(The details of the track built in 1930 by the British)
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” — Robert Louis Stevenson
Two senior colleagues who are avid travelers of the mountains one Dr. Syed Mahmood Raza (My Ex-Boss) and Mr. Wasim Hashmi Syed (A colleague at HEC) have been telling me about the pipeline walk at Khanaspur, Ayubia for a long time now and somehow I had missed doing it twice in my two earlier visits to Khanaspur, Ayubia with regrets.
(A beautiful view from the famous Pipeline Track)
But come 1st May 2010, I convinced Wasim Hashmi to take our families along to our official retreat at Khanaspur which is about a three kilometer drive from the beautifully serene hills of Ayubia for a two night stay.
(Wasim & my children playing monopoly in the guest house)
The starting point of the ‘Pipeline track’ is about half a kilometer from our guest house and both our families which almost have the same combination of 5 with three children each started off for the famous walk after a sumptuous breakfast of ‘Anday Parathay’ (Eggs and locally baked bread) around 9 a.m. from the guest house.
(Mamma & Ayesha gearing up for the walk)
In the words of Faiza Zaeem (a local travel buff), “the air is clean and completely pollution free, the atmosphere is refreshing, and the surroundings boast all shades of green. Welcome to the Donga Gali – Ayubia walking track. Constructed in 1930, the track is a must see for everyone who visits the Galiyat. The 4 kilometer winding track saves you from a 14 kilometer car ride”.
(Our families minus me – who is of course taking the picture)
The first time I went to Ayubia was in 1978 along with my parents when I was about 14 years of age but I am sure we did not hear anything about this pipeline track nor the Khanaspur retreat for that matter. The only thing that attracted us as children was the one and only chairlift there which was too exciting for children our ages at that moment in time. Simple, pure entertainment!
(The famous church of Ayubia built by the British in 1932)
Although usually children do not enjoy such walks in these modern times where notebooks, computers, iphones, and Xboxes have blatantly infiltrated our lives but from early ages Wasim and myself have trained our children to go climb mountains, enjoy water games, visit villages and appreciate the natural beauty created by God almighty and thus they all crave for such escapades on long weekends.
(Two old men: Wasim & I getting ready for the overkill)
A little introduction:
Ayubia National Park is located in NWFP, Pakistan. It is a small natural park located at 26 km from the Murree hill station established in 1984. It has been developed as a resort complex from a combination of four mini resorts of Khaira Gali, Changla Gali, Khanspur and Ghora Dhaka in Galiyat. Ayubia was named after President Ayub Khan.
Ayubia National Park was established in 1958 in an east corner of North-West Frontier Province, a province of Pakistan. Since then it has been managed by the NWFP Wildlife Department. The purpose of establishing it was to conserve the temperate forests. Originally, the park stood at an area of 857 acres, but in 1998 it was expanded to cover an area of 1,685 acres.
The total population of Ayubia and surrounding villages as per a 1996 census is 18,097 living in 2,311 households. It was established by Mr. Ayub Khan late President of Pakistan in 1958. I am sure the population must have trebled in these 14 years. Laughter!
The climate of the park is cold in the summers, but harsh in the winters. While it remains only placidly hot in May and June, the cold sets in when the monsoons come to lash in late July and early August. In the winters, cold increases in severity gradually until the West Winds bring rains, which eventually turn into snow. The park remains snow-capped through the later part of winters.
Back to the main story:
The total walk was about 4 kilometers and starts close to Khanaspur and culminates at Doonga Gali and forms three ‘Alphabet Bay’ in URDU language. Ayesha being small; we decided not to complete the entire thingy and reached till the 2nd ‘Bay’ thus traversing a distance of some 2.5 kilometers one way.
Since we thought that there would be kiosks during the way thus did not bring sandwiches or chips etc. for the journey (which we normally do) but incidentally the tourist season had not arrived yet thus all the ‘khokas’ (read shops) were closed and we could not enjoy tea, chips or cookies during the walk. What a drag!
(Another good view with the Muree hills in the backdrop)
We finally called it a day and decided to return. Since we walked all along, it took us forever to come back. Old age is getting on to us now and each step took hours to tread and we finally reached the guest house tired but with a journey well worth the effort.
(A nice pose under a fallen tree)
(On the way back, we stop at a Handicraft store on Muree Road)
(And Mamma does a little shopping)
Shaikh Muhammed Ali
‘The Wandering Dervish’
Note: This article was first published on the Internet on 20th June 2010.
 Neglect ruining Ayubia’s beauty by Faiza Zaeem, DAWN, Sunday 26th July, 2009.