Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Birthday atop Margalla Hills, Overlooking Islamabad

When we were kids, our father used to take us brothers to Shezan restaurant located on the Mall Road near the Regal cinema and there the birthday kid was 'honoured' to order for the evening tea and even pay the bill, the money already given by our father. The birthday kid was also told before hand to leave a sizable tip for the waiter as a courtesy. All this was done as an education as to how to go to a restaurant, order for food/tea and then how to pay the bill. Besides, taking to a reputed restaurant, as Shezan was in the 60s, was also to teach us the table manners, use of napkin, and the appropriate cutlery for eating etc. 

Now that I am father myself, I also take my my sons on their birthdays to a reputed eatery so that the the tradition of educating children continues. I hope my children one day will do the same to educate their kids.

Last evening, it was my elder son's birthday and on his request we all went to Monal Resetting near the village of Pir Sohawa atop Margalla Hills, overlooking the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad. It is the same place about which I wrote a post earlier with the title 'Bolt at Pir Sohawa' which described my first eye witness view of lightning striking just in front of - it looked as if millions of bulbs flashed with a cracking sound. Awesome it was and my first view of a bolt. Margalla Hills also witnessed its first air crash of an airbus of Air Blue airlines in July 2010 during a heavily overcast day, in which all passengers perished when the aircraft crashed on to the slopes of the hills.

The long and winding road up to Pir Sohawa [ Photo: AlKalam ]
Now coming back to going up the Margalla Hills, Well it is very easy saying so - but getting up the Margalla Hills is not that easy and only expert drivers can make it up to the top as the turn are not only very sharp but have very steep gradient. Although it was my third drive up the Margalla top, it looked as if I was 'attempting' it for the first time. I had a rather 'first timer' in front of me who would literally stop on each turn, making it difficult to me to reciprocate in time to save a bump. Since the road is not very wide and there was so much of traffic coming down from the opposite side that it was really difficult to overtake the seemingly 'new comer' of Margalla Hills. However, on a  sharp turn I dared and was successful in crossing over. 

Islamabad down there!!
And finally we made it to a little short of the village Pir Sohawa to Monal Restaurant, which is picturesquely located between two ridges and one can see a beautiful panoramic view of the capital city of Pakistan. I do not know why the restaurant is named so, but Monal is a beautiful coloured pheasant which is found in the northern areas of Pakistan - I made a mention of this while I wrote a post on the Kumrat valley and the Jahaz Dand lake recently.

Posted Image
An overview of the restaurant [photo: Abid Siddiqui / UrbanPK ]
Although it was not a weekend, but there was so much of rush that there was almost a kilometers long line of cars parked outside the tiny car parking of the restaurant and when entering the car parking, I was told by the guards that after disembarking, we shall have to hand over the keys for valet parking. However luckily once inside, a few cars were moving out and I got lucky to park conveniently in front of the Monal bakers.


My birthday son scrutinizing the menu while his sibling looks on
And when we went inside, it looked as if the entire world was squeezed inside the three platforms of the restaurant as each table was full with the smoke and aroma of skewered food being prepared on burning coal spread all over the place. after a wait, we got hold of a table and then for next one and a half hour devoured some of the delicacies of the restaurant - specially the cheese bread. 

The brightly lit second floor terrace 
But for those who wanted something unique to be presented with, there was a special 'one metre long seekh kabab' on the menu with a price tag of Rs.1,799.00. Though we did not order it, but from the place where we were sitting, we could see it being prepared, cooked and then served in a special platter. Those with a heart did order and I counted at least six being 'sent out.'

In the background, one could listen to Urdu songs being sung by a local singer, which added delight to the overall mileu. And unknown to my birthday son, my wife and my other son went over to the musicians and asked them sing 'happy birthday to Waqaace' the same way I did on my first visit to the place when it was the birthday of my younger on. 

There were lots of people, both locals, foreigners and tourists thronging Islamabad from other cities as this is the summer vacation time of schools and colleges and many people visit Islamabad, and surrounding areas of Murree, Nathiagali, Abbottabad and even beyond including Swat, Naran and Gilgit. There was a family sitting in the third floor entertaining a Sikh friends and I could see them laughing and enjoying from my table on the second floor. I tried to take a snap but the photo did not come quite well from my cell phone camera.


Those traveling to and visiting Islamabad, should not miss the opportunity for a 'drive' atop Margalla Hills to have a rich, oily, hearty dinner - something that one would cherish for years.

3 comments:

Ali Akbar said...

Monal is a beautiful place to see Islamabad glittering at night. Though, I went once with my family but at Lahore missing such a resort from where I can see complete Lahore.
Congratulation to you for following footstep of your late father, whose soul will definitely happy that his son is carrying on his tradition and trying to pass on to his siblings.

Shirazi said...

Happy birthday to the son.

And app "waqahe great ho sir bhai."

jalalHB said...

Thanks Ali Akbar and SAJS