Lake Saif-ul-Malook is in the Northern brink of the Kaghan valley, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. Its altitude is about 3,224 metres (10,578 feet) above sea level. Saif-ul-Malook is one of the highest lakes in Pakistan. It is in the oval shape and spreads over a surface of a mile. The water of the lake is crystal clear, slightly in a greener tone with sleek shadow of nearby snowy peaks from the background. Saif-ul-Malook is rich in Eco-diversity and it’s a home of some peerless marine species, like the Trout. Lake Saif-ul-Malook is all time popular tourist resort in the summers.
Saif-ul-Malook lake is open for the tourists from June to September, in the summers. On the contrary, it remains frozen in the winters. It is on the distance of 10 kilometres from the Naran and accessible through a 4×4 vehicle. Jeeps are readily available from Naran, whereas the journey takes about an hour, to the lake. The whole track is full of captivating beauty and charm of lush green scenery. The trip to Kaghan valley remains incomplete without visiting the lake Saif-ul-Malook. The name of the lake is on the Egyptian Prince, Saif-ul-Malook, who eventually fell in love with a fairy from the mountains and arrived there in Kaghan to take her with him to his country on returning. The water of the lake is quite clear and it’s a gift from the multiple glaciers around the high altitude of basin of the lake.
The lake is accessible from Naran valley through Mansehra < Balakot < Kaghan. The trekking from Naran to the lake takes about 4 to 6 hours, though it is apt for only the healthy and physically fit tourists, who have good stamina for the eight kilometres hiking trail of up to 3,000 feet above sea level. Jeep is the alternative mean to get there, which could reach to the lake within an hour of journey.
The weather remains pleasant in the summers and cold in the winters. Days are appealing, while the nights are quiet, calm and cool. This moderately cool but lovely weather welcomes the tourists, all through the summer season. Since Saif-ul-Malook remains frozen in the winters due to heavy snow-falling, it makes the route absolutely tough to reach to the lake and only crazy trekkers try to approach there.
Lake Saif-ul-Malook is full of aromatic Trout fish, which is the specialty of the Kaghan valley. The angling is a popular activity of the tourists, during their tour to the valley. Fishing in crystal clear water of Saif-ul-Malook is favorite pastime while relaxing in leisure because the fish is in abundance in the lake, particularly the brown and rainbow trout. The Fisheries Department at Shinu or Naran issues the angling licenses. Tourists can carry their own angling gear optionally, yet it is easily available in the local market of Naran. Use of fishing net and explosives is prohibited. It’s not only harmful for the health and sustainability of the fish and marine-life but dangerous for human life as well. These activities bring collateral damages to the surrounding environment.
Camping at Saif-ul-Malook, especially on a full moon-lit night, gives the soothing effects of living on the fairyland. There are a few camping sites, which provide an enchanting opportunity of enjoying the natural spell-bounding beauty of the lake Saif-ul-Malook. It deserves the applause, during the silvery gleams of the moony night. Accommodation facilities are available around the lake. The refreshment stuff is easily available; however it is advisable to carry the home-made snacks and mineral or boiled water to avoid any mishap with their health.
Lake Saif-ul-Malook is a legendary tourist place, about 8 kilometres (5 miles) in the North of Naran, in Kaghan, District Mansehra of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province of Pakistan. Its elevation is about 3,224 metres (10,578 feet) above sea level. It is the wonderland of the fairy Badi-U-Jamal, the beloved of Prince Saif-ul-Malook of Egypt.
The legendary story of Saif-ul-Malook is in fact the chronicles of the Sufi Saint and Punjabi language Poet, Mian Muhammad Bux. It is in the form of well-narrated verses, which is highly acclaimed folklore of our region.
