Heavenly Retreat:Pakistan

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Heavenly Retreat :Pakistan

(where on earth is this place?)

Text by Shanaz Ramzi, photographs by A.S. Ahmed

Dawn

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Tucked far away from the noise and pollution of city life is a haven for weary souls -–– a tranquil and beautiful farmhouse, spreading over 6.5 acres. The driveway leading to the place is flanked by lush foliage and ancient trees on either side.

The brick-lined patio beckons the visitors to relax and unwind in its cosy environs, which is tastefully decorated with ajrak covered cane and wooden chairs and a charpoy, arranged round a bonfire that is ready to be lit as soon as the temperature drops.

A huge badam tree stands majestically in the yard, with a swing dangling from one of its branches, stones, decorative pieces and a little pond towards one side of it. An archway behind the seating stands guard over potted plants, concealing a long, rectangular pond studded with star-shaped bricks.

Mud apple (chiku) and tamarind trees adorn the lush green gardens, the former at least 100 years old with a thick canopy laden with overhanging leaves, which provide shade to the numerous plants arranged in rows under it.

The whole farm is like a big nursery, with rows and rows of plants placed together in columns. A walk will reveal a wide variety of potted plants such as acacias, ixoras, bougainvillaeas, dieffenbachias, palms of many varieties, cactai and much more.

Although no animals are found wandering off on their own at the farm, sheep and rabbit pens and deer enclosures are dotted around the verdant fields. Peacocks are housed in a peaceful sanctuary on the grounds, where one can see the exquisite birds strutting about with their brilliant turquoise feathers proudly fanned out.

Every few paces or so, one can find a visual delight. The cacti plantation, for instance is unique and spellbinding in its grotesque and thorny beauty. One cluster of cacti, in particular is unforgettable, looking remarkably like Medusa's hair in its snake-like tangle.

One of the most impressive and fascinating sights is that of a humongous, deep well, drawing water from a depth of 200 feet. The well was built some 150 years ago. All along the inner sides of the round well are small holes where owls reside. In marked contrast to the ancient well is a riot of fresh colours ––- bougainvillaeas in bright shades of orange and magenta -–– framing the walkway near it.

Right next to it is a paved area lined with brick benches where you could spend hours deep in meditation without ever being disturbed. Just when you feel you have explored every section of the sprawling farm, you find yourself in a massive stretch of garden surrounded by wooden benches, with all kinds of hurdles in the form of tires and rope nets.

Many schools bring their students on field trips to the farm, so it seems to be as much a recreational resort for adults as for children.

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