Recently I have visited the countryside of Province Punjab, Pakistan. It was almost two and a half hours drive from Lahore city. I would say it was the most wonderful journey through the countryside I have experienced in my life. The cover picture was taken while heading towards our destination i.e. Lullwan, a small village where my colleague and friend Waseem Akram comes from.
Lullwan is one of many villages of Tehsil Shakargarh and Shakargarh is one of the Tehsils of District Narowal. It was very generous of Waseem that he arranged our visit and took us to his village for a two day trip. We were four colleagues; Asif Sohail, Obaid Ullah Jan, Waseem and myself. The district of Narowal is famous for the cultivation of quality rice. At the time of our visit we saw that farmers were waiting for the rice crop to be harvested in the early days of November.
One more important thing about that place is that from Sakmal village near the Pak-Indian border one can see the beautiful mountains of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, especially after the rain when long distance vision becomes better.
Before the start of our journey I had planned that I would take lots of pictures and share these along with my article with the viewers of my blog. After the visit to Kumrat, this was my second trip which I am going to share with you. I hope you will like this article and the pictures I took. Both trips were different in the sense that one was to a mountainous area and this one was on the plains.
I would recommend that you view the pictures first and then read the article because it would be easier that way to understand the description and sequence of events. Then, after reading the article, again look at the pictures for a complete understanding of the journey. To view the pictures Click Here!
The four of us met on the morning of Saturday, October 22, 2016 to begin our journey. We were already a bit later than our originally scheduled start time so without wasting any more time we headed the car towards Narowal. We started our journey at 7:15 am but still the freshness of morning was there, which I think is the best time to start any long journey.
We reached Shahdara around 7:35 and turned to Kala Khatai road at 7:45. We took some pictures of the landscape during our travel towards Narowal. We passed Narang Mandi and reached Narowal around 9:00 am but it was not our final destination. We left the city of Narowal after a short break for breakfast.
Visit to Gurdwara Kartarpur:
Now the main attractions of our journey started at Kartarpur where we reached at 10:00 am. Our first visit was Gurdwara Kartarpur. As we know, a Gurdwara is that place where followers of the Sikh religion worship. It was a very historical Gurdwara. About the Gurdwara it is said (as told to us by the guard) that when Guru Nanak (the founder of the Sikh religion) died, a dispute arose between the Guru’s Muslim and Hindu followers for the custody of his dead body. As it is said that Guru Nanak had also performed Hajj therefore the Muslims claimed that he should be buried as per Muslim traditions whereas the Hindus insisted that the Guru was Hindu, therefore he should be cremated as per Hindus’ teachings. Guru Nanak’s body lay covered by a cloth in the middle of the Gurdwara. An elder thought to check whether the body of the Guru was under the cloth or not. When the cloth was removed nothing was there. So it was decided that the cloth would be distributed equally among the Muslims and the Hindus. After that the Muslims buried the piece of cloth and made a grave whereas the Hindus cremated the piece of cloth and saved its ashes. So it’s still an unsolved mystery where the body of Guru Nanak disappeared. Interestingly, the grave made by the Muslims was also inside the premises of the Gurdwara.
I learned a very interesting and new thing there. If you find a long pole erected inside a Gurdwara wrapped in an orange cloth it means that it’s a formal Gurdwara where you can also get a meal. So when you see the pictures you will find a picture of the pole also.
We visited inside the Gurdwara. It was neat and clean and properly maintained. One thing I want to mention is the name plate highlighting that Major General Maharajadhiraja, Sir Bhupindar Singh, Mahindar Bahadur and Maharaja of Pataila State donated sums of money to protect the sacred shrine from the threatened ravages of the river (Ravi) during the period from 1920 to 1929.
Kartarpur is a place worth seeing. It is said that the Sikhs of India also used to view the dome of the Gurdwara with the help of binoculars from the place named ‘Darshan Sthal’ near the border in India. We left Kartarpur at 11:15 am and reached Lullwan village around 12:45 pm. We passed through important places like Noorkot Cantt and Shakargarh before reaching Lullwan.
Stay in Lullwan:
Lullwan is a typical countryside village of Punjab. In older days most of the houses in the villages were made with clay. However, village people are now mostly constructing properly cemented houses. In Lullwan still there are some houses made from clay. Our first stay was in the house of Waseem’s Uncle. It was a neat and clean house having earth walls and floors. The uncle of Waseem Akram, an old fellow, shared some interesting stories of the Pakistan-India partition of 1947. He was a 12 year old kid at that time.
