Travel

Trip of a Lifetime: Gorakh Hills

Trip of a lifetime?

In Gorakh Hills?

For those of you who don’t know, Gorakh Hills is in Sindh and yes, it was a trip of a lifetime because it was the first (or second?) time ever (first (or second) trip ever) that I took with my friends and IT IS A BIG DEAL in the part of the world where I come from. Lulz.

So if you, like me, belong from a fairly decent household in Pakistan, you can understand exactly why travelling alone with friends is such a big deal. However, after much convincing I got the permission and although it was back in 2015, that I took this trip with some of the best people I made friends with at work, I still reflect back on it with much fondness. It really was a great trip filled with fun, laughter, tons of pictures and COLD- yes it was freezing cold in Sindh, up on the mountains.

A little about Gorakh Hills

So Gorakh Hills is a hill station located northwest of Dadu city, at an elevation of 5,689 feet. You can say it is almost at a distance of 500 kms from Karachi in the Kirthar Moutains. You can travel by car or bus till the last town of Wahi Pandi at the foot of the mountains but from thereon you have to ascend by jeeps as the roads are quite rough.

Ascend towards Gorakh Hill
View on the way to our ascend
Mountain views on the way to Gorakh Hill
The glorious mountain views on the way

Gorakh in Sanskrit means shepherding, spefically in difficult pastures, which could be the reason of the name Gorakh Hills and practically true because tribesmen do bring their herds for summer grazing here. Locals believe that the word Gorakh comes from the Balochi word “gurkh” which means wolf, and those were quite in abundance in the Keerthar range before and a threat to cows and sheep. If you want to read more on the history and origin of Gorakh Hills,I Found a very interesting post that you can read here.

My Experience

It is hard to believe that at this point of writing the blog post, it has been almost 4 years since we visited, but honestly I remember it like it happened just last year. So we booked our tour with RnB Tours and I have to say it was a very pleasant and comfortable experience. We left early in the morning (like around 6) I remember it was still dark when we assembled at the meeting point and started our journey. By afternoon we were there, sitting across the table waiting fon our lunch. On our way there, we made a stop for breakfast, so don’t think they starved us. Lolz. We made ample stops (for food/washrooms/views/pictures) on our way to stretch our legs so I will have to say that the journey was well planned and not haphazard in any way that it put us behind schedule or anything.

Early morning tea
Early morning tea

You will find that there is just one guesthouse there and a couple of rooms where you can relax, but the guest house provides some great food. We chose to rest in the rooms and since we were a group we took one room, 4-5 people could easily share a room. There were tents too, and people did spend their night out in the wild. If you can stand the cold, I am sure it would be an experience.

Guesthouse at Gorakh Hill
View of the guesthouse
Guest rooms at Gorakh Hill
View of guest rooms

I do recall us going into a partial food coma and dozing off quite peacefully at night. But wait, don’t think that all we had was food and rest. no no no. We retired for the night only after we were done chilling around a bonfire, singing songs, playing antakhshari and enjoying the cold night breeze.

Bonfire at Gorakh Hill
Bonfire night

Basically when you are with fiends, every moment feels blissful. In the morning after breakfast, we took the short trek upwards to the summit, which has a beautiful, no, beyond beautiful view of the mountains and the surrounding areas. (wait for it:p)

The trek to Gorakh Hills
The way leading to the top
GorakhHill views
Views of Gorakh Hill
Gorakh Hills at sunset
Sunset at Gorakh Hill

We caught the sunset at Gorakh Hills and it was mesmerizing to say the least. To be honest, I was just too tired to catch the sunrise but i am sure it would have been sight to behold from these hills.

Mesmerizing sunset at Gorakh Hills
Mesmerizing sunset at Gorakh Hills

It was a weekend trip which means spending two nights there and returning on Sunday. We did not have to worry about food at any point, not even during the travel as RnB made sure the stops were well managed. We even stopped for lunch on our way back on Sunday.

So if you are in Sindh and haven’t experiences this site as yet, I suggest you do. Gorakh Hills has a calm, peaceful vibe where you can unwind and bask in the mountainous silence.

