Galen Rowell: The Man And His Art


Simultaneously earthbound and heaven-seeking, the weather-beaten pinnacles of Pakistan’s Karakoram mountains bear witness to the region’s harsh climate. The Karakoram Range marks the convergence of the borders of Tajikistan, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India, lending it importance in the world of geopolitics. [Photograph by Galen Rowell]
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TRANSCENDING SPECIFIC SITUATIONS & LOCATIONS

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by Masood Hasan

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On August 11, 2002, the lives of four singularly unique people came to an end as their small Cessna aircraft crashed at Bishop, California. Amongst those who died were Galen Rowell and his wife Barbara Cushman Rowell. Both extraordinary intrepid travellers, adventurers, photographers and mountaineers were returning from a trip to the Bering Sea and had a hectic and full schedule ahead.

 In the words of Tom Brokaw, an old friend and admirer of Rowel’s work, “he was a man who went into the mountains, into the desert, to the edge of the sea, to the last great wild places in the world to be absorbed by their grace and grandeur. That is what he did for himself.

For the rest of us, he shared his vision with – click – the release of a shutter, creating photographs as timeless, as stunning, and as powerful as nature itself.”

So wrote Brokaw and I can only add that seeing Rowell’s work is like rediscovering faith in God, for how else could such a unique and stunning world come into being were it not for a master creator? (more…)

Chaudhry Map


The journey embraces you with lovely colours, atmosphere, people and bits and pieces of history. And, there is no hassle anywhere in the way.
As harvest approaches, the traveller, especially in the irrigated tracts, rides through endless expanses of waving crops of different shades of colour, out of which the villages seem to rise like islets in an ocean of green. After the harvest all is changed: the dull brown of the fields is relieved by the trees, solitary or in groves and avenues, and by the hamlets and village ponds.
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TRAVELLING ALONG THE LBDC COUNTRY SIDE

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by S A J Shirazi

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While travelling, off the National Highway, not only you travel in soot free and serene environment but you see more too. Riding my trusted old motorbike on Band Patri (not a thoroughfare) of Lower Bari Doab Canal (LBDC) from Sahiwal to Balloki Headworks, many new and interesting things come in the way, which normally remain hidden from commuters on the National Highway or travellers in the area.

The journey embraces you with lovely colours, atmosphere, people and bits and pieces of history. And, there is no hassle anywhere in the way.

Rich, ripe wheat harvest

As harvest approaches, the traveller, especially in the irrigated tracts, rides through endless expanses of waving crops of different shades of colour, out of which the villages seem to rise like islets in an ocean of green. After the harvest all is changed: the dull brown of the fields is relieved by the trees, solitary or in groves and avenues, and by the hamlets and village ponds.

I took the side route and got onto the LBDC from Sahiwal — the city famous for greenery and best breed of mammals. The first thing along the LBDC that attracted my attention was Mandi Maweshian (animal market) near Okara — one of the largest in the country.

It is a complete bazaar where a large number of fine quality animals changes hand every month. You can find makeshift hotels (with arrangements for night stay), veterinary doctors, milk and fodder shops and even provision stores. “It is a complete market that keeps moving from one place to another as per its permanent schedule,” told me an astute manager, who establishes a hotel wherever the market goes.

Ripe sugarcane field en route my journey along the LBDC.

“We have beoparis (businessmen) from Karachi to Peshawar, local farmers as well as people working in the market as our customers,” he added. Another shopkeeper informed, “Farmers sell their live stock here and buy provisions for their homes.” The market has its own unique culture.

Near Renala, you see one of the first Hydroelectric Power Stations constructed in the Subcontinent. Sir Ganga Ram, an Engineer and famous Philanthropist had built this Power Station in 1925 in order to irrigate about 70,000 acres of agricultural land that is higher than the normal level in the area and could not be irrigated through the LBDC.

