A few weeks back I got the chance to go to Muzaffarabad with my family. It was a sudden, unplanned sort of trip. My parents were going to Dubai for a couple of days and they decided to check out Muzaffarabad on their way back. So casual, yeah. So my sister and I decided to join them there as well and make it a mini/bonus family vacation of some sort.
We spent three full days there simply chilling and exploring around the city. Before going there, when I told people I am going to Muzibaad (my nick name for Muzaffarabad) with my family, some of the comments I got from people who have already been there were:
“Muzaffarabad is blah”.
“It’s a boring city”.
“Dude, Bhurban is better than Muzaffarabad”.
Matlab janay se pehle hi sara maza kharab kardo mera. Anyway, simply ignoring what people said (default reaction to everything people say), I decided to hop onto this journey and appreciate the place for whatever it’s worth. And (spoiler alert) I loved it!
P.S. Because I’m feeling extra lazy today, this blog post is going to look more like a Dear Diary sort of post (as it is straight out of my travel diary). Yes, I have an actual travel journal. Teehee.
P.P.S. If you feel that we could’ve done a lot more than what’s written below for the number of days we stayed in Muzaffarabad, I’d like to tell you that I KNOW. The whole idea of this trip was to go to a place and do nothing there. Wanna sleep in all day? Do it. Wanna eat till you explode? Do it. My parents needed a break from the everyday struggles of their life and they got it. And that’s what matters most. You get the idea. Agay kuch mat bolna.
Day 0: Arriving in Islamabad
Arrived in Islamabad at night time. Met my parents at the airport who arrived straight from Dubai land. After casual hello’s, slept through the night at a relative’s place.
Day 1: Journey to Muzaffarabad and First Impressions
We left for Muzaffarabad in our hired car early morning. It takes about 3 to 4 hours (depending how many stops you make along the way) to reach Muzaffarabad. The whole journey is very comfortable, the roads are well maintained. There was only one patch along the way which was a little bumpy and uphill, otherwise the rest of the ride is quite comfortable.
After making short stops along the way for snacks and for stretching our legs (as it was our first ever road trip), we reached Muzaffarabad around 2 PM. We had Pearl Continental Hotel booked for our entire stay, and they were also kind enough to manage our transfers to the hotel from Islamabad so it was a pretty cool deal. Moreover, simply loved the hotel! It was gorgeously clean, well-manicured lawns, clean and comfortable rooms – I have zero complains! (More on this later). Rest of the day, we just chilled in our rooms, unpacked and organized our stuff (I’m a border line psycho when it comes to organization in my life).
Later in the day, we went out for a lovely dinner at Neelum View Hotel which is only a 13-15 minute ride from the hotel. You guys, I loved their food! I had the best dinner ever in a really long time, woh bhi beside the Neelum river. It was just so cool. The river is not literally flowing beside you, it’s properly fenced away at a safe distance so you don’t have to worry about your kids going near the water or anything. The hotel has a HUGE lawn and some swings and other jhoolay for the kids to enjoy. Wese aap bhi enjoyz le saktay hen…
Day 2: Out and About in Muzaffarabad
We had big plans for this day. Basically today we had planned to explore the whole city. We booked our car and driver from the hotel, and you guys, he was the sweetest guy ever. He was literally half a tour guide, very helpful when you know nothing. We went to Pir Chanasi which is the highest point in Muzaffarabad from where you can enjoy gorgeous panoramic views of the valley. Pir Chanasi is almost at an elevation of 9000 ft and the drive to this top is almost 2 hours long. There is a mazaar of a Pir over there called Pir Sayed Hussain Shah Bukhari. We were not into the mazaar and all, so just went there, took some photos, chilled out. Oh, by the way, it was very chilly up there! Loved it in the month of October. The sunshine and the cold were perfectly balancing each other, so it was neither hot nor cold, just a very balanced mausam. We visited in the dry season, so the views were a little dusty and hazy, but still it was serene to be there. There are some tiny stalls there from where you can buy drinks and pakoray etc. But didn’t come across a major food outlet of any sort.
View from Pir Chanasi
On the way back, we stopped over at a dhaaba to have lunch, and oh my GODDDD, they served us freshly prepared saag, channa daal and chicken karhai. I loved every single bite. We even ran into a lovely lady who owned a nearby rest house and had a nice little chit chat with her about life there. Funny how everyone up there was very friendly, kind, generally very tameezdaar. Back in Karachi, life is a mess on the roads and you’re always on your guard that the next person might rob you. Sigh.
Next stop after Pir Chanasi, was Madina Market. Recommended by some friends, I wanted to buy some local handicrafts from Muzaffarabad, so decided to check it out. Sadly, it was nothing like I had imagined. Remember how I was stunned by the shops at Pokhara lakeside when I went to Nepal? Well, my expectations were next level high ’cause of that experience. I was like, aray yeh tou apna Pakistan hai, yahan Nepal se behtar samaan milega, but Madina market turned out to be like any other market. They had jackets, shoes, clothes, washing powder…basic life stuff. But didn’t find handicrafts. There were some shops selling Kashmiri shawls though, but I didn’t want any warm clothes because, let’s face it, Karachi and thand? No way! So came back to the hotel disappointed and slept in my cosy bed.
We had plans to check out Red Fort and Kashmir Waterfall as well, but we are a family of people with low energy levels and we were immensely tired after the long car ride, so we decided to skip it.
Day 3: Chilling Out Day
I woke up with the sun on this day as I wanted to experience the early morning vibes of the city on my own. So I got dressed as fast as I could and ran down to the hotel’s front lawn to soak in the morning views. I can’t even describe how beautiful the whole experience was. There was not a single soul around me (except for exotic birds and maybe a security guard who was wondering what crazy stuff I am doing with my camera when I was in fact just taking some macro shots of the flowers) 😛 See some of my bootiful fatography down below.
Generally just spent the day chilling, playing table tennis with ma bro at which I suck. (Side note: I hate sports). Afterwards, went out to Village View Restaurant in the hopes of having a scrumptious dinner, but they said that are not preparing food as it is their off season. Oh, well. We just chilled out with a cuppa tea and some pakoras again beside the serene river.
Then headed to another place called “Sangam Hotel” recommeded by our driver. At first the place looked really shady but ofcourse, food solves all problems, so we were good. There we had whattay yummy Kashmiri pulao, Chicken Seekh Kababs and Chicken Handi.
To put the icing on our vacation cake, we stopped at a small, tiny handicrafts shop right opposite to Sangam Hotel. From there, I finally got to quench my thirst of buying handicrafts. What I bought, is a different story, so more on that later. But we loved the shop keeper’s hospitality – he even invited us to his home, which we couldn’t accept as we were leaving the next day.
About shopping: There is also a shop near PC Muzaffarabad called “K. Creations Kashmir” which also sells amazing local stuff at very reasonable prices. You might want to check that out sometime. See their Facebook page here.
Day 4: Goodbye, Kashmir
Alvidayi travelling day – we packed our stuff, checked out of the hotel, and got our ride back to Isalamabad Airport from the hotel. That’s that. Will most definitely return to Kashmir to explore the deeper parts inshAllah soon one day.
Until next time. xoxo.
P.S. I know this post was long, and if you made it till here, a big round of applause to you and your bahaduri. I will do another post on Muzaffarabad which I’ll try to make as tourist friendly as possible with all the essential details and facts which most people are looking for. Stay tuned to this space 🙂
Header image credits to El Arte Doodles.
Bhai, tasveerein without credit mat chaapna. Thank you.