We all know about clubs, party's, chill out etc.. truly how many of you have ever heard about Star Party? or perhaps been to one? I am sure will be quite a few and i consider myself lucky to have attended couple of star party's! No we do not have party on the star or big NO to any fake glittering paper or plastic stars, i'm talking about Star Gazing here, the KAAS (Karachi Amateurs Astronomer Society) has been active for quite a long time and arranging Star Gazing trips all over Pakistan for that matter, but this time it was not the usual trips.. but we decided to take to another level and put the mark of Star Gazing at Gorakh Hill at 5688ft and 93km north west of Dadu City, Sindh (Pakistan).
Gorakh Hill is an under-Development Hill Station of Sindh, Pakistan. It is situated at an elevation of 5,688 ft (1,734 m). in the Kirthar Mountains Range's Sindh Segment, 93 km north west of Dadu city. Gorakh Hill Station is situated on one of the highest plateaus of Sindh, spread over 2,500 acres (10 km2), and due its surroundings, a unique adventure point for nature lovers.
Emails back and forth since quite a few days, for arranging food, logistics etc, etc.. gears packed, all set to go 04:15 am on 8th January 2011 alarms ring! ring! time to roll, the plan was to have 3 vehicles (4x4) as below
1. Land Cruiser (owner Naveed Merchant)
2. Prado (Aqeel Baig)
3. Pajero (Hanif Bhatti)
Everyone met approx ~ 7am at Karachi, Toll Plaza and felt the first highway winter breeze which was pretty acceptable considering we had prepared for -5 degree temperature which was waiting ahead of us Gorakh Hill. After having a diesel paratha breakfast (if you dont know diesel paratha joke, please excuse me here) and ofcourse 2 hot cups of Tea special thanks to Khalid Marwat for the breakfast bill payment , we continued our journey with gossips and mini naps in turn and reached Johi Pindi around 1pm for lunch which was hosted by Gulam Nabi Lashari and he was the person who had arranged everything for us and addressed our security issues, if you happen to be thinking about going, he will be our man for the trip and arrangements. Since we had our 4x4's we did not need any, but you can hire Suzuku Potohar's from Johi Pindi or ask Gulam Nabi Lashari to arrange it for you, in very economical manner. He was also very kind enough to provide us with a Doctor, Cook, and emergency supplies, food etc.. which we had planned to cook at top of Gorakh Hill.
From Johi to Wahi Pandi road was not really great, bumps & bumps & bumps.. from Wahi Pindi we had to pickup cook and some fire-wood, so out of our 4x4's, Aqeel bhai (Red Prado) was requested to wait for the cook at Wahi Pindi meanwhile we will move to Gorakh top and setup the telescopes and equipment, it took us almost 2 hours from Wahi Pindi to Gorakh Hill top which was around 50km's.. the road to Gorakh top was in good condition except some patches which were little dangerous and narrow turnings which you can check out in the pictures! Though we did had a small issue while going uphil Naveed Bhai's Land Cruiser got a little over heated, so we took a 5 mins stop on way up, but apart from that the drive was excellent.
Equipment setup in progress, sunset view, photography and not to forget the weather starting to get cold as the sun was about to set and clear sky! It was a breath taking view and moment which one could experience in his life, as we were busy checking out the views around and taking photos, one by one everyone started to put on more clothes and get themself prepared for the chilled weather. No wonder it was pretty cold and to top it all, the wind was also blowing on and off.. send chilled waves through our bones.
We set out bonfire in the other corner of the guest house which was arranged by our man Gulam Nabi Lashari.. and slowly everyone kept coming on & off to warm themselves up, the telescopes were all set and were waiting for the moonlight to go, in order to have the complete darkness..
There were two telescopes of Naveed Merchant and Khalid Marwat, not really familiar with the model numbers of the telescopes, so can't recall, but once the moon was out.. the telescopes started getting the attention, and stars were carefully observed by everyone in the group.
The weather started getting cold and cold, and after we had our locally cooked dinner .. it felt like the weather was turning everyone blue up there nobody had the temperature gauge but I believe it was somewhere around 0 degree's and the wind blowing was making it more crazier.
Telescopic tripod was kind of very stable, so wind couldn’t hit it much, but for camera / photography tripod was shaking a lot specially on long shutter speeds, so wind wasn’t in favor of still photography, the images were more or less blurred or trails were left of stars!
As the temperature dropped slowly everyone started to hop into the guesthouse room, and avoided cold breeze.
-- sleeping -- (no idea if anybody did anything or not so missing that part)
Early morning sunrise was again a breath taking view, and not to forget mentioning the tea was prepared by us this time not the cook, as he seemed to have be missing in action perhaps was sleeping maybe. The morning tea credits go to Aqeel Bhai for his efforts. After leaving Gorakh Hill top at around 10am, the local person informed us that there is a Gaaj Nadi (lake/chasma) around 10-15kms from Gorakh... so might as well check it out also, the water at the lake wasnt that cold as I was expecting it... nobody took a shower there for sure, but everybody did get their hands and feet wet! Naveed bhai also gave a shot to his water purifier gadget, not sure if really worked as advertised or not
As always the return journey is not as exciting as the journey towards destination, so i'll make it short here.. we left around 12.35pm from the lake and directly hit Dadu where the lunch was arranged by Aqeel bhai's friend/company again thanks to him again. And after leaving Dadu around 5pm, we directly non-stop travelled back to Hyderabad Toll Plaza, where we had our tea.. around 8.30pm ... and then back to home sweet home Karachi! :>
I know lot of names are not mentioned but in short i would like to say thanks to everyone from myself and everyone on the team, everyone had played a role either big or small.. but it was a team effort I believe! & sorry if you got bored reading this long travelogue of mine!
Kms = 796 from Karachi
Odometer 0 - 7:10AM - Toll Plaza, Karachi - Diesel 69.93Ltrs.(Pajero)
Odometer 120 - 8:35AM - Toll Plaza Hyderabad - Breakfast.
Odometer 120 - 9:20AM - Leaving Toll Plaza - Hyd
Odometer 261 - 11:36AM - Sehwan
Odometer 284 - 12:10PM - Bhan Saeedabad (turned left)Diesel 35Ltrs.(Pajero)
Odometer 305 - 12:50PM - Johi - Lunch
Odometer 305 - 2:10PM - Leaving Johi
Odometer 332 - 2:52PM - Wahi Pandi
Odometer 384 - 5:10PM - Gorakh Top
Odometer 385 - 10:20AM - Leaving Gorakh for Chasma (Kajh Nadi)
Odometer 404 - 11:22AM - Chasma (Kajh Nadi) Turning
Odometer 410 - 11:35AM - Reached Chasma (Kajh Nadi)
Odometer 410 - 12:35PM - Leaving Chasma (Kajh Nadi)
Odometer 446 - 2:10PM - Wahi Pandi
Odometer 472 - 2:58PM - Johi
Odometer 488 - 3:50PM- Dadu - Lunch
Odometer 488 - 5:10PM- Leaving Dadu
Odometer 533 - 6:20PM - Sehwan
Odometer 676 - 8:30PM - Hyderabad Toll Plaza - Tea - Diesel 25.35Ltrs.(Pajero)
Odometer 796 - 11:18PM - Toll Plaza - Karachi
Accomodation - There is only one Guest House up there. Camping is your second option
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