By Car, Nathia Gali
"Dont go, Its horrible", "Its the Road of No Return", "The Highway to Hell"
Warnings on the road, these were.
Actually, I went to Abbottabad to visit Thandiani. This road was once as horrible as they come in these areas. Mud, barely single lane, landslides: it has it all. However, Nawaz Sharif became Prime Minister in 1997 and reconstructed all these roads in the Galliat Range and now this road is an absolute beauty. Must visit place on the journey. Excellent road. The only problem on this road was that the problem was the extreme loss of height in about 30 km. Almost 1500 m in 30 km, thats a lot of height loss. Basically, you run into several more 180 degree hairpins here and this is where you lose your height. Severe loss of height in several other areas including a strech of road in which we lost also 100 m of height in one stretch. It almost felt like a ramp! Beautiful hills and especially wonderful pine trees. Never seen such beautiful trees except in on the road to Thandiani. Also, just before Abbottabad, on the left side a road descends near a stream on the left where there is a lot of "bajri" (the things you put in roads before contructing them". Its one of the largest reserves of "bajri" in Pakistan. It gets warmer as you descend into Abbottabad. You come across a few cemeteries (some British) and come to the city of Abbottabad.
Murree Road heads out from Islamabad to Murree. Murree lies about 60 km north of Islamabad and the journey takes about 1.5 hours by road. Nothing too serious on the road. Simple road with 2 lanes though three cars can pass at one time. The only problem on the road is trucks! The damn stupid drivers need a flogging. They don't know how to drive and drive at great speed causing great inconvenience to other drivers. Overtaking trucks is the hardest problem on the road till Murree and be careful! Just before Murree, there are three roads leading from your road. One goes to Bhurban, the other to Murree and one of our destination Nathia Gali. Warning: DO NOT TAKE THE WRONG FORK. You will be in Bhurban or Murree before you realise your mistake. Ask the locals if you need help. The road begins to slowly ascend as you leave Murree. I ran into a huge landslide on the way. It washed out the whole road down the hill except barely one lane and the Army engineers were recontructing it and handling the traffic. Wastage of about 20 minutes here. Another minor landslide at the Punjab-NWFP border, no serious mishap. They charge you 50 Rs (about 1 $) to enter NWFP. Now the scenery dramatically changes. Mind-blowing 90 and even 180 degree hairpins, zig-zag curves and great scenery. Not much protection on the sides though except for the red and white rods. There is much better protection on the road to Murree. Anyhow, WATCH OUT for the 180 degree hairpins, they can be tough and you have to negotiate them at a good speed. There are also the occasional zig-zag ( Two 90 degree hairpins in succession). There are also 1 or 2 on the whole road from Murree to Abbottabad what I call almost two successive 180 degree hairpins. Anyway, nothing 2 difficult for the good driver. A tip: Blow the horn before the hairpins to warn incoming traffic. However, always remember, the road to Nathia Gali is in superb condition with constant repairs and you get several chances to see monkeys crossing the roads. It is also an all-weather road. Good luck!