Destination Pakistan Guide

Destination Pakistan Guide


Exploring Murree: Pakistan’s Premier Hill Station

Unlocking the Wonders of Murree, the Enchanting “Queen of Hills”

Nestled in the heart of the Peer Panjal Range, Murree, often referred to as the “Queen of Hills,” graces the outskirts of Rawalpindi and Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Just 30 kilometers northeast of Islamabad, this hill station, perched at altitudes ranging from 6000 to 7000 feet, captivates visitors year-round. Let’s delve into the rich history and alluring attractions of this picturesque destination.

A Glimpse into Murree’s Past
Discovering Murree’s Origins

In 1847, Major James Abbott, an Indian Army officer, first recognized Murree’s potential as a hill station. Two years later, the decision was made to establish a hill station in this region, providing convenient access from Rawalpindi’s vital military cantonment. It officially took shape in 1851 under the guidance of Sir Henry Lawrence, the President of the Punjab Administrative Board at the time.

Originally conceived as a sanatorium for British troops stationed along the Afghan frontier, Murree transformed into a thriving town by 1853. Over time, it acquired a unique blend of British heritage, evident in its churches, educational institutions, and historic landmarks. Notably, several individuals born in Murree during the colonial era, including Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Edward Younghusband, Reginald Dyer, and Joanna Kelley, rose to prominence on the global stage.

The British Love Affair with Murree

The allure of Murree for the British lay in its climate, reminiscent of England, and its escape from the blistering summer heat of Punjab’s plains. Consequently, it became a favored summer retreat for British citizens during the British Raj. However, until 1947, non-Europeans were barred from accessing commercial establishments like Lawrance College and Mall Road.

Journeying to Murree

In the early 1900s, the journey to Murree from Lahore, the capital of Punjab, involved a train ride to Rawalpindi, followed by a five-hour horsecart ride to Murree. Despite the arduous trip, the hill station buzzed with European visitors and British troops encamped in the hills. The picturesque Victorian Gothic architecture of the houses and villas lent Murree a distinctly European ambiance. By 1901, the permanent population reached 1844, with the summer influx swelling the numbers to potentially 10,000.

Post-Independence Transformation

Murree continued to enchant as a colonial town until 1947. Today, it stands as a bustling summer resort in the Galyat region of northern Punjab, drawing throngs of tourists every season. The local population, as of 2022, hovers around 233,000, with Pahari as the predominant language. Most local businesses are owned by non-locals. Additionally, Murree serves as a gateway for tourists heading to Muzaffarabad and Abbottabad. It has firmly retained its status as a sought-after hill station since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, attracting visitors from all corners of the country and beyond.

Embracing Murree’s Charms
Immersing in Nature’s Splendor

The Himalayan hills surrounding Murree, adorned with dense evergreen forests and an abundance of flora and fauna, provide an idyllic summer escape. Even in winter, when snow blankets the landscape, Murree’s valleys and mountains captivate visitors from across Pakistan and the world. Here are some must-visit attractions and activities:

1. Patriata Chairlift: Located approximately 20 kilometers from Murree, this chairlift offers panoramic views.

2. Ayubia Chairlift: Another chairlift adventure awaits in Ayubia.

3. Hiking in Nathiagali and Changagali: Explore nature’s beauty on these scenic trails.

4. Stroll from Mall Road to Pindi Point: Followed by a chairlift ride down to Bansra Gali for a memorable experience.

5. Mall Road to Kashmir Point: Revel in the breathtaking views of the Kashmir mountains.

6. Shopping and Dining on Mall Road: Discover local treasures and savor delectable cuisine.

7. Bird and Monkey Watching: Get closer to nature’s wonders.

8. Explore Uppertopa and Lowertopa: Uncover hidden gems.

9. Visit Goragali and Bhurban: Expand your horizons.

Unveiling Murree’s Climate

Situated in the outer Himalayas, Murree boasts a high-altitude location. The Köppen climate classification categorizes it as having a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate. Winters here are cold and snowy, while summers are cool and rainy, often accompanied by fog. Precipitation is a constant companion, with an annual average of 1,904 millimeters and approximately 1,590 millimeters of snowfall, typically from January to March.

Navigating to Murree

You can access Murree from Islamabad via the old Murree Road or the new Islamabad-Murree Expressway. While there are no railway stations or airports in Murree due to its mountainous terrain, the Islamabad International Airport and Golra Railway Station in Islamabad serve as the closest transportation hubs.

Murree, with its rich history, natural beauty, and diverse attractions, remains a jewel in Pakistan’s crown. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or simply a break from the ordinary, this “Queen of Hills” offers an unforgettable experience year-round.

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