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Himalaya

Day 4: Fatehjang

Michael Palin - HimalayaWe've already had to postpone our trip to see Prince Malik Ata. Mysterious objections from the government seem to centre around a security problem. Something vaguely to do with bombs and the military. As the Prince lives in the middle of agricultural countryside no-one can understand what all the fuss is about, least of all him.

After a volley of phone calls the objections have been withdrawn and he has promised to lay on a special welcome to make up for any inconvenience.

So we find ourselves heading east along the GT Road, crossing the great River Indus, which, along with the Tigris and Euphrates, nourished the first urban civilizations in the world. When Alexander the Great reached this point he ordered a half-mile bridge of boats to be built to carry his 50,000-strong army across. Today, much of the flow has been diverted for irrigation, but the sight of one of the world's great rivers rolling below the battlements of the old fort at Attock makes the heart beat a little faster.

Once off the Trunk Road we meander along country lanes. Brick kilns are the only signs of industry; otherwise it's quietly rural. At one point we pass a funeral. A small procession, led by a group of men dressed head to foot in white is carrying the body through the bush. They all appear to be hurrying.

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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 4: Fatehjang
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Fatehjang
  • Book page no: 19

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