Doodh Patti

Travel, Food and and Khaalis Doodh Patti Mind {and Lahore}

Down to DipalPur

An important battlefield for centuries, Dipalpur is now a quite and peaceful town. It is situated at the distance of 25 Kilometres from Okara on an old bank of River Beas in Bari Doab. Dipalpur is famous in the history as an outpost that has played a significant part in the defence of Delhi kingdom against Mongol invasions in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

History of Dipalpur dates back to ancient times. The coins of Sakas (Scythian) period found on the site suggest that the place was inhabited in 100 (BC). After Multan this is probably the oldest living city in the Subcontinent. General Alexander Cunningham writes that the place figures out in works of Ptolemy under different names. As per the tradition, Dipalpur was named after Raja Dipa Chand once he captured it. Dipalpur once used to be the first fortification in the way from Khyber to Delhi. In 1285, Muhammad Tughlaq son of Emperor Balban was killed in a bloody battle with Mongols and the famous poet Amir Khusuro was taken prisoner in Dipalpur. The dilapidated tomb where Muhammad Tughlaq rests stands neglected in a silent corner of the town, for removed from the noisy haunts of men.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:38 PM, , links to this post

Place Rating

Travelers and tourists are always curious to discover new places to explore and visit. Thanks to Placerating that they have come up with the solution. Placerating (very aptly named) is a service to share your favorite places with your friends. It is easy. Just sign in with Facebook and add your first place, write a description and upload photos or discover other members' favorite places, evaluate them, write comments, follow your friends and share your favorite places on social networks. Add interesting places in your area or places you visited on vacation. Your imagination has no limits. Given my own travel interests, I love the service. Have a look and see what you can find there.

posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:36 PM, , links to this post

Steeped in Doodh Patti

Rafay Mahmood

"For me, doodh patti is a blessing." So declares Dr Mustafa Ayubzai when confiding in Kolachi about his obsessive tea-drinking habit. For anyone who doubts his love affair with tea, Ayubzai adds, "Whenever I feel down or overworked, I order my peon to get me a cup of tea from a nearby dhaba. I need a cup every two hours just to keep my brain working. Without it, I don't know how I can ever see so many patients everyday."

Ayubzai's craving for tea is something many Karachiites can relate to, if the sales of tea are anything to go by. A local dhaba owner in a commercial area reveals that on average, 1,800 cups of tea are sold daily using a total 30 kilograms of milk. Affordable and addictive, it is the drink that unites college students, journalists, labourers and doctors alike.

Ever ready to serve their needs, doodh patti dhabas have always been a regular feature of Karachi, but surged in number twice in recent history. The first was after the Russian invasion in the eighties, when immigrants uprooted and moved to big cities, and the second in the aftermath of 9/11, when the Northern areas of the country were attacked, forcing residents to flee. Many of these residents wound up in Karachi and opened up doodh patti dhabas. Well-known names include Café Pyala and Quetta Unabi Hotel.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:23 AM, , links to this post

Food, Fruit and History

With Balochistan in the news, maybe we should also talk about the locale and the beauty of the area.

Visit Pishin at this time of the year and you will find thousands of acres of fruit orchards. The rich harvest of apples, grapes, plums, peaches and apricots is seen every where. Legend attributes the origin of the name Pishin to a son of the Emperor Afrasiab. Until the middle of the 18 th century, when Quetta finally passed into the hands of Brahvi rulers, the history of Pishin is identical with the province of Kandahar. The earliest mention of Pishin is found in the ancient writing in which “Pishinorha” is described as a valley in an elevated part of the country and containing a barren level plain.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:30 AM, , links to this post

In Chitral

Some places are so peaceful and unspoiled that it is almost unbelievable. One such locality is the picturesque, tranquil and pollution free (and undeveloped) boarder village Arrandu in district Chitral. The very sound of the name is musical. This village is located 'on' the Pakistan Afghanistan boarder. Dir-Chitral Road bifurcates near village Mir Khanni and a jeep able track along Kunar River leads to Arrandu through Domail Nisar and onwards into Afghanistan.

