Lahore School of Economics

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Excursion trip to Mangla

There must be a point at which the sky meets the earth - horizon. Though it is not possible to tell where that point is. Traveling through an expanse of Punjab bordering Azad Kashmir, one can see ahead up to horizon through a blanket of dull light covering the green fields and occasional villages that are spread along the Dina-Mangla-Mirpur Road. Under the sun's watchful gaze, the Mangla Valley is normally quilted in a hundred different hues of green. Short ride through the valley is wonderful and revealing.

But a ride with forty five students of the Lahore School is much more than a simple exploration and excursion trip in the field. It was fun, it was company of friends, it was loud music, it was flute by Ali Khwaja, and much more. Meticulous arrangements had been made by Ali Hussain, Mohsin Khalid and Raza Ali Qazi (big thanks to Usman and Mahboob for arranging sumptuous food at the army mess). It is difficult to express the joy in words and one can only describe physical things.

The construction of the Mangla Dam reservoir, one of the baggiest earth filled reservoir in the world, which has a perimeter of 400 Kilometers, has turned Mangla into a place of interest and recreation, very restful and clean. A building situated on the lakeside serves as a historical backdrop. At Water Sports Club the speedboat ferry sight seers across the blue sheet of the artificial lake to its northern extremity. I remembered, here somewhere, before the construction of the Dam, the Poonch River coming down from the northeast met with the bigger Jhelum River coming straight down from the north. That is the place where the students came after seeing the waterfall enjoyed and spent maximum time.

Earlier, on the road to Mangla we saw the local buses plying to and from Mirpur in Azad Kashmir. With limbs protruding from windows and an eclectic assortment of possessions and sacks of commodities strapped loosely to the roof, these old vintage monsters take on a manic life of their own.
Entering Azad Kashmir, one can not only see but also feel and smell Kashmir everywhere. The locals are amazing people. Resilient! Many have faced adversities and oppressions in the past for being Muslims and Kashmiris. There are many secrets hidden behind those silent smiles --secrets and strengths. There are picturesque village -- carefully constructed modest and some modern abodes with various kaleidoscopic colors of rustic life – along the Road. We also passed the occasional isolated house and makeshift tea stalls but other than that, all were green fields. The low mountains that run some time parallel to the road and some time seem straight ahead.

Mangla Valley is the countryside one would like to get lost in. I, along with some others, explored, hiked some ridges and went around a few of the natural bowls in the pollution free environments of the valley while more adventurous type were busy boating. Away from humdrum of the city life. No hurrying up. We did not realize and the evening was upon us, earlier than usual and we headed back. No one in the group wanted the joyful trip to end but it did.

Journey back home is conventionally faster. But in our case it was not. We were back at the City Campus, thinking where the Excursion Society will take us again [Sabrina Afzal, MBA].

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9/21/2004 01:56:00 PM,

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