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.
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.
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
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
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 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, 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
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
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
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
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)