Have you been there? How was your experience? I would love to know!

Travel

10 Best Things To Do in Islamabad (Part 2)

Continuing from Part 1, here are the remaining best things to do in Islamabad:

6. Go to Saidpur Village

Saidpur Village, Islamabad.
Saidpur Village
Hindu Temple, Saidpur Village, Islamabad
Hindu Temple (previous visit)

Okay this tiny little village is a very interesting place. It is an actual village that they’ve integrated into the city and so it’s also very picturesque. It has a very famous restaurant; Des Pardes that you can visit with friends or family at night, the place is quite full so please do make a reservation. Also, you can explore the remains of a mandir and gurdwara that stand opposite to each other, quite interesting, I must add !

7. Visit Saeed Book Bank

Saeed Book Bank, Islamabad.
Inside Saeed Book Bank

So bookworms like me will understand the importance of visiting a good book store in another city, even if for just the feels ! My visit to Islamabad is incomplete without taking a stroll at Saeed Book Bank. Whether I buy more books form there or not, it is a book heaven guysss, trust me !! I once found a very cute edition of “Life of Pi” and I kid you not, it’s a must read book if you haven’t already!

8. Stroll at Jinnah Super

Tea at Jinnah Super,Islamabad
Tandoori chae at Jinnah Supper

Agar kuch nahe karna lekin kuch karna bhe hai tu bus Jinnah super pe utarjao and take a walk around. It’s one of the happening places where you will find many shops, cafes, and restaurants. Grab a bite, do some shopping (or window shopping) and end the walk with tandoori chai at the corner.

9. Take a walk at Fatima Jinnah Park

Jinnah Park, F9,Islamabad
Jinnah Park

If you like going for walks, Fatima Jinnah park is an absolute must visit. It’s one of the biggest parks in Islamabad aur wahan walk krne ka kia hi maza hai. We managed to go just once for a bit. A whole round there will take you an hour or so but taking out that time to visit it, will not go in vain. Khuli fiza will do you good, I tell you ! (wese tu poray Islamabad mein he khuli fiza hai, lulz!)

10. Pay a visit to Faisal Mosque

Faisal Mosque view from Daman-e-Koh, Islamabad
View of Faisal Mosque from Daman-e-Koh

Known for its unique architecture, the Faisal Mosque is a must visit, when you are in Islamabad. It is one of the biggest mosques in Pakistan and was one of the biggest in the world until 1993, to be taken over by mosques in the MENA region.

So guys, this is my list of the top 10 best things to do in Islamabad that will make you leave a tiny piece of your heart in this beautiful city. I kid you not. There are many more and I would love to know if you’ve enjoyed these or any others? What’s your favorite thing about Islamabad?

I truly believe every city is beautiful with its own soul and I love soaking it up a bit in me when I visit. Happy travels!

Travel

10 Best Things to do in Islamabad (Part 1)

No one can deny the fact that Islamabad is a very beautiful city but it has a reputation for being a city that sleeps early. And if you’re from Karachi you miss that gehma gehmi a whole lot! but let me tell you, Islamabad has changed a lot since your buchpan and mine.

best things to do in Islamabad
View of Islamabad

This year my visit to Islamabad- after a hiatus of 2 years, led me to leave a bit of my heart there. It was just so so enjoyable. I mean apart from admiring the beautiful mountains and lush green scenes, if you indulge in the following activities like I did, I am sure you will not be able to get over it soon. So, here goes:

1.Visit Lok Virsa

If you are any bit interested in Pakistan’s culture and history, this is an exhaustive museum to re-visit your roots. Great for families and super informative for kids. The museum was established in 1982 and showcases the living cultures of Pakistan. It is located on the Shakarparian Hills.

Lok Virsa or Heritage museum
Heritage Museum

It opens around 10 am which is the best time to visit as you will find the least crowd at that time. We reached there around 10:30 and believe me many people had started coming in. The museum is surrounded by art, crafts and jewelry shops so keep a bit of cash if you’re interested. You will find jewelry relatively lower priced here so I recommend that you purchase it from here instead of the malls in Islamabad. oh and they also have different art related programs running, so keep a look out if you’re interested in that kind of stuff!

