Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

jhelum: City of the Vitasta

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jhelum: City of the Vitasta - Book is available at Sang e Meel (042-3722-0100), Lahore

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On the road with a message of peace

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On March 13, a group of nine Balti mountaineers and a doctor set out of Hushe (north of Khaplu) on a trek of 1000km, carrying with them a message of peace for the world. Through Skardu, Gilgit and by way of the Karakoram Highway, they reached Islamabad exactly 31 days later.

Salman Kasi in Lahore

These good men were set off by the irresponsibility of the country’s print and electronic media. The semi-educated and irresponsible journalists manning the media cannot differentiate between the northwest of the country and what was until some years ago Northern Areas and routinely reported about terrorism emanating from the ‘Northern Areas’ (shumali ilaqajat in Urdu). The result was widespread vilification of the Gilgit-Baltistan region as a terrorist hotbed. And this was not just among ignorant Pakistanis but equally ignorant foreigners as well.
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The Alafis’ refuge

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The Kech Bund hills run in a dusty, jagged east-west line just north of the Kech Valley. Here, the Nihing River coming down from the west and the Kech from the east join to flow south as the Dasht River. The town of Turbat sits 30 kilometres east of this junction.

Just north of the junction of the two rivers, the small village of Shekhan is where one leaves the Turbat-Mand high road and goes north along the dry bed of the Shorma stream. The country is wild and desolate and possessed of a savage beauty. Views to the north are limited by the bleak, treeless crags of the Kech Bund that nowhere rise higher than 1,166 metres above the sea; to the east and west, the valley is fairly wide and dotted with trees and bushes that grow only in arid conditions.
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Travel in Pakistan

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Back from the brink

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A quarter century ago, driving from Dipalpur to Haveli Lakha in Okara district of Punjab, I passed a gateway with a couple of human figures in terracotta. If memory serves, there were some more peering down from niches in the wall. Pausing, I learnt that this was the ‘tomb of Bhuman Shah’ in the village of the same name. Bhuman Shah, so my young informant said, was a great saint from even before his grandfather’s time – which in the vernacular means a very long time ago.


I looked in and noticed a building with an impressive façade flanked by octagonal turrets with a central gateway on my right. Straight ahead, at the end of the street could be seen another building with an octagonal turret. To the left, a battered dome that I took to date from the early 18th century reared up behind a wall. The young man invited me to look in on what he said was a fort, but it being just about sunset I declined hoping to return another time.
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Gut Bela: the Lost Valley

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Ashraf Ali, my friend who was taking me from Saidu Sharif to Gut Bela said he called it the lost valley. Even though it is less than seven kilometres from the Khwazakhela-Malam Jabba road, separated as it is from the latter by a high ridge, it is yet remote, said Ashraf. It’s a beautiful valley with friendly people but one where no tourists ever go.


Having picked up Ehsanullah Khan, a most likeable friend I had never met until this day, a man who grows quality fruit and lives in a beautiful little cottage amid apple, peach and pear trees we went up the winding road to Malam Jabba. Ehsanullah Khan, sixty-three, clean cut, good looking and suave is the archetypal Khan as they once made them. Well-bred, cultured and educated he, a right proper gentleman, yet prefers to live in his village and mind his orchard. In fact, even in the dark Night of the Terrorists, he stayed put. He says he was periodically stopped at the terrorists’ check post but always let off without any trouble.
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Deosai Birds

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Excerpt from Land of the Giant, Book Review Deosai Romance

Book is available at Sang e Meel (042-3722-0100), Lahore

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Grandeur in the wilderness

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The Kalhora dynasty ruled over Sindh for a full century from 1680 to 1783. Whereas the decline of this house of religious and military leaders owed all to inept bumblers, there were in the early years of the rise and power of this dynasty men of remarkable acumen and administrative skill who guided its fortunes.

Drigh Bala necropolis
Many remember the Kalhoras as builders of the most elaborate irrigation system in Sindh prior to the British advent that turned vast desert regions into fertile farmland. The Kalhoras were noted also for raising the new city of Khudabad (Dadu district) and virtually rebuilding Hyderabad from scratch to give it that name after Ali (RA) the last of the rightly guided caliphs.
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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