Khanpur Lake, well-known for its serenity and scenic location, is emerging as a major tourist spot with scores of people flocking to the lake during the holiday season.
Located 50 kilometres from the federal capital, the beautiful lake entertains tourists with its cool water and peaceful environment. Hundreds of visitors from Islamabad and its adjoining areas can be seen enjoying the pleasant environment at the lake every weekend.
The Tourism Corporation of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has arranged water sports festivals for the last two years to attract tourists from across the country.
During the festival, several healthy activities including paragliding, hang gliding, fishing and camping were organised, while a number of cultural performances such as Khattak and Chitrali dances, folk music and horse dances were also presented at the festival. Local people, who were fed up with the deteriorating security situation and prolonged load shedding, greatly appreciated the festival, which proved to be a great success.
However, people have complained that due to the lack of modern facilities and effective security arrangements, many people are still hesitant to visit the lake.
“It is really a wonderful place to spend time with your family, but the government should focus on developing the lake, as it has the potential to become one of the best picnic spots due to its natural beauty,” said Wishma Malik, a university student.
Sonia, another visitor, also complained that the government was not taking interest in developing the lake. She said the picnic spot was a sound business venture which, if developed, could generate millions of rupees for the government annually.
“There is not even a single restaurant or café in the entire area. The government should develop the lake if it is really interested in promoting tourism,” she said.
It has also been observed that there are two makeshift eateries and a few hawkers selling unhygienic food, which is avoided by most picnickers.
Following the water sports extravaganza, the popularity of the lake has increased dramatically, due to which the demand for development has constantly been rising.
The provincial government has already taken over the Buddhist sites in Haripur District, which were previously controlled by the Taxila Museum. There is a strong need for the government to devise a plan to link these sites with Khanpur Lake to make it into a full-fledge tourist destination.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.