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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DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF YOUR COMMENT

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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 Short Trip to Nathia Gali (1 of 3)


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Trees speak the language of the flowers and understand the whispers of the wind.
They’re in tune with the subtle songs of the forest;
They can listen, speak, and interpret the chatter of the rivers and intuit the meaning of each sparkle of the sun.
They don’t have to be told to look for the   magic in life, They can see it, feel it, and taste its sweetness everywhere.
Our job isn’t to correct it, but to nurture it, to preserve it, and perhaps even to re-learn it.
(Christen Rogers)
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A LEAF FROM THE OLD FORESTS

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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O bring me a leaf from the Old Forests,  The forests of beauty and song;

Where the galyat, through woods and fair meadows  Doth lead their sweet waters along

O bring me a leaf from the Old Forests,  A tuft from the glossy black pine;

A leaf from the oak and high Cedar tree  And a branch of green holly combine.

O bring me a leaf from the Old Forests,

     A token so sacred, O bring;

‘Twill recall those bright scenes to remembrance,

     Old friendships around it will cling.

 (Originally composed by John D. Cossar has slightly been moderated to adapt to the context to my narrative on Nathia Gali and other small villages/towns called Galyat).

         This poem makes me wander in my memory lane whenever I recollect my visits to the Galyat region in the bygone days of my youth.

     Galyat region, or hill tract, is a narrow strip or area roughly 50–80 km north-east of Islamabad, extending on both sides of the PunjabKhyber Pakhtunkhwa border, between Murree Abbottabad.

     The word is derived from the plural of the Urdu/Punjabi  word gali, which in hilly regions of Murree area means an alley between two mountains on both sides of which there are valleys which may or may not the highest point in the range.

     Ethnically its a homogeneous region where mostly people speak the paharri (hilly area) version of Punjabi. Many call it Hindko, others call it Paharri, Potohari or a version of Punjabi. There are some scattered areas, villages and hamlets in the Hazara districts where Pashtu is also spoken along with Punjabi/Hindko/Paharri.

     Geographically only three are in the Punjab that is:

  1. Darya Gali  2. Jhika Gali 3. Ghora Gali

whereas all the rest 14 are in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-PK) province of Pakistan.

  1. Ayubia 2. Bara Gali 3. Changla Gali 4. Kooza Gali 5. Dunga Gali 6. Khaira Gali 7. Khanspur 8.  Nathia Gali 9.  Kala Bagh 10. Thandiani 11.  Toheed Abad 12. Dagri Naka 13.  Bagnotar 14.  Namli Maira

     It was Eid-ul-fitr which I celebrated with the usual routine, offered Eid prayer at our sector B mosque called the Rafi Mosque. Prayer was held at 7:15 in the morning

RAFI MOSQUE, SECTOR B, BAHRIA PHASE VIII

Rafi Mosque in Sector B, Phase VIII of Bahria Town, where this scribe offered Eid Prayer.

     Later, having my breakfast with usual sawayyan (vermicelli) cooked with ghee, sugar & milk, by lunch time, different friends started coming in to say hello with their Eid greetings. In the evening it was my duty likewise, to visit such friends who could not come due to one reason or the other. (Eid celebrations are anyway mostly a family affair).

     So it was just the next day after Eid (the 27th of June 2017) that we usually call in our rustic Punjabi “Turoo” that’s the day Eid is leaving us. (The word Turoo comes from Tur jana i.e. gone away). The third day of Eid is likewise called Muroo, that’s leaving off permanently.

      So, it was on Turoo day of Eid that we left early in the morning and the road journey became increasingly pleasant as we drove out of Islamabad, crossed Chhattar and Salgiran and then to Tret Bangla.

     I couldn’t help but notice the number of bikers heading towards the hills – most of them on locally assembled Chinese or Japanese versions. This rekindled another yearning, to own one of them, the usual specimen of our biking history. But at the senior age that I’m, such a wish remains a wish and to that comes also my dislike for the two wheelers.

     With such an adventurous machine that a motor bike is, my fascination is that of hate & love. I love it when I see young people riding on their motor bikes, all in a jolly mood, biking smoothly on the up hills sometime & downhill another time, but then that hate comes up from my youth days when I used to travel to the Institute of Textile Technology in the then Lyallpur on my two wheeler i.e. a Vespa scooter.

     Although this two wheeler in those days was a love machine of the youth, a rage by the young of the college and the university especially when the famous Hollywood movie Come September, came on our Pakistani cinema screens.

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Rock Hudson with Gina Lolobrigida in Hollywood movie of the 1960’s “Come September”.

     Watching movies in those days, was the prime source of entertainment for in those days one could not think of modern day gadgets such as laptops, smart phones, 24/7 running cable TV channels, home theaters and such similar stuffs. If somebody would ever had talked about it, the poor chap surely would surely have been dubbed as insane.

     Every day when I used to drive about 9 or 10 kilometers from my home to Manawala village where the institute was located, I used to come across all the dirt, mosquitoes, flies and small pebbles falling like small bullets on my face. Whenever a lorry or a truck passed along the road moving parallel to me, throwing all such nasty stuffs on me, ever since then I lost my love for the two wheelers.

     But sometime when I see the youth plying on their bikes running in a zoom, I do envy them.

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     As we drove up from Salgiran, weather became cooler and our husband-wife skirmishes turned into smiles. This was the usual, full of thrill drive in the hills and the twists and turns on the road gave the hilarity of an F1 racer. I know people would say that road to Murree is not ‘that hard’ but for us, people of the plains, it is always a memorable experience.

     The blue cover and shroud of white greyish mist took my breath away; the serpent-like road was another attraction and it was hard to keep my eyes off from the beauty all around.

     It was also a time to do the mandatory shooting, some stills & a few videos, done by Hira (my daughter) and the scenic locales allowed us to take plenty.

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     As I stood on the side of the road and soaked everything in, the hills appeared sage-like, wanting to tell me about the deeper purposes of life. The depth of the valley appeared to be teaching about how to absorb the shocks of life.

     On — we moved forward to Tret. Tret used to be a small hamlet in the past, a beautiful waterfall was always there, and a big pipal or some similar tree hovering almost on that part of the road. But now Tret too is large and a fairly polluted town.

     In my student days, reaching Tret meant that we are approaching Murree, as weather started getting cooler by every mile we trekked on a lorry or in a car.. But now Tret is fairly warmer than those days, pity the environment getting polluted in these simple, small yet beautiful villages & towns around Murree.

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On way to Nathia Gali

     In those days, moving in Murree was impossible without warm clothing but now you frequently see visitors in Murree especially from our Punjab plains in thin, light lawn dresses. Then to think of electric fans was impossible but now you cannot sit in Murree summer without fans.

     Having crossed Tret we moved upwards to Murree and reached there almost in about 25 minutes or so.

     Murree was as usual full of hustle and bustle of peak summer season. Everywhere you could see fellows from all walks of life strolling on the Mall of Murree. The weather was fairly warm, therefore; one could see people in normal light weight cotton wear. Sun was quite hot and this made lot of people to carry umbrellas too.

Contd….

Next:  A short trip to Nathia Gali (2 of 3)

Title image, Rafi Mosque by Molvi Abdul Rahman, Rock Hudson & Gina Lolobrigida, Last two by Hira Hashmey

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Published in: on 14/07/2017 at 1:38 pm  Comments (4)  

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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