Murree was once a tiny little town up in the mountains just an hour out of Islamabad. Small, remote and not-so-developed, it was once what can be called “scenic”. Islamabad is itself a pretty sight, nestled comfortably at the foot of the Margalla hills.
Murree was the summer capital of the British raj in the Punjab Province of British Subcontinent. Once a popular tourist destination, Murree is often referred to as the “Queen of Hills,” a term coined by the English who seemed to have always had a penchant or leaning towards monarchical terminology (No Offense Meant…. seriously). These days however, the place is not so pretty anymore. Over development has made main Murree into a big market place that is crowded on a weekday and impossible on a weekend. It is such a mish-mash of humanity that it is easy to over look the little charms that once made it one of my favorite places to visit, that still happen to be there, just harder to spot. For instance, a truck stop named “Charra Pani” were fresh water spouts from the mountain side half way up the road between Islamabad and Murree.
Charra Pani has always, or for as long as I can remember, been an essential stop on the journey. Cars stop there to cool off the strained engines and get their cars washed by the many local boys, using the water from the spring. One time, a few years back, my father actually pulled out a Ghost crab from the spring! And it was a good decent size, healthy white one too. The other attraction is the “dhabas” opposite the spring where we park our cars. a Dhaba is basically a truck cafe/hotel type of a place, serving local food at low prices. Not necessarily known for hygiene, they none the less have the best damn Pakoras and Doodh-Patti tea that can be found.
The photograph above is of a stand outside one such dhaba.
This photograph is of the Pakora guy that makes the yummy fried doughy things.
After this stop we make way higher up and as we get higher, the wind starts to get cooler, and the windows roll down and the rush of cold wind against sweaty summer skin is probably one of the best feelings in the world. One really must take the time to make small stops here and there along the road to marvel at how genuinely stunning the place is! Here are a few more examples:
Post to be continued in Part 2: Murree, The Tourist Trap I Love