Picture Sourced from internet
It was a cold day in early December. There was a biting chill in the air with familiar over cast conditions. I was returning to the town after a lapse of nearly six years. The overwhelming aura of the place and its enchanting environment had preserved the childhood memories not letting the tide of time wipe or wash them off. I could vividly remember a similar damp day, years ago, during early summer when we had departed and left the town one late afternoon.
The car was moving up a gentle steady ascent along the road that tore through the profusely green environs. Winter and cold had sucked the life out of rich grassy patches rendering them lifeless and fiery amber. Trees were abundant but no longer bore the burden of fresh leaves that wilted and dried away only to be scattered in irregular patterns here and there. A deserted trail of straight, tall and bare poplar trees filed like a continous row of defeated soldiers on either side of the road. An array of fields, spread everywhere in a delightful terraced arrangement stretching as far as the vision ensued, waiting for the days when the whole landscape would be daubed in an undulating vibrant coat of mustard.
As the journey progressed and the kaleidoscope of colour accompanied, the wide vista bounded by rising hills narrowed gradually. The road crossed over occasional streams of splashing water rendered brownish and muddy by the drizzle. Atmosphere was calm and the world was serene all around.
The mountains seemed to advance and step closer, their skylines jagged and jutting out at places, covered partially with snow; the higher ones veiled in a shroud of mist and clouds_their slopes rocky and steep at places blending with thickly clustered growth at others.
Once we crossed the bridge over Haro following the cantonment, POF and town of Hawailian, we were greeted by a series of spiraling ascents. The meandering curls led to elevated passage with steep curved face of the hills marking the boundary of the narrow road on one side and a precipice terminating into a deep ravine and stream on the other. The freezing cold breeze was getting heavier now. We could literally inhale the fragrance and freshness with every breath. A drape of green seemed to curtain and shield everything. Rampant clusters of trees sprawled across while occasional patches were dominated by sturdy pines swishing and dancing merrily in the wind flowing along the shelving slopes.
There were orchards and fields and a series of graves dominating those fields wherever there were signs of settlement along the outskirts of the town. Wooden huts with gabled and corrugated glittering aluminum or asbestos roofs stood obliquely across the road. Their delightful colours and simple yet attractive designs and outlines together with eye catching placement on the ridges and slopes presented a splendid view. Thick timber doors hinged in the middle and painted in a variety of colours, braced and nailed with slanting cross bars added further to the beauty and simplicity of the glimpse of life. Mud and block construction diversified and augmented the captivating charm of the scenic beauty.
Amidst the draught of scented damp breeze, the road took a couple of sharp turns and entered a broad spectacular valley. Lovely multistoried buildings followed by a market and a fuelling station came into the view. A huge arena displaying a fleet of Bed Ford buses and wagons approached next. This was the crowded general bus stand and soon we took a busy road that passed before a variety of motels and hotels, Eid gah ground, Army Burn Hall School and the DHQ hospital as we drove through the heart of Abbottabad. Soon we drove before the lady garden and headed towards Mansehra road which is the start of the silk route leading to China. The maple leaves had died and fallen, their red glow making the world appear as if on virtual fire. Verdant training grounds of Baluch and FF centre presented an absorbing view. Governor house perched up high, visible as a dot on the contours of pine covered Shimla hill stamped its mark like it always did. Road rose and depressed passing by the CMH and later we took the divergence leading towards Kakul.
The long boulevard bisected the scattered residential pockets, picketed fields, stone masonry walls and hedge bounded bungalows. We drove passed the dairy farm and polo ground as the road rose along a gradual grade on its way to PMA.
It was getting dusky and extremely cold after a splash of rain when we reached our destination. The weather was getting unbearably cold and dislodging our luggage, we retired to our room in the mess raving about our first dawn in the city of Abbottabad after many years.