Less Travelled Roads of Pakistan- “Thandiani’s Far Pavilions”
In 2005 earthquake destroyed the villages around this place. In 2008 I visited this place called “Thandiani” making us realize the importance of our time in lives. Reminiscing what seemed to be a visit to a heaven, which is still as fresh as it was four years ago. According to Wikipedia Thandiani means “Very Cold” in native language.
At the top of the world 8000ft above sea levels, located at the heart of Abbottabad District, lies scenic beauty of our culture, bringing peace and calm to one’s hectic life. Though Abbottabad is now known for a place where undercover mission took place. Nonetheless I am here to recount my experience with the people and a way back to our real values and people in a small village.
Summers of 2008 would have been incomplete if my uncle and sisters would not have made their minds at the last minute to turn left on our route. Left because it led to the top in a decisive moment. When I looked over my shoulders behind, we already were ahead for our destination from that post sign. After travelling past some of the world’s dangerous roads where I shut my eyes not to look over through the car’s rear, I was praying deeply about our safety. Note if anyone of you is planning a trip to Thandiani, please be informed that you must be a great driver. As there is no health or car insurance available in those mountains where a risk will echo only once. Also if you think this is an adventure, think again as you will encounter road cuts that are deep and narrow. That is why due to bad weather conditions (heavy snowfall), the roads are only opened for six months according to the locals. Anyhow, continuing with the journey we crossed 5000ft but it seemed like we were at the sky.
I literally felt the car crossing through the clouds. These pictures were taken from a cell camera but they depicted my thoughts. It started to get cold and breezy as we crossed these roads. Finally when we reached our destination, I had to actually wear my sweatshirt to cover myself in the summers of June. The real adventure began when I started conversing with the local village people about the place that was their home in the factual sense. Because they did not let an earthquake affect their affiliation from it. Though the scars were visible from their eyes. Back then I was not that clever to record what they were saying or even capture their photos as I was mesmerized by the nature’s beauty.
And so I was only interested in either asking my sister to capture those moments for me or experimental camera clicking. Along the way, there was a road, a “gali” that led to a track where people trekked, sat and were in solace. It was the tip of the world for me. It was the beginning of a discovery called “Far Pavilion’s Resort” A small dhabba where one could get the world’s finest Dhaal and Nan to eat. One naan is going to feed your stomach. The chief’s hospitality welcomed us with warm hands and made the lunch for us when it was almost their closing time. The chief told us that around the world the Dhaal is quite famous and tourists usually eat till they last or either pack some it with their remaining journeys.
The statement above became a reality as I actually craved for more of Dhaal Naan. That was only one plate of food. Others gave me that look to relax and to be satisfied with what I had. But their haandi got finished and it was the closing time. Hence we left the dhaaba and continued our walk. Next I saw two horses playing with each other and running like little kids chasing eachother.That’s primarily because I never expected horses at this height. Even the cows/buffaloes were at an ease. One donkey included. A note to self: do not mess with those cows that at first seem friendly but does not exceed your expectations. They literally followed me on the rocky steep. The stones on the green ground did not look that eye catchy, as they hit my feet. However when I got some time off from hiding, I found myself sitting at the edge of the mountain. Not that deep but a scenic view. Quiet and calm. One of the best things about Thandiani was that it was covered with thick packs of trees everywhere making it clear of pollution and noise. It made you feel your own heartbeat and existence. It was a piece of a nature’s gift to Pakistan which unfortunately is not commonly discovered. Call it our ignorance or lack or priority this place had the best of everything. It even had a church which was destroyed with the remains of it scattered around in places. A small church but represented a symbol of hope. Our hope and belief in going through a journey in discovering our roots and culture instated within us. The journey ended on a sunset and we had to leave as it was getting dark. Not dark enough to see our way back to the non-existent places of our journey.