Pakistan, 1996: Malakwal again: Lala Musa to Gharibwal

This travelogue was originally published by Dr Roland Ziegler in 1999 in German. This English translation is by IRFCA, 2012. The original German version is available at www.rolandziegler.de

This is a part of the travelogue detailing Dr Ziegler's travel through Pakistan in 1996.

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Malakwal again: Lala Musa to Gharibwal

The Punjab canals and the Salt Range

We will now once again spend two days around Malakwal. First, we will come back from Lala Musa to Malakwal in the afternoon and then travel across the Jhelum river to the eastern one of the two routes to the foot of the Salt Range to Gharibwal.

Lala Musa, depot

Lala Musa, depot

As usual, in the morning there is quite a bit of time between the planned and the actual departure of our train, so we can go on a visit to the depot.

23 January 1996

Lala Musa depot, SPS getting ready

Lala Musa depot, SPS getting ready

In the depot we find the by now very familiar SPS No. 2976. Its supplies are being replenished - the sand is obtained directly from the ground here.

23 January 1996

Lala Musa, a refugee camp

Lala Musa, a refugee camp

At the southern end of the station the route to Malakwal (73km) branches off from the main line to Sargodha. The train passes a small camp, where some Afghan refugees are staying.

The movement of the train is what results in the closed level crossing in the next picture. In the background the home signals of Lala Musa station are visible.

23 January 1996

Lala Musa, railroad crossing

Lala Musa, railroad crossing

The traffic jam caused by the departure of our train and its numerous photo stops before the railroad crossing was enormous.

23 January 1996

Akhtar Karnana station

Akhtar Karnana station

Waiting for the first of the train crossings we encounter, in the idyllic Akhtar Karnana station, 9km from Lala Musa.

23 January 1996

Children at Dinga station

Children at Dinga station

Another crossing, with an even longer wait, happens at Dinga (25km from Lala Musa).

The only female residents of Pakistan you can get in front of the camera are children and adolescents.

In the background is dried cow-dung, which is used here in the Punjab as heating fuel, as it can get quite chilly in the winter.

23 January 1996

Canal bridge

Canal bridge

The route to Malakwal passes countless canals. These canals in the Punjab are fed by the large rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Ravi, and they provide agricultural irrigation. Pakistan's irrigation systems are considered the largest in the world. However, the excessive irrigation is also associated with major problems, as many areas have become barren because of salinization.

23 January 1996

Railway photographers

Railway photographers

The photo stops along the route all follow more or less the same scheme. The train stops short of a bridge, and the photographers across (step by step, tentatively from sleeper to sleeper and not looking down). The train then follows.

23 January 1996

Canal bridge

Canal bridge

The same bridge as in the previous picture. The photographers have crossed over, and the train should come over now. Such run-pasts associated with longer stretches of walking take a lot of time, but for the locomotive crews having us walk over first is preferred to dropping us off and then going back over the bridge. The latter could be dangerous for the locals who use the bridge as a pedestrian route, and who do not expect to encounter trains moving backward.

23 January 1996


Upon arrival in Malakwal we experience a long break in the journey today. Only late in the afternoon do we continue the trip to Gharibwal (22km). First we ride on the linetowards Kushab and across the Jhelum (note - large bridges are military objectives and it is prohibited to photograph them). At Haranpur Junction (9km from Malakwal), a branch line forks off to Gharibwal. Two pairs of mixed trains a day were operating here on the Malakwal - Gharibwal route in 1996.

Salt Range

Salt Range

The Salt Range is a medium mountain range that separates the Punjab from the shallow northern Potwar Plateau. It takes its name from the rock salt deposits, and reaches heights of 1100m to 1500m.

23 January 1996

Sunset on the Salt Range

Sunset on the Salt Range

The route to Gharibwal leads only to the foot of the mountains, not up them.

23 January 1996

Camels

Camels

By a happy coincidence this camel caravan is passing by. The camel drivers agree to a photo with the train.

23 January 1996


Originally the trip to Gharibwal was to be made with a consist just like regular scheduled mixed trains. However, today in Malakwal they didn't manage to put together the necessary vehicles. So we took our sleeping and dining cars. We were now on our way back and could have entered the dining car for dinner. Unfortunately, it turned out that our cook is not on board. He had not expected that his dining car would be in use again today, and he had stayed back in Malakwal to replenish supplies. The cooking fire can only be kindled after we return to Malakwal, and so our dinner will be a little late.

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Next section: Malakwal again: To Khewra

Material provided by Dr Roland Ziegler, Copyright © 2012
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