Brushed by Fate - A Bittersweet Tale of Kalam Valley

in WORLD OF XPILAR3 months ago

I've heard countless stories about mountains since childhood, but I always had the impression of Malam Jabba as a bustling town on a mountaintop that lost its natural beauty to man-made structures over time.

In reality, the place was beautiful and nothing like my expectations.

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As we drove down the hill, I rolled down the window, inhaled the fresh air one last time, and vowed to visit again during the snow, for the mountain looks magical, like a winter wonderland at that time of the year.


Now we were en route to Kalam Valley, famous for forests, lakes, waterfalls, and meadows. The valley hasn't lost its beauty yet, probably because it's always been harder to access.

For many years, only a 4WD vehicle could survive the drill of driving on the arduous, rocky, and off-road path to the valley.

A carpeted road suitable for 2WDs was built later on, which brought many tourists along, all around the year. However, that privilege lasted only for a short time. During the flood of 2021, the road retrogressed and succumbed to the deadly water.

The floods wreaked havoc in most of the country. However, an acquaintance who had relatives in the valley assured us the road is functional again and Kalam is easily accessible by any car. They also offered us their 4WD, seeing our reluctance to bring our 2WD. (How I wish we had taken up their offer.)

As we left the outskirts of Malam Jabba behind and embarked on the road to Kalam, we could feel it in the air—the surroundings had endured a calamity.

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The road to Kalam is bordered by the Swat River throughout. The same river in which the flood came.

I had seen the destruction of the flood virtually, but being in one of the areas physically where people experienced the catastrophe and saw death coming right at their faces gave me goosebumps and reminded me of that horrid night when our town barely missed(fortunately) the inundation by less than a mile.

The forbidden but ravishing river was now calm and looked innocent as if it hadn't taken any lives.

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It wasn't only the feeling; it turned out that we were misinformed about the condition of the road. Having traveled a lot in the past year, I have concluded that locals should never be trusted for any travel advice. Always seek out a traveler, as both see things from different perspectives.

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There were countless patches where the river sliced the road in half. In a few places, rehabilitation was in progress, but the road needed a lot of work and resources, and we were certainly there at the wrong time.

Anyhoo, bridges were burned, and the harbour was abandoned. Come what may now.

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I recited whatever prayers came to mind whenever we raced against the currents of river water coming in the way. There were times when I was sure we wouldn't be able to make it to the valley.

Four agonising hours later, we reached the valley.

I've skipped the ordeal of locating our guesthouse; I'll leave it to your imagination to navigate on the completely unknown and broken roads when your only help is an outdated Google Map.

The picture of the valley isn't picturesque. That view was more of a feeling. One needs to be there to feel the nature all around.

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Giant mountains were everywhere. Clouds were hanging so low. The sun was peaking through tiny gaps between mountains and clouds. A peaceful village was spread out in the valley, with no connections to the world beyond those mountains. There was no noise except the gushes of flowing river echoing within the valley. It was like that valley was trying to tell a thousand stories in it's own way.

The view from the mountain top and the view from the mountain base were both unique and stunning.

Our cottage was very beautiful (giving off filmy vibes), but it was the view outside that didn't let me stay inside. It was getting cold as the sun hid behind a mountain. But I found a comfortable spot and spent hours there, doing nothing except taking in everything around me. There was no cellular network and I was done with photography, so it was just me and nature.

Despite all the trouble we went through, I was looking forward to the next day the most. We had booked a camp (a "glamp" actually - modern than a camp apparently) in Usho Forest for next night. The forest was in the valley, visible through our cottage.

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Usho Forest - Kalam Valley

Although, it was right in front of our eyes we were only worried about how to drive down there. It'd be too adventurous to hike with our bags and kids on the unknown paths. We couldn't leave our car at the cottage too (we were supposed to spend the night in the forest and drive back home directly from there.)

The next morning, we woke up to heavy rainfall and we had to cancel our forest booking. We became more concerned about getting back home because according to the forecast, the weather was only going to get worse over the next few days. Secondly, it was already too hard to travel on the broken roads, and with heavy rainfall, there was a great chance of road closures to avoid any accidents.

We quickly decided to pack and leave for home before the weather got worse. It was a nightmare to find a way back from the valley. Since Google Maps were of no use and for some reason, GPS wasn't working - we took countless wrong turns on rocky paths. There was one point, where our car got stuck on a rock. We couldn't move forward or backward. Thankfully, some local guys came and pushed the car backward; they even made an even path of rocks so the car could easily cross it.

Once we hit the main road, we took a sigh of relief and were happy to find out the weather hadn't reached there yet.

We were a little pissed about missing the forest because it was the main reason we planned the whole trip. But safety comes first so we agreed that it was a good decision to alter the plan. Also, they say..."It's not the destination, it's the journey."

Dear Glamping Spot, maybe some other time...

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 3 months ago 

I revisited Swat through your blog.

The next morning, we woke up to heavy rainfall and we had to cancel our forest booking

It was worth seeing 😉

I can't find the pictures but I'm sure they are somewhere.

When we visited somewhere some 6-7 years ago, there was no cellular network there. The best 3 days of our lives!

Posted using SteemPro Mobile

You have been to that forest???

Our trip was turning into an ordeal. There was less enjoyment and more concerns. It seemed only right to give up on the forest and go back home at that time.

While writing this post, I felt a tinge of regret that we missed the whole experience due to bad weather and routes. What if we had taken the chance...

P.S. Right now, I'm rejoicing in timely updates of steemit.com. 😋

 3 months ago 

You have been to that forest???

Yes, in 2017
And we had one hell of a driver-cum-guide. The stories he told us all the way along, about a car tripping and falling into the roaring river, and how the locals saved them. According to him, all Bollywood movie hilly scenes were picturized there. 😂

a car tripping and falling into the roaring river,

This is the common statement of all elders in our family. 😅

all Bollywood movie hilly scenes were picturized there. 😂

As if they don't have Shimla or Manali...😅

 3 months ago 

Upvoted! Thank you for supporting witness @jswit.

Thank you for the upvote and the work you are doing as a witness. But I'd prefer not to get this automated comment in future.

@jswit reply-off

the beautiful natural scenery is very impressive

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