Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ziarat Residency, Apple Farm, and Tourist Traps

 Transportation Reviews: Karachi-Quetta-Ziarat and back

At a height of ~8,000 feet, Ziarat might be the only place in the Southern Pakistan which can be called a hill station. Although it might not be as lush as those in the Central and Upper parts of the country – for instance Galiyat, Kaghan Valley, Swat, etc – however, it still deserves an outing due to its distinctive Juniper forests, orchards, colonial history, and healing characteristics.

Here are a couple of things which one should not miss while visiting the cool hill station:

Quaid-e-Azam Residency
Quaid-e-Azam Residency Ziarat
Ziarat Residency, where the Founding Father – or Quaid-e-Azam – Muhammad Ali Jinnah spent last few days of his life, upon doctors’ advice, fighting the lung cancer is the most characteristic structure of the hill station. The aesthetically designed wooden building does not only possess architectural significance but it is also a remnant of the golden days of the British Empire looking over their rebellious northwestern frontiers towards Afghanistan and beyond.

Now the charismatic 19the century Residency is a national monument and is maintained accordingly.

Reaching the monument from Ziarat bazaar is no big deal; take the upward artery from Shalimar Hotel, or from other any other gulley, walk uphill for around 15 minutes and you will be there. The place is so obvious that losing the way is difficult; however, one can take the assistance of passersby if confused. As you move upward, views of the surrounding valleys will become clearer making the trail-cum-road more refreshing.

The place opens daily from 9 to 5 with lunch break and except for Wednesdays. Unfortunately, we got to know the Wednesday thing only after I lifted Mikael’s buggy all the way upstairs – with the little one inside as he was sleeping – that we are there on the bad day! However, staff was courteous and opened that for us. After all we traveled all the way from Karachi to see Quaid’s memorial. By the way, no one was there except for us and those guards, which I believe would be the case even if we would have visited on a legitimate day.

Gardens around the Residency are the best maintained in the whole Ziarat and provided us with a good opportunity to enjoy our little picnic with Misha running and jumping around freely. Yellow leaves were dancing down from trees, with every passing breeze, announcing the autumn coming!

Sunshine was just perfect for the due warmth – in the otherwise cold town – and the Vitamin D intake was a bonus. Air was as fresh as it could be and an opportunity for us to breath deep to purify our polluted Karachite lungs! Skies were so clear and so blue that we could see the moon – right around noon – inevitably! The whole arena was engulfed into a deep silence which could only be broken by the slow winds and autumn leaves.

When we reached there, the Residency was closed
Because it was Wednesday!
However, the staff opened that for us
Misha found a big park to run freely and collect autumn leaves
An Autumn Leave
07 Tree turned yellow.jpg
Can you spot the moon?
A motorcycle with special facilities
It was the phone call of Abdus Samad Dotani – a gentleman and a local landlord – which forced us to windup and come down to the bazaar to discuss when to visit his apple farm.

Bird Eyeview
Surrounding valleys of Ziarat produce premium quality cherries and apples of various varieties which fetch handsome price in Punjab’s fruit markets. If one is coming from Quetta, patches of orchards start appearing on both sides of the slanting road half an hour ahead of the city center around Zandra and Kewas valleys. Cold and dry weather plays an important role in making Ziarat apples juicier and more flavorsome.

Since winters was in the offing, trees started changing colors; from greenish to red, orange, and finally yellowish. It was a beautiful sight indeed.

We felt lucky when invited by Abdus Samad Dotani to visit his family farms along with a sumptuous luncheon, full of Pushtoon hospitality. Will you call it best of both worlds when he told us that there were still a couple of trees loaded with apples! He intentionally left them for his guests and friends.

We spent a couple of hours in the farm where our host enlightened us about the local trends regarding farming. He told us that some farmers are shifting to cherries and other fruits from apples because of the low priced produce in the market coming from the neighboring sanctioned-hit Iran.

While I was sitting in his traditional ‘farshi’ guest room, a delegate from a developmental NGO was there discussing the upliftment prospects. Though people in the area are conservative and mostly support conservative relegiopolitical parties, they also welcome genuine NGOs simultaneously. That observation was contrary to my previous stereotyped thought. Abdus Samad also told us that though ignored in the previous generation people are now aware of the importance of female education and a majority of girls around his village are now going to school.

At the end of the day, he packed us a couple of cartons full of fresh apples for the home also!
An apple farm from outside
An apple farm from outside
Last of the Trees with Apples
Apples from Ziarat Attract Good Prices Because of Superior Quality
A Couple of Isolated Apples
Another One Hanging Alone
Yet another one
Varieties in the Farm
It gets wasted too
Quality Inspector.
Do apples grow on bushes?
A bunch of colorful ones
A row of apple trees
Farsh with handwoven carpet
Meeting with NGO
Juniper - the pride of Ziarat
Tourist Traps
Apart from the above two, most of the other attractions marketed by touts, e.g. natural spring, khewari baba, etc, are no less than a tourist trap and a source of earning for local drivers, in my opinion.

 Transportation Reviews: Karachi-Quetta-Ziarat and back


  1. Quaid-e-Azam actually died of pulmonary or lung tuberculosis (TB) rather Lung cancer, although he showed some signs of cancer too but his long illness was due to tuberculosis and eventually it became the cause of death.

  2. nice Muzzamil...liked your dress

    1. haha! this is 'feeran' a traditional upper worn in cold Kashmir. It is so warm that I could never use it in Karachi so the trip gave me the opportunity to bring it out from the long unutilzied inventory!!