CHITRAL (Garam Chashma): Amid singing brooks, lush green hills, verdant and tranquil atmosphere hovering above, one of the most frequented destination for tourists in district Chitral, Garam Chashma, lacks basic facilities of access road and drinking water, speaking volumes about the apathy of concerned authorities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Located at a height of about 1,859 meters (6,100 feet), 45km North West of Chitral, tourists from all over the country rush towards it not just for its photogenic beauty but mainly for the mysterious healing powers hidden in its hot waters.According to locals, the hot waters gushing forth from sulphuric rocks throughout the year has cure for a number of skin diseases and can boil an egg within five minutes.To facilitate the visitors, keen to try traditional panacea to cure these ailments, bathrooms are being run by private people.Amjad Iqbal, an old local man to a query replies that hot water which has healing effect on skin diseases, rheumatism and chronic headaches, is nonpareil giving of the nature. He said for the last many years, they have been experiencing a surge in number of visitors, majority among them are women.The locals are of the view that taking bath is useful for women but not for man, the latter can wash their hands, legs and joints.The visitors arrive here after the month of March and the patients are advised to take a number of baths daily for a couple of days, he added.
But despite such a boon bestowed upon it by the bounty nature, the three hours journey from Chitral to the spot can be jeeped on narrow dilapidated and meandering road which on several places almost suck out adventurous spirits and passions of many because of perilous bends and turns.Last year flood had almost wiped out the whole access road and at various points the cascades falling from above make it hard for any vehicle to cross the slippery stony places.A visitor has either to afford powerful engine jeeps or to move ahead with their vehicles with all the risks and perils. Commenting on the tiring sojourn to Garma Chashma, a local octogenarian expressed, “ when going gets tough, the tough get going”.
Azfar Wayn along with his wife who arrived at the spot hoping to find cure for their skin disease shared the views that they have heard about the soothing affects of the hot waters but never expected that they have to venture through one of their most perilous journey.“The landscape beauty of the area is mired into thoughts of rough and difficult terrains often making our hearts to throb in our throats,” Mrs Wayn added. A group of youngsters from Punjab yelling all the way in their hired cab feel themselves passing through the memorable moments of their lives.“We have heard about terrorism affecting Khyber Pakhtunkhwa tourism industry but there is no threat anywhere in these valleys. The people are very hospitable and caring. We find the envious solace amid these green rocks as the most blessing thing which is callously missing in our hectic modern life,” they opine.
Muhammad Kamran, president of Press Association of Supreme Court, leading his Islamabad based group, observes that laying of carpeted roads like those in Kaghan and Naran would boost tourism industry of the province.He said the picturesque beauty of the valley can be explored greatly if access roads are macadamized, besides, establishment of recreational spots with all the required facilities.A number of other tourists staying in local hotels also shared the same view that their energies to explore the valley are greatly drained out due to tiresome journey. Local Council office bearers told a group of visiting Islamabad based-journalists that despite its scenic attraction and cure for a number of ailments, the locals have been deprived of the basic necessity of clean drinking water.
Referring to bazaar, they said it still lacks supply of potable water. They said the income source of locals greatly depends upon cultivation of potatoes but it is not possible for them to export it to parts of the country due to muddy and rocky road.
They inform the annual production of potatoes stand around Rs 200 million. The area also provides natural habitat for the snow leopards and Markhor. Markhor can be spotted along the roadside descending from above the hill tops to quench their thirst from the gushing streams.Atta Elahi, a local authority tasked to protect wild life and natural environment, informed that about 1,450 Markhor population exists in the surrounding hills along torrent waters of Luthko Gol.
“A trophy hunting fetch them 20 per cent out of the total amount paid by the hunters. Out of eight huntings, they get a handsome amount of Rs 25 million” he said.
He said if the concerned authorities give proper attention to local issues, the place can secure handsome income to the province in form of tourism and to great extent change living conditions of the local populace.APP