It was five in the morning and the soft sun beams had slowly started transcending over everything, bringing to life the amazing manifestations of natural beauty that were plunged in darkness a while ago. The black sky that was adorned with shining jewels at night gradually turned awesome as the Creator brushed it with hues of yellow and orange out of His palette.
Covered by canopies of fresh white snow, the majestic mountains in the midst of which I had spent the night awed me. I lay in my sleeping bag; listening intently to the silence that invades this valley at night, except for the sound of running river far away. Never had I witnessed such calm and peace. I got up, rolled my sleeping bag and went inside the camping tent to freshen up.
It was our second day in the magical valley of Naran, 276km north of Islamabad and still it was hard to believe that nature could be so beautiful, so divine. Surrounded by lush green landscape, gigantic mountains, glaciers that dazzled like white gold as the sunlight reflected from them all seemed so magical. My family had been up till late last night so I decide to take a morning walk alone and fill my lungs with the fresh morning breeze for a change.
The familiar sound of churning metal wheel on the bank of River Kunhar was now clearly audible in the stark silence. “It sure needs to be oiled,” I thought. It was a sign that the day had already begun in Naran Valley and the locals were off to work. Local people cross river Kunhar by taking a ride on an iron carrier I call the “air boat.” Two laborers standing on the other side of river turn a big wheel together to wind the metallic rope suspended above water around a pulley to pull the carrier.
As I took a trail uphill, I could not help but marvel at the trekking skills of the people and cattle dwelling in the valley. The trails are no more than three feet wide, making it difficult for two people to walk together. Some children clad in their traditional dress “shalwar kameez,” (long knee length shirts with quite baggy trousers) had come out of houses to take their cattle for grazing .I watched them with amusement as they ran up and down the lush green steep hills chasing their pets. Three women carrying huge stacks of wooden logs on their head were walking down the river. The wood was tied with some old tattered traditional floral shawls. The people of Naran lead a hard life. In absence of electricity, the locals burn wood to generate heat for cooking and keeping themselves warm. Sometimes the roads here may get blocked due to land sliding, thus hindering the transport of supplies to the valley.
Feeling a bit exhausted from climbing, I descended towards river Kunhar whose clean water appeared milky white due to the strong current hitting rocks forcefully. It made a loud whooshing sound. I located a safe spot on the river bank and took off my joggers to plunge my feet in the chilled water. The sky was now bright and beautiful and chirping of birds was clearly audible. Far away I could see fisher men approaching the river bank with net and fishing rods to hunt Naran’s famous trout. While I leisurely splashed the running water with my feet, far away I noticed a tourist fixing a traditional wooden bed woven with ropes called charpai in the middle of a stream with the help of rocks. Curious, I watched intently as a woman handed him a basket of ripe mangoes and the man fixed it in the water too. I could not help but smile and appreciate their idea of chilling fruit and enjoying cool river breeze on a charpai.
Suddenly I spotted a child, around eight years of age plucking white daisies to make beautiful garlands for tourists. Ignorant of their low standard of living, which almost touches the poverty line; those little children’s sparkling eyes and smiling faces appeared so peaceful. And I wondered, what have they to lose anyway. They live so close to nature, eat pure organic food and keep fit by walking miles each day. It’s us who have become so used to city life that there is no escape now. But Naran is a place that makes me feel free. An escape from the stress of city life, a hide out from the scorching sun and long hours of load shedding, here I feel free like a bird. Free from the hustle and bustle of city, the honking horns and the running clocks. I am in eternal bliss. I am in the valley of Naran, North Pakistan.
About the Author: Iram Moazzam is a budding writer with a degree of Masters in Human Resource Management. She aspires to become a travel writer and explore every corner of the world. She can be found on Facebook.