After a short meeting with Waseem’s uncle we visited the cousin of Waseem. His name was Shahzad and we took lunch there as he was waiting for us anxiously. After lunch we decided to have a walk in the rice fields where I fulfilled my wish of driving a tractor in the fields. Though I had no previous experience, I managed to drive and used a tool for ploughing. Believe me it was not a bad first attempt at all. We had a short but good time at Lullwan and then we moved to Shakargarh to pick up another cousin of Waseem Akram, Ameer Khan.
Visit to Shrine:
We didn’t stay in Shakargarh. We planned to visit the Shrine at Jalala Sharif where devotees annually come in good numbers to pay tribute and offer prayers. We reached there around 6:30 and met with an elder of the Shrine and had dinner there. We stayed there for a while and left the shrine around 8:00 p.m. One thing important to mention here is that the roads towards the Shrine were in very bad shape and gave us and the car a tough time.
Stay at Jubo Lota:
As it was dark and we were actually very tired due to continuous travelling, we started our journey towards Jubo Lota where Ameer Khan had arranged our stay for a night. Jubo Lota is another village of Tehsil Shakargarh and the home town of Ameer Khan. We stayed in his house. Since we had already had our dinner at the Shrine, we decided to have good cups of tea. Then we could have some sleep as soon as possible so to get up fresh for the next day.
It was a very beautiful Sunday morning. First we all went to the nearby fields and had a walk and enjoyed the fresh air. We came back and took a shower. A very exotic breakfast was waiting for us. It was a traditional village breakfast which we all were looking forward to. Butter, Lassi, Paratha (Roti full of desi ghee) and yogurt. Being a person who eats a lot, I enjoyed the breakfast a lot :). It was a wonderful treat for us. At 11:15 we left Jubo Lota to visit the remaining notable places.
I noticed that in Jubo Lota some house construction was very modern reflecting the style of houses built in the 60’s and 70’s in cities.
Witnessed Indian Army Aggression:
On Friday before our visit, the Indian Army showed aggression and violated the boundary, firing two mortar bombs in Chuk Jaymal, a village near the Pak-India border. We visited both houses where bombs had struck. I took pictures of the fin assembly of the mortar bombs and the damage. Thank God no one got hurt. From Chuk Jaymal you can see the Observing Posts (OP) of India with the naked eye. So one can guess that Chuk Jaymal was an easy target for the Indian Army. The very next day after our visit the Indian Army again started firing and sadly some people were martyred.
One thing I want to add is that the last railway station along the Pakistan-India border is in Chuk Amro, another village in that area, which we travelled through during our journey from Jubo Lota to Chuk Jaymal.
We left Chuk Jaymal and reached Shukhu Chuk at 1:15 pm.
Shukhu Chuk was another village of Shakrgarh. It was indeed a historical place. We had seen three temples of Hindus, one small and two large ones. My whole trip was spent with a smile on my face but as soon as I experienced the condition of these temples I lost my cheerfulness. It was sad to see that the local administration had not taken care of the temples along with other important places there. Before partition, large number of Hindus lived in Shukhu Chuk therefore you can see many signs of their former presence there.
It was very unfortunate that local people and the administration failed to keep the temples in good condition. I visited inside the temples and tried to take as many pictures as I could with care as to the condition of the temples. They were so depleted that there were chances that they could fall at any moment. You can observe their condition from the pictures I uploaded.
Being Muslims, it’s our duty to protect and keep religious places of other religions intact. And being a Pakistani, it’s our duty to preserve the heritage we have in our country. But here I can say that we failed to perform our duty :(.
Our Last Treat:
I left Shukhu Chuk with a heavy heart. We reached another village named Saidpur Khaanna to enjoy the great hospitality offered by Mr. Murtaza, an uncle of Waseem Akram. We were served fish, grains, boiled rice and roti. Murtaza had given us an invitation when we visited him briefly on Saturday evening to experience a beautiful evening at Bain Nala (a sort of rainwater fed natural stream). I think Bain Nala is also a historical place with reference to Guru Nanak. After the lunch we thanked him and left for Shakargarh to drop off Ameer Khan who made our trip possible to those places like Chuk Jaymal where it’s hard to travel. During our return we met a few local people. One of them was an amateur hunter who invited us for a hunting spree in the upcoming hunting season.
We also visited a place named Bhatti Afghana. The importance of this place is that the people belong to the Pathan tribe that settled there hundreds of years ago. This would normally not have happened because the Pathan mostly lived in the northern parts of Pakistan or India but they also moved to Punjab and settled here. People who were living in Bhatti Afghana act and speak in the same way as other Punjabis do. It was a great experience to meet an old man there who had a very good sense of humour.
After that we reached Shakargarh in the evening. We thanked and said good-bye to Ameer Khan and started our return journey towards Lahore. The evening at that moment was very beautiful. We left a dying sun in Narowal whereas we brought all the beautiful and sad (for me at least) moments we experienced there, which are still fresh until now in our minds.