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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Abbottabad: As I know it

Abbottabad is in the news for all the wrong reasons which is just so unfortunate.

What Abbotabad means to me?

Well, last time I was in Abbotabad was on my way to Peshawer in 2001. That wasn't my first time - between 1980s- 1999- I went/stayed there for short trips countless times - while living in Giglit. Just last week, when I was in Sweden, I met two IT students from Abbottabad (who were very helpful) and shared with them my desire to spend my retirement days (I don't have to be in 40's or 50's for that) in Abbottabad - a fascinating, pictureque, quiet Himalayan town with 100% literacy, very hospitable and beautiful people and close to all the major cities.

It is hard to believe that Abbottabad's name is all over the planet but not for tourism, its lush green fields, valleys and mountains and neither for its high standard of education and its famous educational institutions - a place where we have the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), Burn Hall School/College, Ayub Medical College or other numerous education institutions that have given Pakistan some of its most famous/intellectual people.

Abbottabad is a city located in Hazara Division of the NWFP (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa)on Karakorum Highway on the old Silk road. It is a famous tourist resort with one of the most beautiful landscape and fantastic weather in Pakistan. If one has to go to the Northern Areas (for hiking/trackking in the Karakuram, Himalaya or the Hindukush ranges) you have to pass through this town.

In case you have to go to Peshawer or beyond or down south from Abbottabad to Islamabad, Lahore and the rest of the areas - it is the major transit point. Abbottabad is at the crossroads of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkha provinces and shares a rich culture of both the provinces where people speak Hindko, Potohari, Punjabi, Pushto and a few other languages very comfortably. Neighbouring districts are Mansehra, Muzaffarabad, Haripur and Rawalpindi. Tarbela Dam is also situated near Abbottabad. Sir James M. Douie in his book entitled: 'The Panjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir' mentioned that "fine forests in Hazára, especially the deodárs, cedars and pines is confined to the Kágan Glen and the Upper Siran mountains" which surrounds Abbottabad.

While passing through Abbotabad - the regular sights used to be of the cadets learning/training for horse riding, playing hockey or doing other sports. It had really huge and beautiful houses. While driving at any instant, all of a sudden a wild deer or a boar appeared right in the middle of the road and some the dhabas had a really tasty food at dirt cheap prices. Beautiful colors and crispy leaves of the fall, pine trees standing tall on both sides of the roads, its snow falls, and streams are memorable.

This town was founded by a British military officer James Abbott as a military cantonment and summer retreat in 1849. Abbotabad literally means: city of Abbott but I am pretty sure that its history dates back to centuries.

Details on Hazara region and the other major cities of the Indian Subcontinent ...can be enjoyed here in a book at the Project Gutenberg entitled: "The Panjab, North-West Frontier Province, and Kashmir"

My childhood bestfriend Rehana was from Abbottabad and thanks to her we used to have apples from Abbottabad each season.I hope that as Abbottabad recovered from 2005 earthquake - it recovers again - as a bustling town and a tourist spot - a status it rightly deserves!

For more on Abbottabad read this very nice post by Doodh Patti.

picture credits@google images

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