'Trans-Himalayas 4x4 Rally'
This September, the Provincial Government of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa-Pakistan is poised to hold the biggest ever adventure tourism event in the history of Pakistan—a 4x4 rally starting from Peshawar and finishing at Islamabad, from 22 to 27 September 2016, going through the valleys of Dir-Chitral, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Kaghan. The rally is Pakistan’s celebration of the World Tourism Day along with sharing the marked achievements of the operation Zarb-e-Azb that has made the region accessible for the celebration of life for everyone! The Trans-Himalayas Rally (THR) pushes the boundaries of endurance to new heights, and the meaning of competition to a level the like of which has never been seen in the recent history. It is where the thrills of Paris-Dakar, Budapest-Bamako, and Raid de Pharaon rallies end, while the heart stopping, breathtaking, and adrenaline pumping adventure of Trans-Himalayas Rally begins. This spectacular trail snakes around the Roof of the World, covering the most treacherous terrains that thrill-seekers dream of, and kissing the altitude of around 15,000 ft! THR will be traversing a terrain through the heart of the historic North West Frontier of the yore, from legendary high mountain passes and rugged winding roads to areas of spectacular scenic beauty; through a region steeped in the romance of history, this rally offers a priceless experience and limitless opportunities for four-wheelers. Pakistan is no stranger to hosting off-road rallies. The Cholistan Jeep Rally is Pakistan’s biggest annual 4x4 motor event, held in the desert that attracts domestic and international enthusiasts alike. Internationally, interest in the Paris-Dakar, Budapest-Bamako and Raid de Pharaon rallies seems diminished somewhat owing to re-usage of the same dreary route. Pakistan’s spectacular and demanding blend of metaled and dirt trail of over 1700 km can offer a fresh world-class attraction to top-notch adventure seekers, from within and outside the country, in the form of the proposed Trans-Himalayas Rally 2016, the virgin run! About the route—Three Capitals:The Oldest, the Highest, and the Newest. Starting in Peshawar, which is the Oldest Living City, in this part of Asia the rally will include various stages and competition legs. In the first stage the participants will end the day-long journey at Chitral covering a total distance of 360 km. The rally will pass through the ‘Valley of the Buddha’ at Mardan along the Buddhist monastery of Takht Bahi,a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the Gandhara Civilization of 1st century AD. Soon after Malakand, THR will pass by the famous Churchill Piquet at Chakdarra, where a young Winston Churchill stayed in 1897, during the British Raj’s attempts to conquer the North West. The rally will conquer the world-famous Lowari Top, touching an altitude of 10,230 ft, the first of the four passes elevated by snow-clad peaks round the year. It is here, where the rally will encounter its first test of endurance, skills, and might in the form of extreme hair-pin bends combined with a thousand feet steep descent from the Mighty Hindukush Mountains. Further northwards, the rally will be passing through a region, which nestles three picturesque valleys—inhabited by the Kalasha, or ‘Wearers of the Black’—a fascinating tribe, whose origin is shrouded in mystery. The Kalasha speak a mysterious language and the valleys represent the last enclave of ancient pagan folks. At Chitral, the destination of the first stage, the rally participants will be welcomed by the locals with a polo match followed by a lavish feast of traditional cuisine and music in the vicinity of Chitral Fort, the only privately owned fort in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which was also the scene of the famous Siege of Chitral 1895 campaign.The participants will rest for the night, under starlit skies of the Milky Way, in view the world-famous Tirch Mir peak and the perilous mountains of Afghanistan beyond. In the next stage, the rally will start from Chitral Townand, passing through Shandur Pass, end at Gupis (Gilgit) covering a distance of 260 km. Shandur is the highest polo ground in the world lying at 12500 ft. This version of freestyle mountain polo game played at Shandur between the teams of Chitral and Gilgit has attained a legendary status; it is polo in its purest form. There are no umpires and there are no holds barred. The rules are: There are no rules! As the popular saying goes: “Let other people play at other things / The King of Games is still the Game of Kings.” Enroute Gupis, the rally will cover a spectacular terrain studded with innumerable tourist spots and famous freshwater lakes namely Phandar and Khalti that offer breath-taking vistas, vales, and meadows. The rally will stay for the night at Gupis and the participants will enjoy the exotic indigenous music and sample unique local cuisine being intoxicated with the natural aroma and fresh air of the valley. On the third day, the rally will start from Gupis and,moving along the ‘Mighty Indus,’ end at Shangrila-Skardu covering 320 km. Just beyond Gilgit, the rally will cross a geological wonder of the world, where three of the world’s greatest mountain ranges meet, namely: the Hindukush, the Karakoram, and the Himalayas. From Jaglot a trail leaves for Nanga Parbat, the “Killer Mountain,” which is the 