A Short Trip to Nathia Gali (3 of 3)


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  Sitting in the veranda of the lawn of my hotel room, I viewed the thick, beautiful jungle of hundred years old pines, cedars & oak trees.
It was the perfect time and place to enjoy the beauty of the nature, different types of birds especially large size cravens and lot other mountain birds cawing/chirping/singing their typical songs all the time. Monkeys doing their usual acrobatics in nature, all what makes you and your spirits refreshed like anything.
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RENDEZVOUS WITH CLOUDS, MONKEYS, SUNSHINE AND THE RAINS

 

by Nayyar Hashmey

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We got up in the morning quite refreshed, refreshed this time becoz we spent our night in a quite normal, comfortable room with warm water available for a normal bath, and this time we decided also to try the in-house complimentary breakfast. To our good fortune the breakfast at the Hotel was not only fresh, warm and to our liking but also was very very tasty too. Weather was fine and back at our room, we enjoyed the continuous hide and seek between  the clouds, the rain fall and the clouds turning into a mist that used to start dancing on the lawns and veranda of our room.

Since clouds come often on roads, room lawns, hotels, & play grounds in Nathia Gali, the town has rightly earned itself the name The Mist City of Pakistan.

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All of a sudden, the clouds disappeared and a bright, pleasantly cool sunlight appeared. Right then monkeys came up on the branches of thick pine trees, from pines they jumped to the loose but sturdy shoots of the old, seasoned cedars and then to a room that was next to ours.

The forests in Nathia Gali have centuries  old pines, cedars, walnuts, also oak and maple trees, whereupon we could easily watch the whole tamasha on a variety of these forest trees all on their own and that too for free.

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You will get to see monkeys on the roadside on your way from Nathia Gali-Murree to Islamabad, especially so when you pass over Nathia Gali Muree stretch of Islamabad Murree Express way, when you frequently spot monkeys on the way.
Here these three monkeys are basking in the sun, sitting leisurely on a roadside barrier. At the same time, as you spot them, they spot you. The typical monkey way of life.

 

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Now one of them is scratching the body of the other one for catching the lice or then they would start a friendly quarrel between two of them. Later some more would come and join in this friendly match. Together all of them bite at one another and then together all will jump in happiness.  From cedar they would jump on the tinned roof of the hotel room just next to ours.

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Me, with my sweetheart babe Hira (my daughter) in the façade of our hotel in Nathia Gali.

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And now with my better half in the veranda of Restaurant at the Hotel in Nathia Gali.

It was a wholesome retreat to watch these monkeys in the open, jumping now from one twig to another twig of a pine, then from pine, a long jump to the cedar, and from the cedar, would jump altogether in such a rhythm, in complete sync with the beautiful cloud hovering on them and us, with light, cool and pleasant rain drops falling, on them as well as on us. Their jumping in to and fro, created a beautiful symphony when they started banging simultaneously on the tinned roof.

We watched as we enjoyed this drama in nature, each episode unfolding right before us in turn by turn, for about an hour or so. It was then that we decided that we should better leave for home. So we transferred our belongings from the hotel room to the car. The ever-ready Latif, our driver, was there to help us in moving the things at a quicker pace. We then handed over the keys to the hotel reception, cleared our dues and said them good bye.

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I don’t know why Hira made a pose like this. May be the sun had become too bright and she needed sunglasses.

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On our way back, we frequently came across colorful dupattas (the ones here though are in black & white) and chadors spread on a hanging line. Their varied colors offer another beauty to the colorful landscape that we pass, while travelling on the Nathia Gali-Murree Islamabad-Highway.

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Rain and sun umbrellas in varied colors especially for the ladies, offer a rainbow of colors with a background that is a combination of mountain wall, misty environment and light sun passing through the mist – a beautiful panorama of colours travelling all along us while we drive on the Galyat Road.

Frankly speaking, we did not want to leave becoz of the comfortable room, the professional hospitality of the Hotel staff but since out first night at UOP rest house in Bara Gali was quite disturbing, therefore, we decided to leave for home this time and revisit our beautiful Nathia Gali in September once again.

