Difference between revisions of "Murree"
Revision as of 18:15, 21 January 2013
An American journalist Camile wrote, that, "Everything and anything can happen in Murree. Romance is in the atmosphere; intrigue is in the air. The roads to this happy holiday's resort embrace both the heaven and earth. In Murree it is easy to fall in love".
Murree was once a charming colonial town nestled in the Himalayan foothils - but the last 10 years have seen rampant development and today Murree more closely resembles a litter-strewn overcrowded tourist resort. However it remains exceedingly popular with Pakistani families and still receives glowing recommendations from this demographic. For the international visitor heading further north to the Galis may prove more rewarding. In summer it is cool - even chilly in the evening - while light rain is common. In winter Murree hides herself under thick blanket of snow, however view tourists visit at this time and most hotels and attractions will be closed.
Taxis and buses run from Islamabad and, usually, take about 1.30 hour.
There are four routes to Murree from the capital, Islamabad: it takes 1.30 hour to reach Murree from Islamabad via the old Islamabad-Murree Road, it takes 1 hour to reach Murree from Islamabad via the 4-lane Islamabad-Murree Expressway. The Expressway has a bad reputation for accidents and there are often police stopping speeding motorists.
There are two less used routes that are worth exploring if you are not in a hurry. The third longer route to Murree from Islamabad via Nilore and Simli Dam - this joins at Lower Topa. The fourth is even more adventurous and starts from the Monal restaurant in Islamabad - if you keep following the road you will eventually end up on the 'old Murree Road' - this route requires a 4x4 as the road is unpaved in parts, and you have to bump over a riverbed where a bridge has been washed away. For this fourth route a print out of a google map and a GPS is strongly advised. Takes 3 hours or so - although you'll want to stop for photos!
The mountain drive is refreshing and the scenery is breath-taking especially on the Nilore-Simli-Lower Topa route.
Murree is the administrative Headquarters of the Murree district. It is well connected by road to other towns of the area. These small towns are Khanspur, Ghora Gali, Sunny Bank, Jhika Gali, Bhurban, Nathia Gali, Ayubia, Kalabagh and Patriata. Murree is also linked by road to the larger towns of Islamabad, Muzafarabad and Abbotabad.
Driving in or through Murree is at best a nightmare - the roads are too narrow, and the cars too many. There are alternatives. Public transport ( buses, taxis and vans ) are readily available but would be generally crowded. The best way to negotiate Murree in a car is to take the old Murree Road and park to the north of Murree and walk in to the centre. Similarly if heading to Natia Gali or other towns north of Murree take the old road (which acts as a Murree by-pass) and turn on to the Abbotabad road). If you must take the expressway then take this past Murree to Lower Topa, then take the Lower Topa - Murree road, which will take you to the Abbotabad road. Just to restate avoid driving through the centre of Murree at pretty much all costs.
Except for the Islamabad-Murree highway all other roads are single / two lane roads and the driver should be conversant with mountain driving skills.
The nearest air link is Islamabad International Airport and the nearest rail Link is at Rawalpindi Cantonment Station.
If you are to hire a taxi from Islamabad to Murree you need to pay just Rs.400 and the taxi will drop you from Faizabad to Murree and if you want it double way you may even get it in Rs.700 for Islamabad-Murree round trip. If you are to go by bus you have to pay just Rs.40 As one way fare.
Murree has now become a highly commercialized place. The residents of Murree area have adopted the profession of gaining easy money by becoming agents that roams around every corner of main Mall road to trap the visitors and take them to the Hotels, impersonating the hotel employees, however in reality these agents takes commission from the Hotel owners by bringing in the customers and taking percentage of commission upto 40-50% of the total amount paid by the visitors to the hotels for room. These agents actually chase visitors and frustrates them to get a room through them. The best way to avoid these agents is to book a hotel (Usmania Hotel, PC etc.) in advance, or DO NOT roam with luggage on Mall road.
The main attractions of Murree are its natural scenery and refreshing atmosphere. It is an ideal place for a family get away and vacation. With its many places of interests like Patriata, Ayubia, Nathia Gali, Bhurban, Khanspur it offers many spots for picnics, mountain hiking and trekking. The best of these treks is from Dunga Gali to Murree on the water pipeline. The Golf Course at Bhurban is unique because of its altitude and tough layout. The area around Patriata has been developed and provides excellent hiking and trekking paths. It also has a scenic two stage cable car that would take the tourists up to the top. Those not interested in waiting in the queue for the ride can drive up to the Patriata top.
Murree has a variety of handicraft shops selling curios for the tourist to remind them of their visit to this hill station. Traditional clothing items , head wear, carved walking sticks, jewelery items and leather goods are abundantly available.
Also visit Millenium Mall - on main Mall road, next to Usmania Restaurant. A complete shopping mall with every kind of multinational brands in cosmetics, clothing, shoes, grocery, watches, leather, restaurants, coffee, ice cream parlors, sweets from all over the world, some of famous names are KFC, Pizza Hut, Indulge coffee shop, Nirala sweets, Gucci, Emporio Armani, Nike, Addidas, Piere Cardin, Rado, Tissot, Victoria Secrets, and many more have already got outlets in this mall. 1st floor is only for joy land amusement park for children.
There are many restaurants in Murree, mostly along The Mall. One very popular restaurant is called Al-mai-dah.
'Fuschia Restaurant' near Kashmir Point just before the Governors House is a newly opened restaurant. It offers a mix of English, Pakistani, Italian, etc. The Restaurant also has thrilling games for children such as a Jumping Castle, Trampoline, battery powered cars and an Arcade.
Hard liquor is only available to foreign passport holders at PC Bhurban hotel. However night receptionists at nearly all hotels are able to arrange some stuff for a little consideration. There are no bars or pubs.
There are many well equipped medical centres in Murree and surrounding which can always provide you with basic medical treatment,like Abbasi hospital at Suny Bank,Tariq medical centre Bhurban,alshafa clinic Murree and many more.Along with these medical centres there is a military hospital "CMH" situated on Murree mallroad.
Murree being a well established tourist destination has a wide variety of lodgings available to suit all pockets. The top of the line is the 7* Pearl-Continental Hotel at Bhurban. However PC Bhourban is 25 minutes drive away from Murree proper. Other good standard hotels are available in Murree proper besides a number of other hired lodgings of various standards. Another option is to hire summer houses. Murree also has a number of private and government owned rest houses or Dak bunglows. Generally the summer season rates are 5 to 6 times the winter off season rate.
There are a lot of hotels and restaurants on Mall Road Murree. In May 2007, Usmania Restaurant charged us Rs.3500 for five triple bedrooms. They serve good Pakistani cuisine as well.
Murree can serve as a focal hub of your stay. Day trips can be planned for Nathia gali, Kalabagh, Muzzafrabad, Ayubia, Patriata, Khanspur, Bhurban and Gharial.
Trekking is the best sport to do, following are some of the treks: