Pakistan has a rich biodiversity whose full potential is yet to be exploited fully for recreational benefit of the public. Nowhere is this state of affairs more apparent than in Sindh. The people of Sindh, especially Karachi are often found complaining of a lack of recreational places and comparisons with the northern parts of the country abound. People living in Islamabad and Lahore have the luxury of zooming off to cooler climes like Murree, Nathiagali and Bhurban anytime they choose. Lahore itself is culturally rich and has something to offer every palate.
Karachi has discovered and rediscovered malls in all shapes, sizes and manner of pocket-emptying slickness and plain gaudiness. Shopping along with eating remain the main trends here. The beaches and beautiful islands are there but more development is needed to bring these into public eye. A look out of the city towards the surrounding areas reveals a vast desert. Hyderabad, the closest major city from Karachi is rarely seen as a recreational spot. The lure of Hyderabadi bangles from the choori gali (bangle market/lane) and the glazed icing cakes of the Bombay bakery in Hyderabad and even the shrines are not bait enough for most Karachiites. Perhaps a visit once in a few years can bring back old memories without dwindling into boredom. Debal- the reported landing place of Mohammad bin Qasim, Chaukhandi tombs or the largest necropolis of Makli are good spots for the archaelogically inclined or artistically inclined like myself, but hardly good picnic spots for a family outing.
In reality, Sindh isn’t far behind when it comes to natural beauty in which elders and minors both can benefit and find a different experience away from the madness of the traffic and noise of the city. So, if you are looking forward to spending a quiet day in a serene environment with your family on a lower budget, with the feeling of being ‘out of the city’ then you can go off to the lakes. Apart from its several man made reservoirs, Sindh contains a majority of freshwater lakes – offshoots of the mighty river Indus, which continues its meandering course down into the Arabian sea. Here are the main lakes, which hold promise as weekend getaways:
– Manchhar lake is the largest with an expanse of around 200 square miles. Located at a distance of 16 kilometres from Sehwan Sharif in Dadu district this lake is facing rapid environmental degradation. Still, the Mohanas or fisher folk in their floating homes and the surrounding tall grasses with meadows of lotus lend the lake its particular charm. It attracts flocks of migratory birds during the winter season and is popular as a hunting spot. However recently their numbers have dwindled. The dense forest surrounding the dense forest surrounding the lake is home to many mammals and small game. Be sure to take adequate food, water and c gear with you as facilities provided there can hardly be called adequate.
– Kalri – Kinjhar lake situated near Thatta has an attractive rest house, boating facilities and during winter it becomes an ideal spot for fishing and duck shooting. The rest house is quite comfortable and according to the keeper, people who desire to spend a few hours and are willing to pay for the expenses hardly need book their rooms in advance. This lake is famous for its extensive reed beds and is an internationally important area for the breeding of wintering water birds. However, if you plan to go in for boating and have minors in charge, it is advisable to make sure you have life saving equipment handy and inflatable life jackets of your own and that not more than 4 people are accomodated in one boat. There are numerous stories of accidents and fatal ones at that, happening to people who have not paid heed to this warning. There is a plan to set up a resort and a water park near by in future, which may serve to make the spot more attractive.
– Haleji lake is located within an easy driving distance of 88 kilometres from Karachi. Enroute to Haleji are its numerous lagoons located at an easy distance from Hudero lake, which thus
forms an ideal home for waterfowl from mallards to flamingos and birdwatchers. Approximately 200 different species of birds have been seen here especially on the outcrops of the pelican island and the cormorant island. Take your binoculars along and enjoy the view in the summer months but do not stay here after dusk, or even for more than a few hours at a time, as the area is also reported to be frequented by dacoits.
According to an estimate several thousand visitors visit these lakes every week and make the most of a picturesque and peaceful outing. Whether you are interested in hunting, fishing, bird watching, boating or simply travelling, the lakes of interior Sindh may provide a very different experience for you and your family.