Towards Sangra, all the way to the Whispering Pines Resort!

Saturday, October 15, 2016 Hiba Moeen 0 Comments



After visiting the scenic Swaik Lake (related post) and following a good trekking exercise, we headed towards the hotel, had coffee, picked our bags and were ready to hit our final destination (not that movie themed final destination though the motion sickness tried to prove it so), Sangra. We felt half dead during the long drive and had a stopover at Saidpur’s Village’s restaurant, Des Pardes. It has its theme inspired by the Greek Buddhist, Mughal, and the colonial period, it is located at the base of Margalla Hills, in a Mughal era village which is towards the East of Daman-e-Koh, Islamabad. Much to our travellers’ surprise, there was a Gurdawara at the back of the restaurant which welcomed us to its fabulous historic era as we felt to have time travelled to the gloom and attraction or yesteryear.




A colleague pretends to be a tourist, admiring the piece of art in front of his very eyes.

The truck art inspired ambiance was quite an eye candy

The food at Des Pardes was out of this world, especially the Kheer (rice and milk pudding – dessert) which really won my heart. The naans were very soft and scrumptious and they had an exceptional barbeque but since I personally don’t like lamb I didn’t have it. The list of desi food goes on …

The tour guide had unlocked a room for us at the Gurdwara which was a picture museum of vintage memories and since we were short on time, we had to make it quick. I along with 3 other colleagues were right on time to return and get treated with the phenomenal Kheer. I have a habit of washing my hands before having dessert, no napkin or sanitizer in the world does justice than washing your hands with water and hand wash and this is how I got to visit the Gurdwara or rather discovered it behind the walls of the restaurant, well the bathroom was here! After having a good meal we drove up all the way towards the Whispering Pines Resort which is 10 kilometers above Monal Restaurant. And the drive along the winding ways gave a good dose of motion sickness though Gravinate helped a bit, there came a realization that I shouldn’t have eaten at all. Thankfully, I don’t throw up, my level of motion sickness isn’t that bad, it’s simply a spell of short breaths, head turning cold and tight and that’s about it … no that’s not about it! That’s terrible! My sister-in-law had sent me motion sickness straps which are quite effective but for some odd reason I didn’t wear them during this particular commute. 

These steep roads were a test of how often we remember God and there wasn’t a moment when I wouldn’t have imagined what death would be like had we fallen off, I might be exaggerating but I made sure I don’t sit near the window (ostrich approach) . We reached a particular check post at about 1 AM and had to wait being authorized to go further up.  Everybody was so tired and some of us decided to sit on the road including me, gasping for some fresh air. During all this hustle and bustle there were two goats observing the spectacle while being at peace with their own existence. 


It was as if this white goat was asking, ‘Karachi sey aaey ho sub kay sub (Have you all come from Karachi?’

I find this quite strange and surprising at the same time that people from Punjab know that you are from Karachi the moment they see you. I don’t know but this happens, the goat seemed to have the same question. So while some spread themselves on the road and I took gasps of oxygen inside, we were allowed access to go up and the road … Oh my God! It was like going up the ladder via a vehicle. I hung on to the seat as if it was my ultimate saviour.

And there we were at the Whispering Pines which is in Sangra, located in district Haripur of KPK. We got distributed in the spacious villas and apartments which are a must visit spot for the travel aficionado. This resort is located 19 kilometers from F-6 Islamabad and is at an elevation of 4,500 feet. Whispering Pines’ one bedroom apartment is for Rs. 10,000 per night, this includes attached bath, kitchen, living room, and balcony. Similarly, with all these things included, the 2 bedroom villa is for Rs. 20,000 and the 3 bedroom villa is for 30,000. It is a phenomenal place and recommended for everyone.  

The female colleagues were allotted the 3 bedroom villa that had a wonderful view of the mountains and the valleys around. It was like a duplex set from the early 90’s Hollywood movie. Since we were about 30 people, we had the privilege of getting corporate rates so if you plan to go as a group, Whispering Pines is highly recommended. It was so picturesque that part of me has stayed there; I won’t be surprised if people complain of the place being haunted by my ghost.

The five pictures below are of the villa we stayed in.






With all the basic facilities, including a 24 hour backup generator (which is a much needed machine since these places suffer more in terms of electricity load shedding) a convenient stay is guaranteed! When we went there, having no air conditioners installed was quite surprising but considering the pleasant temperature of Sangra, these are not needed. Much to our excitement, it rained the following morning and it turned a little chilly. For a cold blooded animal like me, I was somewhat surprised to see a colleague shivering. 


We rain deprived Karachiites had a great time in downpour as it rained cats and dogs non-stop for a good couple of hours. I fell in love with the variety of roses in and around the resort; they appeared stunning in the rain!

Whispering Pines’ Resort serves brilliant breakfast though their lunch and dinner were, I would say average. Overall, the management ensured that all meals were served hot, following a proper routine and the place had been spic and span throughout.

Breakfast

Coffee tasted superb on the mountain. This photo composition has been inspired by that of Danial Shah's, a highly talented photo journalist who snaps a picture of his cup of tea where ever he travels.

Although the construction of this place would have required a lot of trees to be slaughtered, I like the fact that they weren’t chopped off unnecessarily as there were tall trees still present at the vicinity. One such example is in the picture below.



As observed, the decoration of the villas was quite distinctive which spoke highly about the taste and artistic demeanour of the interior designer or the owner if having the art pieces displayed was his choice. There was a knife painting displayed at one of the villas and a bird themed collection of embroidered fabric framed that graced the walls.



These were the four framed embroidered pieces of fabric which have been merged into a picture collage here

Not everybody got to be treated to this lovely spot, the animal farm (reminds me of George Orwell’s Animal Farm but this one seemed too innocent to be political) which I discovered along with my colleague, Shahzad as we went for a morning walk. This small farm was adjacent to the kitchen and I was staring at the animals like Almira from Looney Tunes. Given my hysteria of excitement, the kitchen staff suggested us going inside the farm and we did exactly as told. There were rabbits, hens, exotic pigeons, black and white cranes, and turkey. I tried to pet the rabbits but they ran away. I loved the fact that these animals were fed based on a timely basis as their feeding schedule was written on the door, meant to be strictly followed. 

The next day when I visited the farm again somewhere between 8 AM and 9 AM the rabbits had started gathering around, they signaled breakfast, this is when the boy from the kitchen got some pine leaves for me to feed the rabbits and I loved that very exciting moment, he also snapped this picture below for me


There were pigeon nest boxes too outside a particular villa and the management seemed to have created a good ecosystem overall.

Their pet pigeon
We had finally left with good memories thanks to the places we visited and stayed at, and Whispering Pines was one of them. Until the next adventure trip, it’s good bye from me. :)

A lamp adding to the vintage touch of the resort






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