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November 21, 2020

Chakwal tourist sites out of sight because of poor road structure

Lahore

November 21, 2020

LAHORE:Chakwal, usually neglected district of northern Punjab, is becoming attractive tourist destination, thanks to its natural and religious sites.

These sites included one of the most sacred places in Hindu faith, Katas temples on the one side and charming natural sites like Kallar Kahar and Choa Saiden Shah on the other. Katas Raj Temple, according to Hindu belief is associated to lord Shiva, the Hindu god. It is said that the temple existed since the day of battle of Mahabharata. Katas mean “weeping eyes”. It has been told that when lord Shiva wept over his wife’s death, the tears formed the pool, which is now known as Katas Raj Temple. Hindu pilgrims considered it very sacred place to please lord Shiva.

Similarly, another religious site sacred in the eyes of the Muslim is located in the same district. Choa Saiden Shah is a small town placed in an idyllic bowl shaped valley, surrounded by lush green hills 6km from the Katas Raj. This town is named after the Saint Syed Saidan Shah Sherazi and a large number of devotees pay homage to the late Sufi leader every year. Historical accounts reveal that the area was barren and deserted until Syed Saidan Shah Sherazi arrived here. When he struck the ground with his stick a water spring started to flow. Spring in local Pothohari language is called as “Choa”, henceforth this town got the name of Choa Saidan Shah, meaning spring of the saint.

But Kallar Kahar is considered as most popular site in the District Chakwal, attracting large number of visitors every day. It is a small hill station on Motorway (M2) and easily accessible tourist destination situated 224km in the north from Lahore and 156km in south from Islamabad making it equally attractive point for both important cities.

World famous ancient salt range is not far away from here. But here arise few questions that despite such important tourist sites why tourism is restricted to Murree only?. If the government thinks that tourism industry can be the growth engine of economy then why proper investment is not available to promote tourism?.

Talking to The News, Secretary Tourism Punjab, Ehsaan Bhutta did not agree with the impression that tourism is being neglected in Punjab. “It is true that, he said, Punjab has not such natural tourist sites which could stand equal to sites located in KP but when we talk about historical sites Punjab has upper hand”. “For the first time in the history of the country we have focused on religious tourism and through “Tourist App” one can make tourism plan” he said.

Very few people know that 22 man-made small dams and more than seven natural lakes located in Chakwal. These sites are out of sight because of poor road structure. Adviser to chief minister on Tourism, Asif Mehmood believes that advance infrastructure is the backbone for the promotion of tourism. “Just imagine, for instance, about Fort Monroe, DG Khan, which has tremendous potential for tourism but it is not so attractive destination because of poor facilities” observed the Adviser. “Same aspect can be applied on Chakwal, which is treasure-trove of beauty but lack of facilities makes it ‘untouchable’”, he said. However, Asif Mehmood was insistent that Tourism Department had developed new spirit in it during the PTI government. He said the Punjab government had appointed separate secretary for tourism department, which was hitherto a small part of sports, youth affairs and archaeology department. He claimed that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar attached great importance to promotion of tourism and after separation of tourism department from sports the government was going to establish an authority comprising of tourism, archaeology and culture. “Draft act is under consideration and Punjab Cabinet will soon take decision on this matter” said the Adviser to CM.