By Mehwish Azam
ISLAMABAD, Mar 01 (APP):Trekking trails that sneak down the roads of Islamabad from different steep sides of the majestic Margalla Hills are some of the most amazing natural landscapes of the capital city.
Hundreds of people including foreigners visit these trails everyday and enjoy the natural environment and health-recreational-activities.
The Margalla Hills had around thirty well-identified trails that are used by the locals and tourists. However, the administration of the capital city has worked and developed six of them for public hiking.
Margalla is a 40 km long hill range that covers an area of approximately 12,605 hectares. Highest peak of the range is Tilla Charouni with an elevation of 1604 meters.
The Hills stretch from Shahdara Valley in the east to Shah Allah Ditta village in the west covering area between shrines of ‘Bari Imam’ in the east and ‘Golra Sharif’ in the west.
Margalla Hills almost stand like a wall between two lakes of ‘Khanpur’ in the far north and ‘Rawal’ in near south.
Talking to APP, an official of Islamabad Wildlife Management Board (IWMB) said that these trails and Margalla National Park are home for locals, athletes and foreigners who are fond of trekking, hiking and walking in the twisted paths that are finding their way right up to the hills.
He said number of visitors to trails and margalla national park increases in spring and summers. “Approximately 250-300 trekkers including locals, who live uphill, use these tracks for hiking, jogging and walking daily”, he added.
All of these trails offer unique hiking opportunities and can be easily managed as half-day weekend hikes. Trail-1 starts behind Sectors E-8 and E-9. The easiest way to the trail head is by reaching village Kalinger from the junction of Agha Shahi Avenue and National Defence University.
Hiking can be commenced from a small mazar complex in village Kalinger. Initially, the trail moves along a water stream that leads into the mountains. Unlike other officially recognized trails, this is not marked well and it takes considerable effort to explore the path.
Among all the six officially recognized trails, trail-2 leading up to Damn-e-Koh is the shortest. It has two distinct trail heads. First is located at a narrow dirt track astride Marghazar Zoo.
Alternately, a well-marked trail head is present at the start of Pir Sohawa Road.
Trail-3 is the most famous and beautiful hiking trail which is well marked and properly maintained. The trail head is located opposite Sector F-6 on Margalla Road and a parking area is also available at that point.
Due to proximity of various embassies, the trail is frequently visited by foreigners. The initial ascent of trail is steep and it takes almost an hour of moderate hike to reach the ‘Viewpoint.’
The viewpoint offers great sights of Islamabad and almost all major buildings, monuments, avenues are identifiable with naked eye from here.
For majority of the hikers with families, the viewpoint marks as the culmination point of trail-3. However, for the more enthusiastic ones, it is just one third of the journey.
Trail-4 is quite challenging and strenuous. Initially, it moves along the Pir Sohawa Road and then takes a westward turn further into the Margalla Hills. At the top, the trail offers beautiful scenes of the city including rare glimpse of Faisal Mosque.
Trail-5 or the Dera Janglan Trail is also quite popular. The start point of the trail is located a few hundred meters ahead of trail-3, opposite to Sector F-5 on Margalla Road, and it leads up to Pir Sohawa Road. This trail has about three sub-trails which are also linked with the adjacent trail-3.
Trail-6 or the Chak Jabbi Trail is one of the latest trails that has officially been recognized and made available to general public after necessary works.
The trail head is located at the rear of Faisal Mosque near car parking. After about half an hour from the start point, it takes you to a beautiful water spring with date and palm trees around it.
A regular hiker and local of Islamabad, Jawad Ali Shah said that the picnickers who come to trek on these trails also turn the resting places into BBQ points where they use wood from trees and leave behind their waste.
“To maintain this scenic beauty, it is our civic duty to take our waste back with us and not litter the place with plastic bottle and other junks”, he added.