Light Within

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Shifting Sher Garh

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An old sleepy and dusty village Sher Garh lies about 20 minutes drive away from Renala Khurd (Okara). The coins found at Sher Garh prove that the place was inhabited at the time of Kushan dynasty. Though “the name Sher Garh was given by the Governor of Molten, Faith Jang Khan after the name of Afghan King Sher Shah Sure,” wrote Abbas Khan Sarauni in his book Tarikh Sher Shah Suri.

On the old bank of River Beas, it is a typical Pakistani village where farmers live like rustics in the face of urban attractions. Even the electricity and telephone are a recent phenomenon. But the village has never been out of limelight. Besides heritage conscious people from all over the world, the village is venerated by a large number of devotees. Reasons, a massive mud fort and mosque which were built in the period of Afghan Sher Shah Suri. And, it is the last resting place of Saint Muhammad Ibrahim Daud-e-Sani Kirmani Bandgi. If one wants to absorb the sense of history, Sher Garh is a place to visit. Director Syed Noor has set his film Chooriyan in the background of this village. One has to possess a sensibility shaped in granite not to be moved by the village of past age that has not changed much in last 400 years. In the periphery few van (salvadora) trees, may be as old as the village stand witness to the bygone era. The village is experienced changed due to awareness about various things and agricultural advancements but at a snail speed.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, March 02, 2015, , links to this post

Attitude Tourism

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Attitude tourism - to be distinguished from, say, adventure or seeing the sights - is generally not a particularly satisfying activity. Ideas and those who hatch them tend not to leave behind things large or attractive enough to ogle. So you may go to a place of great historic value but find nothing worth the visit. Lasbela tract is a case in point. Usually, you are left, if you are lucky, with a plaque or just an intrinsic thought. So I expected, more or less, nothing in Lasbela.

What I got was signs in lieu of plaques, hot wind, remnants of crumbling columns, and a long view of the undergrowth of thorny bushes, some wildflowers, functional Persian wells and rocky hilltops covered with camel and sheep droppings. It was all prosaic and quiet and yet real enough to propel me into another fit of wonder: I was driving on the tract where Alexander and Muhammad Bin Qasim had treaded.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, February 23, 2015, , links to this post

Dr Senta Siller gets award in Cameroon

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Friday, February 20, 2015, , links to this post

Killer Mountain

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Nanga Parbat – [called killer mountain because more mountaineers have died while climbing it than any other mountain. It is also known as "Killer Mountain" because of the difficulties of reaching the summit] - is the ninth highest peak (8125 meters) in the world and second highest in Pakistan situated on the western tip of great Himalayan. Its face in the south called the Rupal Face rises over 5000 meters from the valley floor to the summit. After a German climber Hurman Bhul scaled it in 1953, many climbers have stepped on the majestic peak including Nazir Sabir of Pakistan. Many have lost their lives in this pursuit too. This is a story of an expedition with which I opted to go as a facilitator.


I have always been eager to visit mountains that lead me to join one expedition to Nanga Parbat as a local facilitator. I met leader of the expedition Adrian Burgees - a blonde foreign national with muscular, lean and tall disposition in the Ministry of Tourism Islamabad and instantly liked him. I was responsible to see that every thing goes smooth. Later, I was introduced to all other members of the expedition and together we tied up details for journey, rations, transportation and purchase of additional climbing gears.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, February 18, 2015, , links to this post

Salt Range

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The Salt Range derives its name from extensive deposits of rock salt. It stands as remnant of forts with bastions and temples. Exceptionally, this region maintains an almost continuous record of history that can define the evolution of society. Forts and temples surviving along the range are a reminder of how untouched many of the ancient remnants are. Alexander from Macedon came to this range twice: one from Taxila and later once his forces refused to go any further from the banks of the River Beas. From here he marched towards the Arabian Sea on his way to Babylon. And, now an NGO is constructing the monument of Alexander near Jalalpur town in the foot of the salt range in district Jhelum.

