Pakistan Idol

Posted on 28. Mar, 2016 by in Uncategorized

pakistan-idol-judges

With Ali as Randy, Bushra as Simon and Hadiqa as Paula, what will Pakistan Idol look like? Well after creating much hype and expectation, Pakistan Idol is finally here and it is good to see reality television in Pakistan being done this professionally. Having been an avid follower of American Idol for more than six years, I have to say that the Pakistani team of Idol has done a commendable job; from the pre-launch publicity, the judges, the contestants, the fun and the drama, everything about the show makes it a must-watch!

I was pleasantly surprised to see the size of the crowd outside the venues. It was definite proof that there are people out there who believe in themselves and their dreams, while there are people who think that Pakistan, as a nation, could not even dare to dream. Kudos to the producers for helping people reaffirm belief in themselves.

Many people have criticized the judges in Pakistan Idol. I personally think that the show is not only about bringing in people who understand music; but it is also about people who connect to the viewers and contestants alike. Being a judge is not simply about critiquing a contestant’s performance, it is also about being able to lure the audience into believing what you have to say.

It is about being human and being real. And all three judges were able to connect with contestants and viewers alike. This is something that makes such shows fun and keeps the audience hooked.  Although this is just the beginning, it has been a strong beginning. Pakistan Idol seems well on its way to raging success with its publicity, entertainment value and judges. Reality TV in countries like Pakistan will never be the same as its counterparts in other countries around the world especially USA due to a huge difference in the two countries cultural values. Nonetheless Pakistan Idol is here to stay for a long time so prepare to be addicted!

Virgin Lakes of Pakistan

Posted on 27. Mar, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Pakistan is naturally gifted country. Its northern areas are rich in natural and scenic beauty, which are unparalleled and unmatchable. These natural treasures are hidden far beyond and behind majestic snow covered mountains rising more than 10,000 feet. Only those who have a flare for danger laden adventure can reach these destinations and experience the breathtakingly beautiful lakes known as the virgin lakes of Pakistan.

These lakes, perched in quietness and stillness of time since ages, have now been explored and we have a chance to dream of places that have never been visited before or very seldom visited by adventurers. I hope by watching the photographs below, many who love nature in its pure form will plan to come to these remote areas of Pakistan and enjoy that great feeling amid towering snow clad mountains on the shores of some of most awesome virgin lakes of the world.

Dodipatsar Lake

Dodipastar Lake

Dodipatsar Lake

Dodi Pat Sar is located ahead of Naran and Jalkand near Basal Camp which is at an altitude of 10,000 feet. The lake and surrounding area has been declared as National Wild Life Park. One can conveniently reach Basal Camp but from hence forward, there is a continuous trekking of about 5 hours, on average, to Dodi Pat Sar base camp. In the local language Dodi means milky, Pat mean water and Sar mean lake. So Dodi Pat Sar means “The Lake of Milky Water”. This splendid lake resides in the lap of the snow covered mountain peak. The snowy mountain peak sheds its reflection in the lake giving an impact of milk contained in a lake, which makes up its name.

 Chitta Khatta Lake

Chitta Khatta Lake

Chitta Khatta Lake

Kashmir is a blessed area from nature and well known for the its virgin beauty Chitta Khatta Lake is the diamond of Neelam Valley’s crown, Chitta Khatta lake is located at an altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level in upper Neelam Valley of Azad Kashmir , Pakistan. The main highlight of the lake is its extra ordinary milky white color of water from where lake’s name was derived, Chitta (white), other than the fact that this beautiful lake was visited seldom and it was not known a few years from now.

Kutwal Lake – Haramosh Valley

Kutwal Lake - Haramosh Valley

Kutwal Lake – Haramosh Valley

Kutwal Lake is yet another breathtaking and awe inspiring lake of the Haramosh Valley. One can reach Haramosh Valley both from Skardu and Gilgit. From Skardu one has to go to to Sassi from the where the trek to Kutwal starts. But it is better to start from Gilgit as Sassi is just an hour drive from Gilgit. Jeeps can take you till village Dassu. After Dassu its all trekking up to lake. It takes about 6-9 hours from Dassu to Kutwal village and yet another 5 hours up to the lake. Therefore one has to plan for at least three days round trip with appropriate gear.

