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27. Mar, 2012

Cave City of Balochsitan

Cave City of Balochsitan

About all I knew when I set out to visit the Cave City was that there is a place in Balochistan with cave houses — a mountain, isolated from civilisation, with lots and lots of caves. Returning by road from Quetta to Karachi, I was struck with the realisation that the Cave City was likely to be somewhere along the route my companion and I were taking. Despite the fact that I had no concrete information about the site, the curiosity of exploring the caves got the better of me. I called my father who had spent more than a decade in Balochistan for infrastructure work. He gave us rough directions, telling us that it was located close to the city of Bela and was called Gondrani. Armed with only that tidbit of information — and a few snapshots from a travelogue Salman Rashid had written on the Cave City years back — we set off.

 
Our plan, when we left Khuzdar, was to stop over at the Cave City — if, indeed, we found it — and take photos.
We travelled on the RCD Highway and, with the judicious use of Google maps, were able to pick our way to Bela. But since there were no road directions to Gondrani, we stopped locals and quizzed them about the way to the “puraney ghaar” (old caves). At first we got only blank looks or incomprehensible directions. Then we found Asif, a middle-aged man who told us that he was a police inspector. Not only did he claim to know the place, he also offered to take us there. With Asif as our guide, we drove north, then turned west and started following a narrow but carpeted road. After many miles, the road turned into a dirt road and finally, there was no road at all. We hit a riverbank and after a distance of almost three miles, Asif made us park the vehicle. I poked my head out the window, straining to see in the direction Asif was pointing. A distant mountain with black holes was my first sight of the Cave City of Balochistan.
It was a 10-minute walk to the caves — an arduous one, at that, over a dry riverbed strewn with rocks. But my curiosity was growing as were the black holes which had seemed tiny from a distance.
The place was pretty much deserted and, in the absence of locals, Asif was our only source of information. His version of the history of this place was fanciful, to say the least. According to him, these mountains used to be the home of demons and evil spirits who would satiate their appetite with the flesh of the locals of Gondrani. That is until Mai Gondrani, a holy lady, sacrificed her life to kill these demons and save the rest from their scourge. Now she rests in her shrine in the nearby village in Sher-e-Roghan. We listened, intrigued and mystified. This version of the story gave rise to more questions than answers: Who would have really lived here? Why did they leave? Would it before or after the Indus civilisation?
As we approached the mountains, more caves came into sight. With scenes from Hollywood movies about lost treasures flashing in my mind, I scrambled to explore every single cave. Only I wasn’t in search of the Ark of the Covenant or Montezuma’s gold. Here, the treasure was simply having discovered such a unique place in Pakistan. Inside the caves I saw that a typical ‘cave house’ had one veranda and two separate rooms. I even saw what I gathered was a kitchen of sorts, having separate compartments for storage. Another seemed like a living room or a bedroom. In the aforementioned article, Salman Rashid says that the Cave City would have been a class conscious society and I could easily figure that out, seeing the contrast between the ill-constructed houses and the well-formed ones.

Unlike cave cities elsewhere — Kandovan in Iran and Cappadocia in Turkey come to mind — the Cave City of Balochistan is uninhabited, though the caves do provide a home for bats. These caves are the worse for erosion and, as far as I could see, no effort has been made to preserve them. Barely accessible, since there is no path that leads to them, they are also difficult to explore higher than the two lowest levels for those without any climbing expertise. Had this site been anywhere else in the world, it would have been preserved as a world heritage site, but sadly it is crumbling in neglect here.
Our little expedition ended with a stopover in Hub for tea and then we headed to Karachi, leaving behind a silent city, a mysterious mountain.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 19th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/336879/house-of-the-spirits/

20. Dec, 2011

Experiencing Twilight – Ziarat, Balochistan

Experiencing Twilight – Ziarat, Balochistan

twilignt Experiencing Twilight   Ziarat, Balochistan

Sunrises, sunsets and twilight have always been my point of attention. No matter whereever i am traveling to, whatever i am doing, i always stop by at sunset and observe the wonderful colors in the sky. Its like a magic. Like not real. Or real but not from this world. Every single second of it is a treat to my eyes.

First week of september 2011, a usual visit to Ziarat, a usual picnic, a usual shooting, i was on my way back to the city of Quetta. I was on road while the sun showed its last glance and set behind the mountains. The color of the sky started changing from light blue to dark blue and to orange. I was already observing it with my eyes wide open. I wanted a spot to pullover to take the best possible photo.

