Thandiani and dancing clouds! | Pakistan Today

Thandiani and dancing clouds!

A British era hill station

Despite the beauty and weather Thandiani is an undeveloped tourist spot.

The abandoned buildings, a small church and GPO are the only imposing structures

around a few small huts and tea stalls but no hotel, restaurant or guest house is seen

I don’t know why we don’t say it but trust me when it comes to breathtaking landscapes and mind-blowing sceneries, Pakistan is absolutely matchless. The paradise hidden in the northern areas of Pakistan is incomparable and exceptional. I have been to different countries in the world but the serenity and peace found in our country’s northern areas is unparalleled. Northern areas of Pakistan are considered a paradise on earth among regular travelers. Thank God that these areas are beyond the hold of ongoing terrorism and security issues in Pakistan. Rather, I must admit, that are safe and serene. As you start climbing up the northern areas you will experience a certain sense of tranquility and mellowness in the air. The people are sweet and welcoming, can guide you to where you want to go and hospitable as well. There is no law and order situation in these fine and calm areas of Pakistan and you can rate these as very friendly and peaceful parts of Pakistan.

If I speak of Pakistan it is the most beautiful country of the world. It has four seasons, beautiful plains, breathtaking rivers, lush green valleys, sky high ice packed mountains and glaciers, beaches, deserts and attractive lakes and waterfalls. In other words you can say Pakistan is a tourist heaven and the nucleus of the heaven is the north of Pakistan. Pakistan also has many historical and cultural places that are so attractive for visitors and annually millions of people come to Pakistan to visit these historical and cultural places. Let me take you an interesting place in Pakistan which is a hot spot for tourists but how many of us have dipped into the history of it. This place is Thandiani in the north of Pakistan, and a must visit site for tourists.

First let me tell you the meaning of this strange name Thandiani. In literal terms it means “very cold” and yes it is so. No matter what time of the year you visit this place, you will see the clouds flying touching the high rise peaks of Thandiani and giving you a sight you would not have experienced before. You will literally see the clouds dancing and playing with the mountains and touching your face to welcome you in the paradise of mountains and clouds. It is a superb place for nature lovers. The interesting part of this place is that the beauty of the lush green hill top is not spoiled by the crowds like many of other hill stations in summer making it a perfect place to go for those who want to relax in a peaceful place far away from the hustle bustle of busy modern life.

It is located at about 2,750 meters above sea level. The Thandiani Hills can be reached through Abbottabad District. It is about 31 kilometers from Abbottabad in the foothills of the Himalayas and to the east beyond the Kunhar River lays the snow-covered Pir Panjal mountain range of Kashmir. To the northwest are the snowy ranges of Swat and Chitral. The hills of Thandiani are about 9,000 feet (2,750m) above sea level. Most of the people residing here belong to the Sadaat (Syed), Qureshi, Abbasi, Jadoon Gujjar, and Karlal tribes. The nearest villages are Bandi Sarara Mara Rehmat Khan, Inderseri, Birnagalli, Chattri, Chamaili, Sialkot, Pattan, Okharela, Dheri, Darer and Kukmang. Visible to the north and northeast are the mountains of Kohistan and Kaghan. At present the road to Thandiani is well constructed and safe. It is not as dangerous as Shogran or Toli Pir, It is a well built road and that is why on my way to Thandiani I came across a lot of families. The road is metalised all the way. The best part is that you can travel on the road after sunset as well it’s not dangerous, though it’s steep. Many tourists from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and all over Pakistan visit here, especially in the summer season. Being at a high altitude, with attractive scenery and several hiking trails into the forests and other nearby locations, it is a very attractive prospect. A beautiful trek leads to Thandiani from Abbottabad that passes through Dagri Naka. The approach to Thandiani is from Abbottabad, but it can also be reached from Murree-Nathiagali route. It is 25km from the Thandiani-Nathiagali crossing. The drive from Abbottabad takes more or less 90 minutes, with lovely views on both sides of the road.

Thandiani is considered to have an excellent weather and lush greenery especially in the summer months. This hilly place is surrounded by Pine Forests. It offers wide range of views and sceneries while travelling to Thandiani from Abbottabad. At one side of the road it offers beautiful views of Abbottabad city. At other side you may have lovely scenic views and breathtaking scenery of hill stations of Pakistan. Once you are at this place you will find yourself in space as you cannot see anything except for the dancing clouds and as they move the mountains are reflected. This is top of the mountain and the world can be seen from there. There is also a Pakistan Television Booster at the top and a Pak Air-Force Radar. From the top, you can have stunning views of all the Galliat Region, Hazara Region, Swat Forests, Chitral, Abbottabad, and Kashmir. You may find greenery everywhere. The place is full of natural beauty. Thandiani is a peaceful place to visit and enjoy. The mountains around Thandiani are quite thickly forested compared to most other hill stations in the locality, which have suffered some degree of deforestation over time. The local wildlife includes leopards, monkeys, several kinds of pheasants and the increasingly rare flying squirrel and pine marten, to name only a few. With an elevation of 2750 meters it is supposed to be the coolest among the hill stations of Pakistan.

Now let me take you to the age and history of Thandiani. This place where we see Thandiani today was originally granted as a lease to some members of the Battye family in British India, who were Christian missionaries and also found in civil and military service, and who produced scions such as Wigram Battye and Quintin Battye. The Battyes subsequently gifted the location to the church authorities, where a sanatorium and various other facilities were set up during the British rule in the sub continent, mostly for the convenience of missionaries, Anglican Church personnel and officers stationed at the neighbouring cantonment of Abbottabad. It also contained some private European houses, a camping ground, a small bazaar, and the small seasonal church of St Xavier in the wilderness which were occupied only during the summer months only. So this place, looking at its beauty and weather, was established by the British hundreds of years ago. There are residences of the locals and you can see the beautiful but small houses on your route to Thandiani.

Despite the beauty and weather Thandiani is an undeveloped tourist spot. The abandoned buildings, a small church and GPO are the only imposing structures around a few small huts and tea stalls but no hotel, restaurant or guest house is seen. You will not find a bazaar as you see in Murree, Nathiagali or Abbottabad. The absence of electricity and water supply has not allowed this place to get over-developed like Murree, Nathiagali and Ayubia. This place has all the potential to develop as a good base for ecotourism activities. This can be money minting tourist spot for the government and can help in the economic uplift of the people living there. In my opinion there should be proper guest houses and restaurants on the road leading to Thandiani. Also the locals should be encouraged to open up souvenir shops and develop a bazaar for the tourists. This will surely help in increasing the tourism and also the development of the area.