Lhore, Lhore Hai (Lahore is Lahore)

Posted on 26. Mar, 2016 by in Uncategorized

Kite Flying in Lahore during Festival of Basant (photo from Pakistntoday.com.pk)

Kite Flying in Lahore during Festival of Basant (photo from Pakistntoday.com.pk)

There is a Persian saying that if there was no Lahore, Isphahan (Iran) would have been half of the world. There is yet another ancient proverb, “Even if Persia’s Shiraz and Isphahan were united, they wouldn’t make one Lahore.” So true till date and anyone who visits Lahore for once, always misses the warmth of its people and the lively environment that prevails all over the city, be it the posh localities or the narrow gullies of old Lahore. Lahore is the city of poets, artists and the center of Pakistan film industry and city of gardens since some of the finest gardens in the continent are found here. It has the largest number of educational institutions in the country, which includes the century old Punjab University and the Government College and University.

Lahore, or Laha-war, Laha-noor, Loh-pur, Mahmood-pur or Lohar-pur, has existed even in 1000 BC, when it was founded by Prince Loh, son of Rama Chandra. In 630 AD, the city was visited by Hieun Tsang, who remarked it as a Great Brahman City. However Lahore rose to its glory in the times of the Mughal Empire and thereafter when many a landmark appeared on its landscape. In 1021 AD, Mahmood Ghaznavi Captured Lahore. From 1186-1206, Shahab-ud-Din Ghauri conquered and reigned Lahore and brought it under the Ghorid Empire. In between 1241-1310, the Mongols ransacked Lahore many a time, while Tamerlane plundered Lahore in 1398.

In 1524 Zaheer ud Din Babur, the first Mughal emperor captured Lahore and hence founded the Mughal empire which lasted till 1857, when British took over the entire Indian Sub-Continent. Lahore rose to its peak of glory in the reign of Mughal emperor Akbar, who made it his capital and held his court In Lahore for 14 years from 1584 to 1598, and built the Lahore Fort, as well as the city walls which had 12 gates. Some of these still survive. His son, Jahangir, is buried in its outskirts. Close by is the mausoleum of the famous Mogul Empress,Noor Jahan, who is known for introducing the rose plant and for initiating several cultural movements in the Sub-Continent. The last great Mogul emperor, Aurangzeb (1838 – 1707) built Lahore’s most famous monument, the great Badshahi Mosque. At that time the river Ravi, which now lies a few miles away from Lahore, touched the ramparts of the Fort and the Mosque.

After Aurangzeb’s death in 1712, the Afghans and the Persians came to rule Lahore when Nadir Shah Durrani, the King of Persia captured Lahore. Between 1748-67, Nadir’s successor, Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded Lahore eight times and it was during this time that the famous gun “Zamzamma” or better known as the “Banghian di Tope” (Bhangies Gun) or the Kim’s Gun was manufactured on the orders of Ahmed Shah Abdali. The Moguls transformed Lahore into a city of Gardens and beautiful landscape.

Lahore used to be a fortified city of twelve massive gates, whose names have outlived the largely pillaged walls. It has been a great city for at least a thousand years, but not when it was conquered, manhandled, occupied and ransacked by the Sikhs when they took advantage of the Mogul decline in the eighteenth century to seize the Punjab in 1764. During the Sikh’s rile, Lahore was ruthlessly robbed of its beauty and all precious stones and artifacts from the Mughal buildings were plundered and taken to Amritsar for the construction of the Golden Temple. The British annexed it into the British hold in 1849 and transferred to the British Empire in 1857.

Lahore the second largest city in Pakistan and the provincial metropolis of Punjab, besides its rich history is perhaps the only city in Pakistan where so many historical imprints can be found and visited. It may not be wrong to say that Lahore is the “Show-Window” of the pre-Muslim era, erstwhile Mughal and British Empires, besides a modern fast developing city. Unfortunately, the once beautiful and elegant Lahore was brutally mauled and plundered by a number of rulers after the decline of the Mughal empire. But despite everything, it never lost its glory, majestic outlook and traditional grandeur. Seeing is believing, especially during the Spring, when Lahore wears the colorful cloak of beautiful flowers and celebrates the famous festival of Basant.