There it came. A dam. Far away. I knew that is the point i need to capture this moment. I pulled over. Rushed towards the dam. Found the best possible reflection. Clicked. But other then clicking, i observed more of the nature and got indulged into this beauty.

Not only Ziarat, i have seen such beautiful twilights in every single part of Pakistan. Be it in to the farm fields of Punjab, high end mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan,  Sand dunes of Cholistan and every single part of this country.

Have you ever EXPERIENCED any twilight? share it icon smile Experiencing Twilight   Ziarat, Balochistan

30. Jul, 2011

10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Traveling and taking photos all across Pakistan, its really difficult to conclude which places are my favorite or which place actually took my breath away. However, I have selected few photographs out of my archive that i can say actually are overwhelming not because of the popularity of the place or the tourism it receives yearly, but because of the moment that made me feel astonished. Here is the list of 10 breathtaking spots around Pakistan.

1. Sheikh Badin Hill Station – Khyber Pakthunkhwa.

Sheikh Badin Hill Station – Khyber Pakthunkhwa. 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Sheikh Badin Hill Station-Khyber-Pakthunkhwa, Pakistan

 

Nothing can beat the feeling of being at an entirely isolated place, on top of a mountain having a bird eye view of magnificent mountain range and surrounded by cool breezes sitting at this Charpai. For me such a place offer a sense of tranquility, an opportunity to indulge yourself in a deep thought and think about this mighty creation. It is more than 100 year old long forgotten hill station made during the British era in mid 19th century.

 

2. Islamabad Cityscape from Daman-e-Koh View Point.

Islamabad Cityscape from Daman e Koh View Point 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Islamabad Cityscape from Daman-e-Koh View Point, Pakistan


For me viewing the Islamabad cityscape from Daman-e-Koh was not really striking unless you wait for the perfect light, wait for the sun to set and observe how magically the clouds get mix with the orange and bluish tone of sky. Sunsets and twilights are one of the most appealing light conditions that sparks me to take photos.

3. Twilight at Clifton Beach Karachi – Sindh

Twilight at Clifton Beach Karachi Sindh 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Twilight at Clifton Beach Karachi – Sindh, Pakistan


Clifton beach is one of the most favorite places of mine in Karachi, especially for shooting the sunset. You get to have every kind of human subjects from every walk of life at the beach. Being a nature enthusiast, I always look for how nature can change the landscape and make it delightful for us. Have you ever experienced twilight at Clifton beach? It’s rare but I am fortunate enough to experience this sundown at the beach quite often. The world around you totally changes from a real world to a Magical fantasy of blues, oranges and silhouetted living creatures.

 

4. Lion’s Face, Hanna Urak – Wali Tangi Valley – Balochistan

Loins Face Hanna Urak Wali Tangi Valley – Balochistan 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Loins Face, Hanna Urak – Wali Tangi Valley – Balochistan, Pakistan

I have spent my childhood in the middle of dry mountains of Quetta city.Hanna Urak & Wali Tangi Valley used to be the only nearby picnic. However I started trekking in Balochistan quite late and discovered this Loin’s face naturally encarved on a huge mountain in Wali Tangi. I wonder how no one talked about it, never mentioned it anywhere or at least no one has yet marked the place. A part from that,  you can observe an enormous mountain far behind in the background that actually reminds me of old Malbaro TV ads that made me fanaticized climbing that mountain. I still wish to do so.

 

5. Rain at Astore Valley – Gilgit Baltistan

Rain at Astore Valley – Gilgit Baltistan 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Rain at Astore Valley – Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan


Rain has always been a part of my inspirations. To read, to write, to travel and to photograph. It makes me feel to the fullest of my creativity, especially when it rains in tranquil morning. I love the fragrance when a tiny droplet falls on the soil making it semi-muddy, the freshness all around.  One breath taking moment that made me awestruck was when a flock passed by my jeep, I felt the rain drops on my car’s wind screen and the rushed shepherd was a cherry on top in that whole scene, especially when you experience it in the middle of green mountains with snow top in summers.

 

6. Hunza Valley from Baltit Fort – Gilgit-Baltistan

Hunza Valley from Baltit Fort – Gilgit Baltistan 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Hunza Valley from Baltit Fort – Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan


Hunza, one can only enjoy the spectacular view of the valley once you climb up to the top of the valley where lies Baltit Fort. Being a photographer, I was looking for a view to actually capture a photo that can show the valley as well as a glimpse of the fort in one picture. Framing the valley in these arches from inside the fort helped me to communicate what I wanted.