Gateway to the South Asia, the Chitral valley has been center of activity since ancient times. Macedonians advanced through this region in fourth century. In 1338, Timur subdued the area on his way to the plains of Punjab. Mughal King Akbar garrisoned here in 1587 and the British in 1897 in Chakdara on Dir side of Lowari Pass. Among soldiers who served here in Chakdara then was young Winston Churchill who later became Prime Minister of Britain. So far about the past importance of the valley but the little hamlet got the international fame during Soviet occupation in Afghanistan. It remained in the news and was commonly called as 'BBC Baby'.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 10:59 AM, , links to this post

Mighty Minaret

The Federal Archeology Department has completed the restoration and conservation work on the minaret of Jahangir’s Tomb which had been in precarious condition for decades and tilted outside, Shahdra Complex of Monuments Project Director Naeem Iqbal told Dawn on Tuesday, reports Dawn.

“The minaret has now been conserved and restored by the Federal Archeology Department and each step of the conservation was handled carefully fulfilling all technical requirements,” he said.

He said Shahdra Complex of Monuments was working on three monuments: Jahangir’s Tomb, Akbari Sarai and Asif Khan’s tomb.

Up to Rs461 million was approved in March 2010 for the restoration and conservation of the complex which is a seven year project, he added. Mr Iqbal said the tilted minaret of Jahangir Tomb was placed on the priority list of the project because it had bulged out to a dangerous extent. The tilt in the north-west minaret was first detected in 1970 and a tilto meter was fixed on the top story of the minaret. The instrument, however, observed no sign of tilting.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:20 PM, , links to this post

Beach vacation

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 12:19 PM, , links to this post

Men's Club

Importance of historical buildings is multidimensional. These buildings help us understand the people and culture that produced them. They also have architectural, aesthetic, historic, documentary, archaeological, economic, social and even symbolic values .

The first impact which any historic building gives is always an emotional one, for it is a symbol of our cultural identity, continuity and a part of our heritage. If it has survived the hazards and onslaught for "70 years (or above), it has good claim to being called historic,” says the law of land. Standing on bleared table in Multan Services Club with my old buddies, I could not help thinking of the message and a complexity of ideas that seem encircling the ornate building of the club.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:30 AM, , links to this post

Khunjerab Pass

Being at Khunjerab Pass is a unique experience for those who like the mountains and want to walk on them. On the way up on Kharakorum Highway (KKH), there are innumerable options right from simple sight seeing to hard adventure, or a mix of both. Khunjerab surpasses them all. It is one of the world's highest passes connecting two countries, and mountains on either side.

In summer, a stream of buses from down country, motorcycles and bickers (through China) reach Khunjerab. KKH has become one of the world famous routs for bikers and motorcyclists. At times the pass seems like a place where international cultural diffusion takes place. Travellers are seen clicking the shutters of their cameras standing around milestone situated at the pass for memory sack or exchanging addresses and promises to send the photographs to each other. From this place one is 400 kilometres away from Kashgar and 880 kilometres from Islamabad. Those who are not acclimatized, experience a degree of altitude sickness, headaches, and or drowsiness as well. And in winters, it is lonely out there.

Beyond Pirali, the place on KKH before the snows of Khunjerab make existence difficult, the first impression of Khunjerab Pass at 15072 feet above sea level is a long series of switchbacks around the pass. The immediate sight on home side alone is worth the trip to the pass. On either side, massive angular mountains crowd the horizon – silent guards of some highest peaks on planet -- celestial giants thrusting toward the heavens. Snow-capped pinnacles pierce through white misty clouds amidst kaleidoscopic purple dusks. The sharp jagged peaks of the Karakorums on ours side distinguish a region of former feudal princedoms, valley kingdoms and states some call Little Tibet. The region is home to more tall mountains than Nepal and Tibet combined together. This is "the Roof of the World," where four greatest mountain ranges in the world come together - the Himalaya, Pamirs, Karakorums and Hindu Kush. The landscape on the Chinese side is noticeably smoother. There are mountains -- the snow-clad rounded Pamirs to the east -- but the valley is more open. Yaks, sheep, camels, and people can be seen from the last point, and everything seems different even at a distance.

