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Hop on a bus in Birmingham and you could find yourself getting off further from home than you expected as plans have been announced for Britain's longest bus route. The route is set to take travellers on a 4,000 mile journey between Birmingham and Kashmir. The final destination of the twelve day trip will be Mirpur, known as Little Birmingham, because of the close family ties between the two cities. Birmingham is home to the world's largest population of Kashmiri expatriates, many of whom put down roots in the West Midlands after being displaced at home by the building of a dam in the sixties. This close connection between the two regions has prompted the announcement of the planned bus route.

The journey will take passengers through seven countries including Iran and is expected to cost around £130 per person. This is a considerable saving on the average flight cost of £450 for the same trip, though of course choosing to fly could save you eleven days travelling time. The company plans to run four luxury busses each fortnight and has the support of the Kashmir government who will develop a quick entry process for those without a British passport. The plans also have the support of officials in both Mirpur and Birmingham, with West Midlands MP, Khalid Mahmood, among its supporters. It is believed the initiative with bring the regions closer together and encourage tourism.

So, what can visitors to Mirpur expect to see? The city is one of the largest in the Azad Kashmir region and offers plenty of cultural sights to occupy tourists. Tourism is a hot topic for the
government here so more attractions are being created every year to increase interest in the area. Visitors can make the journey to the Mangla Fort and Museum, the Ragu North Temple or the Shivda Temple or take the eight kilometre trip to Khari Sharif, famous for its Sufi shrines. If history doesn't appeal, the city is also famous for its shopping plazas and malls. With such an influence from overseas, you can expect to see plenty of very familiar UK products sitting alongside local specialities too.  The climate is particularly hot and dry in the summer months so if making the journey then, do go prepared for the heat with cool layers and sun
protection. Likewise, travellers to Birmingham can expect plenty to keep them busy too. This bustling city boasts Cadbury World, a science museum and a Sea Life centre among its attractions and its shopping facilities are certainly world class. The climate certainly doesn't compare to Kashmir though so more layers required here!

Dates for the first journey are to be announced so watch this space for more information.

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