 

7. Shingrilla – Skardu – Gilgit Baltistan

Shingrilla – Skardu – Gilgit Baltistan 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Shingrilla – Skardu – Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan


How comforting it is when you actually experience and see the place that you’ve always been seeing printed on calendars, watching it on TV or going through a post card in a book shop. Shangrila it was for me. I even didn’t remember the name when I first showed a post card picture to my taxi driver and asked him to take me there. Being a student, I didn’t have or can say I never wanted to spend that much money to actually stay there. However I enjoyed its view from a hotel on the other side of the lake.

 

8. Ziarat Valley – Balochistan

Ziarat Valley – Balochistan 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Ziarat Valley – Balochistan, Pakistan


The famous view point of Ziarat has an astonishing view of the 2nd largest juniper forest in the world that is more than 4500 years old. Have you ever imagined a Juniper forest and a Hill station in Balochistan? I never thought about it unless I discovered while doing excursion photo trips in Balochistan. One could only feel the smell of these juniper trees all around if you are there.

 

9. Chitral Valley from my hotel room of Hindukush Heights – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Chitral Valley from my hotel room of Hindukush Heights – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Chitral Valley from my hotel room of Hindukush Heights – Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan


Yes, it’s real. In reality there are hotels and resorts having rooms with such a magnificent view. Even I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first entered this room at Hotel Hindukush Heights located in north of Chitral Valley. I have spent almost 3 full days in this room with that spectacular view. All I did was reading travelogues and having lots & lots of teas. The best thing about this view was that it gave different feelings and moods at different time of the day. I loved it at sunrise and sunset every day.

 

10. Multan Clock Tower – Punjab

Multan Clock Tower – Punjab 10 Breathtaking Spots Around Pakistan

Multan Clock Tower – Punjab, Pakistan


While wandering in the city of heat and shrines and searching for historical places, I came through this wonderfully built clock tower built during the British Empire. The tower itself will not give you an awestruck moment unless you wait for the perfect light right after the sunset and let the heavy traffic of Multan move around the tower. The contrast between an old British architect and the current hustle bustle of the city is a must watch.

(The article was originally published in the June 2011 edition of Xpoze Monthly Magazine Pakistan)

18. Jun, 2011

Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Traveling all across Pakistan, i still feel how less i have traveled this country. Is this life enough to cover all places of Pakistan? Have been missing lots of historical sights of Sindh, the beautiful Swat, lots of treks in Baltistan, hidden mountains of Balochistan, Kashmir beyond just Muzafarabad, hundreds of lakes and a lot more. However, i still feel good that atleast i keep on going. Life goes on and lets see how much will i explore more of Pakistan in future.

Just sharing a single photograph from each province of Pakistan that i feel is truly breathtaking for me.  Its not the photograph that i am sharing, but a feeling that i had while taking these photograph.

I just have one question for you? Have you traveled to all provinces of Pakistan? if yes, how? and if not, then tell me which one are you missing? Post in your answers in the comments below.

arabian sea sunset karachi pakistan Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Arabian Sea, Karachi, Sindh - Pakistan

shahi masjid chitral pakistan Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Shahi Masjid, Chitral - Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

dhulli bagh azad kashmir pakistan Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Dhulli, Azad Kashmir - Pakistan

rakaposhi landscape pakistan Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Rakaposhi Peak, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

road to ziarat balochistan Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Road to Ziarat, Balochistan - Pakistan

clock tower multan pakistan Photographing all provinces of Pakistan

Clock Tower, Multan, Punjab - Pakistan

 

17. Mar, 2011

The Beautiful Hanna Lake in Quetta

The Beautiful Hanna Lake in Quetta
hanna lake 450x337 The Beautiful Hanna Lake in Quetta

Hanna Lake, Quetta - Balochistan, Pakistan

You won’t believe it but this picture of Hanna Lake was taken back mid 2005 with a very simple 6mp Olympus Point and Shoot Camera. I was just going through my old archives and came across one of my trip to the lake :).

I remember that year it rained a lot in Balochistan and eventually the lake got fresh water stored, and the turquoise blue water along with the white shiny clouds made it a really beautiful and soothing scene to eyes.

Hanna Lake is one of the most visited and accessible lake in Balochistan.

For those who have not yet been to Hanna Lake, its pretty close to Quetta City hardly 25 minutes drive.


