I had first attempted this pilgrimage in 1989 and failed. Had it not been for my friends Ejaz Munir and Azhar Rauf working for the government of Balochistan, I would very likely have failed yet again. But thanks to them this time around I went up in style -- on horseback. Lying on the border of Balochistan and the Northwest Frontier Province and cresting at 3300 metres Takht e Suleman
(Throne of Solomon) is puny as mountains go in this part of the world. But the magic of the peak is its shrine attributed to Solomon, the prophet of God.
Late on the evening of the last day in September I along with Adam Khan, the levies risaldar, and Said Amin, his assistant, was deposited outside the small village of Sadda Mohammed Kot 65 km northeast of Zhob. In the pale light of a thin sliver of moon hanging in the west, the stone houses hulked darkly and a ghostly white dog barked menacingly as it wafted among the shadows. After much blowing of horns and calling of names a sleepy old man came shuffling out of the darkness to lead us away. Within no time charpais were laid out and we were in the sack.Read more »
posted by Salman Rashid @ 9:13 AM,
First things first. I wrote my requiem last year in August when I wept on the Mintaka Pass in Gojal. I had walked up unfit after a full year of living without a jot of exercise. To add to that, I had developed, right on the first day of the trek, the most horridly lurid blisters on both feet. I wept when I read on the crest of the pass how fit Peter Fleming had felt coming up from the Tashkurghan side. Sono (Rahman) Aunty called to say I had brought tears to her eyes and that I couldn't give up so quickly. So, even without trying, I did not give up.
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This year I returned to Shimshal after twenty years to walk to the summer pasture of Shuwert
doing some work for an oil company. I was not prospecting for oil, though. Back in July 1990, with much less flab on the body and much more hair on the pate, I had done a traverse from Askole to Shimshal by the Biafo-Sim Gang-Braldu glacier system. Having crossed the 5700 metre-high Lukpe La, I became the first Pakistani to have done this traverse.
Labels: Gilgit–Baltistan, Northern Pakistan, Shimshal
posted by Salman Rashid @ 9:43 AM,
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Labels: About, Podcast, Travel
posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:20 PM,
Labels: Photo Stream, Railway, Travel Photography
posted by Salman Rashid @ 11:58 AM,
Although I had travelled the "Lonely Line
" between Quetta and Zahedan (Iran) seven years ago when I was doing what I called "The Little Railway Bazaar" after Paul Theroux, this journey had a special meaning for me. I was on my way to Dalbandin to see the house where my father had lived when he was posted there as Assistant Engineer (AEN) on the North Western Railways
from April 1943 to December the following year. For me it was like a pilgrimage. But that was not all, I had also wanted to see if this train continued to be the festival on wheels that it once was.
In my six berth "First Class Sleeper" Agha sahib sat serenely and allowed the big, crinkly haired man and his friend to fawn over him. He wore the round black turban and the matching robe of the Ayatollahs of Iran. His chinky eyes, very Mongol face and sparse beard screamed that he was either a Hazara or a Chengezi, like his attendants, and claimed descent from Chengez Khan. He was a quiet man who did not speak much and when he did it was difficult to catch his soft whisper. Mostly he just sat there looking regal with his pout, occasionally flicking some unseen particle of dust from his robe with ring laden fingers.Read more »
posted by Salman Rashid @ 11:04 AM,
Anyone who had frequently driven around the highways of Pakistan and kept their eyes open back in the 1980s and well into the 90s could just not have missed the eye-catching slogan on the rear bumpers of passing lorries — and there was scarcely a long-distance hauler that did not bear this slogan. ‘Kafeel bhai ko salaam,’ it would say in the Nastaliq script. But the clincher was the ending, also in Urdu: ‘Mashoor-e-zamana right arm, left arm spin bowler of Ghotki.’
How can that be, I, who gives not a fig for cricket, used to think driving behind such a lorry. This man in one-horse Ghotki is surely a lunatic who does not know what spin bowling with the right arm or the other one meant. But the slogan was persistent through the years and I one day resolved to check out Ghotki for myself. For the benefit of those who have not even heard of this place, Ghotki, situated sixty kilometres northeast of Sukkur on National Highway 5, has now been a district headquarters for some years. Back in the eighties, it was a hick little town.
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Labels: People, Sindh
posted by Salman Rashid @ 7:28 PM,
The players of the Great Game were shadowy; lonely figures with unkempt beards, lean, hard bodies and outlandish costumes. They were men possessed of indomitable will and mostly driven by some death-defying desire. Some passed into old age acclaimed as heroes, others were lost in remote regions of high Asia.
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Of the many that met sorry ends without friend or loved one by their sides, the names of the veterinary doctor William Moorcroft of the East India Company and freelance explorer George Whitaker Hayward
shine the brightest.
Both men had one thing in common: an uncanny sense of commitment to the task in hand. The one went searching for the best horses for his employer, the East India Company, and the other, Hayward, set out to explore the High Pamirs as entrusted by the Royal Geographical Society.
Labels: Book Review, Books, History, Travel
posted by Salman Rashid @ 6:12 PM,
“IT could be the folklore, the history, even the promise of unravelling the long established mystique behind a landmark, or some reference in a book of history or gazetteer, that gets me; that makes me go hankering in search of the identity behind places. This is pristine land overflowing with stories. Only nobody cares to listen to them. The people, the shrines, the sceneries of this land where my ancestors have lived for countless years are waiting to be discovered.” Then Salman Rashid
gathers together his sleeping bag, shoulders his backpack, puts on his walking shoes and its off into the unknown, in search of identity.
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“I have no idea how long I am gong to be away and Shabnam never questions me about it either. I could be gone for any length of time. I have all the freedom to wander at will.” Good for Shabnam indeed, that she learnt to respect her husband’s wanderlust! The longest period away from home so far has been a continuous three months when he covered 1100 kms across the country from Kaghan to Chitral
Labels: About, Profile, Salman Rashid
posted by Salman Rashid @ 11:36 AM,
03 January 2013
Fellow of Royal Geographical Society
, Salman Rashid is author of nine travel books [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
and Deosai: Land of the Giant
[all books are available at Sang e Meel (042-3722-0100), Lahore]. He is the only Pakistani to have seen the North Face of K-2
and trekked in the shadow of this great mountain. His work - explorations, history, travels - appears in almost all leading publications and on this blog.
He has also written eight books of days.
Or contact here:
Labels: About, Odysseus Lahori, Salman Rashid, Travel Writer
posted by Salman Rashid @ 1:06 PM,