Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Ishkoman Valley

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The jeep ride from Imit to Chatorkhand took two hours, where the last jeep for Ishkoman had left "five minutes ago". I found the fly blown tea shop and drank my tea with about two dozen men staring at me while they diligently scratched their crotches and between squirts of spit told each other that I was an Angrez. Then one of them ventured a tentative query (in English) to which I replied in Punjabi, which of course was not understood by anyone but which told them that I was not what they had imagined.
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Evening falls on a Begari Wah

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Evening falls on a Begari distributary. Without such minor canals, a large swathe of Shikarpur and Jacobabad districts would have remained desert and scrub forest [Image from Book of Days 2015].

Odysseus Lahori one year ago: The funny side of… monkey business

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Fort Oblivion, Ramkot

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A solitary shoveller, alarmed by our fast approaching speed-boat, scudded the still blue waters of Mangla Reservoir on strong, fast wings with my gaze tied to its tail. And even as we gained on it, it was clear of the water and winging swiftly away from us in graceful flight. I, the conservationist, could even feel the surge of thebird’s adrenalin extend itself to my body as I marvelled at the sheer beauty and power of its take-off and the elegance of its flight angling off to the right.


We had left the Mangla Water Sports Club a mere ten minutes earlier and the speed-boat had shot us across the blue sheet of the artificial lake to its northern extremity. Here, before they built the dam, the Poonch River coming down from the northeast met with the bigger Jhelum coming straight down from the north. Smack on the confluence of the two waters, the fort of Ramkot sat on a high eminence with the south and southwest sides falling sheer into the Jhelum.
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Trek record

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Trekking, as we know it, is actually a spin-off of the work of the early 19th century European explorers, surveyors and map-makers. Hiring local hunters and shepherds as guides, they followed the barely marked trails plied by earlier natives. The first adventurers, in the true sense, were mountaineers who had little to do with exploration and map-making, but were obsessed with climbing the virgin snows of the  system.


By the 1920s, yet another breed of adventurer was roaming this great knot of high peaks and glaciers. This bunch did not climb per se. Driven by curiosity, they simply walked the trails. Their purpose was largely historical and sociological studies and they worked on shoestring budgets. There was, of course, another sub-caste: wealthy, highly educated, cultured persons of the world. Theirs was the best written record.
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Alexander in Multan

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Back in 2001, when I was making the PTV documentary Sindhia mein Sikander (on Alexander’s Indian campaign), I discovered a large body of local myth. One was the ridiculous pride that everyone took in the fact that Alexander of Macedonia tarried in their village for ‘six months’ — always six, never more, nor less. The other, a Multan-centric one, was about how the people of that city killed the conqueror.


Having sailed down the Jhelum from the vicinity of Mandi Bahauddin, to its junction with the Chenab near Jhang, Alexander made forced marches across what was then sand desert, through modern Toba Tek Singh to Kamalia, Tulumba and eventually Multan — “the principal town of the Mallian people”, as the historian Arrian tells us.
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Lake Tala Khumbo

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Image from Deosai: Land of the Giant

Odysseus Lahori one year ago: The lurking Chinese! [Chapter from The Apricot Road to Yarkand]

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days