The Scenic Beauty of Quetta and Ziarat

Tuesday, January 02, 2018 Heba Moeen 4 Comments

Long weekends are quite rare and when they happen, a lot happens along with them. A group of us took advantage of the holiday of December 25 and went for a trip to Quetta and Ziarat with Rover Adventure Club

Those of us who work 9 to endless whatever need a break every once in a while to charge our internal batteries in order to stay functional. This seemed like to a good escape.  

So off we went on Friday night for what turned out to be an almost 12 hour trip. I have a slight motion sickness issue so popped in a tablet of Gravinate which lulled me to sleep within half an hour, much to the envy of my friends who were somewhat feeling uneasy being stuck in one seat. Surprisingly, I could barely sleep on the bed the next night and I slept throughout most of our trip to Quetta.

The highway roads were so smooth and were indeed a delight for us people from Karachi
who perhaps don't even have one smooth road at our disposition, even if the roads get fixed, they are bound to get bumpy in the nick of time. 
The next morning we had finally arrived at Gardenia Resort Hotel in the cold city, Quetta, although very warm in its hospitality. The hotel facade itself seemed to be giving us a warm welcome.

The hotel then served us with a very appetising breakfast comprising of deliciously round parathas, omelette, and chickpea gravy. Although I am not a tea consumer but got to know from those around that it was exceptional, so the origin of our roadside dhabas, 'New Quetta Hotel' something something was witnessed in Quetta itself, not just in the hotel but at various other spots too.

Gardenia's service turned out to be pretty decent from their proper heating, warm running water, good food, and rooms with a good view. After settling down and resting for a few hours, we headed off to Hanna Lake and Orak Valley.

The lake looks beautiful in pictures because there it has water in it, unfortunately when we went, it was completely dry despite which there was an element of serenity and calmness surrounding it. See for yourself!

Here you can see the small island that used to lie in the middle of the lake which now has been neglected

There was a small shop and the owner was inviting everyone in for a free kahwah as a goodwill gesture as he considered us guests. Hanna Lake is perhaps another example of  present dayneglect. This water reservoir is a little more than 10 km towards the East side of Quetta was built in the British colonial era in 1894 along with a wall between two mountains. The purpose of the water filled ecological land was to collect water from snow melting from mountain tops and to divert water from Murdar and Zarghoon mountain streams. One can imagine the amount of fish lost and ecology destroyed as a result of the lake completely drying up.

After having spent a good time amidst the Earth's ochre and umber, and the sun's showering gold, we headed off towards the Orak Valley. It was a combination of dried foliage and small rural spots. Although the sunset was beautiful, there wasn't much to see.

Tip of the day: There are some renowned places that serve traditional food comprising of lamb and even chicken cooked in lamb fat which some people certainly love, however if you don't like lamb like me, it's best to avoid it. You should eat less and drink less anyway while travelling. Trust me, drinking less it recommended, considering the lack of proper public bathrooms on the way, our government seems to pay zero heed to such basic needs even though domestic tourism is on the rise in Pakistan. We all love travelling don't we? And you have to be flexible considering the inevitable downside, just have the traveller's spirit.

The same night we went to visit the city centre and thank God we went there. Had we not gone there we would have assumed Quetta to be village only which is still not bad. This was not part of the travel itinerary and the organisers were open to suggestions which was the best part about them and the travel group too comprised of very decent people. We got to know about Liaquat Bazaar from some locals and went to literally hunt for dry fruits. There we flocked into a nice and presentable dry fruit shop which was indeed an eye candy but it was limited to that attraction only since the prices were higher than in Karachi. A very thoughtful policeman outside suggested that we commute for a few minutes and explore the dry fruit street a couple of meters away. 

As excited as we were, and to the dismay of that shop, even those of us who had packs in hand, ready to be purchased, left them as they were and marched towards that God sent street. It was indeed a funny moment and a depiction of how one can instantly lose customers looking for value for money. We all ended up buying a handful of dry fruits from that long street.
The following morning we were to witness the astounding beauty of a few other spots as we embarked upon the journey to Ziarat, the calm abode of the father of our nation. The route from Quetta to Ziarat takes about 2.5 to 3 hours and I once again found comfort in that van seat, snapping pictures on the way.

The next stop was at the PTDC Motel and knowing the limited options there are in Ziarat, this was the only place we could go to. My sincere suggestion would be to skip this altogether and only visit Ziarat rather than staying there because PTDC was the complete opposite of Gardenia in terms of service and cleanliness and everything else. This is an opportunity the government should definitely explore by investing for once in tourism, especially in the neglected province, Balochistan but everything seems in vain other than the natural beauty that stubbornly prevails inspite of us trying our very best to destroy it.

One extremely unfortunate recurrence that we observed was the pollution and trash left behind by humans! There was so much of plastic (bottles, plastic bags, and wrappers) even at remote spots where human beings were not visible that it had become pretty evident that we are capable of massive destruction. We are doing our best to destroy this planet and have maintained a good success rate unfortunately.

We were very eager to visit the Quaid-e-Azam Residency and ended up being part of a very happening and festive place since it was just a day left for Jinnah's birthday and celebrations were being planned on account of that very day. I won't write all the details about this place as it deserves a separate blog post altogether. So until the next post, I'll share a few pictures below. Among everything else, the security was very prudent and we were allowed inside the house itself upon request, no bags or cameras were allowed, instead phone cameras were acceptable.

This tree was enormous, one had to be several feet away to capture the complete version. I wish we had spared many old ones in Karachi.
After several selfies and quick pictures inside the residency, we left  ... well it was like we were Cinderella's about-to-return-to-the-original-state pumpkins that were extremely time bound, this had to be done to restrict movement inside the well preserved place and it was getting crowded by the minute. There were people guarding the house religiously to keep maintenance intact as if it was their own, one of them was moping the floor with what smelled like turpentine oil and ridding it of the last remaining stains. I hope that prevails among all the sincerity.
Point Zero was our last visiting spot and it indeed felt like zero.
On the way back to the motel, we decided to get off a little distance away and walk. There was a small dhaba that we went to for tea and naan refreshments.It felt and appeared very welcoming.
The night sky of Ziarat was breathtakingly alluring with countless stars, thanks to minimal air pollution. I regretted not taking my tripod for astrophotography as it's an essential gadget to have to shoot a starry night, I could have even given it a try without it, at least I could have tried but I didn't as I immersed myself in the beautiful moment and soaked my soul in the cold night (to be honest all my body fluids were freezing so there was no possibility of experimenting, nah none whatsoever, no fooling around with the camera). It was minus 2 at night and it was fun indeed. :P
Ok there were a few more hours before we could leave Ziarat, this was supposed to happen after breakfast but we requested the organisers to leave at night only so that we don't reach Karachi too late in the night. After consensus from all (even those who weren't around were approached to seek their opinion, had there been even one person who wanted to stay, we would have been in Ziarat till the morning) we decided we would wrap up soon, thankfully all agreed. However, we also agreed with the fact that the drivers were human beings too and would need some sleep before hitting the road, that is something we couldn't have ignored for our own sake. We finally left at 3:40 am. Yey!  

A brief summary:
Departure time: Friday night at 10:50 pm
Losts of fun in between
Arrival time: Monday at 8 pm
Cost of the trip: PKR 14,450
Rover Adventure Club's Management: Good

Sunset in Hub

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  2. I love travel and am always looking for new places to explore. I had booked my serene air ticket for my last journey through Cleartrip and it was super convenient. Heba, the pictures you have shared with this post are fascinating. Quetta and Ziarat seem like interesting places to visit. Keep sharing such posts!