This post first appeared here.
BY: HAMZA SANA, M.B.B.S., BATCH XX
on the far side of Upper Kachura Lake, Skardu.
“It was October already yet we were nearly dripping in sweat. The convenient twenty minutes’ drive had not been possible due to ongoing construction of the road from the town below to the lake slightly higher on the hill as described by the locals. The sun was vividly bright and no cloud cover to ease our way. About 40 minutes of uphill walking we reached a plain meadow. The locals pointed us in the right direction and we started walking for another 15 minutes or so. We were already very irritated by the hike and were really hoping to finally see a glimpse of what we had heard was one of the most amazing phenomena of Mother Nature in Northern Pakistan.
We arrived at a small restaurant, covered in trees with almost no view of what was beyond. The guy there was hasty enough in realising how tired we were so he notably served us water and gave us the good news that we had reached our destination. From the hotel, we had to go downhill through a series of steps surrounded by what could possibly be one of the finest combinations of grass and tree I could imagine. What followed was beyond imagination.
A lake so immensely beautiful that my eyes could not comprehend. The furthest edge seeming so close yet being so far was evidence of how huge this display of nature was. The first thing that caught my eye was a mirror image of the Mountain View on the water surface. As if a huge mirror had been spread over the plain with near to perfect reflections of the surrounding sceneries. Colourful plantation and lush grass surrounded the lake with few green leaves that remained as the remnants of past summer. The yellow and oranges of the arriving autumn were levying their toll now. A few local herds of livestock could be seen grazing around. The water seemed quite still. The whistling of the wind and humming of birds were among the most prominent of sounds. A few boats, some of which seemed very old were peacefully tied to trees at the edges. Except for the immediate surroundings of the lake the terrain was pretty much abrupt with huge pieces of stones, some formed by erosion whilst some had a slide from all the way above from higher mountains. From where I stood I could easily comprehend the vast amount of creation accommodated in the ecosystem around the lake. What amazed me was how so much of life was progressing in the timeline yet in such isolated and far-fetched areas of the world.
After the few usual photos of everyone around the lake, I went on ahead, alone to start my photo walk. From mesmerising bushes and fruit trees all along the side of the lake to abrupt hilly edges with thorns and huge stones I captured everything in my way. I had taken hundreds of photos yet still I could find a different view in every corner of this brilliant stage set by nature. All I was worried about was how I was going to capture everything around the lake in the little time we were there for. I got so dismantled in the thought of it that for every time I had asked myself to stop I would pause and think about if I had given my best to this most extraordinary place.
There was something magical about the place. It was so peaceful that I could not help but put my camera aside for a couple of minutes and just stare at how fine and wonderful our country is. A lake on top of a small hill surrounded by the rocky high peaks of Skardu, was displaying the most diverse palette of royalties I had ever seen.”
The Upper Kachura Lake is one of the finest displays of how beautiful Pakistan can be. The lake is approached by the road that continues uphill from Shangrila Resort. The road was under construction back then but it has been completed now and jeeps/vans are available for transport.
The lake has very clear water and reaches depths of about 200 feet at some places. We, however, were lucky enough to get a chance to bathe at an edge due to low levels of water at that time. The water was pretty cold and the locals told us that the whole lake freezes in winters. They said that the lake has no external source and water from the lake is utilised by all in the vicinity. There are a couple of restaurants at the lake. The one we tried was pretty good with breakfast options and also provided boat rides to the other side of the lake. The local population is very peaceful and their people are always looking forward to welcoming all.
About the author: Travelling and capturing the wonderful productions of nature in his camera for quite some time, Hamza now aims to travel throughout Pakistan, and eventually the whole world because this is what satisfies him.