2. Go for hiking

Half way to top, good view point of Islamabad City

If you’re from Karachi (like me) or any other such city that is devoid of places for physical activities and you love them, then you can’t really miss out on hiking on one of the 6 trails in Islamabad. You can go early in the morning or even at evening (be sure to check the temperature though) and you will love it. The serene view from the top, the rush of climbing uphill, taking in some fresh air, and observing the greenery are just some of the benefits of hiking. While you are at it, you might as well take trail 3 which leads straight to Monal and have a mighty meal!

3. Have Tea at Chikachino

Chikachino, open space food spot in Islamabad
Chikachino- good snacking in open air

Ok the best thing I enjoyed this time in Islamabad was having chai and fries, samosas and pakoras at chikachino! Took me a while to get used to the name kher, Islamabad ka pyara mausam ho aur thandi hawa mein beth ker you enjoy your cup of karak-chai, iss se behtreen aur kuch ho nhi sakta. I legit made a hat trick of going there. Raat mein dekh bhaal k jana bhye, suna hai jaga nhi milti.

4. Grab nashta at Khoka Khola

Khoka Khola cafe
Sweet spot for your cravings

In the past two or three years many new cafes have sprung up here which have really turned the scene on. We had breakfast in Islamabad at a couple of places, chaaye khana, cheema and chatta ( known for their desi parathe and alo salan with sohan halwa) but by far the most enjoyable was at khola khola. The décor, the ambience, their food dishes in which they serve their food (big thaals with little pyalas of portioned breakfast) everything was too good.

5. Visit Dam-ine-Koh

Daman-e-Koh viewpoint
Daman-e-Koh view point

Islamabad gae aur Islamabad k nazare nhi lie oper se, tu phir tu zyadti hai bhyee! There are a couple of spots in Islamabad which give great city views (even from Monal and there’s zero point also) but we visited Daman-e-Koh and it was quite beautiful and busy. Grab a bite with the monkeys- there are so many claiming the place it’s really fun to watch them. But please be nice to them yaar.

Part 2 coming up in a while, tell me have you been to Islamabad and how was your experience?

Travel

3 Basic Etiquettes when Visiting Someone

When travelling, usually our first preference is staying over at a relative’s place instead of a hotel to make our trip budget friendly. If your travel is specially to meet friends or family in another city, then again I think it is extremely important to follow some basic etiquette.

If you’re staying there for a longer time period, say more than a week, here are my 3 tips to make the stay comfortable and enjoyable for all parties involved:

  1. Offer to Cook/Split the Bill
cook to help guests with the workload.

Okay first things first, we all know how huge food is in our culture and when friends and family get together then dinners and lunches involving everyone are inevitable. Whether its home cooked meals, you’re dining in, or going out, help when and where you can. Maybe offer to host a dinner/lunch, split the bill when eating out, offer to do the dishes at home or simply ask to cook a dish or two. Trust me guys, your host will love you for it and welcome you back for years to come!

2. Pitch in for the Petrol

Usually when you’re staying at someone’s place they offer to drive you around to the places you want to visit. So while your hosts are being generous, why not ease their burden a bit and pitch in for the petrol. Also, if you’re driving their car around, drive it like it’s a brand new Mercedes you just got your hands on, (for obvious reasons of course) or offer a car wash.

3. Be Organized

When you’re living in someone else’s space, make sure you stay as organized as you can with your belongings. This is because of two things: first, you will avoid losing your belongings this way (someone could just put it somewhere else in an effort to clear the place, leaving you asking around or worse losing it, because you didn’t know where it was in the first place). Know where your stuff is. Secondly, it will help your host to at least not worry about organizing your things along with theirs when it’s time to tidy up the house.

What do you think is the right way to live, when you are staying at someone else’s place. I’d love to know your thoughts and practices !