For those who take their first chance to the area, the landscape all along the Salt Range is rock-strewn, lacking in softness and loveliness. In many parts, it becomes barren and uninviting. But, in truth the range is dotted with historical wonders, romantic legends, archaeological remains, and varying geological formations. Surroundings are very quiet. Urial is also found in the range though facing extinction. A journey along the range is exiting as well as informative.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Tuesday, February 17, 2015, , links to this post

Thatta Kedona slide show

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Pakistan Slide Show

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, February 12, 2015, , links to this post

Mountain Might

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Pakistan Urdu Science Board textbook defines earth surface “13000 feet above sea level as mountains. Areas that are 9840 feet above their surroundings are also mountainous.” Much more than travel, recreation and adventurous destinations, mountains are natural resource reservoirs that help to sustain life on the planet earth. Nature has blessed our country with rich mountain terrain.



Nowhere in the world is concentration of high mountains, peaks, glaciers, clean water lacks (full of trout and romantic legend attached to them) and passes except in Pakistan. Of the 14 over 8,000 meters high peaks on our earth planet, four occupy an amphitheatre at the head of Baltoro glacier in the Karakorum Range: K-2 (this year Pakistan is celebrating fiftieth anniversary when man first conquered the world’s second highest - 8,611 meters – peak half century ago), Gasherbrum-I (8,068 meters), Broad Peak (8,047 meters) and Gasherbrum-II (8,035 meters). There is yet another great mountain, Nanga Parbat (8,126 meters), located at the western side of the Himalayas. Moreover, there are 68 peaks over 7,000 meters and hundreds others over 6,000 meters in Pakistan.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, February 09, 2015, , links to this post

Pakistan Ramsar Sites

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The twin villages Ucchali and Dhadhar are the place to be for those who seek happiness in being close to the raw nature and to find the most alluring and fascinating places off the beaten track.

To travel as a person interested in nature (as if there were other ways to travel) is to have regrets these days. More and more that one would like to have seen is - inevitably, inexorably - already gone. But there are, of course, many such places out there. Only one has to find them.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Monday, February 02, 2015, , links to this post

Deosai Romance

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Review of Deosai: Land of the Giant appeared in The News on Sunday

It is rare to have the opportunity to hear from someone who has literally written “the book” on a place as mysterious as Deosai. Talking of his Deosai romance (that started in summer 1990) Salman Rashid once told me, “Anywhere on Deosai the fantastic vistas of wide open space of miles and miles hemmed in by snow-capped crags. Here the sky is an impossible shade of blue and the thunderheads like huge, huge bales of cotton flung about by some careless cotton packer. Here the clouds do actually look like anything you wish to imagine them to look like. Here, if one has nothing to do (that is, if you are not on assignment), lie on the ground in the sun and just spend hours doing nothing.”

Deosai: Land of the Giant – a book written by Salman Rashid with photography by Nadeem Khawar tells and shows the story of Deosai, its geography and history as well as the heroic effort of bear conservation and the establishment of a national park on the plateau.

The earliest explorers like William Moorcroft and Godfrey Thomas Vigne, long ago, noted that Deosai was inhabited by large numbers of Tibetan brown bear. Though the elusive snow leopard, fox, wolf and ibex prowl across it, it was the easily seen bear that became the signature species on the plateau. Not anymore. Hope is that the in depth research and rich illustrations will be a great source of awareness and an equally good reminder for all stakeholders to do more to conserve the extinguishing wildlife.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Thursday, January 29, 2015, , links to this post

Chaniot's claim to fame

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Chaniot - the name is enough to start the furniture lovers, travelers and cautiously curious dreaming. Antiquity is the first message of the town. And, international quality furniture "made in Chaniot" is collectors delight with potentials for marketing all over the world.

On the bank of River Chenab in area called Sandal Bar, Chaniot town is an exotic place in the foot of series of hillocks that seem to be man made rather than evidence of old mountains. The town is very ancient. It was inhabited before the time when Alexander of Macedon came in the South Asia and was principal City during the rule of White Huns. Chinese explorer Hiuen Tsiang visited it. Alberuni has mentioned in Kitabul-Hind that Chaniot was one of the there most important places in this part of the world.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ Wednesday, January 28, 2015, , links to this post


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