By Fakhar Alam
PESHAWAR, Oct 18 (APP): The fatigue and boredom of tedious journey from plain to northern areas of Pakistan suddenly gets relieved as one feasts one’s eyes with awe stricken scenic beauty of Saiful Malook lake amid cold breezes, popping up delightful thoughts of being in realms of fantasy and fairytales.
The crystal clear greenish-blue water of the world famous Saiful Malook Lake, which is spread on 1.06 square miles and has 113 feet depth with elevation of 3,224 meters from sea level leaves mesmerizing effects on the minds and souls of millions of tourists every year.
Known as the lake of fairy tales, Saiful Malook is surrounded by snow-clad mountains of Malika Perbat on its east at Kaghan valley Mansehra district, taking visitors into a lap of peace and serenity.
Named after Persian Prince, Saiful Malook, the lake is a main centre of attraction for foreign and domestic tourists in Kaghan and Naran valleys especially during summer season due to its pleasant weather and waterfalls emanating from nearby glaciers of Malika Parbat.
Noted Sufi poet, Mian Muhammad Bakhsh in his famous book “Fairytale of Saiful Malook” has narrated about Prince Saiful Malook and fairy princes Badriul Jamala during Malook’s visit to the lake. “Pakistan is a beautiful country blessed with plenty of famous lakes such as Ansoo, Lalusar in Kaghan, Dudipastar in Mansehra, Katora at Kumrat valley in Dir Upper, Mahoodhand in Swat, Sheosar in Gilgit Baltistan and Rattigoli at Neelum Valley Azad Kashmir.
“But, Saiful Maloolk has its significant value in terms of natural beauty, greenish-blue water and inflow of clean water from Malika Perbath’s glaciers and smooth outflow of water to River Kunhar” said Manzoorul Haq, former Ambassador of Pakistan while talking to APP.
“I visited many lakes in several countries but the gripping beauty and clean greenish-blue water of Saiful Malook has impressed me the most,” Manzoorul Haq who served as Pakistan’s ambassador in Egypt and Saudia Arabia said.
“I came to Saiful Malook lake after 15 years and saw a marked improvement in the condition of Naran-Kaghan Road besides the nine kilometers Naran-Saiful Malook road, which is a positive sign for development of the tourism sector in Pakistan,” he said. Travelling in colorful boats for a Rs1,000 ticket to explore the entire lake besides horse-riding, takes tourists to a new height of fun and joy.
The construction of chairlift between Naran and Saiful Malook could generate millions of rupees revenue for provincial kitty besides improving socio-economic conditions of people of the area, he suggested. “It is disgusting to see scattered plastic bags and water bottles in vicinity of the lake,” he said, adding littering garbage and other wastes in places like these were adversely affecting its natural beauty and put aquatic life in danger.
Ambassador Manzoor said the number of litter bins needed to be increased besides the enhanced number of sanitary workers for quick disposal of solid waste and facilities at cars parking areas requires improvement.
“Saiful Malook and Ansoo lakes are my favorite tourists’ places as their natural beauty always fascinates me to spend a few weeks in these spectacular scenic areas of Pakistan.
It is my fifth consecutive year to visit my dream lakes since 2015,” said Khurshid Khan, Assistant Manager, Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) while talking to APP. “I became late this year because of my official engagements and coronavirus pandemic.
“I advise visitors to bring with them warm clothes as temperature drops during night hours these days at Saiful Malook, Naran and Kaghan,” he said.
Latifur Rehman, Spokesperson, Tourism, Sports and Archeology Department said around 2.681 million tourists visited Khyber Pakhtunkhwa during August 13, 2020 to September 30, 2020 following decrease of coronavirus cases. He said over 1.718 million tourists had visited Abbottabad including Nathiagali, Thandiani, Kaghan, Naran and Saiful Malook lake and 0.664 million in Swat during the said period. “Tourism Department KP is working on a plan to develop picnic spots in the vicinity of five small dams including Chatri dam Haripur, Tanda dam Kohat, Kundal dam Swabi, Jalozai dam Nowshera and Jhangra dam Abbottabad and has initiated process in this regard,” he said.
Construction work on access roads to tourists’ sites was expedited and work orders for construction of access roads in prime tourists’ areas in Hazara and Malakand divisions were issued.
Syed Taimoor Ali Shah, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Wildlife Manshera told APP that Saiful Malook and Lulusar national parks were established in 2003 to protect ecology, alpine ecosystem, conserve forests and wildlife habitats besides providing improved facilities to thousands of tourists visiting these lakes every year. He said Saiful Malook lake has been included in Saiful Malook National Park (SMNP) to ensure its sustainable protection and conservation.
Spreading on 12,026 acres, Saiful Malook national park has facilities of 49 dusts bins placed in different areas for disposal of waste, he said, adding international standard horse helmets were procured and would be freely distributed among horse-riders for safety of tourists besides a pedestrian bridge over SMNP constructed to facilitate women, senior citizens and children tourists.
A new site measuring 30 kanals has been selected for development of new service and parking areas to accommodate 500 vehicles at one time besides construction of tracks at SMNP. Similar tracks were also constructed at Lulusar lake’s park besides facilities of entry gate, park complex and tourists information centre. Junaid Khan, Additional Secretary Tourism, Sports, Culture and Youth Affairs Department KP told APP that promotion of lakes was a cornerstone of PTI Govt.
He said a project regarding establishment of a chairlift at Naran Mansehra would be revived and work on its technical designs would start soon. Upon completion, flow of domestic tourists at Naran and Kaghan would be significantly enhanced and load on Malam Jabba and Ayubia chair lifts would be reduced.
Junaid Khan said, “around five lakh to one million tourists normally visit Hazara division including Naran, Kaghan, Nathiagali, Thandiani, Saiful Malook and Ansoo lakes every year due to improved roads infrastructure and tourism related facilities including camping pods established by PTI Government to facilitate tourists. He said Ansoo was a beautiful lake of Pakistan where adventure sports including trekking and mountaineering could be developed.
The Additional Secretary said 11 Integrated Tourism Zones (ITZ) would be established under a World Bank project worth $70 million to promote tourism in KP. Similarly, Rs3 billion were allocated under Accelerated implementation Program (AIP) for development of tourism sites in merged areas.
These AIP projects have been submitted to the Planning and Development department and construction work on tourism spots in merged areas would start next year. Junaid Khan said the federal government had been approached to include construction of two bridges on Peshawar-Landi Kotal railways’ route for revival of Khyber Train Safari under multiple tourism plans.
KP Govt has approved funds for a Safari train to be run between Peshawar-Takht Bhai Mardan and Peshawar-Attock, he said, adding this project had taken up with Pakistan Railways and work on it would commence soon after permission of Federal Government. He said requests for proposals (RFPs) had been issued for outsourcing and online booking of 48 rest houses to facilitate tourists.