Blues and Greens of Khanpur Dam

Most people expect me to be studying on weekends. Even I expect myself to be studying on weekends. I often end up writing a whole list of ‘things to do’ because weekends seem to be there for catching up on the week. When I get a chance to do anything but that, I only take a few minutes to deliberate on it. After all, I’ve always got more weekends to study on, but never more roadtrips to jump into.

So when my father pitched in a trip to Khanpur Dam, I said yes, despite having just spent the day prior doing things that definitely were NOT studying!

Initially, I had planned on going to TwinCon but I didn’t really have anyone who was willing to go with me, so I switched up my plans for the weekend and found myself heading out towards Khanpur Dam on the Grand Truck Road. The drive was mostly uneventful, despite stopping to purchase over a hundred oranges before finally stopping to look over the dam itself.

The weather was absolutely amazing and the view was spectacular. The lake was a shimmering blue and took my breath away. You don’t really get to see bodies of water like this in Pakistan too often, especially when you’re several hundred miles away from the sea. Clean, pristine water looks just as refreshing as it sounds!

However, our destination was further inland. The Old Khanpur Road twists and turns along the shore of the dam at a respectable distance, leading away from the main road into seemingly deserted dirt paths that lead towards resorts hitched up at the bank. Lakeside Point, the first major resort that pops up, was a location we had visited before in the summer. From a distance, I could see the patio, overlooking a sprawling lawn. During the summer, I remember motorboats being parked on the water, covering that very lawn right next to the patio.

Our destination came next: Gandhara Castle Resort. Not nearly as castle-like as I would’ve liked, this resort also had sprawling lawns, leading down to the edge of the water where motorboats were parked. The resort itself was situated uphill and it wasn’t hard to believe that the dam water would reach the foot of the resort.

The decorations were interesting enough! I’m not sure what the owners were trying to portray with the jeans situated on the top of their decorated terrace. If you think that that is creepy, to the left of this picture was a sculpture of a man who looked like he had been buried under the avalanche which was now the neat terrace step down. He even had blood running down his face and his amputated fingers so… I really don’t know who they hired to do their landscaping.

Despite the clear skies and warm sun, it was really windy and it even felt chilly if you sat in the shade! The resort served some tea which definitely tasted really good and I spent my time enjoying the view, wishing I’d brought a book or two to read. Settled on a small cliff overlooking the shore on one side, I’d watch my siblings attempt to skip rocks on the lake’s surface and miserably failing. Some of the folks that we came with had even taken off their shoes to stand in the freezing water and attempt to see who would be able to withstand the cold the longest.

Boating over the dam was next on the itinerary. There were two types of possible boating activities: speedboats and larger motorboats. Speedboats could only seat three or four people at the maximum while the larger motorboats could seat up to 12 people. Looping around the water, the boat ride wasn’t as great as I thought it would be. We didn’t get to see any other banks, didn’t get to see the dam itself. We just went a couple hundred meters straight away from the bank and then swerved back and it came to an end.

Lunch finally got served in an hour or two. Since dams are famous their fish, lunch consisted of fried fish and a couple of other chicken based dishes. It was pretty decent- until my brother got a fish bone stuck in his throat. That had been terrible…

Not too far away from the cliff, there was what appeared to be an interesting stone building with a heavy door. According to the resort workers, it was the entrance to a series of caves owned by a colonel of some sort in the army who also owned a resort that was further down the road. This other resort, called Mabali Island, was apparently a fully functional club that had several activities to do besides just boating. Perhaps we’ll go there next time!

Around 4pm, we started the trek back. Half the group in our caravan took the same route back that we had come from while my half of the caravan decided to take a different route that would end up entering Islamabad from D-12 instead of getting on the Grand Truck Road. This route was definitely an off-road adventure since the roads were rocky and not well-developed at all. 

The view was fantastic though as we weaved in and out of mountains, heading closer and closer to home. 

It’s honestly amazing how there are so many wonderful places to visit that are all close by to Islamabad. You can arrange quick road trips, go in the morning and be back in the evening and have a lot of fun exploring and seeing things that you didn’t even know existed before. I’d love to come back to Khanpur Dam sometime, and bring something to read as well. The idea of sitting in that nice warm sun with a chilly wind and steaming tea with a book in hand? A perfect daydream.

Have you ever visited tourist places surprisingly close to your home and been impressed? How often do you go out and be a tourist in your city? Let me know in the comments below! Have a nice day!

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