I have very romantic memories of sitting at lonely places (don’t call me loner), enjoying physical beauty and being taken by my own thoughts and perceptions of the places I happened to be at. One pleasure in travelling alone is that no one is around to remind about others waiting for you to start back! Alone at Khunjerab, climbing up a gorge, I was treated to the rare sight of Markhor sheep (well, I think I saw one). So artfully had nature blended them with the terrain that it becomes hard to tell where the rocks or Markhor stands? With the air thinning I continued climbing, hairpin after hairpin till I began to see the straight road that spans beyond Sost - Pakistan custom and immigration post. This is another matchless experience. Looking up to and walking on mountains, at Khunjerab one see them almost at eye level. I sat at the gorge for a while and saw so much unappreciated beauty.

Caravans as far back as the fourth century have been using this historic pass. Ivory, spices, silk and jade were hauled through Rocky River gorges and grassy valleys. This was where Marco Polo trekked through taking news of a legendary kingdom back to Europe. Along this giant oriental trading autobahn, intrepid explorers bartered goods, exchanged ideas and discovered technologies. A steady trickle of horseback commerce crossed the Khunjerab until the 1950s. Up above the road, remnants of old mule tracks from the old days are still evident, etched along mountainsides. After the completion of KKH, the Khunjerab Pass was opened to traffic and trade in 1982, and to tourists in 1986. Khunjerab in local language means valley of blood, a reference to local bandits who used to take advantage of the difficult terrain to plunder caravans in ancient days. Now it is safe and one can buy much sought after "Do Ghore ki Boski" at many places in the way.

Any travellers can have all this and more using a bus service or better still a four wheel driven topless jeep on KKH. Khunjerab is also a starting point for more adventurous who want to explore the catchments of Sukhtar Abad commonly known as the Blue Sheep Valley -- a little known habitat of Blue sheep, the Himalayan ibex and possibly snow leopards. Due to lack of tracks, Sukhtar Abad is not easily accessible. It can be approached from three different routes, Nazim Abad village through Dikarjerb crossing -- a high altitude pass, Hussain Abad village through Gourdour Pass; and from the Khunjerab River, when it is relatively dry in winters. Those who have visited the valley say it is very rewarding but takes some serious trekking to reach the valley.

The Khunjerab grasslands came under the control of rulers of Hunza in the late 18th century. They used to allocate grazing rights to villagers, and in turn used to receive from them a tax in the form of livestock and livestock products. Hunza rulers controlled hunting in the area as well as any trans-border trade with China. Their own livestock grazed in the Khunjerab pastures, tended by designated shepherds, who sent livestock and the products when ordered to Baltit Palace, Hunza. The situation changed when the princely states were merged into Pakistan in the early 70s. Area in Gilgit district, comprises of 2,269 square kilometres, either side of the KKH from Dih to Khunjerab Pass as Khunjerab National Park.

Khunjerab Pass has become increasingly accessible now. The construction of KKH and air service to Gilgit has resulted in an increase in the number of visitors, both foreign and domestic. With increase in access, the mountain pastures, valleys, and wildlife habitats, previously valued for centuries as grasslands and woodlands, have now become the objects of desire of a number of competing interests -- resort hotels, adventure tourism, big game hunting, mountaineering, and conservation organizations, to name a few. Each group is interested in maximizing its return from usage of the resources in the area. Khunjrab is losing its serenity in the process.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 9:18 AM, , links to this post

Afghan connections

Pervaiz Munir Alvi

Ahmad Shah Durrani was born in 1722 as Ahmad Khan Abdali at the city of Multan. At the age of twenty five he become ruler of the vast territory stretched from Mashhad in the west to the Punjab in the east; the land mass that today roughly formsthe modern twin countries of Afghanistan and Pakistan. He rose to power at a timewhen the Mughal Empire (1526-1857) based in Delhi and the Safavid Empire (1501-1722) based in Isfahan were disintegrating. Ahmad Shah at the expense of these twoneighboring but dwindling empires was skillfully able to carve out an empire of his own. His rule although relatively short (1747-1772), was significant in the sense thatit ultimately changed the course of the history of the South-Central Asia.
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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 8:11 AM, , links to this post

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