Nilan Bhotu – An Excursion in the Mystical Part of Margalla Hills

nilan bhotu

I am always on the lookout for unbeaten trails around Islamabad and thus I have roamed around these hills so many times that the monotony of the Margalla Hills environment became unbearable. In search for something new, I came across a strange and yet beautiful name in my routine search. I wasn’t able to pronounce the name until I embarked on the journey to this place and talked to the local people. It is popularly known as Nilan Bhotu(Nee-laan Bho-too).


One popular myth associated with this place is the fresh water stream and the abundance of fish in it. The myth is that anyone having caught a fish from this stream will suffer from life-time impairment. This place is known to be the Chillah Gah (Monastery) of famous saint, Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi more commonly known as Barri Imam. It is believed that he meditated at Nilan Bhotu. The monastery is well preserved along with the water and its inhabitants. This got me thinking that if we want to preserve natural resources in Pakistan, than perhaps associating a mystical superstition just might do the trick. Nilan Bhotu is a good case for those thinking on the same lines.


Nilan Bhotu is roughly situated in Margalla hills 27 kilometers North-East of Islamabad. The milestones one needs to look out for in the journey include Damen-e-Koh, Pir Sohawa, Sangada village and finally Nilan Bhotu. The patch between Sangada and Nila Bhotu is a jeep track. From this point, Murree can also be reached but for those who fancy a day’s hiking trip.

The fresh water stream in the valley comes from different springs in the adjacent hills, the origin of which needs to be further explored and is on the top of my list for next excursion. The water also makes a few bonds ideal for children, if one plans to take the family along. By the way, the place absolutely qualifies for family trips. Just a little taste for adventure is required on the family’s part. The lucid water along with abundance of Mahasher offers a truly exhilarating experience for youngsters.


The locals have a firm belief that anyone trying to catch these fish will lose their eyesight for life. Somehow the fish got holier than the humans living in this country, well preserved and respected.


However, there is no denying the fact that the natural environment is a delight to spend time in. This is a small habitat with clean water, green fields of the village, abundant plantation and surrounding hills that adds nirvana to the experience.

One word of advise, all those planning to visit the place should plan properly. Have all the edibles with you procured a day before leaving for your excursion. Casual clothing is preferred according to the weather in which you plan your trip. You will have to park your vehicle in Sangada and hire a jeep on wards for the day (in case your personal vehicle is a sedan). The total time it takes from Islamabad to Nilan Bhotu is roughly 03 hours so plan you departure from and to Islamabad accordingly.

And… see if you can catch a fish and pout in the face of those who claim the fish to have spiritual powers. Or you can always come back with the notion of keeping the dignity of this myth up by proclaiming it to be good for the environmental protection, something that I came back with.



  1. Salaams,

    Sounds fascinating , lovely scenes of natural beauty. Can you elaborate a little on hiring jeeps? Are they available for hire at Sangada village or would you have to hire one coming from Islamabad? Thanks for sharing!

    • Right when you enter the Sangada village there is a partition of road right before Highland Country Club, you have to take a right turn on the partition that is going down. But in the Sangada Bazaar there are phone numbers of jeep owners written on the advertisements, you can hire a jeep from there for around Rs.1000 or so. And the locals can also guide you about hiring a jeep or maybe you can also tag alongwith some local heading towards Nilan Bhotu. Best of luck 🙂

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