Ganga Ram forked the canal, built the Power Station and installed five motors to generate electricity. The then Governor Punjab, Sir William Malcolm Hailey laid down its foundation stone of the station on March 22, 1925.

Engineer in charge of the station Mr. Iqbal explained the working of the station and briefed about its excellent performance despite the old vintage. The Power Station is not linked with National Electric Grid and only provides electricity for the five pumping stations for lifting the water from the LBDC. The Power Station remained with Power and Works Department till 1958 when it was taken over by WAPDA. Why not more similar hydroelectric stations in the country? The question keeps coming back to my mind.

First sight of the Power Station reminded me of Venice City. The power house building seems to be floating on water. The canal is covered with trees up and down stream. There is a small white mosque inside the canal in front of the station building. Green areas adjoining the station are very restful.

Just about three Kilometres from Renala, you see a huge colonial era mansion standing tall in the fields. This used to be headquarters of the Renala Estate — the land leased by Major D. H. Venrenen in 1913 on the condition of horse breeding (ghori paal). The company had been producing very fine breed of horses in the past. Villa — a symbol of the past era — is still owned by the family of landlady T. F. L. Taylor.

That is the place from where my real ‘hardship by choice’ started. I was travelling on a rural route, seeing the path but not knowing what was coming next. Not knowing what one is going to see ahead is sometime inspiring. But, about 11 Kilometres from Power Station, rear tyre of my bike went flat.

There was no place in sight from where I could get it fixed. Advised by Chiragh Din, a local, I waited for the ‘help’ to come and we talked.

Chiragh Din, relaxed and amiable old man who was fishing asked about my destination, purpose of journey and why I was travelling on a bike. He did not seem convinced with my answers once I told him that I am travelling just to see the area. He was surprised instead. I enjoyed talking to him though. He was so candid and frank about every thing he said.

It pays to get out into the countryside and talk to ordinary people. They are eager to help — on their own expense — when you ask any body. I found volunteer ‘guides’ who were forth coming with wealth of information from history to myths prevalent in the area. But ‘chaudhry map’ is as vague in Punjab about the distances as is anywhere else in Pakistan. I learnt not to rely on chaudhry map during my days in the army but still cannot resist asking.

Where is village Thatta Ghulam? Ask any body when you are riding a motorbike with haversack and water bottle on your sides. The replies will always be same: nearby. Apart from seeing pure rural built heritage, I was surprised to find a Solar Energy Station working in village Thatta Ghulam that is without electric connection.

The ionic counter point is the lack of attention in maintaining the bits and pieces of unique heritage – the resource base of tourism industry. The neglect may be attributed to lack of awareness, education, coordination between authorities, economic constrains and or simply the natural hazards. The magnificent vistas of a land of plans, fields and orchards have to be opened to the rest of the world.

There is a need for information in the form of travel guide writing, pure travel journalism, travel book writing and geographical description in form of maps. No ordinary coldness of phrasing can express the surprise and delight, with which one makes acquaintance with the rural sites. Their perspective gives you a wonderful sense of being there. In fact, that is my recommendation: be there.

Mechanical and animal transport, plying on Pakistani highways and roads has almost equal right of the way. But, I was greatly pleased once a Tonga appeared on a track coming out of sugarcane and blooming mustard fields. A bit of usual haggling about the charges, and I loaded my bike on the back and rode a sturdy Tonga to reach Akhtarabad — the nearest place on National Highway with vulcanization facilities. It took me three hours to get on to my way to Balloki headworks.

Near Balloki Headworks on River Ravi, one passes through a wide water reservoir that looks like a lake. In winters, this lake is full of native waterfowls. Flocks of Wild Ducks, Cranes, Strokes and black winged Stilts are the commonest sights in the area. The fish kababs at Balloki Headworks are a speciality and culinary delight.

I had a dinner break at Balloki, treated myself with fish kababs — fresh from the river — and proceeded to National Highway for onwards journey to Lahore via more familiar route.

