PESHAWAR / ABBOTTABAD: While most children hope to get some balloons or toy guns or a ride on a small Ferris wheel, in Peshawar there is a unique ride which gets children excited: horse and donkey rides.
In the historic Peshawar area of Gor Gathari, vendors line up with horses and donkeys by the roadside at the traditional Eid fair, waiting for children to come and take a ride.
Children use the eidi they have received to pay the ride fare. This has meant booming business for the owners of these animals who, like the balloon and toy sellers, fully cashed in on the experience.
A usual trip around the heritage trail on a donkey or a horse costs children Rs100. During the trip, they get to see 100-year-old heritage buildings on the trail while riding on the back of a donkey.
The lumbering pace of the donkey or the horse is slow enough for them to fully take in the spectacle of the old neighbourhood.
However, these costs are up by Rs50 from last year owing to the rising inflation in the period since.
Tourist, residents flock to Peshawar Zoo
Locals and tourists thronged the Peshawar zoo in droves during the Eidul Fitr holidays where they enjoyed watching different types of wild animals and big cats, despite the hot weather conditions.
Children could be seen flocking to watch snakes, tigers, lions, zebras, camels, giraffes, cranes, ostrich, parrots and other exotic animals in their enclosures.
Despite the hot weather, tourists from as far as Kohat, Charsadda, Peshawar, Nowshera, Swabi, and the tribal districts of Mohmand and Khyber visit the zoo in large numbers.
The children and students asked different questions from the wildlife experts and zoo managers about the habitats and habits of the animals.
Unprecedented flow of tourists
A record number of tourists entered the Abbottabad district while heading towards the tourist destinations of Nathiagali, Changlagali, Donga Gali, Ayubia, Thandyiani and Muree on Galiyat side.
Over 300,000 tourists used the Karakoram Highway (KKH) to visit the hilly areas of Narran, Kaghan, Shogran, Lake Saiful Mulook and other hilly areas during the Eid holidays.
Special tourist facilitation centres were set up on the main KKH by the Abbottabad Deputy Commissioner and the district police officer, who not only provided information about the Galiyats to visitors but also gave them sweets and clean drinking water.
Special technical staff was also deployed to fix faults in vehicles. The special Tourism Police deployed in the region helped ensure a smooth flow of traffic.
While heavy traffic was seen, no traffic blockage was reported on the main Abbottabad-Mansehra section of the KKH or on the Abbottabad-Muree road.
In the Galyat, hotels and guest houses reported 100% occupancy during the Eid holidays with owners allegedly overcharging for accommodation and food.
K-P Health minister Dr Hisham Inamullah Khan has issued special directives for the staff of health department — including doctors and nurses — to ensure they are present at all major tourist spots in K-P and be prepared to meet any emergency situation.
District health officers (DHOs) of Abbottabad, Mansehra, Chitral, Swat, Kalam and others have been directed to welcome incoming tourists. Directives have also been given to keep all basic health units and other health centres open 24 hours and fully stocked with medicines and other medical supplies.
All DHO and MS have been told that negligence will not be tolerated.
On the health minister’s directives, the provincial health department has for the first time launched motorbike-based mobile health units along with ambulance mobile units in Naran, Kaghan, Abbottabad, Nathaigali, Ayubia, Swat, Kalam, Shogran, Chitral, Lake Saiful Mulook, Babusar top and other key tourist spots.
Officials hope that they will patrol key tourist markets during the tourist season and provide immediate medical assistance in case of accidents.
The health minister noted that motorbikes can easily navigate the traffic jams witnessed during Eid.
Moreover, he said that tourists can call on the health department’s helpline in case of an emergency.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2019.