Nilan Bhotu is 45 kms from Rawalpindi Saddar. We have to climb towards Monal Resturant on Pir Sohawa highway and further on to a place called Sangada (close to Hilander club). Just short of Sangada, there is a small turn right from the village bazar, onto a dirt track that leads into a valley that connects with main road towards Muree. Lots of cyclists use this track to off-road on mountain bikes. I have gone there twice; once on my 4×4 vehicle and the second time on my mountain bike. It is a beautiful place; especially the pine trees, clear water and the lovely peer’s meditation place at Nilan Bhotu village. Normal cars may not be able to get there.
While I was biking there with my buddies, a foreign lady fully decked in biking gear toppled off her bike and fell a full 360 degrees forward. That shows that the track is tricky. Centre of gravity has to be ensured.
Riding my 4×4 pickup, we reached Monal in the morning and had our breakfast in the open air balcony restaurant that had a thatched roof. The fresh lassi is nice there. Then we moved on to the turn near Sangada village on the same road. Immediately after the turn, the road breaks up. It is a stony pathway going through lots of pine trees. After a short drive, the track opens up into a valley with thick forestation on either side. A beautiful clear water stream runs through the bed. I had to switch to 4 5;4 to get my pickup through to the other side.
The valley is green and serene. The sarson fields look lovely in the green background. Not too many people visit the place due to its relative inaccessibility. There is very little traffic there. A few kilometers ahead comes the Nilan Bhotu village. The village itself isn’t much, but the peer’s meditation site on top of a natural pointed stone formation, on the bank of a clear stream below is breathtaking. The site has a lot of trees which adds to the serenity.
We went up to the peer’s site and had a bird’s eye view of the surroundings. Then we walked towards the pond where there were lots of fish. Apparently, the local legend says that anyone catching these sacred fishes dies! So no one even tries. I saw a foot long fish swimming inside. It’s fun feeding the fish.
There are no shops in the village except for a small kiosk to get chips and biscuits. No tea stalls are present either. The locals are friendly and come up to chit chat. They even offer free tea to the tourists.
Driving further ahead from the village for about half an hour, we were connected to the main road going towards Muree.
We stayed there for a few hours, walked with the fishes and then turned back to reach Sangada by late lunch time. We ordered karahi at one of the restaurants which had a beautiful view and had much needed hot tea.
On the return journey we stopped at various sites to see the lovely landscape on the way back, on the Pir Sohawa road.
Some folks also visit the highland country club which is very close to Sangada. The coffee there is nice. The food is okay. But the location is outstanding. Reaching the club is a little difficult as the cemented road is steep. Lots of people hang out at this place on weekends to relax and sometimes to party at the numerous guest houses and condos available on rent.