iri Paaye is one of the most serene places you’ll ever visit. Given its tranquil weather, gentle breeze, lush greenery and breathtaking vistas, a visit to Siri Paaye is an absolutely refreshing. The grassland is less accessible than the Galiyat. The journey to Siri Paaye involves navigating steep hills, a narrow and winding road and occasional landslides.
Located near Kaghan valley, Siri Paaye is a picturesque destination adjacent to the equally stunning hilltop locale of Shogran. The mountain lake is perched at an impressive elevation of 3,058 metres (10,032 feet) above sea level. At the heart of this pristine meadow lies a crystal-clear freshwater lake. The surrounding landscape features grazing animals and vibrant wildflowers, including charming yellow and banyan blooms. Siri Paaye is encircled by the majestic Makra Peak, Malika Parbat and Musa Ka Mosalla.
Located six kilometers from Shogran in Kaghan valley, Siri Paaye is an adventure destination that attracts eager travellers. The town overwhelms visitors with its breathtaking beauty. A summer visit to Siri Paaye feels like a refreshing respite from life’s stresses. Exploring this enchanting, vibrant and awe-inspiring locale is an exhilarating experience. Despite the risks associated with landslides and narrow access roads, people are drawn to Siri Paaye to feast their eyes on its unparalleled beauty.
Siri Paaye’s stunning landscapes seamlessly blending lush greenery with snow-covered mountains, offering a serene environment adorned with wildflower beds and unspoiled natural wonders. The lakes are perfect for photography. Playing cricket on the slopes can be an additional delight in the idyllic setting.
Situated at 3,058 metres above sea level, Paaye Lake boasts crystal-clear pristine waters. The expansive meadows under drifting clouds are a natural wonder. It’s a place where Nature is at the zenith of its splendour.
Reaching the high points of Siri Paaye can be a great adventure. This is often undertaken using a jeep ride. A trek is another possibility. The journey features several challenges and the trek can be demanding. However, once you arrive at your destination, you’ll realise that the effort has been worth it. The access road remains unpaved and treacherous.
On the way one encounters children selling wild berries and plum at reasonable prices. The children are from the local communities.
To reach Shogran, one can rent a jeep from Kwai. Some tourists try to drive their cars to Shogran, often unsuccessfully. In the end most people park their cars at the parking lot in Kwai and rent jeeps. Local jeep drivers have honed their skills of navigating slippery, narrow and steep roads. A driver we rode with said that they could drive these routes “with their eyes closed.” The jeeps used for the tourist business in the area were initially assembled for the Pakistan Army in the 1970s. After their design life was over these were auctioned off.
There is an intriguing story behind the name Sripaya, also pronounced as Siri Paaye. According to local folklore, Sri was a Hindu woman who deeply a Kaghan boy named Paaye. Others say the name combines “sar,” meaning “lake” in Hindko, and “paya,” which refers to an upland grazing area.
The journey from Kwai to Shogran takes about 40 minutes by jeep. It’s an exciting ride with no possibility of boredom. Shogran has a variety of guesthouses, small hotels and cottages for tourists to stay at. Travellers can rent a place in Shogran or head straight to Siri Paaye and rent a tent to spend a night at the grassland. The locals, including hotel owners, are known for being cooperative. The Forest Department Guest House in Shogran is a popular accommodation option. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is credited with having ordered its construction. Those choosing to spend the night at Shogran, should be prepared for loud music till 2am as tea and coffee vendors as well as sajji/ barbecue joints stay open until late.
Another 20 minutes of jeep ride can take you to Siri Paaye. The farther you travel, the steeper and narrower the road is. For those seeking a more thrilling experience, there’s an option for a 3-hour hike from Shogran to Siri Paaye.
The beauty of Siri Paaye is captivating. Its stunning landscapes blend lush greenery with snow-covered mountains.
Makra Peak, with its elevation of 12,746 feet (3,885 metres) is a true marvel. The trek to the top from Marghazars takes about 2 to 2.5 hours and is relatively easy during summer. The peak rises about 2,200 feet above Paaye, making it a popular destination for novice hikers.
Makra Peak is a paradise for nature photographers and a stunning backdrop for social media posts. However, the air tends to get thinner at such high altitudes so that those with respiratory problems should take appropriate precautions.
During winter, Siri Paaye is blanketed in thick snow. In the summer, it transforms into a lush green paradise adorned with colourful flowers. It’s a tranquil place ideal for strolls. If you’re feeling weary, you can opt for a horse ride for as little as Rs 200. As you explore the hilly corners of the meadow, you might come across a local family residing in a handcrafted thatched cottage. Many offer homemade organic traditional food, providing a unique dining experience. While grazing animals can be found in the fields, it’s advisable to maintain a safe distance from them, as they aren’t always accustomed to tourists.
The distance between Shogran and Siri Paaye is approximately 7.2 kilometres. It takes about 43 minutes via Shogran Road. If you plan to take a jeep from Shogran to Siri Paaye Meadows, the typical charges range from Rs 3,500 to Rs 4,000. Please note that the road leading to Siri Paaye Meadows can be rough. During the rainy season, it becomes slippery and potentially dangerous due to muddy conditions.
As for weather, summers are pleasant but winters are cold and snowy. Therefore, the best time to visit Shogran and Siri Paayeis is during the summer, from June to August, when the daytime temperature hovers around 20 degrees Celsius. It’s advisable to bring an extra blanket just in case the nights get chilly. Siri Paaye Meadows experiences sunny and rainy seasons, contributing to its vibrant green landscape.
I had the incredible good luck to visit the enchanting fields of Siri Paaye with some friends in July 2020. Our camping experience on the plains was truly memorable. We were captivated by the breathtaking beauty of the lush green landscapes and snow-capped mountains during the journey. Upon arrival at Paaye, we took horseback rides and went exploring the serene and picturesque grounds. We captured the charming scenes of Siri Paaye meadows on our mobile phones. As the day wore on, we set up a barbecue stove and enjoyed a delicious meal.
For those seeking a winter adventure at Shogran and Siri Paaye it’s important to note that the facilities may be limited and the cold can be freezing. It’s an adventure to embark on at your own risk. On occasion, there may be no running water or heating available. Nevertheless, I highly recommend adding Shogran and Siri Paaye to your list of travel destinations. The serene environment offers a much-needed escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. In Shogran, the barbecue and coffee vendors, keep the place lively late into the night.
The writer is a freelance journalist based in Gujranwala. He has a keen interest in exploring Pakistan’s northern areas. He may be reached at waseemshabbir78gmail.com