S A J Shirazi is a Lahore based writer, blogger and speaker. Shirazi has authored two books (Izhar, Ret Pe Tehreer) and translated Din Mein Charagh by Abbas Khan into Light Within.

More from S. A. J. Shirazi on Wonders of Pakistan

1. Who Owns Harand Fort? – Pakistan 2. King’s Treatment  3. Hiran Minar 4. Around Abbotabad 5. The Wonders of Deosai Plains

You might also like:  

1. Rural Pakistan: More Colors, More Scenes [in four parts] 2. Colors of Punjab, Rural Pakistan [in four parts] 3. Life in a Pakistani Village
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Mountain of Forty Souls


Balochistan is a country rife with tales of hidden treasures left behind by passing hordes through the long and creative years of history. From the arid wastes of Makran through the juniper-scented valleys of Kalat to the sun-baked hills of the Marri-Bugti area, echo tales of hidden riches. Some, therefore, believe that the name refers to that untold and undiscovered wealth in Hazarganji.
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HAZARGANJI

THE POSSESSOR OF THOUSAND TREASURES

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by Salman Rashid

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Some 20 kilometres south of Quetta, past Dasht-e-Bedaulat (‘Wretched Plain” — a misnomer now because electricity and tube wells have turned this once barren land fertile) there rises an imposing purple loom west of the road. Rising to 3,308 metres (10,850 feet) above the sea, this, in common parlance, is Chiltan. Ask any Brahui who lives in its shadow and he will call it Chehel Tan — Forty Souls. He will also tell you that the valleys below are called Hazarganji — Possessor of a Thousand Treasures.

Aside: Balochistan is a country rife with tales of hidden treasures left behind by passing hordes through the long and creative years of history. From the arid wastes of Makran through the juniper-scented valleys of Kalat to the sun-baked hills of the Marri-Bugti area, echo tales of hidden riches. Some, therefore, believe that the name refers to that untold and undiscovered wealth in Hazarganji.

But the Brahui will tell you another story. Long years ago, there lived a poor Brahui shepherd and his good wife who remained childless despite years of wedlock. Then, Providence gave them not one nor two, but fully forty children. Worried how they would feed this brood, the couple resolved to keep one and abandon the others in the forests of Hazarganji. Days went by and reports filtered in of the mysterious ravines being inhabited by a bunch of elfin children who enticed travellers away. No one could catch them and anyone who pursued them was forever lost in the unknown folds of Hazarganji. (more…)

Why British Pakistanis should visit their motherland


We may not be a nation that abides by rules but there are some unwritten laws that we Pakistanis never break; such as running down our country every chance we get. Wherever you see four or more of our countrymen together you can be sure to find some Paki bashing going on.
Whether it`s politics or society, fashion shows or TV dramas, absent servants or ever-present in-laws, heck, even the person next to us, as long as he is out of earshot. And so, on as we gather to snitch and moan about how the country has gone to the dogs, let`s take a break and think of those who are no longer there to join in the bonding…I mean complaining.
Yes, those very same ex-countrymen who escaped to greener pastures….green being the colour of longing for a time when they too were Pakistani.
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DIL DIL PAKISTAN, JAN JAN PAKISTAN

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by Zab Mustefa

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Back home, the vast majority of second generation British nationals of Pakistani origin wouldn’t dream about visiting their parent’s homeland – unless it was for shopping, or a wedding of course. 

Unfortunately, the topic of Pakistan is followed by mockery, ridicule and stereotypes, which consist of uneducated, toothless villagers driving rickshaws and eating paan.

People in Britain don’t realise that Pakistan is a country full of colour, culture and a talented young generation that is truly aiming for change. I don’t understand why so few of my young generation would like to visit the country of their parent’s origin. Of course, there is a big cultural difference, but in a way it’s refreshing to truly go back to your roots.

The majority of our parents immigrated to the UK back in the 1950’s. My father arrived as a fresh-faced teenager to Glasgow. Similarly, my mother came to London when she was 22. Unashamedly simple to this day, both are patriotic towards Pakistan and love their homeland.

Before leaving for Pakistan, I was given several perplexed looks; everybody was confused as to why I was going there with family and relatives. They were bemused at the fact that I wasn’t going shopping nor was I going to a wedding.

 

If I were to tell cousins in the UK that the street art along the walls of Garhi Shahu in Lahore is more impressive than that of an east London wall, I would be met with shock and awe.

If I were to describe the intellectual students coming in and out of universities here, rather than sleazy Pakistani guys with bad haircuts, it would be beyond belief.

This close-minded attitude towards ones own heritage is sort of like a love-hate relationship with Pakistan.

It’s interesting how most second generation British-Pakistanis speak Urdu and/or Punjabi fluently. They also love their curries and shalwar kameez, yet you mention Pakistan and an uncomfortable silence will linger.

Personally, hearing the sabzi walaa (vegetable seller) push his cart through the narrow side streets makes me smile. Watching flat-bread coming out of the tandoor is a million times better than waiting at the bakers section of your local Tesco supermarket to get chewy, artificial dough that is supposed to resemble “fresh” bread.

In some ways, being born and bred in a British society with Pakistani culture does equate to an identity crisis.  However you take the best from both. There is nothing wrong with embracing the western lifestyle, after all you become accustomed to the society you live in. However, problems arise when you forget your heritage and everything about your origin becomes ridiculed.

Yes, we all like to imitate our parents and joke about things our auntie jees (aunts) do. Like the time an aunt refused to pay £1 for a cup of tea, insisting that she would wait till she went home and make it herself.

However, there is a difference between humour and the ignorance that many young British Pakistanis have towards their land of origin. I can tell you that not many know who the current prime minister is or are aware that some of the most prestigious designers participated in Pakistan Fashion Week last month.

Unfortunately, for many, though not all, Pakistan is all about beards, buffaloes and extremism.

We should make more of an effort to know our history and background. Without sounding condescending to those already here, I am sure that you are already aware that Pakistan is indeed a beautiful country; there is so much to see and so much to do.

There is nothing wrong with being British and proudly admitting that you love Pakistan.

 Zab Mustefa is a British journalist who specialises in women’s rights and culture. Read more by Zab here, or follow her on Twitter @zabadabadoo

Related Posts:

1. My beautiful Pakistan: Gilgit-Baltistan, 2. The Wonders of Deosai Plains 3. My beautiful Pakistan, the land of Balochistan, 4. Traveling through Pakistan – The Katas Raj Temple, 5. Pakistan, A Treasure Trove of Wonders. But do we care! 6. Do We Understand Tourism? Asks the Industry Guru, 7. Tourism: A Vista of Opportunities for Our Ailing Economy
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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.

YOUR COMMENT IS IMPORTANT

DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

We at Wonders of Pakistan uses 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.



A pluralistic past



Takht means “throne” and bahi, “water” or “spring” in Persian/Urdu. The monastic complex was called Takht-i-Bahi because it was built atop a hill and also adjacent to a stream. Located 80 kilometers from Peshawar and 16 kilometers Northwest of the city of Mardan, Takht-I-Bahi was unearthed in early 20th century and in 1980 it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list as the largest Buddhist remains in Gandhara, along with the Sahr-i-Bahlol urban remains that date back to the same period, located about a kilometer south.

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 OUR LOST HERITAGE NEEDS TO BE DISCOVERED AGAIN

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by Huma Yusuf

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ONE of the most peaceful places in Pakistan is the Buddhist monastic complex of Takht-i-Bahai near Peshawar. Situated on a hill, the grand cluster of stupas, courtyards, residential cells, and meditation chambers remains enveloped in mist and mystery. (more…)

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