The Swat Valley

The Swat Valley can be easily reached from both Peshawar and Islamabad. From Islamabad, one can follow the GT Road as fr as Nowshehra, and then head north to Mardan. The road over the Malakand Pass Passes the extraordinary Buddhist remains at Takht-e-Bahi, 13 Km from Mardan. The remains are the most astounding, exciting and imposing relics of Buddhism in Pakistan and date back from 2nd to 5th century AD.

From Takht-e-Bahi, the road continues north through fertile countryside. The next major town is Dargai, after which the road climbs steadily up to the Malakand Pass.. On the way up there are good views south onto the Peshawar Valley. The road descends gently from the Pass, arriving at the market town  of Bat Khela, which is spread out over a large area. From Bat Khela, the road follows the Swat River upstram and the countryside around is green and fertile, and the road lined with trees. In springtime the orchards are bright with blossom and in summer the rice fields are ready to be harvested. July is peach time, and farmers put up stalls by the  roadside. 

Further on there is bridge across the Swat River to Chakdarra, marking the border with Dir District, and the start of the route to Dir and Chitral via the Lowari Pass. The road continues through the fertile fields and reaches Mingora whcih is the biggest town in Swat. It is situated with its twin town of Saidu Sharif, the administrative capital of Swat. Both the twin-towns have now all but merged into each other and together they form the largest urban centre in Swat, and Mingora in particular has become heavily congested. Both are 3,250 feet above sea level and are very hot in summer. 

At a distance of 13 km from Saidu Shaif, at the head of the Saidu Valley, is Marghzar (4,222 ft), the former summer palace of the Wali of Swat. The entire administration of Swat was moved up to the Safed Mahal (White Palace) for the season. The White Palace is now a luxury hotel and it’s situation at the head of the valley is idyllic. 

From Mingora, the highway runs towards north, following the river. At Manglaur, the first town north of Mingora a metalled road lead off to the right to Malam Jabba. At an altitude of over 8,700 ft, Malam Jabba is the most promising hill resort of Swat. It is a ski resort which gets 6 to 10 feet of snow fall on average annually. There are excellent views down into the main Swat Valley and some pleasant walks in the area. 

Read More

Deosai.. A wilderness Apart

In the words of Aleister Crowley, “In front of us lay the Deosai, an absolutely treeless wilderness of comparatively level country framed by minor peaks. It gives a unique impression of desolation. I have never seen its equal in this respect elsewhere. Yet the march was very pleasant with many flowers and streams.”And in Gypsy Davy’s words, “It was such an expanse of immensity as I have harldy imagined… It seems you cannot talk in a matter-of-fat way in a place like that”.

Deosai is a place with a magic of all its own. Nature is at her most inventive and extravagant here. Covering an area of almost 3,000 sq Km, all of it above 4,000m, the Deosai plateau is stunningly beautiful. Frozen beneath a deep blanket of snow for mch of the year, the Deosai is surprisingly rich in plants and animals, bursting into life during the brief spring and summer months. Gently rolling hills and grasslands extend into the distance as far as the eye can see, carpeted with brightly colored flowers, the scales of which is largest in the Karakorams and the Western Himalyas. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the Deosai has ultra-pure air that plays tricks on the eyes. There is an unmistakable sense of the elevation in the huge expanse of horizon, the wide open space and the clarity of light and color typical of such high altitudes. 

The spectacular plateau of the Deosai can be visited as a full-day excursion from Skardu by jeep. A jeep track crosses the Deosai between Skardu and the Astore Valley (Skardu-Astore 130km), and down to the KKH at Bunji. It continues west across the Deosai plateau, crossing large clear streams via bridges. As it leaves Deosai, it skirts the northern shore of the deep blue Sheosar Lake. The lake is nestled in the pass and offers sublime scenery. 

Deosai means “The Lands of Giants” in local Balti dialect and it isn’t hard to see how a landscape on such a massive scale could have inspired stories of giants. 

Read More

Pir Chinasi Travelogue

Pir Chinasi house of Saint Hazrat Syed Hussain Shah Bukhari located 24 kilometers from Muzaffarabad Azad Kashmir, over the hills and vale, no doubt beautiful meadow on top with one of the classic road as compared to other Areas of Azad Kashmir. Pir Chanasi is at 9500ft from sea level, every year thousands of tourist rush to explore the landscape and to pray at holy shrine. Local community is very tourist friendly, hospitable, simple and nature lovers. Leopard, pheasants and other species of birds found remotely in Jungles. 

