The following report was written by Zoya Imran, granddaughter of Saudi Aramco Ex-Employee Engr. Iqbal Ahmed Khan, as told by Kamran Ahmed Khan of Karachi, Pakistan.
Kamran and Bushra standing in front of beautiful scenery.
Kamran Ahmed Khan and Bushra Khan went on their honeymoon trip to the Northern Areas of Pakistan on the 18th of October 2021. Kamran had planned it beforehand and it was a surprise to Bushra three days before going.
All the necessary preparations were made before our departure. We had booked the A/C sleeper cabin (for two people only) on the Sir Syed Express Train. The train was extremely well maintained, clean and luxurious, with a separate bathroom inside with all the necessary sanitary supplies provided. The berths were spacious and comfortable with clean pillows, bed sheets, blankets, Wi-Fi connection and LED Display during the long journey.
Although we had taken plenty of food with us, delicious breakfast and lunch were served as well. The train left at 9PM and our family had reached the station to drop us off by 8:30. The train departed and they bid farewell with prayers of safety and wellness. The Cabin attendant offered us books for reading, Bushra took ”Ashab-e-Kahaff” for reading.
The train stopped at multiple stations during the approximately 24-hour journey from Karachi to Rawalpindi. The major ones are Hyderabad, Rohri, Khanewal, Faisalabad, Faizabad, Hafizabad and Jhelum Railway Stations.
After a tiring journey, we reached Rawalpindi at 8:45PM, the next day on October 19th. We had hired a car with a driver for ten days for our complete trip. Our driver Mr. Arshad guided and took us around throughout our trip.
We travelled to Balakot which was roughly a journey of 3 hours to Pine Track Hotel, where we stayed the night. The weather was awesome and a bit cold.
The next day, the 20th of October, we travelled to Naran Valley early in the morning. On the way, we stopped at a waterfall in Kiwai where seating arrangements were made between the waterfall, and a restaurant was there to enjoy food in the surroundings of the waterfall. It was undoubtedly beautiful and enchanting. Here there were two ways one for Shogran and the other for continuation for Naran valley. We decided to visit Shogran after Naran Valley visit completion. So we moved towards Naran. We reached at Kunhaar River Point. It was really beautiful and enchanting.
The newlywed couple in front of a waterfall!
We then continued our journey for Naran Valley, where we stayed for two days. We stayed at Pine Hill Hotels in Naran which was absolutely amazing! The service was impeccable along with the view of the garden and sitting area. Food was served all three times and it was delicious. We took a stroll at night-time and visited the Naran Valley Shopping Street which displayed a variety of stalls consisting of cultural handicrafts and ornaments. For dinner, we had Chicken Karahi, after that tea and we took a long stroll to the shopping street.
The 21st of October was our second day in Naran. The initial plan was to go to Babusar top and Hunza Valley but due to heavy snowfall, we changed our route. On our way, we stopped at Naran Abshaar (Waterfall), which took away our breath. The sight was incredibly divine and the bliss pool at the bottom was varnish clear. We changed our route from Batakundi which is why we opted for Lake Saif ul Muluk. As the said lake was at a high altitude, we had to change our car for a 4x4 Jeep.
Saiful Muluk is a mountainous lake located at the northern end of the Kaghan Valley, near the town of Naran in the Saiful Muluk National Park. At an elevation of 3,224 M above sea level, the lake is located above the tree line and is one of the highest lakes in Pakistan. The clean and crystal clear water of this lake presents an amazing view when the reflection of the mountains is visible. There is a myth that fairies visit to take bath in the mid of the month. As we stood, we could see the glaciers from long, long away; thus deciding to go there. It was a 1.5 hours long walk for one side and a total of 3 hours. It was terribly cold as we reached there. Our 4 hours of stay at this lake were not enough as this was the best and unforgettable experience of our trip overall. The beauty of this lake was beyond all and was difficult to describe, the coldness of the water just added to the serenity of the place. It was an amazing experience.
On the 22nd of October, we left Naran to go to Shogran. On the way we stopped at Kaghan at a waterfall. The seating arrangement in the waterfall was the same as we found in “Kiwai Waterfall”. Again we stopped at Kiwai to offer the Jummah Prayers. After prayers, we continued for Shogran.
Shogran is a hill station situated on a green plateau in the Kaghan Valley. Upon reaching Shogran, we booked Green Park Hotel. It had an excellent view of the built-in park, cradled within the snow-capped peaks of the lesser Himalayas, thick pine forests and lush green meadows could be seen. As nighttime came around, heavy rain started to fall followed by rumbles of terrific lightning. The temperature dropped as rain fell and the loudness of rain thundering down echoed in the silence of the almost empty hotel room, it made us very frightened.
Bushra and Kamran admiring Pakistan’s beauty.