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On our way back to Murree and Islamabad, we came across this corn seller, who was scalding the corn on cob in hot roasting sand. The fresh cob from the mountain areas that has fairly white color than the yellow one we have in the plains of the Punjab, being from heirloom seeds, is fresh and raw and has a unique taste of its own.

While we were on our way, coming back from Nathia Gali, we came across many lorries, mini vans and wagons, all loaded with our Pashtun brethren, young and old, men and women, all tightly packed with their Tiffins, hot boxes, big kettles carrying rice, meat curries, typical KPK dishes already made in rich fat, meat and spices, In the background the CD recorders blaring with Pashtu songs, many of the riders singing in rhyme with music on the disc, were going upwards towards Nathia Gali/Abbotabad/Thandiani.

Some will stop alongside the road and start a Pashtun dance in tune with the music on the disc. Then others will stop their vehicle on the road side, stretch out a big long sheet, a dastarkhan (the name is used not only in Pakistan but also all over Central Asia to the traditional space where food is eaten).

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The term Dastarkhan usually refers to the tablecloth which is spread on the ground, floor, or on table and is used as a sanitary surface for food, but it is also used more broadly to refer to the entire meal setting.

It is part of traditional Central Asian cuisine. The term was introduced in South Asia by Turks and conquerors from Central Asia. Dastarkhan is a Persian word meaning “tablecloth” or “great spread”.

The food placed on a dastarkhan ranged from simple tea and bread (for small meals shared by each family) to various salads, nuts, candies, shorba, and meat set out for a picnic on the mountains. In this regard I found the Pashtuns of Pakistan much more livelier than us Punjabis, who do such things on harvests & birth/death anniversaries of saints only.

*****

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A short trip to Nathia Gali (2 of 3)


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While sitting in the veranda of our hut style room at the Nathia Gali Hotel, we watched and enjoyed the monkeys doing all their natural jumping, howling, playing together, doing their usual household chores (prime being catching lice in the hair of their skins or their kins) in nature.

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A DISTURBED NIGHT AT UOP – REST HOUSE, BARA GALI

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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After having strolled twice on the Mall, I went to sip a cup of tea at the Marhaba Hotel Murree. But alas, the quality of the tea they serve now, in contrast to what they used to offer in the past, was no more there. What they offer now, is just the ordinary tasteless tea. I could not finish even a quarter of the cup & left it there. Then sitting in the open courtyard of Marhaba.I started watching people on the Mall.

My wife and daughter went to a nearby market where they sell woollies. They bought two or three warm shawls from there and after an hour or two were back to Marhaba.  From there, we then walked to the Kashmir Point where our car was parked. Our driver, Abdul Latif, a former retired jawan of the Pak Army had served long time after retirement with one of our family friends, Brig (Retd.) Usman Khan Tararr.

After the demise of Brig Tararr, Latif started working with his wife, our Apa Aliya Usman Tararr, who runs many charity projects for poor & destitute women in her village Kohlu Tararr as well as adjoining villages.

Later Latif left service with the Tararrs due to his family obligations. Latif appeared to be quite adept in driving in the mountainous areas and was familiar with all such hill spots in the north of Pakistan.

We came back to our car, with Latif on the driving seat. Passed through Kuldana, Barian/Sawar Gali , Jhika Gali, Changla Gali, Kooza Gali, Dunga Gali, Khaira Gali,Nathia Gali,Kala Bagh & finally to Bara Gali where the rest house of Peshawar University Summer Camp was located.

But look, what a disappointment was waiting for us. The rooms were quite dirty, the bathroom had the blackish green layer of the algae which had covered almost half the bath room wall, the knob that pushed the water tank over the commode was broken so there was no way how to flush the refuse from the commode.

UOP SUMMER CAMP BARA GALI

Though the UOP Summer Camp at Bara Gali (where the university’s rest house stands) was at a very picturesque location, surrounded by thick, dense jungle, the building itself is a remnant of British Raj.
The British had a small cantonment here which was occupied in the hot summer months by one of the British mountain batteries that were stationed in Rawalpindi.
The buildings were constructed like small mountain type huts in 1907 and seem to have been kept at the poor quality of living that still dates back to 1907. (This picture was originally uploaded and shared by user Zafar Hayat Khan, Habib Khel on panoramio.com).

