Murree first appeared to me when I was only three days old. I was admitted to the hospital for clubfoot surgery in Rawalpindi. We used to travel to Murree on a regular basis because the treatment was so lengthy. Murree hills in Pakistan was our most important stop of a two hour journey for refueling at various points. Mainly, my childhood is filled with fond memories.
This is rightly called the Queen of Hills. Moreover, it is located in Punjab, Pakistan, in the Galyat of the Pir Panjal Range, on the outskirts of the metropolitan area of the twin cities. This is about 30 kilometres (19 miles) North-East of Islamabad. Its elevation is approximately 2,291 metres (7,516 feet). Murree was built during British rule to escape the sweltering heat of the Punjab plains in the summer.
History of Muree Hills
Murree was founded in 1851 as a sanatorium for British troops on Murree Hill. While the town was constructed in 1853, and the church was dedicated shortly afterwards. A main road, known as the Mall, was built and is still in use today. Murree served as the colonial summer headquarters of the Punjab Government until 1876, when it was relocated to Simla. In 1847, Major James Abbott identified it as a potential hill station. Basically, Murree became a popular tourist destination for British citizens. While, Non-British access to commercial establishments such as Lawrence College was restricted during the colonial era.
Since its independence in 1947, Murree has remained a popular hill station, known as the Queen of Hills. Murree can be reached via Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Azad Kashmir, and Abbottabad. It is well-known for its Tudor and Neo-Gothic architecture.
Location of Muree:
Murree is bounded by Darya Gali and Rawat to the North, Ghora Gali and Tret to the West, Numbal and Mussiari to the South, and Ghel and Angoori to the East.
Its scenic vistas make it a picturesque and tourist destination. The mountains surrounding it are densely forested, with pine and oak trees, springs, rivulets, lawns, and orchards. On a clear day, the snowy peaks of Kashmir and sometimes the Nanga Parbat can be seen.
The main focal point of Murree is its natural scenery and refreshing atmosphere. It is an excellent location for a family vacation. Day trips to Nathia Gali, Ayubia, Patriata and Bhurban can be planned. There are numerous opportunities for mountain hiking and trekking. The Bhurban Golf Course is unique in terms of its altitude and layout. Patriata is a developed area which offers excellent hiking and trekking trails. There is also a two-stage cable car for the tourists. Bandar Point in Murree is a fantastic tourist destination as well.
Suburb of Muree Hills
There is a list of prominent places in suburb of Murree:
- Kohati KakRahi
- Dewal Sharif
- Darya Gali
- Gulehra Gali
- Bochal Kakrahi
- Ghora Gali
- Bansara Gali
- Jhika Gali
- Mohra Sharif
- Potha Sharif
- Sehr Bagla
- Las Kothar
If you are hesitant to walk, use a stroller to get around. Even I enjoyed it on occasion, lol.
The cool climate of Murree makes it a popular summer destination due to hilly terrain, dense green forests and elevation of approximately 2,300 metres above sea level. Tourists come to Murree in the winter because it is less crowded and the views of live snowfall are just spectacular to describe. It is one of the most beautiful winter destinations in the world. People enjoy snowball fights and ice skating.
Islamabad International Airport is the closest air link to Murree while Rawalpindi Cantonment Station is the nearest rail link. Otherwise it is accessible by road. When you enter Murree you will face sharp turns.
Routes to Muree from Islamabad:
There are four routes to Murree from Islamabad:
- It takes 1½ hours to reach Murree from Islamabad via the old Islamabad-Murree Road, 1 hour from Islamabad via the 4-lane Islamabad-Murree Expressway M-75.
- The Expressway is safer and more convenient to travel to Murree which also links Islamabad to Muzaffarabad.
- The third one is a longer route to Murree from Islamabad via Nilore and Simli Dam which joins at Lower Topa.
- The fourth is an adventurous road and starts from the Monal restaurant in Pir Sohawa. This ‘old Murree Road’ is a 4×4 route as the road is unpaved.
The mountain drive is refreshing and the scenery is breath-taking especially on the Nilore-Simli-Lower Topa route.
There’s a Bis Stand in Faizabad, from where you can hire a Taxi or a bus. Other than Faizabad, Sadar and Peer Wadhai Adda are hiring points of Daewoo Express Bus Services. They are operating three non-stop luxury 33 seater coaches from Rawalpindi to Murree on a round trip daily. Now Shuttle Service has started from Islamabad to Murree.
Except Islamabad-Murree Expressway, all other roads are single or two-lane. The drivers must be familiar with mountain driving techniques.
There are numerous handicraft shops selling curios, traditional clothing, headwear, carved walking sticks, jewellery, and leather goods.
Millenium Mall, located on the main Mall road next to Usmania Restaurant, is a full-service shopping centre offering cosmetics, clothing, shoes, groceries, watches, coffee, ice cream, and sweets. KFC, Pizza Hut, a coffee shop, Nirala sweets, Gucci, Emporio Armani, Nike, Adidas, Piere Cardin, Rado, Tissot, Victoria Secrets, and many more are available. Its first floor is a children’s amusement park called Joyland.
Murree has a plethora of restaurants, the majority of which are located along The Mall. Al-mai-dah is a very popular restaurant.
Then there’s Fuschia Restaurant, which is near Kashmir Point and just before the Governor’s House. It serves English, Pakistani, and Italian fare. The restaurant has exciting games for children such as a Jumping Castle, Trampoline, battery powered cars, and an Arcade.
Red Onion was founded in 1993 and was the first to use the “Buy one pizza, get one free” slogan. This restaurant serves Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Pakistani, and Continental fare. Prices are reasonable, the ambiance is modern, and the customer service is friendly.
Saffron is a beautifully decorated restaurant with breathtaking views of the surrounding hills and valleys. The menu combines continental and regional favourites. The outdoor patio lets you dine in a natural setting.
Occasionally, the traditional earthen theme is continued at Angeethi. You can watch their chefs prepare a variety of mouthwatering barbeque dishes after relaxing in Huqqa Pani lounge.
Peshawar Namak Mandi:
Peshawar Namak Mandi Restaurant is located on Kashmir Point and has an open-air terrace from which to view the surroundings. The restaurant is well-known for its Peshawari Namkeen Tikka and Karahi.
Shangrila Resort Hotel Murree is adjacent to the Punjab House on Lawrence College Road. A nice and quiet high up in the pine trees, there’s a grill, a tobacco bar and a billiards room.
Jawa Hotel is near the Mall, up the hill. This hotel takes credit cards and has internet access. Rooms are 3-star class.Morning Side, the suites are equipped with internet, flat-screen television, and mini-bar. Furthermore, the hotel also has a terrace, gym, pool table, foosball, carrom board and a mini-cinema.
PC Bhurban is the top of the line and is the only five star hotel in town. Hotel is 25 minutes drive away from Murree. Moreover, it remains overcrowded by day time visitors during summer seasons.
- Olive Garden
- Cafe Rustic
- Chai Shai
- Gloria Jeans
- Cecil Hotel, Cart Road
- Hotel Amore, Dunga Gali
- Hotel Le Grand, Changla Gali
- European Complex, Bhurban
- Hotel Metropole, Hall Road, Kashmir Point
- Usmania Hotel, Mall Road
- Liquor is available at PC Bhurban. However, there are no bars or pubs in Murree.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan