It was merely an “imagination” of finding myself besides the exquisite lake Safi ul Maluk until I visited it recently. Trust me, the first feeling, on witnessing it live, that I had was if I have entered into the scenery of a beautiful landscape of which every minute detail carries an admirable perfection which leaves the spectators speechless. That explains well why The Guardian ranked it the 5th best tourist destination in Pakistan.
Before you go into the details, if you ask me if it’s worth visiting while you are in Naran then I would say, “absolutely Yes.”
There are two main reasons that made me desire to actually step into the sight.
- The most interesting fable of the Persian prince Saif ul Maluk and the fairy Badi ul Jamal.
- The scenic beauty
About Lake Saif ul Maluk
- Well yes, this lake is actually named after a prince named Saif ul Maluk who set out on a long journey to confess his love for the fairy Badi ul Jamal. Their story of love was transformed into a poem by a mystic Punjabi Hindko poet Mian Muhammad Bakhsh. You can find the English translation here. And there are a lot more the things that are associated with the place and a part of the story. A few to mention are the Safed Deyo (White Giant) who had captured Badi ul Jamal, and cried a lot on her escape with Saif ul Maluk that his tears created the Ansu Lake. Further, it’s also said that on every 14th night of the lunar month, the lake is like a mirror and gives a magically clear reflection of everything that’s above it or surrounds it. The locals also believe that extreme weather conditions are actually the demonstration of anger of daemons and fairies who live there.
- So yes, this one of the highest mountainous lake in Pakistan is an interestingly mysterious place which at the same time cradles a tempting attraction. It looks like a deep huge bowl of greenish water that has peaks and mountains slanting at its edges, serenity at its surface, and secrets buried in its depth. However, the sky above is always cloudy, and the air is chilling while it gives an amazing view of glaciers and sparkling streams. The sight of Nanga Parbat adds to the colors of the canvas.
In Mansehra district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), it is located in the northern end of Kaghan valley, roughly 8km from Naran. it’s altitude above sea level measures to be 10,578 ft. However, it’s depth had been unknown for a long time until recently it’s discovered to be 50ft. This majestic lake also feeds Kunhar river that flows from Balakot and originates from Lulusar lake.
– Best time to visit?
The ideal time to witness this divine beauty is from May end to mid- September. Since the weather conditions are quite bearable. Even in these months, it is advised to visit during daytimes before the sun sets because at night temperature (from 15-20 degrees centigrade in daytime) drops to 3 degrees centigrade; until or unless you wish you spot the glory of God at night.
In winters, the road to the lake is blocked due to heavy snowfall, and the lake is ice-frozen which makes it unapproachable.
Personally, I do love snow, but I would never want to visit this place in winters since all the charisma would be carpeted by heavy snow, and you won’t be able to differentiate where the lake starts and where does the mountains end.
Visiting Lake Saiful Maluk
Once you are in Naran and are planning for a stay, I would suggest you either make it in Naran market or somewhere near it. Since you can find various food spots and hotels that serve you well. And yes, you can find the pharmacies over there if you need, because I had to. That market has it’s own charm, for now, let’s stick to the Saif ul Maluk.
The point of mentioning Naran market is that you can easily book the jeeps from nearby that can take you to the lake of deep waters that are waiting ahead to be explored and admired. It’s roughly a 10km drive but owing to the dangerous route and shabby roads it takes around 50-60 mins to reach the destination. When I visited, at one point, it was too slippery and bumpy that we had to unload the jeep, mainly the guys, to take it ahead. So, usually, 5-7 people fill a jeep excluding the driver. I’d suggest keeping it even lighter.
While on the way, instead of songs, I personally think communicating with the driver is even more interesting since they always have some untold stories to share and interesting knowledge to impart.
While you get on the jeep, must carry two things with you: a water bottle, and cash. Because when you reach there, you might want to try spicy food, especially “pakoray,” but it kills paying double the actual price for mere water. So, be savvy enough and manage your finances well while you set on a journey of adventures. It really helps!
Activities you can do at Saif ul Maluk
Wonder what to do once you are at the land of mystery? Some of you might think what’s a big deal in merely watching a piece of land that is covered by water since 71% of the earth’s surface is water.
Well, believe me, it’s the best feeling you get after crossing the rough and scary routes. You feel like you are a color to the beautiful landscape. While you are there, besides excitement, breathing in fresh air and watching mountainous goats, donkeys and cattle, you can do some fun things there:
- Boating: they have different rates for the distance they cover but it’s a cheering experience, plus you can make some good videos while the boat Is sailing. My favorite, however, is to wave my hand in the transcending water waves and feel the real chill.
- Horse riding: these loyal beauties are too many in number there, that you feel puzzled when the owners surround you to offer their horse (it’s paid though). “The horses are trained, and they know their way” as I was told by my horse’s owner. However, it was my first time and I was scared that I’ll end up sinking into the lake if the man leaves the horse’s rope. But it was hell full. You feel every stone the horse stumbles upon.
- Eagle in your frame: You can take a picture with eagle anywhere since these are a common business at tourism spots nowadays. But, there, it gives a completely different feeling as if you have touched an innocent bird who knows more secrets than you and who has witnessed more stories than you, yet it firms its grips softly on your hand to make you feel loved.
- Variety of tastes: There are many stalls and shops that offer spicy meals, and deep-fried snacks such as “pakoray” and “samosay” which are Pakistani’s most desired tastes to savor.
- Handmade flowery tiaras: do try it, especially if you are a girl, and save your memories in a picture that you can see later on when you feel nostalgic.
- Camping: Yes, it’s safe and there are camping facilities provided by the small (dhabba type) hotels who have pitched tents there where you can stay and dine. However, we returned to Naran since we were planned to head towards Fairy Meadows the next morning.
Some tips to remember while you visit Saif ul Maluk
- Don’t try to do any stunts near water or on a boat since it’s very deep, and you can lose your life.
- If you are not a trained horse rider, must ask the owner to walk close. Since the horse is trained but you are not, and you don’t know how that horse interprets your signs/voices/actions. This might sound funny, but precaution is better than cure.
- Identify your jeep number and jeep driver, so you don’t have trouble finding him on your way back.
- Be punctual, and return to ye our jeep on the time that was decided. Because of security measures, they close the ways and won’t allow you to pass by once the time is over which is usually just before sunset.
- Don’t make your jeep stop on the track, it’s forbidden and you could be charged by the security.
It was one of the most awaited visits so far, and I enjoyed it well. It’s much more than a 2D picture and magical beyond your imaginations. It looks as if the glory of God came to visit the jheel and stayed there forever. It’s the perfect definition of “breathtaking” and an amazing reflection of “enchantment.” It’s a beauty to behold and delight to cherish.