I am not really a tourist. I’m just a common human being who loves natural beauty. So much so that the beautiful landscape of the Soon Sakesar Valley compelled me to write about it. Last weekend, I visited the heavenly place with my family for a change of environment and to get a break from my busy life.
Soon Valley is situated in the north-west Khushab district of central Punjab. It consists of beautiful lakes, a waterfall, tall trees, herbs and natural pools. It has a rich history, natural resources, hardworking inhabitants and fertile land particularly good for growing vegetables and wheat.
When we reached the Uchhali Lake – the largest and most eye-catching saltwater lake in the valley – for boating, saw that the lake (four kilometres long and one kilometre wide) had only one boat with the capacity to accommodate only about 10, at max 15, people at a time. The lake is surrounded by mountains and level fields but it has been badly neglected. The road leading up to it was in a dilapidated condition. Facilities like toilets, hotels, restaurants and rest houses were missing. Uchali attracts thousands of migratory birds each year and thus is an ideal haven for birdwatchers. It was also declared a protected sanctuary for native and migratory birds by the World Wildlife Fund.
From the lake, we went to the Sakesar airbase to view the area’s natural vista. That area was well managed by the Air Force but entry is restricted. Sakesar is the highest peak of the salt range. During my time there, I found out that the inhabitants of the area hold small farms to grow crops. Some of them also breed cattle.
The valley’s natural beauty resembled that of Murree and other places in the northern areas though, unfortunately, it was poorly managed. The area has great potential to attract more tourists if developed properly — proper management and developing of picnic spots could be a good place to start. These activities may even generate economic activity for the locals in the long run. To promote tourism here, a cable car or a cable chair from the Uchhali Lake to the Phalwari area would be a wonderful idea. The restoration of natural beauty may help in converting the Soon Valley into a popular tourist destination.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 30th, 2013.
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