The 23rd of October was our second day in Shogran. After last night’s heavy rain, the weather totally changed, to a cold sunny morning. We planned to go to Siri Meadows and Paya Meadows. Siri Paya is a high mountain at an elevation of 3.058m (10,032ft) above sea level, located in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan. We went to Siri Point first by 4x4 Jeep as it was at high altitude and the road was very rocky. It was a mighty, beautiful mountain with a lush, green meadow laid out before it. As we further upwards, through the dangerous roads, we reached Paya Point and what a sight it was to see! Snow-covered the whole area making it look ethereal. It was extremely chilly and we covered ourselves for warmth. Snowballs were thrown here and there, and the view was a gorgeous array of snowcapped mountains. It looked heavenly, with the snow covering our surroundings like a soft blanket. The clouds hung low in the sky making it even more breathtaking! We then headed back to our hotel by 4PM and enjoyed a yummy lunch followed by a stroll in Shogran Park.
The next day, we left Shogran and set off for Malam Jabba. Malam Jabba is a beautiful hill station, 300 KM from Islamabad. It is 8700 ft. above sea level. It is located in the mountains of Karakoram Range. Our route was as follows: Khewau, Balakot, New Balakot, then via Hazara Motorway we went to Bisham where we had Chapli Kabab for lunch. It was a smooth and wonderful ride, as it was a newly constructed highway, and what added to the beauty was the heavy rain which continued until we reached Bisham.
We then stopped at Shangla Hills Waterfall and enjoyed its peace and serenity for a while. This was at an extremely high altitude and we went through the clouds. It felt surreal. Continuing our journey, we found a shortcut to Malam Jabba which saved 2 ½ hours of our long and horribly scary journey. After a tiring but exciting journey, we reached Malam Jabba where we stayed the night at Hotel Eagle Nest.
The Pakistan and India T20 cricket match was scheduled today, so after settling in our hotel, we got the opportunity to enjoy the match, after 8PM the temperature had gone down due to rainfall. After the second inning of the match, we ordered Chicken Biryani for dinner and the whole match was enjoyed with the amazing weather!
We set off for Main Malam Jabba Hill Point, early in the morning of 25th October. There, we sat in a chair lift which offered a dazzling and enthralling view of the whole hilltop from up above. Snow-covered the hilltops like a blanket, it looked magical. It was roughly a ride of 25 minutes but it was very enjoyable with the beautiful scenery.
By 1PM noon, we started our journey for Miandum from Malam Jabba and reached there by 4PM. After having Chapli Kabab and Daal Mash for lunch and checking in at Hotel Miandum Palace, we went to a river point in the evening and had yummy Chicken Karahi for dinner.
By 10AM, on the 26th of October, we left Miandum and headed for Trout Park. Swat River is the main source of trout fish, due to its popularity and demand in Pakistan and abroad, trout are also raised in farms and hatches. It was a huge fish farm, with fishes surrounding the whole area. You could buy it, and even hunt for it yourself and cook and fry the fish yourself.
Everyone posing for the camera while sitting in the cabin.
The fishes were neatly categorized according to size and species of trout. It was surreal and amazing. A lush green park was spread out as a sitting area to enjoy food. It had a delicious and yummy taste, one of the most enjoyable places in our trip.
Continuing our journey, we stopped again at Bahrain, where we found a hanging bridge. The sound of the water was almost frightening with how loud it was. We couldn’t stay there for long, as it was very scary. We reached Kalam Valley at 4PM and the temperature was 2°C, we were literally shivering, not used to the cold. Our hotel room’s balcony offered the view of Swat River, and its noise at nighttime was a mix of equally terrifying and pleasant.
On the 27th of October, we had eggs with paratha and chai on the balcony of our hotel room which offered a surreal view of the azure-blue lake, right in front of us. We then took off for Mohdandh Lake on a 4x4 land cruiser. On the way, we stopped at Dayaar Jungle. It supplies the most expensive wood used for woodwork. And we also saw ALLAH written naturally with the barks of some trees, SubhanAllah! Continuing the journey to Mohdandh Lake, we stopped again at Osho River Point. The weather was sunny and the cold water added to the peace of the place.
We reached Mohdandh Lake after 3 hours. It was undeniably cold with -1 degree Celsius weather. Snow had fallen already creating a peaceful and tranquil mood. After some time, we headed back to Kalam, stopping at a waterfall where we filled fresh, cool water from the flowing shower. We reached Kalam Hotel by 7PM and had lentils and biryani for dinner.
We left Kalam for Rawalpindi on 28th October at 10AM. After having breakfast, we shopped at Kalam shopping street. We had chapli kabab, roash and lobia for lunch at a hotel located in Malakand. We reached Islamabad at 5:30PM and offered Maghrib Prayer in Faisal Mosque. We also visited the Late President of Pakistan Zia-Ul-Haq’s Tomb. For dinner, we went to Monal Restaurant which was located on top of Margalla Hills. The entire Islamabad could be seen from the top of the hill. After dinner, we left Monal for Pine View Hotel where we stayed the night in Islamabad.
Our train was scheduled for 1:30PM on 29th October. We left our hotel at 12 for Rawalpindi Railway Station. However, the train was late and arrived at 2PM. Moreover, due to political dharna, our train changed its route which led to the delay of 8.5 hours. We were supposed to reach Karachi by 12 noon on 30th October but the delay caused us to reach at 9:30 at night. Even though we were extremely tired, the whole trip was amazing and felt like a peaceful break from the regularities of normal life! It was an exhilarating and enjoyable experience, Alhamdullilah, the span of 10 days, wonderfully well-spent!