Fakhar Alam

PESHAWAR, Sep 6 (APP): The long-awaited demands of tourists and people for provision of affordable and quality accommodation facilities in picturesque valleys and breathtaking hilly areas in Pakistan was finally fulfilled by PTI Government with opening of five historic colonial era buildings to public at scenic Nathiagali Abbottabad district.

The five boutique style ancient buildings constructed during British era opened for foreign, domestic tourists and general public at Nathiagali include Governor House, Chief Minister House, Karnak House previously known as Himalaya House, Speaker House and IGP Khyber Pakthunkhwa House.

 These buildings are located at a panoramic elevation where from visitors could see the splendid natural beauty, waterfalls, biodiversity and mountainous beauty of Kalabagh, Bagnotar, Jhika Gali, Nathiagali, Dongagali, Baragali, Thandyani and Ayubia with ease. 

The visitors can enjoy chairlift ride at Ayubia, zigzag walking tracks at Galayat in a single day while staying in these primitive buildings with eye-catching architectural designs and awesome art work.

 Stretched over 76 kanal vast areas and above 7922 feet height from sea level comprising eight rooms and sprawling lush green lawn, the Governor House Nathiagali is a historic building constructed during British era in 1928 where tourists and general public can easily stay in secure environment with their families after proper booking.   The spectacular two-storey building with eight spacious rooms, two drawing rooms, a dining hall & meeting room, walking track, guest rooms and sprawling lawn reminds visitors of its glorious past where decisions about destiny of people of subcontinent and affairs of the province were decided by past rulers. 

 The Governor House Nathiagali is likely to generate Rs 115 million revenue per annum as the one day rent of the palatial historic building is Rs320,000 while Rs 40,000 is the rent of each room officials sources in KP Tourism Corporation (TCKP) told APP. Prior to this popular step of the PTI Govt, these buildings incurred huge financial burden on the national exchequer on account of maintenance, staff salaries, utility bills and others unforeseen expenditure. 

Similarly, Chief Minister KP House located on top of a mountain peak near Governor House Nathiagali on 12 kanal is also opened for tourists. It was constructed in 1932 with four-state-of the art residential rooms and beautifully designed architectural balconies, sprawling lawn, walking track, meeting and special rooms for guests also impressed visitors soon after entering this ancient two storey building.  

 The Government is expected to earn Rs32.4million per year if one day rent of the whole building stands at Rs 90,000 and Rs 24,000 per room. The other ancient building opened for tourists and general public is Karnak House, which is located in front of the CM House,  it was constructed in 1932 where most of federal and provincial ministers besides bureaucrats and lawmakers stayed. 

It has four architectural designed rooms with vast lawn from where tourists can easily enjoy the splendid view of Nathiagali and adjoining valleys. The rent of one room at Karnak house is fixed at Rs18,000 and whole house could be utilized on Rs72,000 per day. Previously known as Hamaliya  (Himalaya) House

Moreover, Speaker House constructed in 1933 is also opened for general public and tourists. Its six rooms carrying awesome architectural and art designs were mostly used by speaker and deputy speaker KP Assembly in the past.  The rent of one room of Speaker House is fixed at Rs 16,000 and Rs24,000 for whole building per day. 

Another colonial era ‘IGP House’ at Nathiagali constructed in 1929 on 22 kanal was also opened for tourists and general public where mostly IGPs of Khyber Pakthunkhwa stayed in the past. It has eight rooms and could be utilized on Rs 12,000 per room and Rs 96,000 of the whole building for one day. “In line with Govt decisions, all these five Govt rest houses were opened for tourists and general public,” said Junaid Khan, Managing Director, Khyber Pakthunkhwa Tourism Corporation (TCKP) while talking to APP, adding that the rent of each building was fixed less than the other competitive hotels in the areas having similar facilities.
 On August 9, 2019, Khyber Pakthunkhwa Cabinet approved handing over of 169 rest houses of Provincial Government and Local Bodies immediately to Tourism Department along with human resource for renting out of 49 feasible rest houses to public on immediate basis. The Cabinet also approved release of Rs100million to Tourism Department as contribution of KP Govt to PTDC Endowment Fund, preparation of a separate law for formal handing over of rest houses along with assets  and humans resource to Tourism and Administration Departments. 

Transfer of the management of above five boutique styled houses at Nathiagali to Administration Department and constitution of a high-level committee comprising the departments of Finance, Planning &Development, Tourism and Administration to make recommendations for outsourcing these rest houses to private sector were also approved by Cabinet.
 In pursuance of the KP Cabinet decisions, the KP Govt on August 22, 2019 through a notification, has transferred the management along with human resource of 169 Government rest houses of different departments to Tourism Department with immediate effect and further renting  out of the same in phased manner in general public. 

The transferred Govt rest houses include 20 of the Irrigation Department, 56 Communication and Works, 21 Local Government and Rural Development, two police and 70 of the Forest Department. The MD TCKP said process of handing over of these rest houses to TCKP had been started and were being opened up for tourists and general public in phased manner.   

He said majority of rest houses required complete renovation and rehabilitation works for which huge financial resources would be required, saying all these rest houses would be operational by next summer season. Junaid Khan said opening of these rest houses were necessitated after arrival of influx of foreign and domestic tourists to Khyber Pakthunkhwa this year in wake of PTI Govt decision to issue new online visa facility to 175 countries and visa on arrival to 96 countries. 

He said the visas initiatives has attracted a large number of foreign tourists from Sri Lanka, China, South Korea and other countries that visited Peshawar and Swat museums where a rich collection of buddhism,   ancient articles, sculpture, coins, manuscripts, books, paintings of Gandhara civilization, Greco-Buddhist, Persian handicrafts, Mughal and later periods were  preserved. 

South Korean Ambassador to Pakistan, Kwak Sung-Kyu along with a 25 members high delegation of Buddhist pilgrims comprising monks, researchers, businesspersons and professors from the renowned Dongguk University visited Peshawar Museum, and historical sites of Gandhara civilization in KP the other day and took keen interest in the unique heritage of Pakistan. Nathiagali, Ayubia in Abbottabad, Kaghan, Naran in Manshera, Kalam and Malam Jabba in Swat, Kumrat Dir and Chitral districts attracted over two million tourists this year especially during Eid-ul- Fitr and Eidul Azha vacations in Khyber Pakthunkhwa.