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13. Jul, 2013

A starry night & the second highest mountain

A starry night & the second highest mountain

As i have always mentioned in my articles, K2 is a shy mountain. It’s always hidden behind clouds and if you are lucky it might sneak out for a while.
To view that mountain, i trekked for 6 long days starting from Skardu town and reached Concordia camp site. During the first night, while every other trekker went to sleep, i sneaked out of my tent to see how the second highest mountain looks like under stars.

k2 concordia danial shah 141 A starry night & the second highest mountain

K2 hidden behind clouds, from Concordia campsite

 

Initially it was pitch-dark, i used my flashlight to find my way, skip rocks and went to an elevation, a place where i could easily spot K2. I started to setup my camera on tripod while found myself lost in that area.

 

k2 concordia danial shah 16 A starry night & the second highest mountain

Mitre peak (6017m) shining under stars

 

I got scared. I had never been scared of the places while travelling. i have been to places, felt things in my surroundings, felt things happening to me, could be super natural or whatever, but this time it was way too different.

The mightiness of nature overtook me. I found myself in a different world.

Those ten minutes i was not in this world.

It was too difficult for me to grasp the hold of that reality around me.

What i saw was silhouettes of giant big cony mountains all around me, from front to back. I gazed at all of them and could see nothing but black huge structures with snow shining on top. And above them i saw a different world. Millions of stars, not just bright but colourful stars, i saw galaxies and it was very easy to spot them all with naked eye. In my front was K2 hidden under stars.

10 minutes were too difficult for me to bear such moments of glory.

I got scared, I was alone and without any further delay, i packed my camera and went back to sleep in my tent.

Have you ever had any such experience?

15. Jun, 2012

When night falls

When night falls

The whole Hunza Nagar view was right in front of me while i was sipping tea at Hunza Baltit Inn in Karimabad. I could see High Rakaposhi peak on my left while Ultar peak and Baltit fort were shining on my right. The sun was already about to set, sky was getting darker and dim lights on wooden hotel gave that evening a mood.

 

Hunza Baltit Inn When night falls

Hunza Baltit Inn, Karimabad

I kept on sipping tea in veranda till night fell. I saw a pitch dark rugged mountain right in front. Shining white snow was leading on the top. Above that, i saw stars. Not billion but zillion stars.

stars When night falls

Star trail shining right in front of the veranda of Hunza Baltit Inn Karimabad

I ordered one more cup of tea, took my tripod and started taking pictures.  I started observing them. It felt like as if someone has sparkled shining  white pepper in sky. I tried to talk to them. They were calling me, showing the proof of their existence, shouting out aloud  “We exist”.

Its very common in mountains that you get to see stars, uncountable stars shining above your head. My daily routinne every night had become to get out of my hotel room, order tea and watch stars. I like making shapes with stars as we would used to do in childhood.

If you are somewhere in mountains, be it in Balochistan, KPK or Gilgit-Baltistan. Get out of your room this evening, watch and talk to zillions of stars waiting for your call.

 

 

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

 

18. Feb, 2011

Minar-e-Pakistan – As I see it…

Minar-e-Pakistan – As I see it…

This post is dedicated to Pakistan Cricket Team for the World Cup 2011. I have uploaded photographs of Minar-e-Pakistan from my recent trip to Lahore. Minar-e-Pakistan is one of the most important national monument of Pakistan. I could come up with just 4 shots at best due to time constraint.

Post in your comments about how do you like the photos?

minar e pakistan lahore 450x299 Minar e Pakistan   As I see it...

Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan

minar e pakistan lahore 2 299x450 Minar e Pakistan   As I see it...

Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan


minar e pakistan lahore 3 299x450 Minar e Pakistan   As I see it...

A Silhouette of Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan

minar e pakistan lahore 4 299x450 Minar e Pakistan   As I see it...

Minar-e-Pakistan, Lahore, Pakistan

21. Jan, 2011

3 Things I always consider while traveling in Pakistan

3 Things I always consider while traveling in Pakistan
traveling in pakistan 450x263 3 Things I always consider while traveling in Pakistan

Danial Shah capturing a family moment at the Tomb of Jahangir in Shahdara Bagh, Lahore. (Photo by Abeer ul Haq)

Traveling is pleasure for me. I take traveling as an opportunity to learn and observe different forms of nature, how people live in different places and what do they eat. My experience has taught me 3 most important things to consider while traveling in Pakistan.

1. Respect The Culture

When you are traveling in Pakistan, be it the town of Bhit Shah in Sindh or the Valley of Kalash in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, you have to respect the culture of the place. You should learn about their culture, few phrases from their language, know about their dress and try not to wear cloths which might happen to be offensive to them.

When it comes to culture, it means their values and traditions. Ask for the permission before taking photograph of people, especially women and senior citizens. If they do not allow, DO NOT take the picture. It’s easy to take picture and run away but that will be then totally unprofessional and you will not be able to make a long term relationship. I usually dress up in Shalwar Kameez during my travels to interior places of Pakistan like in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It feels good and comfortable.

That way, you won’t become a point of attention and a stranger to locals.

2. Communicate

Since you have learnt few phrases from their language, it shows that you want to be a part of their family. Talk to them. Do not take picture at once. Hang around. Visit Bazaars. Visit the market, have few conversation with the locals. Introduce yourself and then shoot next day. They will then know who actually is wandering around.

I stayed in Kalash Valley last year and learnt few phrases from the Kalasha Language. I used to greet them every day with “Ishpata” which is a greeting in their language. They loved me taking their photographs. I didn’t shoot at the very first day. I talked to them and visited their houses and then shot whole next 2 days.

Talking to the locals and communicating will give you the real charm of traveling. You will make good memories when you get back to your routine life.

3. Be rough & Tough

When it comes to traveling, forget all your luxuries. Pack up with your equipments, water bottle, clothing, pair of shoes and a nice book to read because that’s what I do during my travels. You’ll have to face difficulties, things would go unplanned, but those difficulties are an important part of your traveling in order to bring back good memories home. Remember, traveling is when you buy a one way ticket to a place you have never been to, rest is all unplanned.

Go on, take the initiative. Take you camera out and shoot the people, the environment and everything around. Bring lots of memories back home.

There are obviously other things as well to consider while traveling but being a travel photographer i have concluded the above 3 things as important to travel in Pakistan.

What about you? what do you consider the most while traveling in Pakistan?

11. Jan, 2011

Yasin Valley – A landscape

Yasin Valley – A landscape
Yaseen Valley 301x450 Yasin Valley   A landscape

Yasin Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan

My last post was on a night spent in Yasin Valley which turned out to be a bit scary. Though i forgot to mention how beautiful the landscapes of the valley were, specially when you travel on the mud road adjacent to water stream which would definitely give you a look of Swiss alps.

You will be amazed to see the contrast of colorful rocks, bright grass, green water, blue snow caped mountain and majestic clouds.

I would suggest you travel to Yasin valley between May – September, that way you’ll get to experience the colorful environment in pleasant weather.