CHITRAL: Second in line in the hierarchy of the British crown, after his father Crown Prince Charles, Prince William Duke of Cambridge is expected to visit Chitral in the coming month. The prince would visit Kalash valley, Hot Springs, Boroghil valley, Royal fort, etc during his visit, it was known here. In accordance with arrangements for the visit, officials of the British Consulate have made a couple of visits to Chitral. It may be noted that mother of the prince, the legendary Princess Diana had visited Chitral in 1991 when she was greeted fervently by the local people. .. Muhkamuddin, Chitral 19 Sep 2019.
.. by Col (r) Ikram Ullah Khan
It is learnt that Chief Minister KPK has traveled to Shandur today by chopper to grace the inaugural ceremony of Shandur festival as Chief guest. As Chief executive of the province, he should have traveled to Shandur by road to see the road conditions on the ground. It is pathetic on the part of PTI local leadership not to play its due role in this regard. People must get hold of them.
However, everything is not lost. Still they have a good opportunity to grab as PM is expected to grace the closing ceremony of the festival as? Chief guest. This is an opportune moment for our local political leadership to ensure that PM travels at least one way journey to Shandur to see for himself the dilapidated conditions of communication infrastructure in Chitral particularly the miserable condition of Booni-Shandur road which has been put into backburner since the day he has come to power. He is requested to look into the matter seriously and issue immediate orders to restart the project without further delay as it serves as a lifeline for the people of Chitral besides having strategic importance.
This is high time our local political leadership woke up from deep slumber and play its due role to redeem their past delinquencies.
Here I would urge Siraj Ulmulk sahib to chip in as a member of PM’s committee on tourism and prevail upon the PM to take practical measures to ameliorate the sufferings of the people of Chitral by taking immediate practical steps instead of mere empty political rhetoric so that it becomes visible to the people that they are living in “Naya Pakistan” otherwise people would be forced to think that “Purana Pakistan” was much better than this “Naya Pakistan”.
The world keeps getting bigger. Every traveler I know says their wish list grows longer, not shorter, every time they dip into a new region or even hear about one.
So how to decide? What?s newly (or still) safe or newly uncovered? What?s hovering between charming sleepiness and overdeveloped soullessness? What must we see before it changes forever? What will transform us?
I put those questions to experts at several high-end travel companies. These super-agents knows what they?re talking about, keeping their ears on their clients? interests and their eyes on the adventures they themselves have in every corner of the world. Here (in alphabetical order) is what on their radar for next year.
The Azores, Portugal
?Resembling the otherworldly landscapes of?Avatar, the Azores islands, an archipelago in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, are topping the lists of adventure travelers for 2019,? says Melissa Biggs Bradley, the founder of the members-only travel company?Indagare. ?With new direct flights from New York?the journey takes just five hours?the islands have volcanic crater lakes, natural hot springs and black-sand beaches. The high-thrill activities include scuba diving, kayaking, hiking, whale watching, birding, surfing and more. And while five-star luxury isn?t easy to find, there are some lovely hotels such as the contemporary-chic?Furnas Boutique Hotel,urban?Azor?and minimalist?White Exclusive Suites & Villas.?
?International tourist numbers to Bhutan are creeping up every year but the majority of travelers visit the well-known areas of Western and Central Bhutan,? explains Brent Olson a destination specialist for the luxury adventure travel company?GeoEx. ?Eastern Bhutan is opening up, and there is quite a bit that is truly off the beaten track. I’m organizing a trip focusing on these more remote regions for November, including a short trek in Merak Sakten and a visit to the ancestral village of the Royal Family. We will also be looking at some of the many worthwhile projects funded by the Bhutan Foundation and meeting the Bhutanese involved in facilitating them.?
Cabo/Los Cabos, Mexico
This longtime weekend escape for Los Angelenos is no stranger to luxury resorts, with dozens of five-star properties, including the new?Montage Los Cabos?and?Solaz, a Luxury Collection Resort, Los Cabos,? says Biggs Bradley. ?But over the next two years, the destination will welcome new properties, including the?Nobu Hotel?and the?1 Hotel,?that will secure its place on the luxury travelers? map. Perhaps the two most exciting openings are the?Four Seasons Costa Palmas,?which recently welcomed Gwyneth Paltrow and her friends, and?Amanvari, set to debut in 2020.?
In 2017, the president received the Nobel Peace Prize, and the country has ?quickly gone from one of the most dangerous places on the planet to a nation on the verge of discovery,? says Biggs Bradley. ?Tourists have not yet arrived en masse, and the guarded optimism of the Colombian people is palpable. Bogot? doesn?t have the breezy appeal of Cartagena or the financial might of Medell?n, but it has been home to artists and creative sorts for decades. You see a spirit of celebrating life in the street art, the weekend cycling parades and frequent family celebrations. Bogot? is also one of the most exciting culinary destinations in South America.?