To our misery, there was no warm water in the bath room either, so there was no question of either doing the wuzoo or a bath in such ice cold water. But qahr-e-derwesh ber jan-e-derwesh, we had no other choice. The room was smelly as well. When we told the rest house keeper, he said janab it’s a university rest house, the budget we get from the authorities is that of maintaining a jhuggi (a shanty) and you are expecting 4-star facilities from us. Any way, we told him that we will be back after having our meals.

Off we went to a khaba located in the main bazaar of Nathia Gali for chicken sajji. This place was known to us since 2011 when we came all the way from Islamabad via Abbotabad to Nathia Gali to taste this famous sajji dish in Nathia Gali. My youngest son Usama was then in the driving seat. (He is living nowadays in Sydney, Australia).

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A common scene of Nathia Gali Main Bazar, where we took our breakfast. This picture is being displayed here according to Panaramio Copyright Policies.

Usama by the way is also very fond of exploring new cities, new towns and new khabas (eateries). It was he who explored this eating den for us, so on we went to this place. The quality standard of the sajji was same as before and we took the sajji to our heart’s content. Fresh baked rotis were coming from the tandoor and sajji with dahi raita was there too.

After taking our dinner with chick sajji, we went for a stroll in the bazaar and later moved around in our car to see some prominent places in Nathia Gali. It was getting dark by this time, so we moved back to the rest house. To our utter shock and amazement; the room had been delivered to some other family.

We didn’t want to disturb the family who had wrongly been allotted our room to them because of perhaps the lust for more money. On our strong protestation, the rest house keeper agreed to move the family to another room and we almost made ourselves settled into the smelly, dingy room.

The whole procedure was so annoying that we decided, now we’ll spend the night and move early in the morning for Islamabad..So the next morning, we took breakfast at an ordinary type of cheap shop. We wanted to breakfast at an eatery which was famous for their halwa poorhi, but to our dismay, it was fully occupied and there was no place to sit anywhere there.

We didn’t want to breakfast at the shop where we did,  becoz it was of poor standard but since all good dining places were fully occupied, therefore, we took breakfast at that very very ordinary shop. They were serving parathas and egg omelet which was of very ordinary taste but the bill they charged from us was quite heavy.

Anyway, we took the breakfast and before leaving for Islamabad, decided to check the hotels/rest house or a guest house that will be of some chajj for us. (Word “chajj” basically is a Punjabi word and means a place which suits one’s needs). Meanwhile, just an idea flashed into my mind. I told my wife and daughter Hira, why not to try Hotel Green where we used to stay in the bygone days.

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This is the room (a mountain style hut) at the Hotel where we were sitting, watching the monkeys playing on this lawn & on the roof of a room next to ours.

Both agreed with me and we started asking people where was the old British era Hotel. They said that the Hotel has been sold to some other party and now it is being run under different names. I Inquired about the old one and they directed us to drive upward on a hill. So, on we went to the old Hotel Green .

Next: A Short Trip to Nathia Gali (3 of 3)

Previous:  A Short Trip to Nathia Gali (1 of 3)

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Deosai Plains – Fact Sheet


Heading west from Sadpara we move towards Deosai. From Deosai northwards reach Upper Astore Valley through Chakor Pass located at 4,266 meters. This is the most impressive part of our Deosai adventure, with deep blue Sheosar Lake, nestled in the pass that offers picture-book scenery. [Above a view of the enchanting Sheosar lake in Deosai. To view full size, click on the image] 
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DEOSAI PLAINS  FACT SHEET

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by Jalal HB

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Pakistan is a God gifted land. It abounds in natural treasures and breathtaking landscapes. One such of these are the Deosai Plains – spread over an area of some 3,000 kilometres. After Tibet, Deosai is the second highest plateau in the world. The endless and awesome Deosai Plains are located on the boundary between the Karakorum and West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe. A part of Pakistan’s  Gilgit Baltistan region, the plains at an average height of 4,114 metres above mean sea level, are rich in
unique type of flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. (more…)

