Of all the places I have visited in Pakistan so far, my favourite place is Naran. It is because the place reminds me of Jannah! The beautiful fresh water springs and the river Kunhar remind me of the rivers of milk mentioned in Quran. The first time I visited Naran was in May 2014. I was just mesmerized by the glaciers and waterfalls. It is indeed a great place to visit!
Going to Naran from Lahore, however is difficult in one day especially if you have kids and their grandparents along. We were in two cars so we stopped at a lot places for food and tea. Yea don’t ask me what a torture it is when you have to take the kids to public toilets!
Check out the picture of Bab-e-Hazaara and the nearby water body:
Usmania Hotel, Abbottabad
We left Lahore before sun rise so were able to have lunch at Usmania hotel, Abbottabad. The hotel is on the main road, it has good food and is clean enough for the short stay. As a matter of fact we had lunch at Usmania again on our way back to Lahore.
We reached Balakot before sunset but our drivers were tiered and it wasn’t safe enough to go all the way to Naran in the evening. Besides, the road from Balakot to Naran has such beautiful views that it is better to go there in the day. You are not in a rush so you can stop over any time to appreciate nature.
So at Balakot we picked up a cheap hotel near River Kunhar and decided to stay there for the night. After checking in the whole family went down to the bank of the river. The sound of water is very relaxing. It is a beautiful sight. Water is ice cold! But stay away from the water, it is fast and deep, can be very dangerous.
We had dinner in our hotel but it was on the terrace so we could see the clear starry sky with the sound of water flowing in the river.
When you are in such areas, Chicken Karahi is the safest option. Everyone has it, and they have cooked it so many times so everybody knows how to cook it well. Plus it is preferred not to order beef or mutton. I mean how on earth would you even know if it is actually beef or mutton;)
But you can’t always have Chicken Karahi, not even twice a day. Other suggestions are chicken biryani, daal mash, chicken qorma etc.
This was our third time at Naran. The place looks quite different in Autumn, the first thing is that tops of the mountains are not covered in snow anymore as most of the snow has melted during summer. So no glaciers as well! (But the waterfalls are still there! They are there all the time!)
The mountains in Naran are different from that of the Murree area. These mountains are big, distant from each other, the river Kunhar is like everywhere and the mountains are not that green. Naturally there is less greenery because the place is covered with snow most of the times.
My husband has travelled a lot in these areas back in his college days, so he keeps telling me to pack stuff for rain as it rains a lot. But three times in Naran, at least I haven’t seen a lot of rain.
The Royal Hotel
We stayed at The Royal Hotel, good place as hot water is available 24/7 (priority no. 1 for families with kids). It was the second time we were here. Let me tell you something about September, it is the time when most of the schools in Pakistan have just started. Vacations are over! Plus it starts getting colder in Northern areas so there are very less tourists in Naran this time of the year.
Even then we had a hard time finding rooms at The Royal Hotel probably because that night, some friends of the hotel’s owner came to stay. When I say friends here, I mean about three vans of families! Women, men and children! They had brought people along to play music like traditional Dhol and flutes. Then they were dancing with swords and shields. As a matter of fact it was quite entertaining and very different from our culture (we are Punjabis).
In Naran, the most popular restaurant of dhaba type is Moon Restaurant, we have had dinner there twice and once we had breakfast. It is expensive than the other but the food is tasty.