From Karachi upwards, ask anyone where Murree is, and most would be telling you how they enjoyed their last trip to this hill resort located at an hour’s journey from Rawalpindi. At an altitude of 2286 meters (7,500 feet) above sea-level, Murree is surrounded by lofty green pine trees. It is one of the most popular summer resorts in Pakistan, but is equally visited during winters when the entire area is snow clad. Murree and its surrounding gallies are abound in hill resorts, offer horse riding, and chair lifts in Ayubia and recently added at Patriata. The golf course at Bhurban is not only fascinating but promises a heavenly game for the golfers.
Murree selected as a Hill Station in 1850 by the British, since their troops could not bear the hot and rather dry climate of nearby garrisons. Thereafter it kept expanding but till independence of Pakistan in 1947, the natives were not allowed to roam around freely in the area, specially the Mall Road, which was “out of bounds” for them. Murree also served as the summer headquarters of the Punjab till 1876, when it was moved to Simla, now in Indian held Kashmir.
After independence, Murree has become the most visited and thriving summer tourist resort for entire Pakistan. The recently widened road takes about 45 minutes from the capital city Islamabad drawing attention of the tourists to the forest clad mountains, mainly of pines. every summer, people from rather hot areas of Pakistan, specially Lahore and down south rush to Murree for a few comfortable days. In winters, the snow clad Murree once again sees the hustle and bustle of visitors. The life line of people of Murree is the summer season since no other business thrives or means of livelihood available. Poor but hospitable, they greet the visitors with welcome smiles, but no compromise on prices.
But by far the best visited area is the Mall Road (above) – established during the 1850’s. Today the road side is full of gift shops selling local furs, canes and other handicrafts. An underground market near the old church is famous for imported ladies cloth and dry fruit. Besides, there are many hotels and restaurants that offer sizzling chicken and meat dishes. However, during the season, specially the summers, the prices soar but people still flock these places after walking up and down the Mall road.
Murree is at its best in summers and winters, but for those who want to enjoy the silence and coolness of the area, perhaps November is the best. Murree has a number of spots, called the Kashmir & Pindi points, since these face in the direction of Kashmir and Rawalpindi. Recently, chair lifts have been added from main Rawalpindi-Murree Road to the Pindi Point.