It was September 2017, when I started feeling burnt out from work and all other nasty stuff happening around me. For already a few months, I felt drained, but I took it as a temporary feeling that would go away with time. I thought it would get better, but unfortunately, it got worst, and I had no other option left but to apply for 5 days’ annual leaves to get the horses of my brain running. They were approved straightforwardly, and I decided to make a memorable trip to the Naran Valley.
I had my bus-ticket booked for the next day to start my journey up the north of the country. Since I had paid a handsome amount for the bus-seat, I was left with no other option but to leave my city, Karachi. This was the first time in my life that I had a chance of traveling within Pakistan all by myself. I have gone to some other northern areas of Pakistan but not alone.
The prospect made me even more excited, and I started visualizing myself, exploring the northern areas of my beautiful country. I went to the market and bought all the essentials I needed to begin my journey. I had my cell phone loaded with extra credit to avoid ambiguities while taking pleasure moving around in the northern areas.
The next day arrived, and I left my home at precisely 11:30 AM. Although the bus was supposed to go at 2:00 PM, I just left earlier to make sure that I reach the bus station on time. I hired a taxi and headed straight to M.A. Jinnah road to catch the Daewoo shuttle service. Once I arrived there, I learned from one of the staff members that the shuttle service was temporarily unavailable. Still, they insisted on waiting for fifteen minutes as one of the vans was on its way to the shuttle station.
Soon afterward, the shuttle arrived, and I was relieved because hiring a ride-hailing cab to reach the bus terminal would have been way more expensive. Thankfully, I arrived at the central bus station an hour before the actual departure time. It allowed me to enjoy a teacup while I remained obsessed with the exciting prospect awaiting to be explored. I had an entire week ahead to discover the soothing surroundings of the Naran Valley.
Finally, the time arrived when my journey began. The bus was supposed to stop at 10 different stations in different cities and provinces before arriving at the last destination, Abbottabad, in the KPK province. The bus stopped at Hyderabad, Moro, and Sukkur, all of which are located in the region of Sindh province. In Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan, the bus stopped at Bahawalpur, Jhang, Sargodha, and Rawalpindi.
The entire journey took up to 31 hours to reach Abbottabad. Once I arrived there, I barely had enough strength left in me to continue the trip to the Naran Valley. Thus, I decided to stay in the city for a night. I hired a reasonable room for PKR 500, put all my belongings there.
Since I had not eaten much, I was starving. It just took me a few minutes to find a restaurant nearby where I enjoyed eating mixed vegetables with bread. After satisfying my hunger, I headed back to my room to straighten my stiff back and legs. I slept like it was the first time I was asleep in my entire life. I woke up early the next day and ordered a cup of tea and a paratha for breakfast before I resumed my journey to Naran. I hired a van going to Mansehra from where I had to ride a minivan to Naran. It is a city in the KPK province where a famous bus station, Lorry Adda, is located.
The journey from Mansehra to Naran was of five hours. It was full of beautiful valleys, rivers, and waterfalls – lush green mountains covered with clouds. The scenic beauty unfolding in front of my eyes was worth capturing in a camera. I took pictures and made some videos. Before this moment, I had only heard of the entire terrain leading to the Naran Valley. I had also seen images, but now, I was actually witnessing it. As the van ascended, even more, mesmerizing spots kept coming one after the other. That said, it became increasingly difficult for me to take my eyes away. The landscapes had a kind of hypnotic effect on me, and I felt like staying there for the rest of my life.
Although the journey was pretty long, it never occurred bothersome, even for a few seconds. As we moved up the mountainous terrain, it got colder and colder. The path was hilly with steep ravines on both sides of the track, but it was very safe. Once I arrived at the Naran Valley, I headed to PTDC, which is like a guest house for visitors, and run by the government. As I inquired about the rates, I was surprised that the cost of the stay for each night was a staggering PKR 6,000. I did not even bother to negotiate and left searching for a more reasonably priced place to stay.
Luckily, it did not take too long to find another room at a pretty affordable price. I just hired it and put all my belongings there and explored the Naran Valley’s natural beauty. On each side of the bridge, I saw crystal clear water flowing surrounded by top green mountains. For a while, it felt like a small piece of heaven had descended to the earth. Just a few minutes’ walk ahead, there was a market where people were selling different things. There were also lots of restaurants nearby offering delicious food. Some of them were also selling the trout fish. (to be continued)