The story starts with the tale of an Egyptian Prince, Saif-ul-Malook, who fell in love with a fairy, Badi-U-Jamal. The fairy belongs to the Hindu Kush Mountain Range, who often comes to the lake, for taking bath with her convoy of seven fairies. The Prince first saw her in his dream and soon after waking up; he instantly set out in search of his beloved, Badi-U-Jamal. He wandered to and fro cluelessly, until he met a Dervish (the Saint), who informed him of how and where he could find his dream-lady. The Dervish warned him of the upcoming hurdles which he would certainly face, before he could reach and marrying to Badi-U-Jamal. Since Badi-U-Jamal was a fairy and the Prince himself was a human being, so it’s obviously a far cry for him to fetch her to Egypt.
Though the journey begins with the search for the fairy, it turned out to be a spiritual revelation, after the Prince was going through so many challenges which he surpassed successfully, with the courage and valiance. Saif-ul-Malook used to live in Egypt. He was the most handsome guy on the face of the Earth, after Joseph; tall, lean, gleaming skin of face, sharp eye-brows, dark-black eyes and jet black hair that billowed over his shoulders. Moreover he was brave, valiant, skilled hunter, rider and above all a trained swordsman; which is the true reflection to his Arabic name, “the Sword of the Kings”. Prince Saif-ul-Malook was born to riches and he had never happened to ask for anything in his whole life until he saw the dream of the fairy. His peace of mind vanished away instantly, as never faced any denial.
Prince saw a lake in his dream, which is surrounded by the lofty mountains, seems as if touching the sky and the shimmering water of the lake, which looks like emerald-green in color, in the silvery moonlit night.
There were seven fairies, who were taking bath in the clear water of the lake. All of them were tender, slim and delicate creatures, with fair flawless skin, golden eyes and blond curly-hair. The beauty of all the fairies was outclassed but the glamorous look of the seventh one was beyond expressivity, which had the different shade of her hair, the black. Her face was glowing in the full Moon (Badar) night, but it was her pure and musical laughter which seized the heart of the Prince. He felt its sweetness even after waking up, as it still rings in his ears like the bells. He had never seen such a charismatic dream in his whole life.
He left all his chores and started searching for the fairy. He kept on wandering, in the streets of Cairo. One day, while he was roaming around like a vagabond, in the outskirts of the Cairo city, he came across a Dervish (the Saint), who was sitting under a shady Olive tree. The Prince thought the Dervish might be helpful in his search, so he immediately went to catch him.
As soon as the Prince approached the Dervish, he looked at him with an expectant smile, which lit up his whole face. He had disclosed that he was waiting for the Prince already; even he did tell the whole story in his own words, which amazed the Prince. He made the predictions for the upcoming journey of his life. The Dervish warned him of the menace of Peri-zad (male fairy), along with so many other obstacles, before locating the fairy, Badi-U-Jamal. In this context, he properly guided Saif-ul-Malook how to cope with all the hardships.
At last the day comes, when the Prince reached to the rendezvous, the lake Saif-ul-Malook, after overcame all the intense hardships and barriers victoriously. Then ultimately, he saw his beloved, Badi-U-Jamal, on the bankside of the emerald-green water of the lake. She entered into the lake, paddled through it effortlessly, with her long black hair on her back, her gleaming face and her twinkling eyes. Prince Saif-ul-Malook got mesmerized with the scene and having a sensation of being in the Heavens. He deserved it truly after an undaunted continuous struggle for the six years and forty days. He was there to see the fairy in palpable, whom he could touch, feel and to live with!
But lo and behold!
The real twist of the story is yet to come. The rendezvous was suddenly turned into an agony, when the Peri-zad turned up there unexpectedly. The love-birds had to escape immediately. The Prince at once decided to dig a tunnel; from where they could run away towards Egypt. He successfully dug the tunnel and manages to elope with the fairy. The Peri-zad could only left behind repenting. This tunnel still exists in the Naran alley, which is said to be dug out, by the Prince, Saif-ul-Malook in love of Badi-U-Jamal.
Author: Fehmeeda Farid Khan
Gratitude: Mobeen Mazhar