This weekend I went to Abbottabad in search of reprieve from the scorching heat and the trip was really worth it! Here’s a small writeup on my visit.
Abbottabad is an old garrison town of Pakistan founded by and named after Major James Abbott in 1853.
We arrived to find the weather humid but pleasant, and I was hit by a wave of nostalgia as soon as I entered the city. As a child I used to frequently visit this city with family and I have many memories associated with it. Owing to the same reason, I couldn’t help but notice the dramatic change this city has undergone during the last 10-15 years. Where once, it was a quiet, peaceful town, filled with greenery, now it’s crowded with cars and pollution. The city center reminded me of the old Jinnah Super Market in Islamabad some 15 years back, when it was the only place the young crowd (mostly guys) hung around for fun. You won’t find a lot of women out and about which is something that will perhaps change in the next few years or so (I really hope it does). However, I’d be even happier if the men of this lovely city learn some modesty and stop subjecting women to their shameless blatant stares. I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait another 10 years for that!
Our first sightseeing stop was Ilyasi Mosque, which is considered a major tourist attraction in the district. I remember visiting the mosque as a child and couldn’t help but notice that it’s undergone so much change now, that it looks like any regular mosque. The pakora vendors outside the mosque however are thriving! The stall owners have crammed metal tables and plastic chairs to offer an eating area of sorts to visitors and you will find scores of young men (note again there will be no women here) lounging around here having pakoras and chapli kebabs. Sitting there, I couldn’t help but compare that place to the road side cafes abroad. While you won’t find even a spec of dust on the tables in those cafes, these roadside establishments were swarming with flies. Small girls were moving between tables trying to earn a buck by selling bubblegum. The serving tables were dilapidated and dirty but the pakoras were awesome!
The next day, we went to Thandiani, a popular hill station, almost an hour’s drive up from Abbottabad. The ride up is tricky but the views along the way and the final destination are marvelous! The landscape reminded me of The Shire from Lord Of The Rings and half the time we imagined that we might cross paths with Frodo or Sam Gamgee! 😀 All through my journey up, I kept wondering, “My country is so beautiful, we need to make the world recognize and appreciate it!” Here’s a glimpse of it: