Murree

Click Here to EnlargeMurree is known as the "Queen of the hills" (Malika-e-kohsar). At 2,100 meters above sea level (circa 7,000 feet), Murree is only an hour's drive (some 54 km) northeast of Islamabad. It's cold pine forests, amidst magnificent mountain scenery, makes it the first choice for a day's outing from the capital. The Galis are a string of hill resorts along the ridge between Murree and Abbottabad, situated on the Karakoram Highway. Hiking is the favourite passtime beacuse the valley offers a variety of walks. It was founded as a hill station by the British in 1851. Until 1876, Murree was the summer headquarters of the government of Punjab but was subsequently transferred to Simla.

Since independence, Murree has once again become the summer retreat of the governor of Punjab and since Islamabad became the capital of Pakistan in 1962, it has expanded rapidly. Some 10 km from Murree is 'Bhurban' which is another favourite. Click Here to EnlargeThe resort at 'Patriata', some 15 km southeast of Murree, is situated on a ridge 2,223 meters above sea level and offers a breathtaking view of the valley. One of the most exciting features of Patriata is the 3 km dual chair lift and cable car system from Gulera Gali to the Patriata ridge. Murree remains charming all year round. In summer it is cool - even chilly in the evening - while light rain is common. In winter, Murree hides herself under thick thick blanket of snow. Which proves to be an extremely attractive vacation spot for travelers. It is extremely popular amongst Punjabis escaping the heat of the plains in summer and gets too crowded for comfort during late May to early September, especially at weekends. To beat the crowds and still enjoy the walks, the best time to go to Murree is during April-May and September-October.

Murree spreads along the top of a ridge for about five kilometres (three miles). Click Here to EnlargeAt the northeast end, is the famous Kashmir point, which views across the valley of the Jehlum River into Azad Kashmir. At the southwest end resides the Pindi Point, looking back towards Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Between the two, runs The Mall, at the center of which, lies the main Shopping area where most people congregate. Numerous roads leave The Mall and either follow the contours of the ridge or descend to the principal road. Promenading and shopping are Murree's main amusements, riding the new chair-lifts; one from Bansara Gali (below Murree) to Pindi Point, the other to the top of Patriata hill (on the road to Karor)are hot tourist attractions. Both rides cost about Rs. 50 and take half an hour with a change from open chair-lift to the enclosed bubble in the middle.

Good buys in Murree are Kashmiri shawls, furs, walking sticks, fruits and nuts. Murree's pistachio nuts are reputed to be the best in Pakistan. An American journalist Camile wrote, that, "Everything and Anything can happen in Murree. Romance is in the atmosphere intrigue is in the air. The roads to this happy holiday's resort embrace both the heaven and earth. In Murree it is easy to fall in love".