It was in 1966, when my father was posted as head of the Pakistan Interpol to the newly built capital, Islamabad that I got a chance to see the modern city in its very early stage. The duel carriage way from Faizabad Rawalpindi to Zero Point was amazing view, specially at night. Beside seeing Shakarparian and viewing the panoramic view of Islamabad was really captivating. At that time the Siraj Covered market was the most modern shopping mall and we used to visit it almost every other day during our summer vacation when we would come from Lahore and spend our vacation in Islamabad with our father.
One day our orderly took us brothers to the village of Saidpur, located at the foothills of the Margalla Hills, or rather I would say its back skirting the hills, just for fun ride. That was my first visit to Saidpur, a small and ordinary village like any other small village in Pakistan. Saidpur is famous for its pottery studded with small pieces of glass. But I never knew that the word "renovation of Saidpur as a tourist attraction" some four decades later take me back into my memories. So I decided to take my two siblings to see what I had seen years ago. But this time it was different.
The road leading the village had palm trees on both of its side and a huge mud coloured entrance erected at the mouth of the village. Once we stepped inside, it was a different view. A small stream divides the village vertically: On the left side is a raised platform housing the Haveli and a temple, while majority of the village houses are to the right of the stream. The small mud houses had been given an uplift with brick walls, paints and a path wa built up to the famous Hindu temple, built some 150 years ago and a Haveli. Near the Haveli, on the other side of the stream is an old tree, which must also be dating back to the times when the Haveli and the temple were constructed. The entire fasade had been changed to give it a beautiful look. The main hall inside the Haveli has been turned into a photo gallery, which include photographs dating back to early sixties when foundations of Islamabad were being laid and of events till date. These photos give a visitor a run down of history of both Saidpur and Islamabad.
I was told by locals that the idea for its uplift and renovation to attract tourists as part of the 2007-Visit Pakistan programme, development of Saidpur as a model village was one of the major assignment given to CDA in 2006.
It was envisaged that Saidpur Model Village will provide an opportunity to tourists to walk through cobble stone streets and observe old houses. The development underway to making the village a tourist-friendly place include establishing home cafes and handicraft bazaars, the restoration of a 150 year old temple, and the upgrading of services and the environment.
And the work spoke of itself and the photographs taken by my sons and myself reflect the efforts of CDA. Thought the work is still on, the already completed portion is really commendable, speak of aesthetics and modern approach.
The CDA must carry one the good work and also ensure a better sign posting from the city centre to the village for the ease of the visitors / tourists. An addition of an information office with availability of some brochures about the history of the village will add to the information and interest of the visitors.