Trees are tall, mountains are steep, roads are curvy, temperature is 11°c, altitude is 8630.00 ft, rain is recurrent, clouds assemble here and people are friendly. It is the one and only Changla Gali. It is the summer mansion of a very dear friend of mine Mr. Shahid Mahmood. Although it is a ritual for me to make an annual journey here, just like a bee visits a flower. I was going to skip it this year due to the pandemic. However, his considerate call moved me to make my way up the mountains. The respect of friendship proved stronger than the perils of the pandemic and I was once again acting like a backpacker cordially attending his call.
Both of us respect this great heritage house very much, so would you. Once you see it. This is a historic property built in the early sixties, conceived by a British bride of a local lord. Mr. Shahid has maintained its originality to its every brick. Its geography is as unique as its facade. It is a qualification in itself to spend some time here.
Weather rotates here like a bicycle chain. It routinely changes gears. The diversity of weather up here plays a continuous game of musical chairs among the sun, rain, lightning, cold, and warmth. The clouds come to conceal the tall trees but they grow even taller. I haven’t seen cedar trees towering so high anywhere else. This is a forest village, home to many members of the pine family; kil and redwood are a few to mention. Lightning also tries to ablaze these tall dwellers of mountains but their sheer number makes their survival inevitable. Nothing can disturb the serenity of this paradise.
Wild daisies own these valleys and the hearts of local and tourist girls. If you ever visit this valley, don’t forget to wear a daisy crown on your head. Local kids are experts in making these headbands. Fuscia the dancing doll, hydrangeas, Pensy, petunia, and carnation are human contributions to the ambiance.
Monkeys are the naughty dwellers of these mountains. These monkeys are usually present near the roads to welcome tourists. If you are generous with them, they will eat from your hand. Bananas are their favorite and corn bud is acceptable. In dark and snowy nights one can also spot tigers looking for food nearby.
This mountain top has a bird’s eye view in all directions as if it is playing the role of nature’s watchdog. Rawal Lake and Pindi Point Murree are an eyeshot from here. We can also see the icy peaks of heaven on earth, Kashmir, on a clear sunny day without the help of binoculars.
I am writing these lines sitting in the BBQ Island of this manor. Sun dodged the procession of clouds that appeared in full might, I guess only to be mentioned in this article. In bright sunlight, I spotted a couple of butterflies flipping and kissing over the nicely placed flower pots. I tried to capture them on video. Let’s see if you can place them. The roads that bring you here are curlier than Goldilocks’ hair. Twisting and turning like belly dancers, these paths keep you at the edge, anxiously awaiting what’s around the curve.
My outdoor speaker is a regular companion during my travels and today it is airing Dire Straight in the background. I can hear him singing ‘Brothers in arms.’ I wonder how we can find time to wage wars on a heavenly planet like this. In my view, one lifetime is not long enough to completely appreciate the abode we are blessed with. The tranquility of places like this gives us a message of preservation and procurement of peace.
Eyaz Riaz (images)
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Blogger, author, poet, entrepreneur, golfer, wanderer