Starting our Journey
Joy and excitement was beyond any description when we saw four beautiful lakes scattered in vast panorama, surrounded by lush green hills and pastures and The killer mountain "Nanga Parbat" standing in the back drop.
I was passing through the Saral Gali and the nature rewarded me for my tiring effort with a splendid and magnificent panorama stretching 360 degrees.I was accompanied by my other friends and we started our journey for Jalkhad in the morning.Jalkhad is a small bazaar with 4 or 5 shops and a small hotel which offers tea and snacks for tourists.The Jalkhad stop is situated over the Narran-Chilas jeep road.This jeep road was neglected and in its worst condition but after the 2005 earth quake that devastated the Northern Areas and the Kargil conflict with India, the roads have improved considerably since then. FWO and the locals have worked hard to develop these roads.The road divides in to two from Jalkhad.
One road leading to Chilas joining the Kurakuram Highway and the other one leading to Sharda in Kashmir and to Muzzaferabad.Up to Jalkhad the road runs side by side with the River Kunhar. A fascinating yet roller coaster ride began from Naran and far ahead the road seems to wind through a dense alpine forests up to Bata Kundi is a small but lush green and peaceful valley.One road from Bata Kundi diverges to the lush green meadows of Lalazar. And the main road towards Jalkhad our temporary dwelling.
A night in a Camp
The jeep driver has a good hand with the wheel and a resident of the same area where we were going.An expert driver skillfully dodging the pot holes in the road. Porters and ponies were present at Jalkhad for the next part of our journey.Most of these potters were locals and were residents of the nearby valleys.We left our jeeps just before the Nori Nar Pass and started our trek.At first the Ascent was easy and gentle but as we marched forward things became a little difficult.
The trail was tricky and on top of that we were trekking at almost 3500 meters altitude. Guided by porters we passed through the lush green meadows and pastures with flowers of different colors.After a hard trek on the difficult terrain, we were so tired that we couldn't establish camp, our porters erected the tents in no time.The night cold and dark but the sky was bedazzled with gazillions stars. for me it was a new experience,a clear sky with shiny stars twinkling,the effect was enchanting and spellbinding.
Despite that beauty, we couldn't sleep properly because of the high altitude and lack of oxygen, and the other factor was extremely cold temperature.
our tents were just below the Saral Gali pass which is approximately 4000 meter.The air was thin due to lack of oxygen it made breathing difficult.Lush green pastures were also consuming oxygen and made the situation even worse. We started our journey to the Saral Gali pass in the morning the next day. The trek was a quite harder than our previous day trekking.The pass was within a short distance,and we were at the top of the Saral Gali pass within one and a half hour.A beautiful lake was present with all its charm towards North West of the pass. It lay there, serene with splendid beauty, like a jewel of medieval times hidden in the vast landscape.
The Lost Paradise
Atmosphere was mystic and enchanting there was a deep solitude and calmness all around. I wish I could meditate there, but felt that urge within my soul. I had to move as a long distance has to be covered. As we reached the descending slopes of Saral Gali pass, it was like we were standing in the middle of a lost paradise. There were Four lakes of sapphire blue water shinning under the sun, Green meadows and pastures stretched as far as the eye could see.Picturesque pastures and beautiful landscape surrounded us.
Patches of snow from winter still giving additional charm to the lakes.Pebbles of different colors and sizes reflected in the shallow crystal clear waters. flowers of different colors swaying in the pastures with majestic Nanga Parbat in all its grandeur looming magnificently in the Back drop. The blue sky has white patches of clouds. Spellbound we experienced the glory and beauty of supreme Nature in all its grandeur. And there we prayed to Almighty silently.
Memories to live on
Half an hour hiking from this spell bound place, equally beautiful and crystal clear, stretched another lake with all its beauty like a princesses waiting for her prince. The water was crystal clear with a vast shallow shore. Its tranquil waters relatively green and small clusters of cold water fish swimming joyfully, along the surface. What a splendid day it was and a once in a lifetime experience, meditate and soothe and relax.we were calm and speechless on seeing this spell binding beauty, landscape became a carpet of lush green pastures with multi color flowers in which pink color was dominating. It was like a wonderland or fairyland whatever you call it but it was fascinating and enchanting.As soon as i saw the Jalkhad road my heart become restless. Beauty is but short lived, but I believe that it stays forever in the eye and heart of those who love and praise the beauty of nature.The author (Abdul Razaq Vance) is lecturer of zoology at government post graduate college, and has widely traveled north Pakistan.
Photography by:Qasim Ali