My beautiful Pakistan: Gilgit-Baltistan


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 Shangrila, a heaven on earth, is situated in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The region has some of the finest tourism attractions in the world, like K-2 (8, 611.M ) the 2nd highest peak on earth. Deosai Plains the longest, widest and highest plateau in the world, the fast flowing River Indus which starts from Ladakh and snakes its way through the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges, along picturesque valleys, glaciers, natural wild life, forests and historical monuments, dating back thousands of years and across the country into the Arabian Sea.
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THE SHANGRI LA 

[NORTHERN AREAS]

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WoP research desk

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Besides Murree, there are a number of other hill stations, resorts and skiing areas for those who dare go some extra miles. These include, Malam Jabba, Kalam, Chitral and Naltar besides the resorts amid the mighty northern mountains of Pakistan.

Starting from Abbotabad, you have many options – choose to go to Galyat and Murree or go towards Manshera, Balakot and onwards to Kaghan and Naran. For Swat, Malam Jabba and Kalam start from Nowshera – Mardan and onwards through Dargai Pass. Naltar and Hunza are approachable from Gilgit. Though most of the resorts abound in areas adjacent to Murree and Abottabad, however, if you can fly to Skardu, the picturesque Shangri’la tourist resort and Deosai plains are within your easy reach.

Shangrila, a heaven on earth, is situated in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The region has some of the finest tourism attractions in the world, like K-2 (8,611.M ) the 2nd highest peak on earth. Deosai Plains the longest, widest and highest plateau in the world, the fast flowing River Indus which starts from Ladakh and snakes its way through the Karakoram and Himalayan ranges, along picturesque valleys, glaciers, natural wild life, forests and historical monuments, dating back thousands of years and across the country into the Arabian Sea.

To reach Shangi La, a daily Boeing 737 flight from Islamabad is available, it takes 45 minutes, flying over the most spectacular Himalayan and Karakoram ranges from where you can see the tallest peaks in the world. Flying over the Kaghan valley, Chilas and then following the mighty Indus river, skimming past Nanga Parbat the 9th highest peak in the world, which is called the killer mountain at a height of 26, 660 feet, flying north and entering the valley of Skardu which is the capital of Baltistan.

You can also travel by road via the famous Karakoram Highway, also known as the Eighth Wonder of the world. A new road has also opened through the Kaghan valley over the lush green meadows and streams, over the Babusar pass to chilas.

 Due to heavy snowfalls the highway is closed for traffic a few months in winters.

Shangrila, also known as “Heaven on Earth”, is nestled amongst some of the world’s highest peaks. It encircles the heart shaped “Kachura Lake” surrounded by fruit laden orchards and flower laden gardens.

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The changing colours of autumn in Leepa


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Leepa - A Valley of Changing Colours
Leepa  is a valley of changng colours
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A RICHLY COLOURED ATTIRE OF RED, ORANGE & YELLOW SHADES

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by Syed Zafar Abas Naqvi 

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The picturesque Leepa valley comprises of several villages, the principal being Reshian Gali, which at a height of 3600 M above sea level is also the gateway to the vale of Leepa. In addition to Reshian, there are other villages in Leepa like:-

  • Nokot
  • Chennian
  • Kappa Gali
  • Bigil Dher
  • Lubgran &
  • Ghaipura

Like Reshian, all these villages, the tiny small hamlets, equally contribute to a wonderful mosaic of patterns mother nature has so ornately and intricately woven here in this part of Kashmir.

Leepa is famous also for its typical Kashmiri style of architecture, mostly in the form of 3 storied wooden houses. A look at the houses here makes one believe, Leepa as a true extension of Indian occupied Kashmir into Pakistan.

The people in Leepa, as in other parts of Azad Kashmir, demonstrate robust character and a steadfast, a resilient way of living. Inspite of 18 years of Indian shelling and continuous fire almost every day (which takes its own tolls in terms of human life and collateral damage), and all this exacerbated by the deadly earthquake of Oct. 2005, life has gradually started turning to normalcy.

The paradise like mini Kashmir in Leepa has numerous water driven flour mills, the only kind of industry in the valley.