Road to Pir Chanasi Azad Kashmir

Saran at 19 Kilometers from Muzaffarabad where AJK Tourism Department constructed a guest house before earthquake is one of the finest location, 4 rooms available for stay.

Saran Top Pir Chinasi
Saran Top At Pir Chinasi

Chacha of Pir Chinasi constructed a small restaurant in Saran where he offers Lassi, Dhoodh Chahye, Pakoras, Samosas and other food Items, on back of the restaurant there are wooden chairs offering sightseeing to Jhelum Valley hills.

Pine trees and the lush greenery signals brain to sooth the whole environment of body, it’s one of the best sensation you have at Pir Chinasi Top.

Road Condition is quite good but you should avoid in heavy rains and try to as slow and careful as Possible even in normal days.

Read More

Nanga Parbat As seen from Fairy Meadows

Most tourists who come to see Nanga Parbat stay at Fairy Meadows ( 3,300 m), so named because of local superstition that fairies inhabit this spectacularly forested alpine meadow. Fairy Meadows are idyllic Aline pastures surrounded by pine forests on the northern slopes of Nanga Parbat, with breathtaking views of the snow-clad North Face above. It is the best place to view the majestic beauty of Nanga Parbat. There are several short walks on this plateau, including the full day excursion up to the Base Camp, (3900m) of Nanga Parbat. The North or Raikot Face dives over 7000 meters from the summit to the Indus River, forming one of world’s deepest and finest gorges.

Nanga Parbat has always been associated with tragedies and tribulations. It is an angry mountain for climbers. A lot of mountaineers have perished on its treacherous slopes. It was one of the deadliest of the eight-thousandths in the first half of the twentieth century. Even in recent years it has claimed a heavy toll of human lives of mountaineers, in search of adventure and thrill.

The race to conquer Nanga Parbat started very early. In 1895, an English mountaineer Albert F. Mummery led an expedition to the peak and reached almost 7,000 m on the Diamir side, but later disappeared with his two porters. Then in 1932 a German-American expedition climbed the Raikot Peak and reached the east ridge before being beaten by lack of Himalayan experience. In 1934, five German climbers and elven Sherpas attained a height of around 7,800m when three climbers and six Sherpas perished in a blizzard. Another German attempt in 1937 was beaten when all seven climbers withe their nine high-level porters were overwhelmed by avalanche. More attempts were made in 1938 and 1939, each time reaching around 6000m. After the death of 31 people, Nanga Parbat was first climbed on July 3, 1953 by a single man, Austrian climber Hermann Buhl, a member of German-Austrian team. Nanga Parbat was yet to be climbed in winter, 28 expeditions have tried this feat as of 2015.

Nanga Parbat has three faces, Diamer face, Raikot and Rupal. The local name of the mountain is Diamir, meaning “Monarch of the Gods.” It is said that the mountain is inhabited by fairies and superlatives.

Read More

Over the Hill and Vale

Pakistan is blessed with extensive range of mountains that are an attraction for tourists, trekkers, mountain climbers and geologists from all over the world. Apart from the mountain ranges of Himalayas, Karakorams and Hindu Kush, there are several valleys running in a north-south direction which connect the high mountains with the foothills. These foothills provide the relaxing hill stations where people go to escape summer in the plains. These Valleys provide some of the most fertile and hauntingly beautiful alpine panoramas anywhere in the world. Here each day’s travel brings constant revelation an the magic of incomparable vistas, breathtaking views of snowy mountains, jade lakes, murmuring streams, dancing waterfalls, dynamic and colorful cultures and rare wildlife.

If you take the flight from Islamabad to Gilgit or Skardu, you can see how the mountains get higher and higher. The aircraft carry you in minutes over the pine-crested brow of the Margalla Hilss, rising in a series of parallel ridges, one after the other– each higher than the other. From the 10,000 meter peaks of Margalla Hills you reach the Himalayan giant Nanga Parbat at 8126 meters. 

In Gilgit-Baltistan, the valleys of Gilgit, Hunza, Nagar, Skardu, Naltar, Astore and Ghizar are noted for their beautiful landscape and unique cultural heritage. In these areas the hills are more like mountains, as the mountains in the region are world’s highest. Alone the valley of Hunza contains dozens of peaks over 7000 meters. 

The Valleys of Chitral , Swat and Kaghan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are also well-known for their distinct mountain scenery and are popular tourist destinations. The Neelum Valley in Azad Kashmir is another paradise for tourists with its deeply forested moutains. 

Read More