?This East African nation is stepping on to the world?s stage as a crucible of ancient culture, where travelers have the opportunity to experience the intersection of Christianity, Judaism and Islam through unparalleled cultural immersion,? says Biggs Bradley. ?The country is home to rock-hewn churches built into incredible landscapes, rare 4th- and 5th-century antiquities and tribal villages that have lived the same way for centuries. In the past two years, new lodges (such as?Limalimo Lodge?and?Lale?s Camp) have opened and flight connections are being added to previously out-of-reach locations like the Omo Valley.?
?The world?s fourth largest island feels more like an unexplored planet than an unchecked item on your bucket list,? says Norman Howe,?president and CEO of the luxury walking and biking company?Butterfield & Robinson, which has recently begun offering bespoke trips to the country. ?This wondrous world has so much biodiversity to discover, both in terms of natural beauty and unique terrains. For flora and fauna, with more than 90% of the wildlife endemic to Madagascar, it?s unbeatable.? The famous lemur is only the beginning of the weird and wonderful biodiversity.
?With its wide-open spaces, dramatic landscapes, and warm nomadic culture, Mongolia has long held a special place in our hearts,? says Tina Liadis, an Asia specialist with GeoEx. ?Traveling there still feels like visiting the ends of the earth! Our custom journeys provide ample opportunities to hike, bike, rock climb and stay in welcoming, comfortable?ger?camps.?We love arranging remarkable Mongolia adventures for our travelers, lining up access to?authentic experiences,?such as time with?nomads, outings with?Kazakh eagle hunters and visits with local?shamans.?
?Explore the valleys of Hunza, Shigar and Khaplu via the renowned Karakoram Highway,? suggests Sara Barbieri, another specialist with GeoEx. ?This little-visited region in the far northeast of the country offers the kind of startlingly striking scenery that compels you to?gaze from the window of your 4WD without blinking, for fear of missing a moment of the majesty of the landscape?or one of the astounding suspension bridges that cross the surging rivers filled with snow melt.?Add to this the warm welcome of the?people,?the glacial blue of Attabad lake,?the centuries of history, the juxtaposition of granite to greenery, the chance to walk through an age old-apricot orchard along water channels cut by hand, and the blazing snow-covered glory of Rakiposhi,?and?you must acknowledge?there is?a grand adventure?to be had.?
?This East African country has emerged as a leader in conservation in recent years, notes Biggs Bradley. ?In addition to intimate wildlife experiences, including gorilla trekking and tracking golden monkeys in Virunga, the luxury lodge offerings are impressive: Wilderness Safaris??Bisate Lodge?has views of Volcanoes National Park;?One & Only Nyungwe House, on the edge of Nyungwe Forest National Park, opened recently; and?Magashi, another Wilderness Safaris lodge, will open soon in northeastern Akagera.?
The Turkish Riviera
?Open-minded travelers are slowly returning to Turkey, parts of which had been no-go zones for the past few years,? explains Biggs Bradley. ?The chic beach resort of Bodrum has been enjoying a moment in the spotlight, with the recent opening of the?Six Senses Kaplankaya?and the?Bodrum Edition.?These stylish properties are situated on the beautiful Aegean coastline?which has been likened to that of the South of France?and days here are best spent sailing, visiting ruins and scuba diving. Plus, you can fly directly to Bodrum from Berlin and London.?
I’ve been a travel writer and editor for 15 years ? including several as a senior editor at ForbesLife ? and I’ve written about more than 600 luxury destinations and hotels in 88 countries (and counting). I know the difference between what?s merely expensive and what dese…
I spend half of my life in hotels. I know the difference between true luxury travel and what’s merely overblown and expensive.?Follow me on Instagram: @abeltotravel
.. by Wg Cdr (r) Fardad Ali Shah
Having been granted the opportunity by Amighty Allah to offer Umra at Holy Macca and visit Madina to pray at the Holy Prophet’s mosque, have just returned after concluding the spiritual trip, and thought to put my observations on record.
The most gleaming observation of the visit was the display of unimaginable emotional reverence for the holy Kaaba and at the Masjid Nabvi. From the Hotel room overlooking the Kaaba one could see tens of thousands of worshippers observing the ritual of going round the Kaaba paying tawaf. This scene was witnessed round the clock, non stop, whether in sizzling sunshine heat or at the middle of the night. It looked like a perpetual and non stop sea of humans from all over the world in all hues and shades even including converted white skinned westerners paying their respect buoyantly without getting tired or wanting to rest. The same spirit could be seen at the Prophet’s (PBUH) mosque in Medina. People trying to approach the grave (Roza) of the Holy Prophet would get frenzical and burst into cries showering respect upon the Prophet (PBUH).
The unfathomable spirit of attraction and the frantic reverence Muslims from all over the world have for their religion, triggered an involuntary thought in my mind as to the tremendously potent platform Allah Almighty has provided the muslims to focus on at one place and one belief. This potential platform could be used practically to bring about goodness in a troubled world.
