The Best Park in Pakistan – Fatima Jinnah Park in F-9

Fatima Jinnah F-9 Park

Monument at Fatima Jinnah Park in F-9

Islamabad has a lot to offer for those who love nature and the outdoors. And folks living here can’t wait to find a reason to spend time outdoors. Even in the middle of a hot monsoon summer or freezing winter.

There are these famous hiking trails all across Magalla hills with a new one added just a few weeks ago. Islamabadis take time out on weekends to enjoy the serene and beautiful nature resorts like Pir Sohawa, Shakarparian, Murree Hills, Khanpur and Rawal dams. Some of these places get so crowded during holidays that it seems everyone has abandoned their homes for the outdoors. The has one more outdoor activity to offer. The well manicured parks and gardens. And one such beautiful park is Fatima Jinnah Park in F-9 Sector.

This 700 acre park was part of the original master plan of the city dating back to early 1960s but was not opened up to the public till early 1990s. In the past twenty odd years, it has gone from being a rugged green expanse to a well maintained and managed park in the city. Probably the best kept in the country.

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San Francisco Street Trains

San Francisco Street Train

San Francisco Street Train

The roads in San Francisco are not only shared by cars and bicycles, but it is not uncommon to find trams and short trains crawl through the streets throughout the city. They ferry people all across San Francisco with ease. And most amazing is the fact that, they also obey the traffic signals by stopping at the red lights and giving pedestrians the right of way as they move at a leisurely pace on the tracks laid right on the paved roads.

We have all heard of the famous cable car of San Francisco, but the trains that prowl the streets ferrying regular traffic from one part to the other are also a treat. They are clean, quiet and quite a few dating back from the turn of the century (20th) and restored to their original. Usually, tourists can be found hanging on to them as they move across the city.

The public transportation system (underground, trains, buses) make having a car in the city moot. There is virtually no need for one with such wonderful traffic management.

Most of these trains/buses are either electric or powered by bio-diesel fuel, keeping the carbon footprint low and the city clean and beautiful.

A great way to keep the heritage alive and also encourage the use of public transportation.

Islamabad Hikers Club on Facebook

Here is a news alert. So all those hikers living in and around Islamabad, we now have a Facebook group to connect.

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=75652559498

There are hundreds of Islamabadis who go hiking daily on numerous trails criss crossing the Margalla Hills. The most popular of them is Trail number 3 as highlighted by us in an earlier blog. Quite recently, Trail 5 seems to be attracting a lot of followers due to it being more beautiful and natural than other tracks.

One of the purposes of this group is to get these hikers to come together on one platform to discuss, plan and share insights about hiking in the vicinity of Islamabad. It may also be a great idea if we can get CDA (Capital Development Authority) to make some hiking friendly policies. And maybe, we can form a group together to go hiking on longer tracks beyond Islamabad.

So let’s spread the word and join in this group on Facebook.

Trail #5 a Nature Hiking Track

If you love bird watching, follow, track and photograph wild flowers, butterflies and other wonderful natural elements during the spring then Trail #5 is for you. Unlike Trail #3, which is extremely popular among hikers in Islamabad, Trail #5 is less traveled, more natural and passes through some of the most scenic sections of the Margalla Hills.

The trail is over 5km long and reaches the village near Murad Gali on Pir Sohawa Road. This junction is at least 2-3 km walk from the Capital Viewpoint restaurant where trail #3 terminates. The trail is thin and gradually climbs up the hill. It will take a little over two hours at a steady pace up the hill to reach Murad Gali. But since it passes through an extremely scenic part of Margalla Hills, we recommend hikers to stop, enjoy and take in the atmosphere.

Very few people go up this trail. However, it is worth every second on it. Especially during the spring season. Due to the summer fast approaching, we expect hikers to carry water and light food items with them. Take a good camera as well to capture most natural elements on the trail.

Best Paratha Kabaab in Islamabad

If you truly want to enjoy your paratha, kabaabs and tikkas then you will have to earn it. And what best way to earn then to hike up the Margalla Hills via Trail #3. And we suggest hiking up with a near empty stomach to build up that appetite.

This weekend, Qasim and I did just that. With almost starving stomaches, and only mineral water to sustain us through our journey, we began our ascent of the Margalla Hills. The hills, as any Islamabadi will tell you, are the most beautiful feature of the capital city of Pakistan. They dot the North Western side and run through the length of the city. To one side, they extend and grow all the way to Murree, the picturesque and tourist town up into the Himalayan Mountain range, and on the other side protrude into the fertile Potohar valley.

Trail#3 begins at around 600 meters above sea level in Sector F-6 adjacent to Shalimar Cricket ground and reaches the height of 1100meters near the village of Pir Sohawa up on the hills. The trail is 5.5 Km long and criss crosses through some of the most beautiful, natural and serene surroundings.

Qasim on Trail 3

Qasim on Trail 3

This Sunday, the weather cooperated. After many days of rains and clouds, there was a welcome break as sun shone through making the day extremely good for hiking. We got there a little after midday and after light stretching exercises began our ascend. As we went up, the sounds of the city muffled away to make room for chirping birds, and whispering leaves in the mild wind. Occasionally, one may run across a monkey on the trail, but otherwise, it is just nature and you moving along nice broad path up the hill.

This Sunday there was an unusually large crowd out for a hike. But not many folks prefer to climb all the way. Most of the hikers usually turn back half way up the path. But this Sunday, we were determined to go all the way to enjoy our meal.

It took us a pleasant two hours to reach the village of Pir Sohawa at the top of the mountain. Once there, we immediately made our way to the Capital Viewpoint restaurant to fill our starving stomaches. After quickly occupying a bunch of seats we ordered our favorite Parathas, kabaabs and chicken tikka treat. Capital Viewpoint has been serving some of the most delicious meals since its inception in early 1990s. And after hiking for so long, it was worth the wait. We literally gobbled down a couple of tikkas and dozen seikh kabaabs in a matter of minutes. The hunger inside us was too much and we wanted second helpings but only resisted as we had another hour of descend planned.

So if you really want to enjoy your tikkas at Pir Sohawa, we suggest take Trail #3. You will not regret it.

Startup Insiders Session in PC Pindi

Yes, the 10th edition of Startup Insiders is going to be held this Saturday in Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi. It is hosted by PASHA in collaboration with BrightSpyre.

This is an ideal platform for entrepreneurs and young startups to meet and collaborate. I encourage all to come and attend this session. I will be there as well. The event will be held during the PASHA career expo at Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi on August 2, 2008.

Date & Time: August 2, 2008 (3-5pm)
Location: Pearl Continental, Rawalpindi
Theme: Transitioning from salaried life to Entrepreneurship

Please visit the event website at for more information.

Goat & CD-70

A 70cc motor cycle (CD-70) is a good way to get around in traffic jams all over Pakistan. But sometimes, it is used in extremely ingenious ways. Take a look at this picture, where three goats are sandwiched between the passenger and the driver. The motor cycle engine is barely able to carry the weight of two people and here it is carrying three heavy goats along with the passengers. Amazing. Really amazing.

Goat and Motorcycle

I shot this mobile camera photo on the main road linking Jhang with Faisalabad in Punjab, Pakistan.