The urge to travel is once again upon me; unaffected by a sixteen hour abstinence from sustenance because of Ramadan. This time it was the sight of a geyser of ice cold water and spray shooting up from the punctured pipe line that supplies water to Islamabad from Simly Dam. I had seen this water reservoir from a distance many years ago, when we (self, elder sibling and family) took a ‘cookout’ trip to Karor, but at what was, on closer look, a beautiful artificial lake ringed by pine clad hills. This place had always been on my itinerary. It was my son in law, who provided me with an opportunity to undertake the trip.

Simly Dam can be approached from two directions – the metalled road that runs past Ali Pur Farash and then bifurcates near Nilor to begin the steep winding ascent towards Karor. The other route is more interesting and simple – the Simly Dam Road that passes through the center of Barakahu and at its very end turns right through a tunnel to the CDA Rest House overlooking the Dam. I found however, that the most picturesque view of the lake can be had if one continues past the rest house turn off and rejoins the main road to Karor. It is some distance along this road that the visitor gets a bird’s eye view of the lake, which is enough to make you stop and dally a while.

Pine trees begin to appear just short of Karor, where rows upon rows of large and small poultry sheds are indication that the place is a big poultry farming center. The pine forest on the far side of the town and beyond, is ideal for family picnics and cookouts, since one can get almost anything from the small local bazaar.

The town of Chawan lies a few kilometers ahead of Karor at a height of around five thousand feet above sea level. It has a main bazaar, a basic health facility and a forest rest house dating back to the 1880s. The weather here is as cool as one would expect to find around Sunny Bank Murree and the shops are well stocked with food. I found the forest rest house nestling under some ancient and magnificent Chinar trees and its two rooms in a reasonably good state in spite of the fact that the building had been erected some one hundred and thirty four years ago. A short drive ahead of Chawan is Ban, which boasts a children’s park and an eatery. This road ultimately takes visitors to Murree.

The trip including a brief nap under the Chinars at Chawan, had taken the entire morning and early afternoon and we decided to turn back so as to reach Islamabad before dark. As we drove back, I began to wonder as to why someone hadn’t considered the possibility of developing these places (especially Chawan) into a hill station. The location had an invigorating climate, water, road connectivity, large tracts of flat land and above all it lay a mere sixty minutes’ drive from the Federal Capital.

I felt exactly the same way when I visited Kotli Sattian a few years ago. This place is the home of prosperous families, bureaucrats and generals, who prefer to live in the glitz and glitter that is Islamabad. I was enamoured by this beautiful place, which has all the makings of a hill resort to present an alternative to Murree.

The aim of this piece lies in the hope that it catches the eye of some one with the means and power to explore my suggestion. This would not only provide additional summer resorts to people, but improve road and utility networks, and enhance employment opportunities for locals, bringing economic prosperity to an area well deserving of some love and attention.

   The writer is a historian.