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Abdalians, Raise Hands

Posted on July 9, 2008
Filed Under >S.A.J. Shirazi, History
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S.A.J Shirazi

Comfortably tucked in green hills north of Islamabad, Hasan Abdal is situated right on the Grand trunk Road. The town’s claims to fame are Cadet College and temple of Panja Sahib. This small and clean historic town neat is sacred for Sikhs.


Hassan Abdal is famous for its cadet college and also serves as the gateway to some most stunning sites in Pakistan. It is from here that Karakoram Highways turns towards Northern Areas. It is a convenient halting point of Grand Trunk Road (G T Road) from where one can go to places like Abbotabad and Northern Areas, Peshawar, Taxila, Wah, Rawalpindi. Coins of the Greco-Bectrians kings discovered from the adjoining tract suggest that the area was inhabited in first century B.C. Accounts of Xuan Zang, a seventh century Chinese Buddhist traveler tells us that the place was also sacred to Buddhists. However, presently the town is associated with Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikh religion and Baba Wali Qandhari, a revered Muslim saint.

It is not clear how the town got its name but a reference is usually made to the eighteenth century Afghan conqueror, Ahmed Shah Abdali. The town has been mentioned by Mughal Emperor Jehangir in his memoirs and was frequently visited by successive Mughal Kings, on their way to Kashmir.

One has to understand it; it was wonderful during Mughal period: Romantic, beautiful and quiet. One of the significant landmark of past in Hasan Abdal is a set of greatly spread red brick buildings immediately to the west of the Grand Trunk Road. These buildings belong to the Cadet College Hasan Abdal, Pakistan’s foremost premier boarding institution. Field Marshal Muhammad Ayub Khan inaugurated the school in 1954. The main academic block overlooks the college with a cricket ground in the centre, called the Oval. Six residential wings surround the Oval and it is always a pleasing sight to see smart young boys in uniforms walking towards their academic block. The college has always been famous for its academic results with its students bagging most of the top positions in board examinations. While Aitchison College has for a long time catered to the political leadership of the country, the establishment has come from colleges like Cadet College Hasan Abdal and Lawrence College.

One of the interesting facts regarding these colleges is the strong sense of comradeship and fraternity that prevails among the students. The boys of the Cadet College Hasan Abdal use word Abdalian with pride and pleasure. The Cadet College is surrounded by Loqat orchards, lush green fields and a gushing stream where a day with fishing rod can really be fruitful. Mr. Catchpole, the first principal of the College is also buried here.

The other claim of the town to international fame is Sikh Gurdwara (temple) known as Panja Sahib having a rock with the hand print of their religious leader Baba Guru Nanak. Twice a year, Sikh pilgrims visit this Gurdwara from all over the world. The legend has it that in 1521 AD, while passing through then deserted area on a very hot day, Guru Nanak’s companion Bhai Mardana got very thirsty. The Guru suggested that he go to the Saint Baba Wali Qandhari who lived in a hut atop a nearby hill and ask for water. The Saint refused to give water from his well. Desperate with thirst, Mardana repeated his plea three times. Finally the saint reprimanded Mardana who returned to his guru and collapsed at his feet.

The Guru asked him to pick up a stone. The disciple did as he was told, and water flowed from under the stone, while the Saint’s well dried up. The Saint then pushed a large boulder from hilltop and sent it rolling towards the Guru and Mardana. But when the boulder reached them, the Guru stretched out his hand and stopped it with his palm.


During Sikh rule, Hari Sing Nalva got the edifice of temple made at the place. Later, the temple was extended and a sarai (inn) was added for accommodation. The temple is typical of the rather florid Sikh style with gilded domes and cupolas and stands in the middle of a large water tank. Built with grey sandstone, its exterior is spotted with protruding domed bay windows. The central fluted dome is encircled by several symmetrically placed big and small domed kiosks. The cemented water tank derives its supply from a fresh water spring that emerges from underneath a huge rock. Now this huge rock has that famous hand print on it for which the site is known as ‘Panja Sahib’. On the nearby hill, at an altitude of 714 meters, lies a meditation chamber of Saint Baba Wali Qandhari, popularly known as Baba Hasan Abdal. The saint stayed in Hasan Abdal from 1406-1416 AD but died and is buried in village Baba Wali near Qandhar (Afghanistan). The devotees and visitors climb over the steps leading to the hill, for offerings and to have a panoramic view of Hasan Abdal. Two other historical buildings of Mughal era (Muqbara Hakeeman and so-called tomb of Lala Rukh) are located just opposite the temple. Hasan Abdal is an interesting small town.

