Article by Tahir Imran Khan
Khanpur, located in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district, is a small town near Islamabad only at a distance of 50 kilometers, adjacent to Taxila. Khanpur is a tiny dwelling developed near the picturesque man-made lake serving as a water reservoir to cater water supply even to Islamabad across the Margalla Hills, besides being used for domestic use, for irrigation and nearby industrial areas. Selection of venue for Khanpur Dam has an interesting though controversial history; however it was completed in 1983 using the natural location on Haro River.
The picturesque Khanpur Lake is one of the most scenic and loveliest places in Pakistan and would match any famous place throughout the world.
Khanpur Lake carries great potential for a variety of activities, including rowing, canoeing sailing, jet skiing, para-sailing, snorkeling, scuba diving, angling, swimming and cliff diving. Some non-aqua activities at Khanpur include paragliding, rock climbing, abseiling, hiking and bird watching while for people interested in history, the remains of Gandhara are spread all around as Taxila was one of the major? centers of Buddhism.
Mainly a summer resort, Khanpur Lake is a lovely destination for day trippers on weekends. An action packed day at Khanpur may be designed to reach there visiting Taxila museum en-route. On arrival, it would be extremely interesting to take a boat ride through turquoise green waters of the lake to reach the ideally located resort on the other bank of the lake. A refreshing cup of tea would be soothing and after a brief rest, one can go to a distant place by boats for Cliff Diving.
Cliff Diving is one of the most thrilling and interesting activities, even for the people without knowledge or skills of swimming. The boat ride finishes after a picturesque journey with lovely scenery on the both sides of the lake. On this selected place, the water is quite deep and clean and putting on a life jacket for safety makes you ready to jump in green lagoon. However for novice swimmers, its a bit scary but under supervision of a trained leader, its safe and once jumped into water, it would be a lifetime thrilling experience.
Paragliding and Parasailing are two exciting activities for which Khanpur Lake is ideal. There are some lovely low hills around the lake, where there are good slopes for taking off to enjoy a splendid flight by a simple wing, without any machine or technical system plus some good landing areas are there to land after a short flight.
Bird watching is another interesting activity around the lake, mainly in early morning however one can found several local birds easily, even in daytime which include bee eaters, black drongo, hoopoe, tree pie, crow, sparrows, herons, egrets, lapwigs, white owl, kites, falcons, hawks, treepies, magpies etc.
In historical attractions, Bhamala Stupa is located at the east of the lake, besides several excavated Buddhist sites in Khanpur and Taxila. Jaulian monastery on the top of a hillock has been the center of learning and carries extremely significant status in Buddhism. Students from all over the world use to come there to study and excel in various subjects, not only religion and Jaulian was considered as one of the universities of that era.
A trip to this charming place, at the foot of lower Himalayan hills of Margallas is marvelous to make on a weekend where you can try your luck to catch a fish while Angling or to taste a fresh and well cooked fish from a local restaurant.
With the possibility of multiple activities at and around the Khanpur Lake, camping is also very interesting at the banks of the lake. The area is the property of WAPDA and there is an ideally located rest house well, which can be booked in advance with permission from WAPDA. However, camping at an open place also needs permission but if selected in the premises of one of the two resorts, its safe and better.
Recently few hotel resorts have developed around the lake. Few recommended resorts include Mabali Island, Lake View Motel, Gandhara Resort and Orange Lake resort while EMAC and Shaheen clubs offer various adventure activities in Khanpur.
The end of the day at lake offers another superb opportunity as the phenomena of sunset is exceptionally mesmerizing and with all activities at one of the most scenic places, it becomes an ultimate choice for photographers as well besides attracting nature lovers and adventure enthusiasts.