgit-Baltistan as compared to the KKH. However, Babusar Pass only remains open for a short period every year between early June and early November (depending on the fluctuating weather patterns). The remainder of the year, it remains inaccessible due to extreme weather conditions, mostly due to heavy snowfall throughout the Kaghan valley. The entire Kaghan Valley is at its best during summer.
From Islamabad, the Kaghan area can be reached by road via the towns of Abbottabad, Mansehra, and Balakot, while one can also travel through Murree hills to Muzaffarabad and then to Balakot via Gari Habibullah, which is a comparatively a shorter route. Naran is the prime site people mostly prefer for an overnight stay. Naran is accessible in about 6 hours from Islamabad and more or less 5 hours from Gilgit. Please note that there are specified timings for traveling through Babusar Pass, prior verification before making the way through this road is advisable.
The journey from Naran to the Babusar Top is just mesmerizing. There are a number of scenic views and sites including frozen peaks making the background of panoramic valleys, vibrant waterways, lush forests, picturesque pastures, and green terraced fields – all compelling tourists to make short stopovers on the way to the top. The silent Lulusar Lake is the prime location one must stop for a while.
The Babusar pass serves as one of the beautiful tourist attractions drawing thousands of tourists on a daily basis. For tourists traveling to Naran during summers, Babusar Top is a must-visit tourist attraction and a preferred day excursion located at about 70 km from Naran. The top always remains full of lively tourists and provide jaw-dropping views of surrounding mountains. It remains snowbound during summers and for tourists making an excursion from Naran or traveling to Gilgit-Baltistan, Babusar is a fun spot to make a stopover, eat, drink, and explore. It is one of the ideal sites for photography during summers. The whole panorama spreads out from the top with a splendid view. Walking slightly up the ridge and standing on the top, on a clear day, one can easily sight the summit of Nanga Parbat (the killer mountain), the second highest mountain after K-2. Moreover, one can also have the panoramic view of Malika Parbat, the highest peak (17,000 feet) of the KPK district and striking views of snow-covered peaks of Kashmir on a sunny day.
The melting waters from the mountains surrounding the Babusar Top actually originate to form the Kunhar River. There are several streams and creeks meeting the Kunhar River ultimately entering Jhelum River in Kashmir. Lulusar Lake near the top is the biggest lake in the region fed by the Kunhar River. The Kunhar River flowing through the length of Kaghan valley, all the way through famous tourist spot Naran, is an ideal place for rafting.
Although there are not very decent restaurants on the top yet new hotels/restaurants are underway. All these facilities add to draw tourists to Babusar Top making it more attractive and valuable.
For tourists traveling to or through the Babusar top, it is advisable to be well stocked with food, warm layers of clothing, necessary medicine, and with photography kit if you are really into it.
- Weather fluctuates unexpectedly and it is helpful to check the forecast before departure.
- People with altitude sickness should not stay longer on the top.
- Avoid traveling in the offseason
- Make sure your vehicle is in good condition and fuel topped up.