Sunday, December 6, 2015

Abbottabad- The City of Pines and Chinar

Abbottabad- The City of Pines and Chinar

Since I was a child, I have loved the wilderness, the smell of freshly cut grass and newly blossomed flowers. Nature has always provided me with inner peace and contentment maybe because I opened my eyes in the city of pines and I believe my love for everything that nature has to offer is innate.
Abbottabad was founded by and named after Major James Abbot who was a British army officer and the first Deputy Commissioner of Hazara. He was mesmerized by the beauty within the surroundings of the city and thus it got its name, The City of Pines
.
  Every year people from all parts of the country and even from overseas visit Abbottabad to see the splendor and the history behind its creation so as not to deny themselves of the beautiful experience it has to offer. There are many hotels and motels designed especially for the tourists to stay in at specific locations from where the whole city can be seen. If you travel at night, it would look like sharply cut diamonds studded in the black sky from afar.
  Shimla Hill (or Shimla Pahari in the local dialect) is a hill of the Sherwan  range. It is derived from the Hindko and Punjabi word Shamla  that is, the crest of a turban, since the Sherwan range at this point comes up to Abbottabad in the shape of a crest, or ridge. This is a site of great tourist attraction and a picnic spot.
    The silk route which starts from Hasanabdaal and terminates at the Khunjeraab pass, also includes Abbottabad, therefore it acts as an important factor in our trade as Abbottabad is famous for its silk embroidery. One can also reach from here to Sawat, Dir, Naraan. Lipa and Jhelum valleys are also connected through Abbottabad. 
Though the language spoken here is hindko, there are many other people from different ethnic backgrounds and a few other languages such as Pushto, Punjabi, Afghani and Mansehri are also spoken.
Pakistan has produced many brave and heroic soldiers in the past .Every year hundreds of cadets pass out from the Pakistan Military Academy,  located near Kakul which is considered as one of the best academies in the world. Passing out parades are reviewed live on television which act as inspiration for the youth and inculcate in them the feeling of love and honor for their nation. On weekends you can see them strolling in the thronged marketplaces dressed in similar attire.
 The beautiful Ilyasi mosque is constructed over a spring which acts as an endless source of fresh water for the people. People visit from all over the country to enjoy there and eat the delicious “pakoras” that make the place worth visiting.
  Major James Abbott was an efficient administrator, a keen observer, historian, archeologist, linguist, botanist and a town planner. He made efforts in making it an educational hub so after independence, Abbottabad became the center of knowledge. Now it is a home to prestigious institutions like Ayub Medical College, Burn Hall School and Abbottabad public school which are famous not only for the education they provide but also for the architecture
The cantonment area of Abbottabad still gives an old look with huge European bungalows, church and cemetery that was once built by the British who settled here. The Lady Garden Park (originallyLadies' Garden) is a public park in Abbottabad town, The park was established soon after the foundation of Abbottabad town itself (January 1853) by Major James Abbott  As distinct from theCompany Bagh (East India Company Park) which was also founded down in the main bazaar for the recreation of "natives", the Ladies Garden was exclusively for the use of European or White ladies and families. It was laid out over a whole block of the urban military cantonment area, opposite to St Luke's Church, Abbottabad. A number of trees and flowers imported from England and other places were also planted here.
  In the past few years, this city has modernized. New shopping malls, hotels and restaurants have been built. Apart from the modernization the one thing that I really appreciate is the fact that the old buildings that the British had built are still the same. The cantonment area is still green as one can say, simply “untouched”.
  I quote following words of Captain Thomas, in which he describes magic of Himalayan hill stations, he writes:  
“From March, when the sleet and snow may have passed away, to the middle of July, the climate is heavenly. There is nothing like it on earth. Nothing! Nothing in Italy! Nothing in France! Nothing anywhere that I know of. Recall the finest day you have ever known in English spring, and conceive the beauty and gladness of that sunshine, brightened by continuing without a storm, and deck the fruit trees and bushes in a Thousand English blossoms and spread violets and daises and berry blossoms and wild roses over the bright close emerald turf over crags amid the pine roots and far away down amid the ferns and you may fancy something...." He mentioned that places like Murree, Shimla and Abbottabad were pieces of heaven on earth.
I have spent half of my life here. The beauty has always mesmerized and inspired me in every possible way. At the end, I’d like to share a poem written by Major James Abbott when he was about to departure from Abbottabad after an eight year old long stay: 
I remember the day when I first came here
And smelt the sweet Abbottabad air
The trees and 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 pine 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 sound will never reach my ear
My gift for you is a few sad tears
I bid you farewell with a heavy heart
Never from my mind will your memories thwart

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