On one rainy day, I went to see the Hazir Pir Mazar (Shrine)that is perched at a height of 800m above the Margalla Hill Pass, about 5 kilometers from the Nicholson’s monument.
The highest point on Margalla Hills is at 1600 m, called the Tilla Chouruni. Still, the Hazir Pir Mazar seems very high. Margalla Hills are part of Himalayas foothills.
Margalla Hills map and that of Hazir Pir Mazar is pasted here for your reference.
In Urdu, Margalla Hills Islamabad is called Margalla ke pahari The Margalla Hills weather above 900 meters stays cool all year round. It does not snow here but is frequently lashed by Hail storms. There are many Margalla hill conservation societies and also a Margalla Hill National Park, in official records. There is no Margalla hill ticket required to visit the place.
I had gone to see the only surviving portion of the ancient Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) just below the Nicholson’s monument on a rainy afternoon. The road is just beyond Nicholson’s obelisk, 50 yards from GT road on the Taxila side. Nicholson monument’s history I have already covered in my previous travels. Margalla HiIl’s pictures are very beautiful on clear days.
I was expecting to see an inscription on the old Grand Trunk Road, of it being renovated by the engineers of Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1705), but I found none. Instead laid out before me was a beautifully aligned stone track that in olden days circled around the tapering end of Margalla Hills, actually quite close to M-1 motorway. Akbar the Mughal would ride his elephants on this road too. Aurangzeb had this track renovated in 1672, while he sent his son Sultan to suppress the Khattak rebellion in the North West. The inscription tablet, which is now in the Lahore Museum reads.
“The Khan, the powerful claw and awe inspiring dignity, before whose claw the lion is powerless, built in the hills of Markaleh, which is linked with the high heavens”
I guess our forefather’s never figured out how to blast away the granite so that they could ride through the Margalla Hill pass instead of going the circuitous way.
The ancient road looked in better shape than what we have in front of our house in Rawalpindi Cantonment.
While strolling down the ancient Grand Trunk Road on this drizzly evening, I came across the stone quarries that have gnawed into the Margalla Hill Pass Mountains. The quarries were massive and have blasted away several hundred feet below ground level. There are mini lakes in these quarries. I was about to turn back then I saw the Hazir Pir Mazar at the far end of Margalla Hill Pass.
The only reason I got a clear view of Hazir Pir Mazar at Margalla Hill Pass was because all the pollution had settled down because of the rain. I drove into the new Faisal town entrance gate, went to the end of the double road, turned left on the dirt track and keeping the Hazir Pir Mazar as bearing, kept driving along the dirt and mud road.
After a while the road started breaking up and ascending rapidly, till I could no more risk sliding my poor Suzuki any further. I parked my car with at the quarry close by and told the local caretaker munshi called ‘fauji’, to take care of my baby. In case you are wondering, yes, his mother named him fauji. Maybe she didn’t like him too much — I don’t know.
The quarries are no place for women and I didn’t see one since I turned left from GT road, while coming from Islamabad side.
I walked on the mud track all the way to the Hazir Pir Mazar, a total of 25 minutes, one way. On both sides of the track are beautiful views of the Taxila, Rawalpindi and Islamabad cities. The fauna is untouched and the scent is unbelievable.
The Mazar looked rather ordinary from the outside, but the insides were adorned with exquisite glass work, that is reserved for religious sites.
I talked to the local caretaker; he told me that in 1912 a British officer from the Department of Minerals erected a plaque registering the Margalla Hill Pass as a mineral rich site. Not much excavating has happened since. The plaque is long gone. I asked the miners whether they found any gold here and they said there is nothing in these mountains except granite and limestone.
The caretaker tells me that the Hazir Pir was the disciple of Bari imam. I am sure this site must be of strategic importance to Mughal court as it overlooked the Grand Trunk Road that was the only invasion route into India, in olden times. No wonder Aurangzeb Alamgir personally came to meet Bari Imam; probably came to recruit him in his team for a lookout on rebellions and invasions. This is interesting Margalla Hill history for you.
I drove around the tapered end of Margalla hill pass and came out to the Rawalpindi side end that opens at the GT road.
So, there you have it. Another Margalla Hill hiking trail and an off-road track of enthusiasts. Just be careful with the badas* miners, this is no trail 5.
Women can go to the place, but keep a weapon handy, just in case.