In last week's column, we had resumed our journey to Abbottabad after resting at Hasan Abdal, only to be stopped, a few miles short of our goal, by clouds of steam issuing from under our bonnet. Having replaced our 'deceased' radiator pipe, we begin this week, to move once again and minutes later pass a bus stand on our left, telling us that we have arrived at our destination. Abbottabad is named after Major James Abbott, who founded the town and 'settled' the district in 1853 after the annexation of Punjab. Major Abbott or Kaka Abbott as he was fondly called, wore native attire, spoke local languages with uncanny fluency and dealt swiftly, fairly and more often than not compassionately, with his charges. He developed a great love for the hills and vales of his district and it was much against his will that he returned to Britain. His poem titled Abbottabad speaks volumes for his feelings and dedication to the land and its inhabitants. A plaque inscribed with the verses was placed in the city's 'Lady Garden' Park and despite my insistence that we drive straight to see it, I am overruled by my companions, who show preference for a hot shower and a meal. As we proceed to our host's beautiful home on Simla Hill, I take out the sheet of paper that I had tucked into my pocket before leaving Islamabad and begin reading the words so nostalgically penned by Kaka Abbott: I remember the day when I first came here; and smelt the sweet Abbottabad air, The trees and the ground covered with snow; gave us indeed a brilliant show, To me, the place seemed like a dream; and far ran a lonesome stream, The wind hissed as if welcoming us; the pines swayed creating a lot of fuss, And the tiny Cuckoo sang it away; a song very melodious and gay, I adored the place from the first sight; and was happy that my coming here was right, And eight good years here passed very soon; and we leave you perhaps on a sunny noon, Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now; to your natural beauty do I bow, Perhaps, your winds will never reach my ears; my gift for you is sad tears, I bid you farewell with a heavy heart; never from my mind will your memories thwart. In the early 20th century, Abbottabad became an important cantonment and home to the Gorkha Battalion. It continues to be a major military station even today, accommodating the Pakistan Military Academy, two infantry Regimental Centres, the Army Medical Corps Centre and Army Schools of Physical Training and Music. The place also boasts some of the finest educational institutions in the country, including the pre-independence Burn Hall School (now turned college) and the Abbottabad Public School. Eager to experience the reputation that this beautiful valley is a veritable Garden of Eden for horticulture enthusiasts, I leave my companions and set off on foot to locate Abbottabad's beautiful cedars and fabulous geraniums. I am concerned to note that while some parts of the city have retained their environmental beauty, there are areas that have fallen prey to unchecked commercialisation and construction. We spend the next morning visiting the famous Ilyasi Mosque, which is unique in the sense that multiple cold water springs well up from the mountain behind it and then flow out from beneath its raised structure. This water is ice cold and sweet - a perfect combination after a hearty meal of very spicy and delicious pakoras that are sold at this spot. It is in the evening that we visit a hotel franchised by a well known chain and find that a part of the building is called Raja Rasalu's Cave. Enquiries reveal a fascinating local legend about a cave in the mountains that is said to have been sealed by the folk hero Raja Rasalu, who fought and killed an unspeakable horror inside the grotto and then blocked the entrance. An account of this epic battle can be read in Tales of the Punjab (1894) by Flora Annie Steel and the Journal Asiatic Society of Bengal (1854). The Asiatic Society document states that the event took place in the Gandgarhi Mountains north of Attock, which does place it in the proximity of the ranges overlooking Abbottabad. Time flies and it is with a heavy heart that we bid goodbye to this fascinating city with the final lines of Kaka Abbott's verses echoing in our ears: "Oh Abbottabad we are leaving you now; to your natural beauty do I bow, Perhaps, your winds will never reach my ears; my gift for you is sad tears, I bid you farewell with a heavy heart; never from my mind will your memories thwart." The writer belongs to a very old and established family of the Walled City. His forte is the study of History.