Out and About Murree

Excursions and popular sites to visit

An Introduction to Murree – Pakistan’s most popular hill station, Murree, is located in the Himalayan foothills some 30 km northeast of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad. Tourists from all over the country flock to this beautiful hill resort all year round, but especially so in the summers to escape the sweltering heat of the southern plains.

The hill station, built by the British colonial government in 1850, lies across a 7 km sprawl between Kashmir Point and Pindi Point. As the names suggest, Kashmir point gives a panoramic view of the snow laden Himalaya and Pir Panjal ranges in Kashmir while Pindi Point overlooks the national capital and its sister city, Rawalpindi. Until 1876, Murree was the summer headquarters of the Punjab local government; after 1876 the headquarters were moved to Simla. During British Rule in the nineteenth century, its altitude was established at 7,000 feet (2,100 m), but its actual altitude has now been determined as 7,500 ft. (2,300 m) above sea level.

The name Murree is probably derived from ‘marhi’, which means ‘high place’, although there is also a popular local belief that it is named after the Virgin Mary. Murree is the largest resort town in the Galliat area of Pakistan, and is the capital city of Murree Tehsil (which is an administrative territory of the Rawalpindi District).

Mall Road – The lively Mall Road, lined on both sides with tourist shops and restaurants, is probably the most visited location in Murree. If hustle and bustle is what interests you, the Mall will not disappoint as it is always crowded (or over-crowded) by tourists, even in the off-peak seasons. The numerous traditional and modern outlets offer plenty of shopping options whereas dining choices, mostly of the Pakistani, Continental or Fast Food varieties, also abound. An hour or three spent walking around the Mall is a highlight for most visitors to the area. Restaurants and cafés on the Mall stay open well into the night, as late as 2 or 3 a.m. in the peak season.

If you’re looking for a peaceful outing, however, it is best to avoid this part of Murree and to explore other sites instead.

Kashmir Point – This is another popular tourist site that starts from where the Mall Road ends, about 1 km from the General Post Office (GPO). This hill top offers beautiful views of the Kashmir mountains, and hence the name. Two roads lead up from the GPO towards Kashmir Point, both offering different views of Murree. It is therefore best to drive up one way and return the other.

The walk from the GPO to Kashmir Point takes 10 to 15 minutes. For recreation once there, you can try out the small amusement park, shop, or choose to dine in one of several restaurants. The local government also runs a decent business centre up there, in which visitors can rent out cubicles or offices to work out of on short term basis while visiting Murree.

Pindi Point Pindi point is one of the prime locations to visit in Murree. A chair lift carries visitors from Bansra Gali, along the Old Murree Road, up to this point. This is usually a sensible option in the Peak Summer season, as the roads are choked with traffic and entry to Murree town is extremely difficult. Parking your car outside Murree Bazaar in the chair lift’s parking lot and then entering Murree via the lift could save you several hours stuck in traffic jams. The ride of 1.5 km passes over beautiful thick pine forests with the road winding bellow. The lift actually passes close to where Arcadian Blue Pines is Located, and we have our own semi-private road leading from the hotel up to Pindi Point as well. Once at Pindi Point, there are plenty of dining and shopping alternatives available. You can also walk up to the Mall Road, which is only 15 minutes on foot from the Chair Lift drop point.

New Murree and Patriata Situated about 15km from the main Murree Bazaar, New Murree and Patriata both constitute another hill station that is all the more popular because of the chair lift and cable car connecting the two. Provided that you’re not averse to heights, the 7 km ride chair lift and cable car ride from New Murree to the top of Patriata hill is truly a breathtaking experience in any season, offering stunning view of lush green hills in the summer and snow clad peaks in the winter.

There are plenty of walking and hiking trails in the area and you can also rent horses for a pleasant hill ride. When opting for the latter, however, do make sure to negotiate rates in advance as overcharging unsuspecting tourists is a popular pass-time of the local handlers. Tea, coffee and other refreshments are also readily available.

Galliat – Running North and West of Murree on the Murree-Abbottabad Road, is a chain of scenic mountain towns and villages referred to as the ‘Galliat’ owing to the fact that the names of most of the major towns along this stretch end with ‘Gali’. For tourists, the main attractions in the Galliat are Changla Gali (Alt. 8,400 ft.), Ayubia (Alt. 8,000 ft.), Dunga Gali (Alt. 8,200 ft.) and Nathia Gali (Alt. 8,400 ft.).

The Galliat are popular due to their alpine weather and spectacular scenery and also because they are relatively close to, and easily accessible from, major urban centres such as Rawalpindi, Islamabad, Murree and Abbottabad. The mountains are covered by thick pine forests that make this is one of the greenest areas of Pakistan with higher average annual rainfall than the most of the country. The original resorts were developed by the British and you will see a lot of colonial influence as you travel through the area.

Wildlife abound in the area and wild monkeys, in particular, congregate at several spots along the road, waiting to be fed by tourists, many of whom pull over for the opportunity. The monkeys are used to interacting with humans and they are often very willing to pose for photos Having said that, care should always be taken not to startle or annoy them, especially so when children are present. Other wild species native to the Galliat are leopards, red fox, porcupines, wild cats, black bears, pheasants and a large diversity of small birds including tits, woodpeckers, tree-creepers, warblers, parakeets.. and lots and lots of crows.

There are numerous hiking trails in the Galliat with the most popular leading to the highest peaks of Miranjani (Alt. 9779 ft. – walk starts from Nathiagali) and Mukshpuri (Alt. 9258 ft. – walk starts from Dunga Gali or Nathia Gali), both which can be done in a day. The 4 km flat and easy ‘Pipeline Walk’ from Dunga Gali to Ayubia is an especially pleasant experience as this takes you through the spectacular Ayubia National Park, a protected sanctuary for indigenous plants and animals. The comfortably wide path runs over an old pipeline that supplies water from Dunga Gali to Ayubia and then onwards to Murree. The walk culminates at the tourist town of Ayubia, which, though haphazardly developed, is widely popular because of its chair lift. If you’re not inclined to walk back the same way to your car, you can hire a local taxi to drive you back along the main road to Dunga Gali.

If you’re staying more than a couple of days in Murree, you might want to head out one morning to any of the Galliat (though, again, we recommend Dunga Gali and the Pipeline Walk in particular) for an enjoyable day out before returning to Arcadian Blue Pines in the evening.

Drive Times (from Arcadian Blue Pines)

Mall Road – 10 min.

Pindi Point – 5 min.

Kashmir Point – 10 min.

New Murree – 30 min. (Approx. 20 km.)

Changla Gali – 30 min. (Approx. 20 km.)

Ayubia – 45 min. (Approx. 31 km.)

Dunga Gali – 45 min. (30 km.)

Nathia Gali – 50 min. (35 km.)