Saiful Malook is one of the most beautiful lakes one can imagine to exist on the surface of this earth. When we talk about this lake, words fail to describe its beauty. Anyone who has been there once can never forget the time that was spent in the company of this enchanting lake. Once we are there we never feel like leaving it; quite opposite to the Trevy Fountain in Rome, the eternal city where the visitors throw coins to wish they would come back soon. Here in the fairyland you don’t need to throw any coin.
A LAKE CALLED ROMANCE, LOVE AND ADVENTURE
by Nayyar Hashmey
This is the second part of our series on beautiful, cool, fun and adventure packed spots in the vale of Kaghan. Not very far from Naran, this legendary lake carries a mystic milieu, which is wholesome and refreshing for every soul. A stop over or a full fledged holiday in Saiful Malook can be full of recreation as well as adventure. The biggest plus of this romantic lake; it’s easily accessible from all corners of Pakistan.
From Taxila I traveled along the road that took me to Abbotabad. A cool, green and vibrant town Abbotabad is also the divisional headquarter of Hazara and Kohistan districts. It is a two hours drive from the capital Islamabad. Abbotabad is also the gateway to the vale of Kaghan. Here you can have a wholesome lunch or refresh yourself with a cup of tea before driving onward to Mansehra and Balakot.
The road from Balakot ascends along the Kunhar through lovely forests and the villages of Paras, Shinu, Jared and Mahandri. The valley is somewhat narrow along this stretch and the views are limited, but as you ascend, the surrounding peaks come to view. One spot that is quite famous for its spectacular view is Shogran. This tiny hamlet surrounded by peaks and forests, is east of the main Kunhar River and hosts the famous Siri-Paye Mountain with a breathtaking view.
The next stop of my journey is Khanian. This small town has the best trout you can taste in the north. The dazzling green of Danna Meadows and the slippery glaciers at tarmac, on way to Naran are quite an experience. The way is highly vegetated as the narrow valley is influenced by the annual monsoon season like in rest of the country. I climbed up in elevation and upon entering the valley could see the subtropical pines of the foothills being replaced by forests of the magnificent Himalayan pine. The steep sides of the valley were high and terraced with agricultural crops. Houses and small villages seemed to cling precariously to the steep slopes. The tops of the mountains surrounding the valley seemed to disappear into the clouds. Forests of evergreen trees adorned the steep slopes, where agriculture had yet not invaded. At the mouth of the valley I was at about 3000ft, but I was climbing steadily as I progressed.
The Kunhar River flows along the length of the valley about 100 miles. Halfway up the Kaghan village is Naran at an elevation of 8000ft, where I spent my next night. Late in the afternoon, after I had checked into the hotel I wandered though the small village bazaar. The street was unpaved and muddy, with a mountain stream flowing through the center of the town. I went out to the edge of the village and down by the river Kunhar, found a cave in the side of an enormous boulder wall. The cave is tied to the legend woven around the intense love between a fairy and her lover Saiful Malook.
Up a picturesque side valley east of Naran is the lake of my dreams. The lake and stream is named for Saiful Malook, the prince who spotted a mountain fairy bathing in the stream flowing from the lake, and stole her clothes just to tease her but then fell into love with her.
The lake is at a distance of six miles from Naran at a height of 10500 ft (3200.40 meters) above sea level. It’s easily accessible by jeep or by trekking. If you wanna trek, you need around two hours. Trekking is real fun. There is huge glacier on the way and crossing it is both adventure and fun.
Saiful Malook is one of the most beautiful lakes one can imagine to exist on the surface of this earth. When I talk about the lake, words fail to describe its beauty. Anyone who has been there once can never forget the time that was spent in the company of this enchanting lake. Once I am there I never feel like leaving it; quite opposite to the Trevy Fountain in Rome, the eternal city where the visitors throw coins to wish they would come back soon. Here in the fairyland you don’t need to throw any coin.
The lake itself is so charming, so luring and so tempting that I fall in love with it. But as the fairy tales are. There are demons too. The landslides, the thunderstorms and heavy rains though have a romance of their own, yet in the hilly areas they do often reverse their roles with demons of the fairy tales. So even if I don’t want to leave, these villains of the mountains force me to. It’s a pity there is no proper rest area, no hotel or a guesthouse so I must come back even though I don’t want to (neither the federally owned PTDC nor any private organization has ventured to put up a facility here where you can find a shelter from the heavy rain). There is no hotel either where you can have a rest or can enjoy the serene, cool and magical evening in the company of this most enchanting lake. So visitors beware! Take meals with you, there is no restaurant. No place to refresh and no building except the loony hut maintained by the forest department, which most of the times remains closed. So before you plan to see the fairyland, be prepared to travel like Ibn-e-Batuta.
Here used to meet Prince Saiful Malook his love, the faity Badr-e-Jamal
Once you have your food with you and have complete gear to travel, you will enjoy your stay, as you never did before. It’s here at my lovely Saiful that I met the queen of the mountains, the “Malka Parbat” peak which reigns over its kingdom at a majestic height of 17360 ft. Standing in the east and looking in the transparent waters of Saiful Malook I can view the majestic Malka in blue waters of the lake for the lake itself is like a mirror. It has the shape of a bowl where water from surrounding glaciers and peaks falls to form one of the loveliest wetlands in Pakistan.
Boating facility at the lake is available to but can’t recommend because the lake is so deep, its depth has not been measured yet. And there is no emergency equipment or help. So dudes don’t take risk! There are a few camping sites available though which I would strongly recommend because its here that beautiful lake meets with all its charm, grandeur and its magnificence. There are small huts and shops near lake selling items you may need.
Boats ready [but at your own risk] to take you around the fairyland called Saif-ul-Malook
Elders in the valley tell the story of a prince by the name of Saiful Malook who fell in love with a fairy. The prince was a fond lover and explorer. He would usually come to the lake in wilderness, which was surrounded by tall snow clad peaks. One day the young prince saw a fascinating spectacle. A beautiful fairy was dancing on the surface of the lake. Curiosity brought him close to her and he stole her clothes. The modest fairy agreed to marry him in return for her clothes, an incident which turned into intense love. The couple started meeting but the union enraged the fairy’s demon lover, who was so angry that out of anger flooded the entire Kaghan valley. When the floods subsided, Saiful Malook went up the lake only to find that nobody was there.
After waiting all day he would come back in the evening. This went on for some days until he started to worry for the safety of the fairy. But he had no other way of finding about her whereabouts besides coming to the lake.
One day he was waiting by the lake when he spotted a group of fairies having bath in the waters at the other side of the lake. He went to the other side and begged them to let him know about Badar Jamal’s (that was the name of that beautiful fairy the prince loved) whereabouts but the fairies laughed at his abysmal state. Yet a kind-hearted fairy came forward and told the prince that Badar Jamal’s movements had been confined to the close vicinity of the Koh Qaaf; a mystical range of mountains located in the Caucasus. The prince left for the Koh Qaaf, braving all odds, and finally succeeded in his mission – getting married to the fairy Badr Jamal.
1. The Wonders of Deosai Plains 2. My beautiful Pakistan: Gilgit-Baltistan 3. PAKISTAN – The Largest Land of Glaciers [in three parts] 4. Reach to the top and beyond
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