Harnoi, a famous picnic spot on the outskirts of Abbottabad, remains to be neglected by the authorities concerned. Located on the main Nathiagali Road, Harnoi is a small town situated on the confluence of two small rivers namely Harno and Barengali, about 10km northeast of the Abbottabad city.
The famous picnic spot is endowed with natural beauty and serene environment. Different species of trees dotting lush slopes of the adjoining hills and the cold waters of springs that flow down to this point makes it a major tourist attraction. Natural springs feed the rivers, which swell as the snow in the hilly ranges of Murree and neighbouring areas begins to melt. This small town, at 15 minutes drive from the garrison city is also known as the gateway to Galyat.
However, as is usually the case, the popular picnic place faces neglect from the authorities. Lack of attention and required investment is not only depriving the district’s exchequer of income, but also taking away the luxury of enjoying a “well-managed” and “fully developed” picnic spot from the visitors. Provision of facilities, including security and a hygienic eating place, would certainly help boost the popularity of the place.
Evenings at this point are every enjoyable, as there is a lot of hustle and bustle. People along with their younger ones can be seen enjoying the cold water. Some are seen splashing it on to their siblings, while others just standing in the river with their feet submerged in the water of the Harnoi River.
The hoteliers and small kiosk owners have placed their stalls on the flow of the river that makes the picnic more fascinating for the visitors. “I spend hours sitting on the cots with my feet submerged in the water, it makes me feel as if I am sitting on ice,” said Deeba, a university student who claimed that she visited Harnoi with her friends daily in the evening. She said that since it was very close to the city area and the atmosphere is quite like Nathiagali, so she preferred to spend the time here.
Some families, cramped for time, just bring prepared meals from home and enjoy a nice picnic right next to the river. “A more organised way of doing things would certainly help, the way hotels and stall owners are going about their business is quite haphazard,” said Shariq, who was visiting with his family.
The Harnoi picnic point also offers fun activities for the children. The merry-go-rounds and other recreational fixtures are certainly the crowd-pullers among the younger lot. Horse rides for the children and even the youngsters is another enthralling activity one can enjoy here.
Yet, the picnickers who prefer to spend time at Harnoi picnic spot before leaving for Nathiagali or Ayubia appear to be dissatisfied with the arrangements. “It is really a very good picnic point but was not developed the way it should be,-district administration must bring about improvements,” said Saad, a visitor from Islamabad.
Another woman picnicker, Naeema Chaudhry from Lahore, said that she had been visiting this point for the last three years, but there had been no developments since then. She also raised objections on the open sale of Shisha smoking at this point.
Hania Malik, another young student, said that the area should be fenced with chairs and benches for the picnickers and developing this point on modern lines could earn the national exchequer a handsome annual income.
She also felt the need of deployment of police security for the woman picnickers who she claimed were vulnerable to harassment.
When approached for comments, an official of Tehsil Municipal Administration Abbottabad said that during the district government system it was developed to some extent despite the fund shortage. “But, with the end of local government system the plan of developing this point was shelved. He however said that the administration was mulling to bring about improvement at this point.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2011.