Nathiagali is one of the very few places in Pakistan where almost all types of cuisines are prepared well
Located in the Abbottabad district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Nathiagali is sometimes regarded as part of the galiyaat cluster of the Punjab province in the Murree region. Nathiagali is undoubtedly one of the most serene and peaceful hill stations of Pakistan.
The place lies in close proximity to some amazing tourist destinations like Thandiani, Ayubia and Murree. Depending upon whether you are approaching Nathiagali from Abbottabad or have taken the Murree route from Islamabad, you may visit a few other places on the way.
The place boasts so many hues and shades of various colours that it becomes difficult for a traveller to capture it all in their cameras. Surrounded by some majestic colourful mountains covered with forests of pine, oak, cedar and walnut trees; the atmosphere and environs of Nathiagali are as fresh as it can get.
This beautiful valley lies at an 8,000-feet elevation. It is all white in winters; in summers any artist will find it challenging to capture all the shades of colours on offer. No wonder, many have said that being in Nathiagalai was the most relaxing experience they have had.
The place is absolutely addictive. Besides other people, Nathiagali is a favourite place for many politicians to relax, before making a fresh start to their political campaigns.
There is a a small Murree-like market. The shops offer traditional woodcrafts made from the wood of trees from the nearby forests.
Attractive souvenirs, cultural handicrafts, jewelry and apparel boasting local patterns, appealing designs and a range of colours make the merchandise irresistible.
The selfie bench at Zero Point and the Governor’s House are amongst the few man-made landmarks of Nathiagali. St Matthews’s Church is another highlight of Nathiagali. The orange-walled church from the British era no longer offers regular services as few Christians live nearby; however, most tourists visit the well-maintained cedar-wood building. Opposite to the church there is a parks with green meadows. It has dedicated play areas for children; adults may choose buggy or horse-back rides in the evening.
Nathiagali is one of the very few places in Pakistan where almost all types of cuisines are prepared well. Servings are generous and prices reasonable. Food vendors selling tasty snacks and road-side stalls offering diverse variants of tea, coffee and ice cream dot the streets.
One of the unique offering here is the Patakha Chicken at Taj Mahal Hotel a signature dish. The meal is equally popular with local and international tourists. The roasted chicken infused with garlic bulbs and generous portions of hot red chili flakes is served with dry chili flakes chutney, a cumin-yoghurt condiment and naan.
If you are spending two to three nights in Nathiagali, you may also visit nature’s other marvels nearby. In close proximity, heading towards Abbottabad lies a point known as the Harnoi Lake at almost 45 minutes’ drive, where babbling and frothing body of stream water makes a wonderful sight.
You can also enjoy hot fritters along with a drink of your choice sitting on the tables placed midstream in such a way that the running water splashes your feet. The more adventurous might visit a couple of waterfalls on the same route that remain a generally untapped tourist attraction. It is, however, recommended that one consult or travel with local drivers as getting lost is a likely hazard in the absence of signposts along the way.
A place known as Aabshaar has a couple of restaurants offering snacks on tables placed in the running water. On the Murree route, there is Ayubia, with its chair-lift activity and battalions of ever-hungry monkey. It’s hardly a 30 minutes’ drive.
People of Nathiagali are welcoming and there are no complaints of overcharging the tourists.
The writer is a physician, healthcare leader, traveller and a YouTuber host for the DocTree Team promoting Organic Gardening in Pakistan. He tweets @Ali_Shahid82