ESCAPE TO CHURNA ISLAND
There was a break in my training activities in Karachi in February 2016, so I booked a tour to CHURNA ISLAND with one of the touring company…
What came as a surprise to me was that despite my best possible efforts as I was in time at 8.00 am the people of Karachi seem to be a lethargic lot as there were hardly any people present at the pickup point even after 9.00 am
We started at about 9.45 am and the vehicle took us first to the TEEN (3) TALWAR round about then turning north towards P.C Hotel crossing P.C hotel we turned left on to the P.I.D.C Fly over to SHARIF FARIDI FLYOVER and then on to MAULVI TAMEEZUDDIN KHAN road heading straight to the MYKOLACHI FLYOVER, leaving the Karachi dockyard on the right side going towards MAURIPUR road which at this time of the morning was jam packed with trucks and trailers, we moved at a snail’s space till we reached the PAF base MAURIPUR and from there we turned left towards Hawks bay road.
Important landmarks that came en-route were the Marine training academy after GUL BAI and plethora of industrial factories and rice Mills.
Breakfast was served by the organizers’ and most of the participants opened up their lunch boxes and devoured their breakfast in the jiffy where as I did not do so. In order to avoid sea sickness one must be on empty stomach and as a precaution one must take anti vomiting pill like Dramamine or Priton.
About an hour’s drive we stopped at a local café on HAWKS BAY road where some more workers from the tour organizers who joined us along with Scuba Diving equipment snorkels and two big DAIGS (Cauldrons) of BIRYANI for consumption during the later part of the day.
We made our journey on deserted road that we encountered many check posts of Rangers, Coastguards and police who were more interested in making a fast buck rather than sticking to their primary duty of checking and maintaining security.
After 10 minutes the road then became narrow and was in a ZIG ZAG pattern with many S-bends and finally ended at MANJHAR beach.
On dismounting there was an urgent need of the participants to use the washrooms but mind you as a word of caution the bathrooms were in a very bad and miserable condition and could not be used because they were all choked up and there was no water for washing and abolition.
The sea was rough that day and our speed was less than 3 knots, the boat also had pitching and rolling which made some of the female participants sea sick and some male participants started throwing up.
This was the reason that I did not have any breakfast in the early morning and also stored the snacks given to me.
Churna Island "is a small uninhabited island located in the Arabian Sea, about 9 km west of the mouth of the Hub river.
It is about approximately 1.2 km long and 0.5 km wide. In the local language it is also known as "Cheerno".
Churna island in the past was mostly used as a firing range by the Pakistan Navy but now is considered to be snorkelers paradise and a great outing for water sports.
Our boats dropped anchor about 300 feet away from the Island and there were 5 – 6 boats which had arrived there before us and the occupants of those boats were enjoying themselves in the water.
Majority of the participants were non swimmers and had a fear of the water but after donning their life jackets and under the keen supervision of the life guards ventured in to the water taking the help of the support ropes.
I sat in my boat for about half hour making up my mind what to do and was coaxed by my fellow participants to come into the water.
Finally I took my dive into the sea water which at that time was very saltish and reminded me of a strong solution of brine.
I tried to first swim with my favorite stroke that is breast stroke but the life jacket and the strong sea current were an impediment to my further progress in the water. So I switched to back stroke and slowly made my way to the cliff where I somehow lost my footing and as I was getting out of the water I was badly bruised by the sharp sea rocks and suffered multiple abrasions so I held on to the tethering rope for some time to catch my breath.
After waiting for about half an hour in which I was half submerged in water I retraced my position back in the water and approached the cliff from a lesser acute angle and finally managed to get on to the perch of the cliff from where there was a steep ascent of about 30 feet to the top of the cliff base where a lot many youngsters had already climbed before me and were waiting for their turn for cliff jumping.
I saw many youngsters jumping from the height of 30 feet into the water below where there were two life guards on duty in order to circumvent any unforeseen eventualities.
Some of the participants were not afraid to jump from that height but there were others who had acrophobia were reluctant to jump from the cliff on their own and had to be motivated and provoked by the by standers and there were many amusing moments which was a point for laughter and amusement.
Finally at about 3.30 when I had fully rested myself I jumped from the cliff into the sea water and came up with the water buoyancy to the surface and after some time donned my snorkels and started enjoying the Marine life and under water scenery.
After swimming for about one hour I got tired and made my way to the boat where I saw the scuba diving instructors briefing the participants about the use of scuba gear.
What came as a surprise to me that because of commercialization the tour organizers had enrolled people for scuba diving for a hefty amount without giving them any scuba diving training or the use of scuba diving apparatus.
Lunch was served in the boats and the whole thing was wrapped up by 4.30 pm and we made our way back to Majhar Beach and boarded our busses.
The return journey was about 1 and half hour and one of the lifeguards accompanying us was also a very good dancer and amused us on the way back, and finally we reached the pickup point at Teen (3) Talwar at about 9 O Clock.
My driver was waiting for me and I made my way back to my mess room in DHA Khayaba – e – Bukhari where immediately I indulged myself in to the luxury of a good hot bath to wash out the sand on my body and finally enjoyed hot corn soup and finally went to sleep about 10.30.
This brings to an end to another episode of my adventure tourism.
Some of the places yet to be visited by me are the Astola Island, Rusch Lake and the Muddy Volcanoes.
I hope to visit all these places before I turn 70 and my physical ability will not allow me to undertake such physical adventures.
Dr. Babur Zahiruddin