The picturesque Galiyat valleys and Ayubia in Abbottabad district attracted on Monday an influx of domestic tourists after the reopening of tourism in Khyber-Pakthunkhwa under SOPs in the wake of the National Command and Operational Centre (NCOC)'s decisions.
People from plain districts of Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Central Punjab thronged to scenic Thandyani, Harnoi, Donga Gali, Bagnotar, Nathiagali, Changagali, Baragalai and Ayubi to enjoy its mesmerising natural beauty, lush green valleys, walking on ancient hiking trails and waterfalls beyond one's immigration.
Abbottabad-Murree Road was flooded with tourists, adventurers, mountaineers and sports lovers, who were on their way to Nathiagali and Ayubia. Situated at a five-kilometre distance east of Nathiagali on an altitude of 8,000 feet on Abbottabad-Murree Road in the Himalaya region, Ayubia has witnessed great hustle and bustle of mountaineers, trekkers and adventure sports lovers on Monday, enjoying its breathtaking natural beauty, spectacular landscapes, rich wildlife and biodiversity and pleasant weather with cool breeze capturing visitors' attention.
From a single room to a five-star hotel, charpai (bed) to guest houses, tents to motels, rest houses to cottages and zigzag hiking to mountains trekking trails at scenic Ayubia, Changagali, Thandiani, Khanspoor, Harnoi, Nathiagali, Jhika Gali, Khanaspoor, Kalabagh and Bagnotar, were flooded with tourists.
A substantial number of tourists along with their families were seen enjoying five kilometres long ride on the Ayubia chairlift, full of fun and excitement while passing over thick chir pine forests before landing at picturesque Mukeshpuri.
Famous Mukshpuri Top and Dunga Gali-Ayubia-Miranjani hiking trails between Nathiagali and Donga Gali on 9,500 feet height attracted tourists' in droves from where the breathtaking natural beauty of Azad KashmwalksGalicolonial-eraHarnoi and Jehlum could be seen after passing in thick vegetations and chir pine forests.
Fast-moving walk on colonial era Ayubia-Nathiagali trail mostly supervised by local guides, horse and camel ridings besides fast moving swings become a great source of entertainment. Tourists took a keen interest in about 203 species of birds including golden eagle, falcons, pheasants Koklas and Kaleej, 104 types of plants including national tree deodar and 35 spebeside plants wildlife and mammals including Indian origin leopards, fox, monkeys and tigers in famous Ayubia National Park besides the birds chanting lush green valleys of Khanuspoor, Nathiagali, Donga Gali, Changagali, Bagnotar, Baragali, Harnai, Jhika Galcolonial-eraand Thandiani clad in thick chir pine forests in a single day trip.
Galiyat's stunning beauty could be seen from colonial era luxury Governor House, Chief Minister House, Karnak House commonly known as Himalaya House, Speaker House and IGP House at Nathiagali.
Tourists guides, hotels waiters, horse, camel riding services, balloon shooting, coffee machines vendors, roadsides cabins, chairlift workers attracted an influx of tourists and earned substantial revenue.
"First I visited Nathia Gali and then came to Ayubia to enjoy its mesmerising natural beauty, British-era walking trails, and unique chairlift ride. I waited for this day with great patience after spending few weeks at home due to the fear of contracting Covid-19," said Omar Khayyam (27), a resident of Nowshera while talking to APP at Ayubia.
"Ayubia has always attracted me to spend few weeks of hot summer in this spectacular hilly tourists resort of Pakistan keeping in view of its pleasant weather and natural beauty," he said, adding it was his third consecutive visit since 2019 to this hilly station named after President General Ayub Khan. "Its chairlift ride takes me to a new level of thrill and excitement besides adding colour to this beautiful tourists resort."
Galiyat Development Authority (GDA) spokesman told APP that around 250 hotels that had been closed due to coronavirus pandemic, have been reopened after cleanliness and disinfection sprays. He said no compromise would be made on cleanliness, use of safety masks and gloves for visitors and hotels staffers besides others SOPs measures.
The spokesman said GDA had started monitoring all hotels, motels and restaurants for implementation of SOPs and deputy commissioners have been directed to ensure SOP's implementation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2021.