Rain spells clear dust to beautify immaculate Margalla Hills
By Mohammad Saleem Shahid
Though with gloomy memories of the air crash victims, Margalla Hills seem shinning with its lush green eye catching view after the monsoons rains washed away layers of dust, thus restoring its picturesque identity. Families and individuals rush to various points and tracks at the Margalla Hills for sightseeing, jogging, hiking, and trekking around the capital.
“We take a break from the stress we used to have while at work and home and visit Margalla Hills picnic points Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa and a few other on way to these places as our kids really enjoy having been there. We enjoyed a pollution free environment there, particularly after the rains,” said Ms Shaheen Gul, a government employee while returning back from Margall Hills with his family.
Margalla Hills attracts regular hikers as it provides a network of trails spreading in 120 kilometers and visitors from twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad and rest of the country. Who ever turns to Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa viewpoints enjoys a bird's eye view of Islamabad. The landscape changes dramatically when one enters covert realm of the Margalla Hills, leaving the metallic road behind. All of a sudden one finds oneself in a different panorama view. Margalla Hills, the foothills of the great Himalayas, are full of rows of flame trees, jacaranda and hibiscus. Roses, Jasmine and bougainvillea fill the scenic spots. The beauty of Margalla Hills cannot be completed until its animal species are taken into account as the kids enjoy feeding moneys on the way though some wild animals are found deep in the Hills.
“One can find the highest point of the Margalla Hills, at an altitude of 1,604 meters, once one walks from Pir Sohawa for an hour along a nice trail that starts adjacent to the Pir Sohawa Forest Rest House, up to radio antenna at the top. To get an inside glimpse of beauty, an interesting one-day trek will be worthwhile, starting from Khanpur Dam and crossing the Margalla Hills to reach Pir Sohawa,” said Mr Sajid Latif, a trekker from Islamabad.
Margalla lovers who name them ‘friends of nature’ worry about depleting bit of the beauty of Margalla as they request both the citizens and the authorities to protect Margalla from degradation. They say frequent fire incidents damage the ecosystem and the beauty of these Hills.
Historians Alberuni and Ferishta and Mughal Empror Jehangir have also mentioned Margallas in their travelogues. Interestingly Margalla Hills happens to be a historic pass between ancient capital of Gandhar civilization, Taxila and the incumbent capital of Pakistan, Islamabad. There is an obelisk right on the top of the Pass, built in 1890 in memory of Brig. Gen. John Nicholson (died on 23 September 1857) of British army, by his colleagues.
A small part of the ancient Shahi (Royal) Road can be seen just across the pass, left of G.T. Road. This road was first built by the Persians in 516 BC and later developed by Sher Shah Suri in 1540s. An inscription on the western side of this stone pavement shows that it was again repaired in 1672 AD. Margalla Hills are spread over 31,000 acres, out of the 40,000 acres of land designated for National Park stretching from Rawal Dam and Shakarparian to the boundaries of the Khyber Phakhtoonkhwa.
All the four seasons can be enjoyed at full especially spring brings an exotic beauty as there are plenty of flowers which create a feeling to be in a scented garden all the time. Spending time in Islamabad and exploring Margalla Hills is a treat in itself.