Photos & text by: Zamir Hussain Laghari
Sindh has been the cradle of many civilizations. Its Indus Valley civilization is one of the oldest in the world. Besides the mighty Indus, a long coastline, a beautiful desert and scenic lacks, this ancient land also has several mountain ranges.
The Khirthar Range is one of them. Located in Balochistan and Sindh, the mountain range consists of a series of parallel rock hill ridges rising from 4,000 ft to 8,000 ft.
In the folds of the Khirthar Range, one of the biggest fossils of a Jurassic dinosaur has also been found from Khuzdar district of Balochistan, and one from Laki Range, a branch of Khirthar Range near Dadu, in 1982. That’s a proof of ancientness of the life in and around these mountains.
When we talk about the Khirthar Ranger, we can’t forget mentioning the Khirthar National Park that lies in this mountain range nearly 160 kilometers from Karachi.
This park, stretched over 1,192 sq miles, hosts a combined population of hundreds of Sindh Ibex, gazelles and rare Blackbuck antelopes. This park is also home to three rare predators: wolf, striped hyenas and caracal cat.There are several high peaks in the Sindh segment of Khirthar like Barough, Gorakh Hill and Kutte-ji-Kabar (Dog’s Grave). All these peaks exceed 5,500 ft.
Now let’s come to the Gorakh Hill Station.This lonely majestic king has been the epicentre of a great deal of tourism in recent years. Mainly for being the only place in Sindh to receive snowfall in the winter.
Historian say the name ‘Gorakh’ is derived from the Brahvi language in which, word “Gurgh” means wolf.
It is situated at an elevation of 5,689. Located nearly 90 km northwest of Dadu city and approximately 400 kilometers from Karachi, the hill was first identified by the British rulers in 1860 to be developed into a hill station. It’s spread over 2,500 acres (10 km2).
But it was not until 1989 when the project was formally launched by the then PPP provincial government after Benazir Bhutto visited the site and activated efforts to develop the resort.
In 1997-98, the construction of road from Wahi Pandhi to Gorakh (54 kms) was started. In 2006-07, necessary works on roads, water supply and electricity were completed. The project work restarted in Dec 2009 and still underway by the Gorakh Hills Development Authority (GHDA) which has Rs.80 million annual budget.
Generally this hill station is compared to Murree, but many are of the view that it is nowhere close to Murree due to its unique beauty that captivates visitors.
It’s an attractive place for nature and adventure lovers due to its pleasant weather, beautiful surroundings and the most importantly dangerous ride uphill.
Gorakh’s elevation gives it a special climate, with sub-zero temperatures during winter and generally below 20 °C in summer.
The Gorakh Hill peak can only be reached with 4×4 vehicles which are available from Dadu, Sehwan Sharif, Johi and Wahi Pandhi towns. The latter two towns serve as base camp from where tourists can arrange transport to the hill station.
One day the yearning for internal calm made me pack my bag and hit the road along with a couple of friends, since I believe that travelling is a way of reconnecting with nature and, most importantly, myself.
We decided to head to Gorakh. This trip was one of the most inspiring travel experiences I have had.
On way to the Gorakh Hill, when we crossed Jamshoro, first comes Sehwan city from where the road leads to Johi, nearly 20 kilometers from Dadu.
We then headed to Wahi Pandhi, the last established locality in Khirthar after which begins the road to Gorakh.
From Wahi Pandi to Gorakh, a distance of 54km, it takes about two hours. The climb to the top is nearly impossible without a four-wheel drive vehicle and an expert driver as the altitude starts increasing.
Snaking our way towards Gorakh, we experienced the travel on a bumpy road with ditches at many points. As we went ahead, the road uphill became steeper. Although the climb is not for the faint-hearted, the view is mesmerizing.
Dry shrubs and bushes dot the landscape of Gorakh hills. Groves of different types of bushes and plants give the place the appearance of a rock garden.
With nearly eight hours on the road, we finally made it to the hill station where clouds were descending upon the peaks.
A few minutes later, we witnessed the beautiful view of sunset. It was really unforgettable and tremendous to see the sunlight in the dusk refracting from one mountain peak to another, giving a golden look to the valley.
There is a rest house for visitors on the hill, with a proper arrangement of food and water. We were also surprised to see pylons of solar-powered lights on the top and a water pipeline that was laid from the ground to the peak. This should be admired.
We camped in the open, lit up bonfires and had dinner. It was an awesome place for stargazing, besides, one will be lucky enough if got the chance of spending a full moon night here under the sky.
Peace and tranquility was prevailing everywhere. Silence of the night was precious and enjoyable and the air was crisp and cool.
The sun shone on the foggy peaks of Gorakh Hills and it was another amazing view for all of us.
We further explored beauty of the mountains in the noon when the sun was moving along us on our way down the Gorakh Hill.