By Abdul Rehman Meer
It was my first ever experience of traveling from Skardu to Gilgit. It started when I received a call from Karakoram International University Gilgit for joining. It was an urgent call so I had to leave for Gilgit the very next day. I talked to different taxi drivers but all of them were reluctant to go with me saying that the road is in a very bad condition.
However, I booked a ticket through a transport company and left for Gilgit. When we reached at Ayub Bridge, there was an irksome rush of vehicles on both sides waiting for their turn to cross the bridge. I got off the van and went into the nearby police hut for Zohr Prayer. After prayer I came out of the hut and stood at the bridge corner and heard hilarious screeching noises of the half broken wood planks on the bridge when heavy vehicles were vehemently crossing the bridge.
Our turn to cross the bridge came after an hour. I suddenly closed my eyes when the van was moving to cross the bridge as I felt the bridge gave us a warning; it felt as if the bridge cried like an old man of one hundred years of age. At last, our van safely could cross the bridge with the opening of my eyes.
The van, hurtling like a baby’s hanging cradle, moved towards it destination. I started whispering all the verses from the Holy Quran to seek mercy from Almighty Allah for a safe journey. My eyes were quivering as the Indus river was looking at me to embrace. The rising tides and the heavily flowing water in the Indus river reminded the recent and past accidents which had killed many people traveling from Skardu to Rawalpindi and Gilgit.
A man smiled at me and wanted to talk to me when he saw my pale face. He communicated with me using his body language and didn’t speak even a single word. I thought he said that he had witnessed many accidents on that road. A truck loaded with fruit and vegetable fell into the Indus river unloading half of the truck at the road corner. A car with four passengers, all from a same family fell dived into the river for good. A van and a coaster collided somewhere near Shingus valley which caused many casualties.
Suddenly, I felt the passengers in the van were whispering (There is no God but Allah) when they saw a sudden land sliding on the road. The van driver reversed the vehicle to escape an accident. I was also shocked to see hundreds of rocks falling from the mountain. At last, Allah helped us to cross the ever dangerous land sliding area.
When I looked upon the person whom I was talking to, I felt that he was still whispering Quranic verses to safeguard himself from any possible incidents. I wanted to know his name so I asked him what his name was but he could not speak and told me using the same gestures that he was a special person who could neither speak nor listen.
We had to travel like gypsies due to the pathetic condition of the road which seemed very brutal to take lives of the travelers. After traveling for eight hours, we reached at Alam Bridge near KKH. We found the same rush that we had tackled at Ayub Bridge near Kachura Skardu.
I felt like traveling in a plane when our van started running on KKH. Soon, we reached in Gilgit city having a peaceful travel at KKH for only forty minutes from Alam Bridge.
Gilgit is like a developed and modern place where there were automatic and modern vehicles, western style buildings, air style routes in every street. I visited Hunza and Nagar with ease and comfort accompanied by my cousins, Arif and Zulfiqar and a friend Anwar. Anwar had got a very comfortable car, we left Gilgit city to Hunza valley on the third day. The tunnels on the way towards Hunza were really awesome and smooth that even a layman can also drive smoothly by following the speed meter. If China digs a tunnel from Hunza to Shigar valley in Baltistan then it would be a life changing moment for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan as both the Gilgit and Baltistani people have mutual, religious, cultural, economic, geographical and social relations that would be developed and would make a rapid progress but this just a fragile expression of my dreams. The beloved country can also progress if the route systems both air and road are linked together and connected to every corner of the country. There are never melting glaciers both in Gilgit and Baltistan that would offer never ending benefits to the country in electric power generation and many other arenas of instantaneous progress.
We had a very delicious dinner at a beautiful spring where there was a hotel on the right bank of the road. We gave them mutton to cook for dinner when we came back from Atabadad lake and other areas. The dinner with delicious mutton was ready so we enjoyed in a very cool and breezing milieu. For a moment I forgot all the worries and tensions of the travel from Skardu to Gilgit, later I couldn’t ignore the journey back to Skardu. I couldn’t enjoy the narrow but mind-blowing scenes in Hunza Nagar where nature dwells and dances in the mountains, fountains, rivers, glaciers, and serene valleys.
On the fourth day, I started my journey back to Skardu traveling on the very dangerous Skardu Gilgit road. I closed my eyes and whispered the Holy verses praying to protect us from any upcoming incidents as I was going to join KIU Skardu. Otherwise, it would be my journey towards the everlasting place. Thanks to Allah, we tranquilly came back to Skardu going through a crawling travel. The stunning and enthralling views of Skardu refreshed my mind and opened my eyes. The vast and tremendous landscape in Skardu where nature resides in every corner with peace making and loving people.
If the government doesn’t construct or repair the GS road, the future tourists, and local travelers will have to crawl on the road like typical gypsies, staying unnecessarily at every pitiful ventures.