I RECENTLY had a chance to visit the Dagree Forest Rest House located between Thandiyani and Nathiagali in Galies Forest Division. We started our trek from Birangali in the Bagnotar range. The scenic route that leads to Dagree has trees in abundance that are hundreds of years old; one of them happens to be a ‘quercus semecarpifolia’ — a kind of oak — that dates back 1,500 years!
At one point one can see Azad Kashmir, on the left, and Abbottabad region, on the right. Dagree, in the local language, means ‘home of leopards’, and the rest house there was built by the British before partition.
The entire journey was easy on the eyes; scenic and refreshing. The arrival at Dagree, however, spoilt a bit of fun. It is an extremely beautiful place, away from the hustle and bustle of Nathiagali bazaar, but the rest house there cuts a sorry figure. The bungalow, surrounded by the Himalayan moist temperate forest, had been damaged in the earthquake that struck the region back in 2005 and is still awaiting complete renovation.
The government’s vision about protecting forests is great, and it would be even greater if it can include the restoration of rest houses which are relics in their own right.
On the part of the visitors, it is important to remember that these forest rest houses are not meant for partying.
If you want to have, say, chicken karahi, it is better to have it before you start your journey to such places. Once there, we all must respect the peace and the place.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2021