I have known Hasan Abdal during my stay in Abbotabad. It is a neat little town, as pretty as a picture postcard. The town has a character of its own. Environment is tranquil, pollution free and quiet. One finds countless attractions spread around the town. And you can see (and have) lines of shops selling mutton karahi made in desi ghee side by side Peshawar fame chappal kabab along the G T Road near buss stop. Move away from the traffic hustle of the G T Road and what strikes you first is the emptiness. There is nothing much there, just air of a blue that is so attenuated that it is almost white. You stand anywhere and breathe in the dry air, feel the sun upon your neck. You are in Hasan Abdal suburbs; a countryside that is on the main road but still relatively only a few people visit.

Title Photo is courtesy of Bissmah

Art Institutes Poll Finds There Is More to Game Playing than Halo 2 and World of Warcraft

Wireless News May 1, 2005

Wireless News 05-01-2005 Art Institutes Poll Finds There Is More to Game Playing than Halo 2 and World of Warcraft

In its first national student survey on video game preferences, The Art Institutes system of schools recently polled more than 1,000 Game art and design, animation and visual and game programming students from throughout its 31 schools on everything from favorite computer and console games to game purchasing behavior.

The results were surprising, according to Marc Sherrod, Academic Director of Game Art & Design for The Art Institute of California — San Francisco and spokesperson for the national survey results. “When we first decided on the poll questions, we assumed that the big name titles like Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft would do well — after all, their game makers spend millions of dollars advertising, promoting and creating a demand for those products,” said Sherrod. go to website art institute of atlanta

However, once the results came in, “We realized that, like movies or television shows, everybody has their favorites, and in the case of our game and animation students, those choices were widely varied,” he said.

“We found that only 11 percent of our students named Halo 2 as their overall Favorite Video Game. World of Warcraft took Favorite Computer Game, also with only 11 percent of the votes,” said Sherrod. Halo 2 and Half-Life 2 captured Best Video Graphics and Best Computer Graphics, but with the relatively low 14 percent and 17 percent of votes, respectively. site art institute of atlanta

The results of the student poll reflect several similarities to recent awards handed out by the game industry itself. The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences’ 8th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards recently honored Half- Life 2 as both its “Game of the Year” and “Computer Game of the Year.” Similarly, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) gave Half-Life 2 and Halo 2 top honors at its recent 2005 Game Developers Choice Awards.

“It’s hard to find a game that excels equally in all areas of graphics, gameplay and storyline. “I’ve started playing more niche games in simulation and action adventure this past year because they’ve become more accessible from other countries,” said Anthony Ruelas, 28, a Game Art & Design student at The Art Institute of California — San Francisco.

Game art and design students at The Art Institute of Atlanta concur in their choice of playing games outside big blockbuster titles. For Nick Maresco, his game of choice is Darwinia. “I just recently found this game and I have been totally addicted ever since. Every aspect is flawless. It’s visually beautiful and the game play is simple and extremely fun,” said Maresco.

Raycheal Risdal, a game art and design student also from The Art Institute of Atlanta, said her new favorite title is Final Fantasy 9. “Final Fantasy 9 is a massive online community of gamers from all over the world. I enjoy RPG- based games, but I also enjoy playing games where I can interact with a large diversity of individuals, who have the same interest as me,” she said.

That’s not to say that the students polled don’t enjoy best- selling computer and video games, “It’s just that there are many games out there, and we found that our students often prefer games that may fly below the traditional game-playing radar. Those preferences may have something to do with how they themselves would design or animate those games,” said Sherrod.

Other survey results reported that Art Institutes’ students spend some 12 hours a week playing games with 44 percent naming PlayStation 2 as their Favorite Game Console. Nearly half — 46 percent — said they did not own a portable gaming device.

The Art Institutes system of 31 education institutions is located throughout North America, providing an important source of design, media arts, fashion and culinary professionals.

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