I came across an interesting video of Fort Munro this year and added this amazing destination to my travel list for 2022. With international travel restrictions relaxing towards the end of 2021 I planned a holiday to explore southern Punjab in Pakistan. The weather in most parts of the county in winters (November to February) can be very cold. With cold winds blowing from Quetta (Baluchistan) in December, the mercury drops substantially and most of the hilly locations in Baluchistan and Southern Punjab experiences sub-zero temperatures.
I planned a 4 night trip from Lahore to Multan and Fort Munro to explore some historical places, shrines and places of interest. Multan is the cultural capital of the region with early Sufi saints coming from central Asia settling in and around Multan. The city is also called the city of shrines, with Saki Sarwar Shrine being the landmark that identified Multan on the map.
Planning a trip to Multan from Lahore
Most of the plain areas of Punjab experience thick fog which coupled with smog creates hazardous driving conditions. Make sure to enquire about the weather and check whether the Motorway is open for travel. GT Road offers an alternative route to travel to Multan. We experienced very heavy fog along the way on GT Road that started clearing around 9 am. By that time we reached the outskirts of Multan.
The first obvious stop was the shrine of Shah Rukun Uddin and Baha Uddin Zakriya. The shrine is located on the top of a hill overlooking the old Multan city. The beautiful round brick structures tiled with cobalt blue tiles create an impressive presence. The shrines attract a large number of devotees from across the country. The inner sanctum of the structure holds the grave of the saint where the devotees stay momentarily to offers Fatiha and seek blessings of this holy place.
Most shrines are home to a large number of pigeons that make the beautiful structures their home. Hordes of grey coloured pigeons come to feed at the entrance of the shrine.
Another interesting structure located across from the shrine is the Clock Tower, which roughly is located in the middle of the city. The holding building is home to Punjab Tourism Corporation. I stopped over at the PTDC office to enquire about the best hotels to stay in Multan and some places that I can explore en route to Fort Munro. The staff at PTDC was very cooperative and provided us with some very useful information and maps of the region. The office can be contacted to organize group tours, camping tours and excursions in the region.
The department is also in the process of developing picnic spots, guest houses and other tourist facilities in the region. The Fort Munro is at a driving distance of 170 km from Multan, so we decided to make an early start.
Where to stay in Multan City
Multan offers plenty of accommodation in all price ranges. We were recommended Crown Inn 3-Star hotel on Kacheri Road, located at a driving distance from the Clock Tower Building.
The hotel is a 3-Star hotel with very reasonable rates and quality service. The hotel is located in a commercial area with plenty of shopping options. A welcome drink, free breakfast and free parking are some of the benefits which make this property a great place for solo travellers as well as families.
We booked a basic deluxe room for twin sharing. The rooms are furnished with the latest amenities including air-conditioning/heater/tv.
I highly recommended Crown Inn for visitors planning to stay in Multan for a family holiday or a business trip.
Driving from Multan to Fort Munro
An early start in winter is the best way to enjoy a day trip to Fort Munro. We left Multan at around 8 am after having our breakfast at Crown Inn Hotel. The drive up to Dear Ghazi Khan is very hectic with plenty of commercial traffic along the way including tractor trolleys carrying sugarcane to the factories. You will pass River Indus along the way where plenty of roadside cafes sell freshwater fish from River Indus.
As you reach close to Punjab-Baluchistan Border, the landscape changes drastically. Sulaiman Mountain Ranges divide Punjab from Baluchistan. These arid mountain ranges extended all the way to Baluchistan and offer a natural barrier for winds blowing from the Indian Ocean creating arid conditions across central and southern Afghanistan.
The new road network spiral through the steep hills at the base of Fort Munro offering very scenic views that can be enjoyed for the lookouts along the way. We stopped at the roadside cafe to enjoy hot tea before starting our ascent to the top of Fort Munro.
The steep winding road takes you to the top of the hill commanding amazing views of Suleiman Ranges as well as the wide valley below. The drastic change in landscape is amazing and the views clear up as there is a dust cover in the atmosphere at the low altitude. The clean crisp air and breathtaking views make Fort Munro a unique place to visit. Fort Munro is a small town with a number of houses, shops and hotels located on the rolling hill.
The location is more popular in spring and early summers as the altitude offer a pleasant relief from the blistering summer heats in the plains. A beautiful guesthouse is built by PTDC adjacent to Damas lake. You can enjoy boating in this scenic lake during the summer season. A number of 2-3 star hotels are located in the vicinity offering basic accommodation.
I absolutely enjoyed the views from the top of the hill. You can see a vast valley at the base of the mountains as well as the rolling hills extending all the way to Baluchistan. A number of other lookouts and tourist locations are being developed in the region to encourage tourism in the region.
The weather of Fort Munro
Because of the high altitude, the temperature can get very cold in winters. The average temperature in winters stays close to 10c. The hilly areas experience snow. I was told by the tourism department that it snowed in Fort Munro in mid-January 2022. The maximum summer temperature touched 35c. The day temperature stays much cooler than the plains of Indus Valley.