Deadly Drones put to right use: Swiss Expedition uses Drones to capture footage of the Trango Tower ascend
Every creation has its pros and cons. It all depends on how we decide to use them. The dogma holds good for almost everything including the dreaded drones which have brought death and destruction to the tribal belt of Pakistan and continue to do so till this date.
The technology, essentially American, is now being employed to capture footage of extreme sports including the mountaineering and rock climbing. The Swiss Expedition which scaled the notorious Trango Towers in the Gilgit-Baltistan province of the country in July this year extensively used a similar technology to capture the footage which would have been impossible otherwise.
“People are going to see footage from the Karakoram that no human being has ever seen,” said Corey Richard, a photographer and videographer from Lake Tahoe, California, who was on the expedition.
The expedition was a joint project between outdoor clothing and equipment company Mammut, and Dedicam, a firm that specializes in using remote-controlled helicopters to shoot video. Their goal: to document world-class mountaineer David Lama and his climbing partner Peter Ortner as they climbed Trango Tower.
The question of recording live footage of such magnanimous climbs has long been a matter of consideration for the photographers and climbers alike. Although helicopters are not always an option for such high altitudes as Karakorum, even at low altitudes they not only churn up unwanted clouds of dust, are expensive beyond measure and can be fatal for the climbers pushing them off balance at times.
The Drones, which cost only a fraction of the amount used for hiring a Heli, now come with improved maneuverability, excellent recording capabilities and are hassle free in carrying and assembling on spot.
“The main challenge was that the air is much thinner, and we didn’t know how the flight controls would work with this and the propellers and motors,” said drone operator Remo Masina, from Lucerne, Switzerland.
Remo brought in two sets of remote-controlled helis, one with four rotors and the other with six. He was able to surge the aircraft to almost 2000ft on the Trango to spot climbers edging their way up.
Karakorum Range in Pakistan is known for gigantic peaks some of which remain unclimbed to this date. The peaks in Karakorum are not only some of the most difficult to climb but offer such breathtaking sights which are found nowhere else in the world.
Lama and Ortner said climbing the legendary Pakistani mountains was an amazing experience.
“Here there are so many mountains, and so many difficult mountains, and mountains that haven’t been climbed,” said Lama.“That’s probably why the Karakoram is known as paradise for us.”
Swat, once a hot-bed of militants and religious extremists who poured in the valley from the adjoining Agencies in the north, has now been restored comprehensively following a brilliantly-executed operation by the Pakistani military.
The last two years in general and the current season in particular, received an overwhelming influx of tourists in the region, never experienced before. Notwithstanding the fact that every entering vehicle is scrutinized before entering the valley, interrogated by a check post almost every 50 kms, it was something the new generation of tourists were willing to undergo to quench their thirst and witness the brilliance of the valley.
Unlike Naran-Kaghan valley, the hotel and tourism industry in the valley was not able to develop with the passage of time and although the valley has only a handful of quality hotels to offer, they are good enough o provide the basic amenities to the visitors who come driving and riding from the bustling metropolises of the country.
An average hotel charges approximately 1000 PKR for a double-room during the off-season while charges for a similar room soar to a whooping 6000PKR during the peak season. The season kicks off with the announcement of summer vacations in schools and colleges and lasts till the end of August, providing a healthy window of three months when the hotels are able to make enough to sustain the winter stretch of low turnout.
The valley holds some of the picturesque glacial lakes in the country, including the famous Mahodand Lake seated some 35 kms from Kalam, deep inside the valley. Other prominent but less explored lakes include the emerald green Kharkhari Lake, Spil-Khor Lake, Kandol Lake alongside the gigantic granite structure, the Falak-sair peak in the Hindukhush range.
Trudging along the Swat River, the road was completely washed away by the floods of 2010 and the current road, dug out a few meters away from the old one, is rugged and tiresome. Yet, this was not enough to deter the enthusiastic tourists from heading towards the scenic valley which has remained off-limits for almost five long years.
To cite a recent example, one of the hotel owner narrated the ordeal of a family stuck in a 20km long traffic jam during the Eid holidays this year and had to return back to Lahore as the Hotel owners had to cancel their advance booking in wake of late arrival.
The valley is accessible throughout the winter season as the road is kept clear by the machinery provided by Army and the hotels will also be entertaining the guests through the gruesome winters in the valley.
Ustad Allah Bakhsh is known in Pakistan's painting history as a nature lover. His paintings project rural landscapes and people en masse.
He was the man who immortalized our rural life, and especially of the Punjab – the land where he was born in 1885 in the small town of Wazirabad. His very near to life Life-size paintings are full of colour, life and people that forces an onlooker to stop in his tracks and appreciate his masterly work of art.
Ustad Allah Bakhsh was lucky to have found Master Abdullah, a great maestro of his own time and a master of miniature art. He started learning from his ustad at the age of five and by the age of fourteen he had become an artist of his own style. He also learnt the art of painting from Master Meeran Bakhsh Naqash, a known teacher and painter and was also the Vice Principal of the Mayo School of Arts, now the National College of Arts Lahore.
He started his career at the young age as signboard painter, and then found his way to railway’s workshop in Moghalpura Lahore as carriage painter. For some time, he also worked for Agha Husher’s theatrical company, painting background screens. By 1919, he had become a fine art painter and took on the profession as a commercial artist.
He also painted characters of Hindu mythology and also participated in art exhibitions at Bombay and Calcutta. His work being unique and rich in heritage won him many an accolade and laurels. Maharaja of Patila, impressed by his work, invited him to his palace in 1937 to paint exclusively for him. Allah Bakhsh stayed there till the partition of the British India, after which he came back to Lahore and stayed here for the rest of his life painting the beautiful landscape of Punjab, its people and village life that ran into his veins since childhood.
Ustad Allah Bakhsh’s artwork is rich and expressive. His paintings show lot of people and when seen closely, each face gives a different expression, mood and style. All along he had his own distinctive and unique romantic style from which he never transgressed nor could anyone else imitate or replicate.
His masterpieces include Sohni Mahiwal, Heer Ranjha, Sohni Dharti, Talism-e-Hosh Ruba, besides painting many festivities and rural scenes of Punjab. Although his basic theme revolved around his own cultural heritage, he is also said to have been inspired by the classical western paintings, which may be attributed to his extensive movement to Bombay and Calcutta where the British artwork had influenced the local artists.
Ustad Allah Bakhsh’s specialty was in oil painting and that too on large canvases. But being an Ustad, he had mastery over other forms of painting and sketching mediums like the water colours, tempera colours, pencil work and even pen and ink. He could even combine different mediums suiting to his aesthetic nature and innovative mind.
Like good masters and ustads, Allah Bakhsh did not keep his art to himself; rather he gave art training to students for free. The great Ustad breathed his last on 18th October 1978 at Lahore.
His art treasure has been preserved in the National art gallery is an exclusive corner attributed to one of the great master painters of Pakistan and Indo-Pak subcontinent. Besides, his studio where he used to spend most of his time has been converted into an academy "Allah Bux Academy" which is now serving as a learning ground for those who wants to excel in this great master's style.