The valley has a population of about 75000 inhabitants who generally indulge in farming, cattle rearing and tourism related services. Nearly 400 jeeps ply daily from Reshian to Leepa and back. Jeeps are the only mode of transport in the valley though motor bikes are now also seen in ever increasing numbers on the bumpy jumpy road.

The red Kashmiri rice is grown in October by the farmers in Leepa. This is also the staple food for the people of the area. Husking of rice is done in traditional way, by first beating the rice stack with long sticks, thereafter, threshed along temporarily constructed ditches.

The highest peak is Shmasa Bari, which remains snowbound throughout the year.

Down hills, every year with coming of winter in the valley, when previous year’s snow melted on top of the mountains, soon fresh snow will be falling to interlace them all. It’s the time also when residents of this far flung vale have to brace the chilling winter  which brings heavy snow and thus brings increased hardships  for its 75000 residents. Due to lack of infrastructure, the valley is disconnected from the rest of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir.

Apple is grown in the valley in its different varieties, most popular being Golden, Delicious and Kala Kullo King. These varieties have a unique, highly tempting flavor and taste comparable to none. Walnut is another fruit grown in the valley. It too ripens in early autumn when it is collected, deseeded and then sent to down country markets where they fetch price as high as Rs 450/- per Kg. In Leepa the cost per Kg is Rs. 300/- per Kg.Though poor in infrastructure and no industry worth its name, excepting the water mills, nature has provided spectacular beauty to this valley that can surpass even developed areas of the plains if only its tourism potentials were exploited to the full.

Water in its streams is crystal clear and there is absolutely no pollution. One can breathe, clean fresh air, full of fragrance from virgin forests and wonderful scenery all around to watch.

Allover the valley, high walnut trees likewise put on attire in yellow, red and orange, which adds extra sparkle to our stay in Leepa. We also come across yellow herbs and shrubs tucked nicely into green vegetation comprising of large conifer trees, adding variety to this miracle of changing colors during autumn in the valley.

 Walkways amidst jungle are filled with compost leaves signaling a momentous magnitude of autumn in the valley. The foliage from deciduous trees stays on the ground leaving a damp and decayed trail. The skyline in the whole vale transcends from ardent green to russet red, gold, orange, dark yellow and brown. Strong winds and mild storms also wreack further havoc with the delicate branches, turning them yellow and this too adds to the already damp compost like soil. A walk on these fallen decayed leaves reminds of the harsh winter ahead. Birds are also going nomadic ready to move on an arduous and long journey bracing the chilling winds on the way, to safe havens in down country areas where they can feed and breed.

Kazi Nag Nullah basin also hosts hundreds of poplar trees with ready to fall yellow foliage. Yellow chinar trees acquire a crimson hue as if on a fire, a unique view along the mountains, tracks and the valleys in Leepa.

Soon we reach Burthwar Gali and encounter nearly 300 chinar trees again with their yellow, orange and red mix of colous, shades and hues adding further fire to the panorama of winter in the valley. Local elders said, these trees were planted during the period of emperor Shah Jahan, the builder king of the famed Mughal empire – to provide shade and protection to travelers who used to journey between Srinagar and Punjab either on horses or even on foot. We couldn’t help but admire this wonder of nature which had laid down a carpet of innumerable crimson colored trees, when viewed while passing through Burthwar Gali Pass.

Appreciating the allure of autumn trees in narrow alleys is the best pastime in this vale of wonders – wonders that this picturesque valley showcases to the outside world.

Tailpiece: Daily strolls along the fabulous terraced fields devoid of any crop at this time of the year offers you chance of a life time to enjoy nature’s beauty at its best. No words are able to describe the true beauty and incomparable sight of this touristic paradise in Kashmir.

Each year, on start of autumn in Kashmir, Leepa, which lies at a distance of about 90 KM from capital Muzaffarabad, starts to dress up in a new and richly colored attire-a mix of red, orange and yellow shades. It’s the time when apple picking season in the valley comes to an end.

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 Wonders of Pakistan supports freedom of expression and this commitment extends to our readers as well. Constraints however, apply in case of a violation of WoP Comments Policy. We also moderate hate speech, libel and gratuitous insults.  
 We at Wonders of Pakistan use copyrighted material the use of which may not have always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We make such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” only. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.
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