and the Galis
Murree, at 2,240 meters (7,400 feet), is only an hour's drive north-east of Islamabad. Its cold pine forests, amidst magnificent mountain scenery, make it the first choice for a day's outing from the capital. The Galis are a string of hill resorts along the ridge between Murree and Abbottabad, on the Karakoram Highway.
Founded as a hill station by the British in 1851, Murree was the summer headquarters of the government of Punjab until 1876, when the honor was transferred to Simla. Murree remained, however, a little bit of England, complete with The Mall for promenading, parks, churches, schools, clubs and cafes. Since independence, Murree has once again become the summer retreat of the governor of Punjab and, since Islamabad became the capital of Pakistan in 1962, has expanded rapidly.
Murree is lovely all year round. In summer it is cool - even chilly in the evening - and rain is common. In winter, the snow is piled high along the sides of the streets.
But it is extremely popular with Punjabis escaping the heat of the plains in summer, so is too crowded for comfort from late May to early September, especially at weekends. To beat the crowds and still enjoy the walks, the best time to go in April-May and September-October.
Murree spreads along the top of a ridge for about five kilometres (three miles). At the north-east end is Kashmir Point, with views across the valley of the Jhelum River into Azad Kashmir. At the south-west end is Pindi Point, looking back towards Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Between the two runs The Mall, at the centre of which is the main shopping area, where most people congregate. Numerous roads leave. The Mall and either follow the contours of the ridge or descend to the principal road. Promenading and shopping are Murree's main amusements, or riding in the new chair-lifts, one from Bansara Gali (below Murree) to Pindi Point, the other to the top of Patriata hill (on the road to Karor); both rides cost about Rs. 250 and take half an hour with a change from open chair-lift to the enclosed bubble in the middle. After independence, Murree has become the most visited and thriving summer tourist resort for entire Pakistan. The recently widened road takes about 45 minutes from the capital city Islamabad drawing attention of the tourists to the forest clad mountains, mainly of pines. every summer, people from rather hot areas of Pakistan, specially Lahore and down south rush to Murree for a few comfortable days. In winters, the snow clad Murree once again sees the hustle and bustle of visitors. The life line of people of Murree is the summer season since no other business thrives or means of livelihood available. Poor but hospitable, they greet the visitors with welcome smiles, but no compromise on prices.But by far the best visited area is the Mall Road (above) - established during the 1850's. Today the road side is full of gift shops selling local furs, canes and other handicrafts. An underground market near the old church is famous for imported ladies cloth and dry fruit. Besides, there are many hotels and restaurants that offer sizzling chicken and meat dishes. However, during the season, specially the summers, the prices soar but people still flock these places after walking up and down the Mall road.
Murree is at its best in summers and winters, but for those who want to enjoy the silence and coolness of the area, perhaps November is the best. Murree has a number of spots, called the Kashmir & Pindi points, since these face in the direction of Kashmir and Rawalpindi. Recently, chair lifts have been added from main Rawalpindi-Murree Road to the Pindi Point.
Good buys in Murree are Kashmiri shawls, furs, walking sticks, fruits and nuts. Murree's pistachio nuts are reputed to be the best in Pakistan.
Bhurban is a minor resort eight kilometers (five miles) from Murree on the road leading north-east to Kohala and the Jhelum Valley. The golf course here is open only to members. From near the Pearl Continental hotel you can take one of the many delightful paved walks through the woods.
The Galis ( Streets )
Perhaps the most sought out is the beautiful Nathiagali perched 2501 meters
high about 32 km away from Murree. The bracing air of the surrounding
mountains is as pure as fresh spring water.
Khairagali, Changlagali, Khanspur and Ghora Dhaka, these four mini resorts spread over an area of 26 km have been developed into a resort complex called Ayubia. In addition to riding trails, hiking places and picnic spots, Ayubia has a chair lift, which like a ski-lift, takes you up to the summit of the nearby range for a panoramic view of the forested hills. Ayubia is 26 km from Murree.
Dungagali is a picturesque small resort situated on the slopes of the Mukshpuri hill (2376 m.). It commands a charming view of a series of wooded spurs projecting towards the river Jhelum on the western side. From Dungagali one can climb the 2813 m peak of Mukhshpuri, which is the highest point in the range. Natural springs abound on the slopes. It is 30 km from Murree.
It is 16 km from Murree at an elevation of 2346 m and commands a panoramic view on either side of the ridge.
It is 16 km from Murree at an altitude of 2559 m. There is a rest house located in the most picturesque surroundings.
25 km from Murree. The TDCP has developed a new tourist resort at Patriata. There is chairlift and cable car system which takes visitors up to Patriata Ridge in two stages from Gulehra Gali. The first stage is by chair lift up to Patriata Bazaar. From here visitors transfer to cable car gondolas for the ride up to Patriata Ride. A restaurant has also been established. Further plans include development of a wildlife park at the mid-station.