Tuesday, 18 January 2022

154. Pakistan Museum of Natural History - Islamabad

Islamabad has a lot to offer in terms of entertainment and recreation, like parks, monuments and museums. One can find something suitable to his/her age, tastes and inclination. However, I know a place that will excite and fascinate all of you, adults and children alike. It is the Pakistan Museum of Natural History, definitely a very exciting place for children. It is situated at Garden Avenue, Shakarparian, Islamabad.

This museum was established in 1976 and is housed in a large building having three floors and many galleries to display a very large collection of objects from millions of years old fossils to mummified animals and their skeletons. Even before you enter the building you find a skeleton of a huge Blue Whale found near Pasni in 1967.

The museum has three floors and many galleries to display a large number of skeletons, fossils, mummified animals, rocks etc. Wildlife, from now-extinct animals to present-day animals, is shown in their natural environment. Another section shows the threats to our environment due to human activities. 

Pakistan Museum of Natural History (09.01.2022.)

A skeleton of a huge whale, which was found in 1967 near Pasni.  (09.01.2022.)

The writer. 

In the basement section, mostly reptiles like crocodiles, tortoises, snakes, etc. are displayed. Not a very pleasant scene to me. 

A crocodile.

Showing the life of cavemen. 

Preserved pheasants. 

Skeleton of an elephant. (09.01.2022.)

Fossilized head of an elephant. (09.01.2022.)

Skeleton of a giraffe. (09.01.2022.)

Some information about the insects and butterflies. (09.01.2022.)

A curious display of hundreds of colourful butterflies and insects of all kinds also draws your attention. I shall not be surprised if at the first glance they remind you of some articles of jewellery on display. 

I particularly liked the gallery which exhibits the natural environment of Pakistan and the threat it is facing due to human activity like deforestation, over-grazing, increasing population and depleting sources of water etc. 

The section named Forests of Pakistan also focuses on the environment of Pakistan and its wildlife. Different kinds of animals are shown in their natural environment. Indeed very informative and entertaining. 

Skeleton of a whale. (09.01.2022.)

Rock formations and their different forms are obviously a part of natural history that cannot be ignored at a museum dedicated to natural history. So a big collection of different types are there to see and study. But the collection that particularly draws the attention of visitors, especially ladies, is that of precious stones. I hope you too will find them fascinating. 

Model of a volcano. (09.01.2022.)

A hall displaying a number of animal heads as trophies is also an interesting gallery. Trophies of animals like Bison, Urial, Hog Deer, Sika Deer, Bgaral, Marco Polo Sheep, Markhor, Black Buck, Arabian Oryx, Nilgiri Tahr, Fallow Deer, etc. are part of this interesting collection. 

Flowers of Pakistan. (09.01.2022.)

Besides dinosaurs stuffed bodies of other animals like, deer, bears, yak, fox, wild cat, leopard, birds, etc. are another big attraction at the museum. People, especially children love to take pictures with these more affable animals. 

All kids love dinosaurs, many grown-ups too. So the fans of dinosaurs would be happy to find life-size models of dinosaurs. They even move and produce frightening sounds as well to the great delight of children.

Briefly speaking, a visit to this museum would be full of fun and learning. It is situated close to some other famous tourist attractions of the capital, like Heritage Museum, Pakistan Monument and Shakarparian. So next time you are visiting this area include the Museum of Natural History part of your plan.

Tariq Amir

January 18, 2022.


Monday, 17 January 2022

153. Attock Khurd Railway Station

The British Raj started to expand in India in the mid-eighteenth century and by the mid of nineteenth century, they completely subdued a vast country like India. It was a time of rapid changes not only in India but all over the world. We shall focus on one aspect of those changes and that was the great Industrial Revolution, which started in the late eighteenth century in Britain and then gradually expanded to some other regions of the globe. Rapid and astonishing progress was made in every aspect of human life, including transport. The steam engine to haul heavy loads on a railway was perfected in the 1830s and its importance in the development of industry and commerce became obvious. Even its vital role in defence too was not hidden in any way. Soon there was a race all over the world to construct railway lines as soon and as far away as possible. The British brought this technology to India and the first line was constructed between Bombay and Nasik in 1853. Gradually it spread to all four corners of India. By 1880 railways reached the Indus River at Attock.

Attock is famous for its strategic location of the River Indus. Emperor Akbar built a strong fort to control the corss point at this strateic point to defend India form any invasion from the north west. However, we shall focus on a small but beautifully constructed and well maintained Attock Khurd Railway station nearby.Some people call it the most beautiful railway station in Pakistan. Without going into the debate I would agree that certainly it would be one of the most beautiful. The location of the station makes it unique. The station is located only 300 meters from the river at 33°52'24.8"N 72°14'27.3"E, in the west of the mighty Attock fort. You can reach the fort from the GT road 4 kilometers away. At the start on the GT road there is gate and army check post. They check your identification and let you travel onward to the railway station. However, keep in mind that the road to the railway station passes close to the fort and it is a restricted military area and no photography is allowed. 

Attock Khurd Railway Station. (15.12.2021.)

The railway station has a small but elegantly built building of stone masonry in the typical old British style. It was built in 1883. It is surrounded by small hills which gives it an air of seclusion and remoteness, which increases its attraction. 

A side view of the building. (15.12.2021.)

Pakistan Railway lodge. (15.12.2021.)

Office of the station master. (15.12.2021.)

The writer. (15.12.2021.)

This section serves as the museum. (15.12.2021.)

The nearby bridge was designed by Sir Guildford Moleworth and was reconstructed in 1929, perhaps to cope with the heavier traffic. The bridge built with huge iron girders is itself a great example of engineering. The huge bridge has two levels, the upper level is used for trains and the lower level was used for vehicular traffic. But now after the construction of two other bridges 2.5 kilometers above stream, it is now open only for the motorcycles and pedestrians. View of the river, from this height, passing though the rocky terrain is simply breath taking.

The railway bridge on the River Indus. (15.12.2021.)

The fortified starting point of the bridge. (15.12.2021.)

 The bridge is open to pedestrians and motorcyclists. (15.12.2021.)

The year of manufacturing is give as 1880. (15.12.2021.)

The view of Indus looking from the bridge norththwards. (15.12.2021.)

The view of Indus looking from the bridge southwards. (15.12.2021.)

At the end of this "tunnel" is KP province.  (15.12.2021.)

The starting point of the bridge. (15.12.2021.)

The Neal Ball Token communication system, in servic for more than a 100 years. (15.12.2021.)

Besides the Victorian Style another attraction of the station is its small museum. That is an added advantage to the tourists. Many old gadgets used in the communication or running of the railways operations, are on display. Among the prominent items is a model of a railway engine. 

 Some utensils and water bottles. (15.12.2021.)

Some articles to perform different tasks. (15.12.2021.)

Communication instruments. (15.12.2021.)

Lamps used for light and singalling. (15.12.2021.)

A pheasant. (15.12.2021.)

A model of a locomotive. (15.12.2021.)

A general view of the museum. (15.12.2021.)

It as an interesting place to enjoy the atmosphere, the beautiful surrounding, the breathtaking view of the mighty Indus River and learning about the railways. It is easily reachable and with a little effort can be turned into a major tourist destination. All it lacks is a park and a cafeteria or hotel for the tourists. 

Tariq Amir

January 17, 2022.