Friday, June 4, 2010

Reunion at Qadirabad

Sunset over Qadirabad Barrage (Photo by my son Waqaace Jalal Bhatti)

After an account of “retreat” in my previous posting, let me move on to a reunion – this time at Qadirabad not far from Lahore. Many readers would know where Qadirabad is located, though some would definitely know of Qadirpur, which made headlines sometime back. But first let me say how I got to this otherwise unknown place Qadirabad in the first place. About a decade ago, I raised an outfit, which is presently located at Qadirabad and the present commanding officer of the outfit invited me to attend its 11th raising day. So on the weekend, I packed up and started towards this place Qadirabad along with my family. We took the Rawalpindi-Lahore section of the Grand trunk Road while the sky was overcast, unusual for May and June, and a cool breeze blowing. We crossed over River Jhelum and drove infront of the road leading to Mandi Bahauddin, a place my friend SAJS (of Doodh Patti fame) belongs to.

Continuing on the GT Road, we drove through Kharian, Lala Musa (one could stop here for Mian Jee’s Dal – makes me hngry by just the mention of it) and reached outskirts of Gujrat. From Shaheen Chowk, we took a right turn and hit the Gujrat-Phalia Road. I was amazed to see a dual carriage road, with no bumps or rural traffic ( I mean animal driven carts ). We were to drive a little over 60 kilometres ( as I was told) till we reached Mano Chak, cross over the Rasool – Qadairabad Link Canal and take a left turn using the canal road leading to the barrage. Everything happened as directed and we left the main road at Chak Mano and started towards the barrage. The canal shoulder road was pretty good (if not very good) and the widening work gave me a reassurance that in days to come the road would be much better.

Soon we hit the barrage – full of water, by almost sunset time. Qadirabad Barrage is located 32 kilometres down stream Khanki Headworks. The Qadirabad Balloki Link Canal (commonly QBLC) is the main feature of the barrage, taken out of the barrage in 1967. The barrage is fed by a link canal taken out from Jhelum River at Rasool Headworks. The barrage has a maximum design discharge capacity of 900,000 cusecs. Lately the Qadirabad Barrages ahs made headlines as Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has selected six sites for installation of more nuclear power plants (NPPs) that also includes QBLC at Qadirabad.
Top Left: Charpoys for rest, Top Right: A ride in the muddy waters of the barrage, Bottom Left: My son in the Buggi, Bottom Right: Tea with troops (Jaleibi special)
The unit had arranged a picnic at the barrage and we were taken towards brightly coloured “shamianas” (clothe covered enclosure). After greetings, we were taken inside the venue as it had already started drizzling. And I was amazed to see the arrangements inside. A alarge number of “charpoys” (a local bed made of wooden frame and woven with straw” with pillows and “chadars” ( a locally made coarse cloth to be used both as overlay and wrapping) spread over these. Then the “Khatar tawazo” (hospitality in the form of eatables) began. First it was “Falooda and Qulfa” (I wish I could explain how it is made – but simply it is made from pure milk and served cold) and it was really a treat to eat. It was followed by bowls full of fresh mango and melon chunks. And quite naturally it was followed by “Katchi Lassi” (a drink made of milk, water and salt) – the drink is a traditional antidote to lessen the hot effect of mangoes in summers.

Then it was the boat ride time. Ladies went first and we followed in the second trip. It was quite hair raising as the barrage was full of water and the fast winds were making waves that weren’t very hospitable. And we thanked God for bringing us safe and sound back. So this was the first phase of our reunion. From here we moved to the Qadirabad Colony for overnight stay and attend the main features of the reunion.

Qadirabad Colony once housed the company that built Qadairabad Barrage. The name 'Qadirabad' comes from the name of Mirza Qadir Khan, whose grave and that of his brother's grave are in Qadirabad. A wall was built enclosing the city between 1556-1605 with three gateways. The Chenab River is less than five kiolmetres to the south of Qadirabad. The nearest cities are Phalia, about 20 kilometres away, Mandi Bahauddin, about 40 kilometres away, and Gujrat, about 70 kilometres away.

After changing over, we rushed to the venue of “Bara Khana” (a dinner or lunch arranged with the troops). Oh I forgot the best part. From the guest room, we were taken into a brightly decorated horse drive cart “buggi” to the venue. When was the last time you sat in one? It was really a fun riding the buggi. The food was really “bara” (big – I mean plenty). The dinner was followed by a regimental troupe show that went on till three in the morning. It was exhaustive, yet very interesting and amusing.

The next day at around 10:30 am (although it was hard to get up after last night’s late closure) we had a brunch at the commanding officer’s residence. Once again the brunch was lavish with servings of “Halwa Poori, Haleem, Joints, Chanay, vegetable parathays, naans and of course cold Lassi”. I tried not to overeat, but who can stop if such inviting brunch is laid in front. When we could not eat any longer, we had exchange of gifts and thank yous before finally wrapping up a beautiful reunion.

We drove back on the same route, carrying with us the beautiful memories of the two days we spent at Qadirabad. I wish to be back next year.

Related Links:

Barrages and Link Canals of the Indus Basin Project - completed and in operation November 1967


Shirazi said...

Thanks for remembering me more thanks for this mention on your way to Qadarabad. Wish I had known your program. I was there in the village on Sunday and could have come back via Qadarabad.

BTW, on my way back, I wrote this story about my visit.

Please have a look when you can.

Nice post.

S A J Shirazi said...

Where are more images of those desi settings. Sound good.

Asghar Javed said...

Thanks for the update. Now it looks more inviting! No?

Jalal HB said...

Thanks SAJS for liking it