While offering my religious ritual I prayed to God to make this platform a source of betterment for the whole world. I prayed “Almighty Allah, make the Muslims become a source of goodness to the world. If they can sacrifice their time, money, comfort and come to worship You here, make them follow your path – The path of peace, compassion, tolerance, rightfulness, truthfulness, humility and love for humanity and Allah’s creation”.
Whereas the general experience and feeling during the Umra and ibadahs were very pleasant and refreshing, at least at one point I was very sad and dissapointed. While making Tawaf of Holy Kaaba, suddenly heard some voices other than the prayer verses. It was of uniformed guards who were escorting a group of about a dozen pilgrims doing Umra. The guards were shooing and even pushing other pilgrims away to make way for the group. It was clearly a sight of VIP Umra being carried out. We have always been taught that in the eyes of Allah Almighty all humans are equal and more so in a mosque. Discrimination of this kind is totally against the spirit of Islamic teachings. I said to myself, in a western civilised country even a man in the street is given the same respect as any body else, but here, in the house of Allah, such ugly discrimination is being displayed by the organizers of the place.
For the positive observations one was that large amounts of pilgrims from Indonesia /Malaysia etc were pouring in every day. On query was told that in these countries the government sends every adult muslim on Umra at govt expense once in a life time and multiple umras /haj? are banned. One could see the poorest of poor from these countries enjoying Umra privilege. What a beautiful idea, I thought. Why can’t it be done in Pakistan. Only one Umra/Haj at government expense should be the right of every citizen. No citizen should be allowed to perform more than one Haj and one Umra and that too with at least three years gap. If a person has too much money and wants to use it for Haj and Umra, he can donate it to the government who is giving the Haj/Umra facility to every citizen.
The population of pilgrims at Kaaba is increasing rapidly and seems will get out of control in few years. The apparent response/measures do not look adequate and adhocism in management still visibly prevailing there. Drastic measures on scientific grounds need to be adopted to keep the flow of pilgrims controlled and regulated before things get out of hand.
The arrangements at Airport in Jeddah and Madina both on arrival and departure are pathetic. Pilgrims are given the last priority and Airport procedures take five to six hours because of the inefficient system. Many pilgrims are old, sick or infirm and there is no consideration for them. The Haj terminal at Jeddah airport resembles a large warehouse building with rough cement flooring, no escalators or elevators. No announcements are made and one has to guess or ask attendants about flights, boarding gates etc. When I asked a PIA employee as to why no announcement about flight boarding was made, he replied “without announcement there is so much rush, imagine what will happen if we make announcement”.
In the PIA aircraft even in an economy-plus (business) class, the service was substandard. There were bearded flight stewards (one with grey beard). The stewards and hostesses handed over food tray to the passengers in haste, collected it soon after and then disappeared to be seen only before landing to remind us to tie up seat belts.
Before departure our travel agent had forewarned us that there would be administrative disappointments. His words were ” As you are going there to get your sins forgiven, be ready to face difficulties on the way” to which I had replied “I am ready to bear difficulties in the path of Allah, but I am not going for getting my sins forgiven, nor will they be forgiven if they are sins against ‘huqooq ul ibaad’. After which he wished us well and said good bye. .. Wg Cdr (r) Fardad Ali Shah, 09 Apr 2018
The recent visit of HH Prince Karim Aga Khan played a key role in strengthening the bonds of co-existence and inter-faith harmony. Besides a rare display of volunteerism was also witnessed on the occasion. The Sunni community remained in the forefront in assisting their Ismaili brethren to accord a warm welcome to their spiritual leader. On the day of the visit, the elders of the Sunni community displayed banners with the inscription of felicitations and welcome to receive the adherents coming to the Deedar Gah (place of congregation to catch a glimpse of the Imam). The Ismaili volunteers demonstrated an extraordinary prowess of volunteerism by undertaking Herculean tasks of repairing roads, constructing bridges, and providing lodging, food and transport to thousands of congregants. It is a good omen for both the communities to work together for mutual peace and harmony thus contributing towards socio-economic development. .. Khalid Pervaiz Raza,?Booni. Chitral 10 Dec 2017
Chitral .. The scheduled visit to Chitral of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of twenty million Ismaili Muslims is awaited with much reverence and enthusiasm in this highland district. The Aga Khan is not only holy to the Ismailis but muslims from all sects respect and regard him as a benevolent personality who has served humanity in his capacity without any discrimination. He has always presented a pleasant and amicable face of Islam in international forums.
The high spread and standard of education in Chitral and northern areas is due to his noble vision that he got implemented four decades ago, and is bearing fruit today. Ismailis who erstwhile did not have much opportunities to prove their capabilities are now in the forefront in every field. Students are offered opportunities to pursue their studies from Australia to Canada and from Portugal to Kenya and Central Asia.? A better groomed, more confident generation owe their progress to the Aga Khan. The extensive influx of donor money through the AKDN has also benefited many Chitralis in different fields.? All this could not have been possible without the generosity and the charismatic personality of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan .. CN Editorial, 01 Dec 2017.