Haroon Ashraf

  • TFor a long time now, I firmly believe that there are two types of minds; good at numbers and good at words. I know right now most of you must be thinking of a third kind “good for nothing”, and trying your best to put me in that category. I very much appreciate and share your great ...

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  • THazy days of winter had given in to the bright spring. It was a sunny day in the middle of March. I and Sulman found ourselves wandering in narrow and deserted streets of the old city of Chiniot. The streets were deserted at this time of the day because it was Friday and just like other small ...

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  • TLast few years have seen a great surge in local tourism towards Pakistan’s beautiful northern areas. The hype created by social media, tour companies springing like mushrooms and reconstruction of Karakorum Highway from Raikot Bridge all the way to Khujerab Pass under CPEC, has contributed to ...

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  • TFrom Yadgar Chowk in the middle of the city, a long walk called Bazaar Kalan leads all the way to historical Gor Khatri. Narrow lanes branching out on both sides of the bazaar opened up into old neighbourhoods of Peshawar. Some old mansions were on the main road, many others inside the maze of old ...

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  • TPerhaps the best part of travelling is getting to know new people and ending up being good friends with some of them. On a distant journey to interior Baltistan last year, I became friends with Dr Ahmad and I’ve mentioned in a previous travelogue that regardless of his profession as a ...

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  • TBack in the middle of November, I came across a heart-warming post at The Karakorum Club. A Dutch traveler Lucas Beths who apparently had been roaming around Balochistan and the beautiful north was all praise about the country and its people. In gratitude, I sent him a message inviting him to ...

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  • TThe road from Astore to Deosai gradually descends from high mountains to beautiful lush green valleys. Small villages and fields pass by and the river flows in the opposite direction all along. The more you travel in interior Baltistan the more beautiful it gets. After some four hours on the bumpy ...

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  • TI’ve always wanted to stop in the middle of a journey and venture a little off the road to see what lies hidden in the unreachable, to get the feeling of some place which is left unseen or unfelt in the rush of a road journey. It was a late July evening and we were stranded in the middle of a ...

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  • TIt was a freezing night in the middle of June. I and Mateen had dragged our chairs to the suspension bridge hanging between PTDC motel Naran and the forest and villages on the other side of River Kunhar. We were sitting in the middle of the bridge and serene waters of the river were flowing beneath ...

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  • T We were standing reluctant in Karimabad bazaar, across the valley from Altit Fort which we had visited earlier that day, and the steep hike to Baltit Fort seemed nothing less than a summit to Mount Everest. Almost the entire group had disappeared behind the turns of the road. Our ...

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  • TOn our second morning in Hunza, I woke up early, made myself a nice cup of coffee and sat in the spacious dining hall at Eagle’s Nest, trying to make some sense of the sensory overload called Hunza. I was at an unbelievably beautiful place. That day was reserved to explore the beautiful ...

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  • TTragedy struck us at dawn. We were travelling with a slow pace and destination was Hunza, Pakistan’s farthest abode of culture, civilization and nature’s abundant beauty in the north. From Mansehra we ditched the painfully long and boring Besham-Chilas road and took a chance at the ...

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  • TIt was our second morning in Chitral. On our way to the hotel for breakfast we explored the Royal Fort and Mosque. The main entrance to the Fort is a Mughal style gateway. Wild grass on its threshold told us that it wasn’t in use any more. Stone walls of the fort were plastered with mud. The ...

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  • TA beautiful night had fallen in the capital. I was sitting on the stairs of Pakistan Monument in the heart of Islamabad. There’s this beautiful angle from where you can see the city’s all famous landmarks. Up on the hills a galaxy of lights from the famous restaurant Monal, the white ...

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  • TTravelling abroad is becoming increasingly difficult for common Pakistanis and the situation is likely to worsen in the time to come. Embassies simply do not issue visas unless there is a strong reason to travel or the person is well travelled and well placed in his home country. Travelling to the ...

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  • TThe rising sun was reflecting in the car side mirror. I was parked at Babu Sabu exit of the motorway outside Lahore and waiting for Asif who had not taken my punctuality seriously. When he finally arrived, still more asleep than awake, we were already an hour behind schedule. I had plans for Rohtas ...

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  • TThe sun was setting and we were on our way to Bahawalpur. My guide Suhail had an excellent playlist of old Hindi songs chalte chalte yunhi koi mil gaya tha, ye mera deewanapan hai, janay wo kese log they, raina beeti jae and so on. Music and the evening air were intoxicating and the magic went ...

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  • TWhat I loved most about southern Punjab were its narrow rural roads making their way through the heart of countryside along fields and orchards, connecting the lives of small villages and towns. We were driving on one such road to Ahmedpur Sharqiya leaving Derawar Fort and Cholistan desert ...

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  • TAfter spending a beautiful night in Cholistan, the very next day my friends took the train back to Lahore and I proceeded to Fatima Fertilizer Company near Sadiqabad, Punjab’s last town before Sind. My sister who lives there had been asking me for ages to come and stay with them. If I ...

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  • TIt would’ve been just another boring weekend if I hadn’t insisted that Anwar and Lincoln stay for another half an hour that Friday night, for in those final moments of our reunion, Anwar came up with this beautiful idea of making a quick trip to his native Rahimyar Khan. I have such ...

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  • TWe were making our way through busy roads of Sheikhupura. Out of the curve of a road, the scene widened and mighty walls and bastions of Jahangir’s Fort came into view. This seventeenth century monument is closed for public due to its extremely precarious condition. Its caretakers were quite ...

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  • TAs the hot summers recede and give way to autumn and winters, the mood and flavor of recreation changes. While life is nothing short of a struggle in plains with the heat and humidity of summer months, winters are very pleasant. Lahore has a colorful season of cultural and touristic activities in ...

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  • TDown memory lane, I recall that after an amazing trip to Skardu and Hunza in June 1997, we travelled to Azad Kashmir the same year in December. Not to the famous Neelum Valley but on a road less taken to Kotli sector. Father was suffering from arthritis by then and his knees were giving him a tough ...

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  • TI have become a travel freak lately. In a country like Pakistan where people don’t travel and explore much, it is quite understandable that my humble travels have made me notorious. I’ve been getting a lot of knowing looks and smiles from my relatives and friends, in addition to the ...

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  • TThanks to Archeological Survey of India’s online 360 degrees walkthroughs, I have spent the past few days visiting landmark Mughal monuments on my screen. These include the Royals Forts of Delhi, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri, the Taj Mahal and tombs of Humayun, Akbar, Maryam Zamani and Itimad ud ...

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  • T “Touristan invites you on a trip to Skardu. For all the intrepid explorers and those interested in sight-seeing, this promises to be a once in a lifetime experience”. I was waiting for those magical words for God knows how long. After spending some beautiful five days on ...

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