SWAT: Looking like an opaque pellet on the faint blue countenance of the sky, the mighty sun is retreating against the rising glamour of the white snow face. Its setting frail yellow rays behind shattering clouds are shying away to shove apart the sky-high mountains rears.
For the nature lovers, this would be a perfect view in the spellbinding beauty of Malam Jabba. The gigantic sky-touching mountains would elevate them to spiritual journey, far beyond materialistic realms, where they can find reprieve from the cares of the world.
Wearing thick white snow blanket these days, Malam Jabba is fast emerging to be a magnanimous winter tourist resort of Pakistan. Situated at the height of 8,700 feet above the sea level at one of the rooftops of the world, it is the only ski resort of the country providing skiing facilities to the general public in its 800 metres gentle slopes.
Unlike other captivating resorts of Swat valley, which get almost a negligible number of tourists in winter season due to non-development of winter tourism in these spots, Malam Jabba is a center of tourism activities in this particular time of the year.
The ski-lovers from around the world make bee lines to the resort. In the past they got disappointed when they found no reservation in the lone three storey building of the PTDC hotel on weekends, which was destroyed during militancy in Swat. However, not constructed thereafter so far, except for the debris were removed from the site.
Nonetheless now a day, there are a number of lodging facilities available to the tourists on easy terms, which are scattering beside the road on the scenic spots. One would have no difficulty in finding reservation, except for the time taken in reaching from one spot to the other due to the road problem.
The resort is an ideal site for skiing because the place receives heavy snowfall during the winter season. Besides, skiing equipment and chair lifts to the top are available to the general public. The owners of the equipment would offer you the equipment on easy terms. They would also show you how to skiing, within the meager amount paid for it.
The place has also seen national ski championships. Training camp is arranged for the players. Training is given to the beginners. The increasing number of children, including foreign sky lovers working in Pakistan, visits the spot on weekends and other holidays.
The month of February is an ideal time for the activity. The place had seen a lot of snowfall by this month. The humps and gorges are covered with thick snow. Even the lower parts are covered to knee deep snow. That attracts a large number of the tourists.
Thousands of tourists visit the spot to relish its sights and become one with nature. Here they trespass the conventional bounds of sedateness and enjoy the stuff provided to them by the nature. Rejuvenated by this rich and spiritual elevation, they return home in a peaceful state of mind, to acknowledge the ultimate Creator for this special gift.
Little more than a holiday destination, the place provides an ideal get together equally to the locals and tourists from far-off places. The locals from the surrounding areas come to the place to enjoy picnic on the weekends. The abode cures the past injuries of the militancy hit people with the blessing of forgetfulness and hope. It gives them impetus to keep away the harsh realities of the past for better tomorrow.
“There is no country, like Pakistan anywhere in the world with respect to its changing seasons and fascinating scenic spots”, says Daud Khan a resident of Aligrama Swat, who visited many of the world countries as a business man and buildings contractor.
He has come to Malam Jabba many times but the snow caped mountains attract him to the place again and again. He is here once more with a group of friends. They are all playing childishly in the snow. They have soaked themselves head to toe in the snow by recklessly wrestling and hitting one another by snowballs.
Most of his friends are shopkeepers and cloth merchants in Mingora City. They have come to the spot for the Friday picnic, which is a day off for them. Here they throw away the hubbub of city life and the rush of business activities and return home carefree.
There is also a problem of increasing traffic jams. Two vehicles can hardly make their way to pass on the road, especially on the weekends. Resultantly, the tourists mostly prefer to be on foot, which is also a cumbersome experience on the slippery tracks.
Although Malam Jabba has become a focus of activities round the year, the Tourism Department has no interest in developing the site. So far it has not come up with a comprehensive plan to develop the resort on the principals of eco-tourism.
“There are plenty of sites in Malakand and Hazara Division, which can be developed into sky sports”, said a tourist. But the dire need is for vibrant state machinery to develop them on modern lines. Alas! We can just think about it. There is no dynamism here.
Unfortunately, the lack of interest on the part of the responsible has turned many scenic spots of cultural significance, which should have otherwise been preserved as tourist resorts, into wastelands. The print and electronic media is no less responsible for the lack of interest and improper projection of the development of such sites.
“Malam Jabba is a fantastic place”. “I want to tell the others to visit the place”, says a foreigner. But unfortunately our own authorities are not ready to develop the scenic spots into a full-fledged tourism resorts despite the fact that they can make millions of profits out of it. Besides attracting foreign exchange, tourism may promote the falling good-will of the country and above all it can create employment.
Before the lavishing roof-top of the world, Malam Jabba, is finally dropped one day as a scenic resort, we must think about its preservation for the future generations. =DNA