A picturesque landscape
A picturesque landscape

The scorching heat of the plains in summer usually means people head out for hill stations which provide a cool respite. While some destinations are frequently visited, others have fewer visitors and are yet to be explored.

Situated in the Galiyat region of district Abbottabad is one such destination — Lalazar, which not many tourists know about. People often confuse it with Lalazar in Kaghan Valley which is more frequented.

Many visitors arriving to enjoy the pleasant weather of the Galiyat region during summer miss the opportunity to trek through the astounding landscape of Lalazar, which lies just uphill, at a distance of one kilometre, from the famous tourist resorts of Nathiagali and Donga Gali.

The scenic Lalazar in the Galiyat region not only offers a cool respite in summer, there’s wildlife to experience along the treks

It is worth mentioning that the same track leads to Mukshpuri — the second highest peak of the locality — enabling hikers and trekkers to view Azad & Jammu Kashmir, Murree hills and Malika Parbat. The landscape of Lalazar boasts of thick natural forest, the mystifying call of birds and a meandering track along the hill to the Mukshpuri — which leave long-lasting imprints on the minds of the visitors.

Generally, tourists take the route to Mukshpuri through the forest from Donga Gali, but those taking a trip to Mukshpuri via Nathiagali may have the opportunity to traverse Lalazar. An interesting idea would be to go to the top from one side and then descend from the other so one can see Lalazar as well. While doing so, remember to send the vehicle off to the other point i.e. Donga Gali or Nathiagali while you are trekking so that the vehicle is ready for you when you complete your descent.

Lalazar means ‘garden’ in Urdu, and true to the its meaning, the natural landscape comprising a carpet-like green meadow studded with widely-dispersed daisy flowers is a photographer’s delight.

Information centre and cafeteria situated in the Lalazar park
Information centre and cafeteria situated in the Lalazar park

Lalazar is an integral part of the famous Ayubia National Park established in 1984. The national park harbours a number of wildlife species such as the common leopard, the yellow throated martin, the giant flying squirrel, the koklass pheasant and the kalij pheasant whose shy and somewhat sneaky behaviour intrigues the curiosity of many tourists. While many professionals, including ecologists, biologists and conservationists are on the lookout for faunal diversity in the area, only a few, who possess the skills and the equipment required to observe these species, can truly enjoy the natural wonderland.

The provincial wildlife department has recently established a wildlife park over an area of 12 acres known as the Lalazar Wildlife Park. The area has been fenced with a chain-link mesh encompassing a number of animal cages and an aviary that exhibit the existing wildlife of Ayubia National Park, which is useful considering that it is not always possible to see wild animals and birds in the wilderness.

Public sitting area surrounded by the forest
Public sitting area surrounded by the forest

The Lalazar Wildlife Park is a focal point where prominent wildlife of the area can best be observed in a leisurely walk. Besides the species native to the area, other non-native species including the monal pheasant, the peacock, the cheer pheasant, the white true pheasant and the silver pheasant are also displayed in cages and enclosures. In addition, the snow leopard provides the visitors an opportunity to see this rare, majestic, big wild cat whose habitat is the snowbound mountains of the northern areas in Pakistan.

To facilitate tourists and to provide them with the first-hand information of the wildlife park, an information centre has been set up in the park. It also houses taxidermy specimens of various animals for study, display and interest of the public.

Parakeets spotted in the national park
Parakeets spotted in the national park

Interestingly, the Koklass cafeteria in the park is named after a pheasant native to the Ayubia National Park.

To maintain natural harmony, the sign boards installed at various vintage points have been carved out of wood. Unlike other tourist places, The Lalazar Wildlife Park established in conformity with the natural environment of the region has been helpful in preserving the landscape of the region.

Avian diversity
Avian diversity

The writer is Deputy Conservator, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Wildlife Department, Peshawar

Published in Dawn, EOS, July 22nd, 2018

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