Shinkay is an ideal picnic place – especially in summer evenings and winter afternoons. About 4km away from Takht Bhai in district Mardan, the splendid beauty and rich culture of this riverside spot is a delight to curious visitors.
Shinkay in Pashto means greenery. So, the name perfectly illustrates the splendour of the place.
Views from atop the rusted and crumbling watchtower of a 17th century British-era railway bridge are absolutely stunning. A grassless cricket ground looks like the flat side of a coin from the top.
Long ago, when the lone train slithered across the bridge, Shinkay looked even more beautiful. The now-defunct railway bridge has become a place for the party-at-the-top for visitors who don’t have to fear an approaching train – for it will never come again. Pakistan Railways long abandoned the bridge, like so many others in the northern areas of the country.
There’s plenty to do in Shinkay – fish, cook, swim… or take a perfect selfie for your Facebook profile. Most picnickers would like to do nothing but sit on a boulder, gaze at the gushing river, and enjoy its roar in the background.
In the glory days of Pashto films, idyllic Shinkay formed a perfect backdrop. On my many winter evenings spent in the area, I have seen film crews shoot songs and dialogues by the riverside. Many popular scenes were shot here.
But sadly now, Shinkay is suffering from vandalism, and its greenery is slowly eroding. Plastic bags, wrappers, bottles and cigarette butts can be seen scattered on the grassy lands. Visitors throw trash in the river relentlessly. It seems the concerned authorities are totally oblivious to this form of destruction. The flow of the water in the river has decreased over the years. The narrow road to Shinkay remains unpaved and the nearby landfill site too has been abandoned by the trucks carrying waste. Because of lack of monitoring, they have begun to dump the waste in the open fields rather than in landfills.
Earlier I would see Takht Bhai Tehsil Municipal Administration vehicles standing near the railway station. But I have not spotted one in a long time. Some of these vehicles would squirt water on the road in the mornings and a few of them would go to the city outskirts to collect trash.
This is how a beautiful place becomes sordid in a matter of years. In our country, the preservation of the environment is hardly ever taken into account. The beautiful name of Shinkay won’t change, but its beautiful environment may. Soon the cooing doves and chirping birds will be replaced with the swooping crows, wild dogs, and feral cats. That will be a sad day.