How to Get There:

You can drive your own vehicle or take public transport that takes around Rs. 15 per person and leaves the Quetta Main Adda from Circular Road every hour daily. But be careful to get back before sunset since you won’t get transpart after that.

The place is totally safe to travel. The Lakeside hotel has good tea to serve.

Staying there:

There is no particular place to stay although there are Huts that can be booked from Armed Forces of Pakistan. I would suggest you to stay in Quetta City and go for a day to the lake icon smile The Beautiful Hanna Lake in Quetta

21. Feb, 2011

Tea and the night view of Quetta City

Tea and the night view of Quetta City
DSC 3492 450x299 Tea and the night view of Quetta City

Danial Shah waiting for dusk in Quetta - Photo by Ameer Hamza

There were two most important shots i wanted to take of Quetta city; a sunset and a night glow. I got to know that the most splended view of the city can be viewed from the mountain range in east of the city. That meant i can get a beautiful sunset shot as well as night view.

Reaching there wasn’t a hurdle at all and we reached to the perfect spot in no more than 45 minutes. While i was waiting for the perfect light and setting up my camera, Rauf, my driver waited for me with 2 cups and a thermos full of tea. Rauf was a good driver who accompanied me during my Expedition Balochistan Summer 2010.

I still miss Rauf’s company and the cup of tea we shared at that unique beautiful place.

The night view of Quetta City that i could come up with is:

quetta 450x299 Tea and the night view of Quetta City

Night view of Quetta City, Balochistan, Pakistan


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11. Feb, 2011

Spin Karez, Quetta-Balochistan – Wallpaper February 2011

Spin Karez, Quetta-Balochistan – Wallpaper February 2011
spinkarez1 450x299 Spin Karez, Quetta Balochistan   Wallpaper February 2011

Spin Karez, Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan

So this month is dedicated to Balochistan, not only because i have spent a big part of my life in balochistan but also i simply love the landscapes and people of this province! Pushtuns, Balochis and Brahvis.

Spin Karez is located 6-8 miles east of Quetta city that is a water channel constructed by the British to convert snow and rain water for filling of water in Hanna Lake. A Must visit place specially during summers. If you make your visit in morning, you’ll get to see the local coal workers  en-route to spin karez all the way working which is an another treat to eye.


Download your Wallpapers here:

(Right click on the link and click “Save Target as / Save link as”)

February 2011 Wallpaper 1980

25. Nov, 2010

Winner First Prize Youth Festival 2010

Winner First Prize Youth Festival 2010
A Pashtun school boy in remote village of Balochistan Kan mehtar zai 450x299 Winner First Prize Youth Festival 2010

A Pashtun school boy in Kan Mehtarzai, Balochistan

I encountered this young fellow  in Kan Mehtarzai, a remote pashtun village in Balochistan famous for its old railway station that is said to be one of the highest railway stations in Asia and the Highest railway station in Pakistan.
The picture made me win First Prize in Youth Festival 2010 by Government of Sindh, Pakistan. Theme of the Festival was Youth of Pakistan involved in any productive efforts.


17. Nov, 2010

Eid ul Adha Mubarak

Eid ul Adha Mubarak
eid1 450x301 Eid ul Adha Mubarak

Eid in Pakistan

Eid Mubarak to all of you. I am celebrating this Eid in Karachi, while my last Eid was celebrated in mid of mountains in Quetta City. Eid in mountains is pretty diffrerent as of in metropolitan. In fact, every city of Pakistan has a different way of celebration with one true spirit, Qurbani.

Eid ul Adha, also known as Bakra Eid in Pakistan. The day starts with a collective prayer followed by Qurbani (sacrifice) of goat, sheep or a cow. The meat is then distributed to neighbours, relatives and to the deserving.

Usually night is celebrated arranging Barbecue with friends and relatives. This Eid revolves around Meat all three days icon smile Eid ul Adha Mubarak

Have a happy Meaty Eid icon smile Eid ul Adha Mubarak

The above picture was taken in one of the Bakra Mandi in Quetta on Last Eid.

20. Oct, 2010

Enterance to Pakistan- Pak Afghan Border

Enterance to Pakistan- Pak Afghan Border
Chamman 31 450x299 Enterance to Pakistan  Pak Afghan Border

Pak Afghan Border - Chaman

The picture above was taken right from the Dosti Gate which separates Pakistan from Afghanistan in town called “Chaman”.