Jam-packed into two cars, with a bottle of coke in one hand and salted lays in the other, we started our road trip to the astounding and serene valleys of Naraan. Traveling in mornings usually means the journey will be bright and sunny, however, the best feeling is when the sun fades away, giving way to a perfect grey and pinkish mist in a wide, parabolic shape.
Along the way, we encountered green mountains and seemingly never-ending forests. We unpacked in the corridor of the grand rest house. Every little detail of this resthouse took me back in time. From the huge halls to the wide windows with balconies from where one could see the entire view of the dancing clouds hanging from the sky, as if about to cry from puffy eyes.
Our next stop was a dhaaba, which, surprisingly, was open-air. The charpai and tables were all in the typical village style, looking perfectly vibrant with colorful pomp pomps on the side, the ones they tie to camels in the southern deserts of Pakistan. On the menu was perfectly grilled sajji with a mouth-watering tangy mint sauce, which was tantalizingly spicy. We also had that all-time favorite, Lentil or daal, the top dish anybody gets when going to a Pakistani dhaaba. It has the perfect blend of spices and garlic, topped with sliced green chilies. Our dinner ended with cardamom tea, which was warm, perfect for the chilly night. Elaichi chai with this view!
The next morning, as planned, we headed for the beautiful valley of Saif-ul-Mulk. Yes, you heard that right, the valley that the entire world is drooling over thanks to its incomparable beauty. We drove in our car to a spot from where we had to shift to the red jeeps which took us to the mountaintop. Trust me, this is not as simple as it sounds. It was a hell of a ride. The bumpy ride on the road, which had a width of approximately 9 steps, was like a Death Valley ride. There are two beautiful glaciers on the way, with icy water dripping down their sides.
On the left were mountains while on our right was a deep, hollow valley as deep as the eye could see. One needs to have nerves of steel to drive that path which lasts for about an hour. There is a parking spot that you reach after a while which is the signal that yes, Saif-ul-Mulk is finally here. As soon as I got out of the jeep and looked up, to my amazement,I saw heaven on earth. The valley is situated between narrow lush green hills that come down the to the turquoise lake which reflects the mountains like glass. I ran down to the lake and put my feet in the chilly water, which apparently hid some tiny fish in its depths.
The tour guide tells tales of how fairies visit the lake at night. This is creepy and yet makes Saif-ul-Mulk more intriguing. After having a couple of cups of tea and some pakoras, perfectly crispy and brown, we left for Babusar top.
It would be a lie if I said that my words will do complete justice to that view. The massive green mountains with wide open lakes and small brown cottages in what seems like a place completely removed from civilization made up the perfect setting for a fantasy movie.
Life is really simple in Naraan and it is in that simplicity that the locals and tourists find peace. Far away from work and stress, Naraan should be the next stop on your Trip List. You’ll find it an unforgettable journey.