Saturday, 29 June 2013

Travelogue: Up the Hills of New Murree

Patriata New Murree visitors enjoying the chairlift ride
Thrilling roller coasters and exciting amusement rides have always enthralled me. Around this time last year, I convinced my husband to drive us to the hills of New Murree for a chairlift ride in Patriata.

Due to their convenient accessibility and affordability, the Murree Hills are a popular choice for recreation in Pakistan. People travel northbound towards hilly terrains seeking a respite from the scorching summer heat in the plain lands.

About an hour's drive from Islamabad, Patriata is approached by a road that winds along the hills for some 7 km after a U-turn from the Murree motorway shortly before ascending the Murree hill.

A crude bazaar leads to New Murree's Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) resort and a vast car park. This tourist recreation spot is commendably well-built and neatly maintained.

As we climbed our way through the small souvenir stalls that displayed handicrafts and shawls, we could spot a dense queue inside a red enclosure. We purchased our tickets and got water bottles before heading towards the end of the line.

My expectations about the prevalent rush were a drastic underestimate. To our sheer surprise, the line of people ascended way up the hill. There were literally more than five hundred people in that ever-growing queue.

Little boys were selling Fresh-Up bubble gum and chilled drinks to the weary tourists. We got roasted maize seeds from a boy who had placed them in small paper bags worth ten rupees each. In the evidently long wait, it was a good marketing strategy to persistently keep trying different selling tactics.

Then an hour later, as our line descended along a few trees, we took small cherry berries wrapped in a green leaf cone worth the same price tag. I couldn't help admiring the meritorious innovative selling techniques employed by these young businessmen.

Finally, we made it to the red-sheltered queue compartment that ceased to accommodate unaccounted entries in the line. Soon after, it was our turn to board the chairlift.

The rejoicing ride was worth the wait. It was long and serene in the clean cool air with a mesmerising view of the picturesque natural green beauty around us.

Mindful of the advancing evening, we declined the option to venture for the cable car journey, and made our way back for another invigorating chairlift adventure to take us back to the starting point.


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