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Islamabad's Nearest Hill Station
Oct 28, 2004 06:59 PM 4431 Views
(Updated Oct 28, 2004 06:59 PM)


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Sallam Alaikum !

Today I seem to be in a reviewing mood. Sitting on my Laptop with a glass of my favourite single malt, I shall regale you about another of my favourite hill stations.

This is very near to Islamabad & hence nipping in and out is no problem.

Murree, at 2,240 meters (7,400 feet), is only an hour's drive north-east of Islamabad. Its cold pine forests, amidst magnificent mountain scenery, make it the first choice for a day's outing from the capital. The Galis are a string of hill resorts along the ridge between Murree and Abbottabad, on the Karakoram Highway.

Founded as a hill station by the British in 1851, Murree was the summer headquarters of the government of Punjab until 1876, when the honour was transferred to Simla. Murree remained, however, a little bit of England, complete with The Mall for promenading, parks, churches, schools, clubs and cafes. Since independence, Murree has once again become the summer retreat of the governor of Punjab and, since Islamabad became the capital of Pakistan in 1962, has expanded rapidly.

Murree is lovely all year round. In summer it is cool - even chilly in the evening - and rain is common. In winter, the snow is piled high along the sides of the streets. But it is extremely popular with Punjabis escaping the heat of the plains in summer, so is too crowded for comfort from late May to early September, especially at weekends. To beat the crowds and still enjoy the walks, the best time to go in April-May and September-October.

Murree spreads along the top of a ridge for about five kilometres (three miles). At the north-east end is Kashmir Point, with views across the valley of the Jhelum River into Azad Kashmir. At the south-west end is Pindi Point, looking back towards Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Between the two runs The Mall, at the centre of which is the main shopping area, where most people congregate. Numerous roads leave.

The Mall and either follow the contours of the ridge or descend to the principal road. Promenading and shopping are Murree's main amusements, or riding in the new chair-lifts, one from Bansara Gali (below Murree) to Pindi Point, the other to the top of Patriata hill (on the road to Karor); both rides cost about Rs. 50 and take half an hour with a change from open chair-lift to the enclosed bubble in the middle.

Good buys in Murree are Kashmiri shawls, furs, walking sticks, fruits and nuts. Murree's pistachio nuts are reputed to be the best in Pakistan.Begum Musharraf just loves those pistachios.

I have a villa there left to me by my good friend Nawaz Sharif.It has all the amenities that one can desire.Telling you more would be revealing State secrets.

Anyway,now that relations between our two great Countries are really thawing,I look forward to your visits here and sample the delights as well as the pistachios for your self.

May Allah be with you.

Khuda Hafeez.



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