9th highest peak on earth. The rally will reach Shangrila Lake, or Lower Kachura Lake, located at around 8,200 ft. After the night stay at Shangrila-Skardu, the rally will leave for Naran covering a distance of 365 km. This is one of the most beautiful and challenging stretches of the rally route that meanders through high peaks, vales, villages around the famous Satpara Lake, and one of the world’s highest and most stunning meadows, the Deosai National Park. The Sheosar Lake here is the epitome of Wordsworth’s poetry. Towards the camp, the rally will climb the glacial heights of Babusar Pass attaining an altitude of 13,700 ft and will descend along the bank of Lulusar Lake and finish the stage at Naran. One gets a spectacular view of Malika Parbat (Queen of the Mountains), which is visible from Naran. Nearby is a lake named after a legendary prince Saiful-Maluk, who according to the folklore, fell in love with Badrijamala, a fairy of the lake. In the final leg, the rally will start from Naran and finish off at Islamabad, covering a distance of 280 km. The rally will cross through the picturesque hill-station of Abbottabad, at an altitude of 4,100 ft, which is a popular summer resort and was established by Major James Abbott in 1849 during the British Raj. En route Islamabad, the rally will pass by the Ashoka Rock inscriptions at Mansehra – yet another UNESCO World Heritage site on the way. The rally will stop for lunch at the picturesque resort of Khanpur Lake, which is located in the lap of one of the oldest civilizations of the world around Jauliyan and Bhamala. Before leaving for the finish point at Islamabad, the rally proceeds towards the oldest university of human history discovered at the City of Sirkap (180 B.C.) and passing through the Taxila Museum, the rally wraps-up at the destination completing the stretch of 1,700 km. Roadside amenities: The route will be provided with Mandatory Rest Stations, refueling spots, wayside and mobile workshops, directional and sponsorship signs, porters, guides, adequate security, and proper first-aid medical facilities. Vehicle Classes: Rally will be open to 4x4 SUVs/ trucks. Mega-Event and Festivities: While, the rally itself promises to be the first mega-event of international proportions in Pakistan’s history, grand ceremonies and festivals at Start, Stopovers, and Finish points will add even more colour and funfair to this magnificent celebration of motor-sport adventure and endurance. What is in it for… Car and motor-part manufacturers: Vehicle manufacturers can exploit the harsh environment that the rally offers as a testing ground, and consequently to demonstrate the durability of their vehicles. Corporate Sponsorship: Sponsors will receive immense business benefits in terms of brand awareness in the world of motor-sport and travel. In return for sponsorship, participants will offer the use of their vehicles in publicity campaigns, to carry company logos on the car and on their race suits. Tele Communications: The telecom industry has the unique opportunity to show the outreach and reliability of their networks for such a challenging and demanding event, with hundreds of organisers, participants, and operational teams stretched over the remotest regions of the country. The participants: “Everyone’s a winner” just by accepting the challenge of entering this grueling rally, but handsome prize awards await those who strive and emerge in the top ranks of the competition besides enjoying thrill, adventure, and hospitality of the most beautiful places of Pakistan during the rally. What is the benefit to Tourism in Pakistan? A massive image-building exercise of international proportions. It will revive the spirit of adventure and romance of the North West Frontier of yore and promote the beauty of millennia old culture and top tourism sites of Pakistan that dot the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit Baltistan regions. What is the benefit to the local community? Tourism is bread and butter for thousands of families living in the region. Economic revitalisation of the population living in the catchment area of the 1700 km route will uplift their lives. Moreover, it is an attempt to project the culinary arts, folk music, folk dances, story-telling, and indigenous sports by the active involvement and shared ownership of the marginalised mountainous communities especially their youth. About the place and people: On earth there is no heaven, but there are pieces of it. The northern region of Pakistan is one of those pieces where sunshine is beautiful, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; the forests are lovely, dark and deep. Every flower has a soul, and every bird has a song. The rich and diverse culture is thousands of years old. Moreover, the simple mountain folks are exceedingly hospitable; they are warm, courteous, and take much delight in entertaining guests. We take great pride in our timeless traditions and values. As inhabitants of a province often called the ‘Land of Hospitality’, visitors are warmly welcomed and guests are lavishly treated in our fabled and legendary region – the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan. Even in the most turbulent of times, our people have weathered many a storm, each time remaining resilient and seizing new opportunities in the face of adversity. Welcome you on the Roof of the World in the Trans-Himalayas Rally 2016!Let’s celebrate the spirit of adventure.