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Friday, November 27, 2020

Explained: What is Moto Tunnel, the 129-year-old British-era structure ‘revived’ by Pakistan?

Moto Tunnel: A British-era architectural marvel, the tunnel since decades was lying closed, buried under heaps of trash and filth. It has been ‘restored to its original glory from trash to treasure,’ the Pakistan government said.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Updated: November 12, 2020 10:11:09 am
Moto Tunnel, Moto Tunnel in Pakistan, Moto Tunnel Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, What is Moto Tunnel, Where is Moto Tunnel, Indian ExpressMoto Tunnel after revival. (Express Photo)

On October 29, Pakistan’s Ministry of Climate Change opened the 129-year-old Moto Tunnel for tourists after its revival at the Ayubia National Park in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. A British-era architectural marvel, the tunnel since decades was lying closed, buried under the heaps of trash and filth. It has been ‘restored to its original glory from trash to treasure,’ the Pakistan government said. The Indian Express explains the cultural and heritage value of the British-era tunnel of the undivided India.

What is Moto Tunnel?

The 250-feet long, 6-feet high and 4-feet wide tunnel carved out of stones and clay, is part of the longer ‘nature pipeline walk’ (a walk through the forests) in the Ayubia National Park of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. Located close to Ayubia is Murree, a small and famous hill town since British era in Galyat region (extending on both sides of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provincial border of Pakistan). The Galyat region is known among tourists for its hill towns and nature walk tracks through the forests. The tunnel has a stone mark atop with ‘1891’ carved on it, indicating the year it was built by the British.

How did the Pakistan government ‘discover’ the tunnel?

Malik Amin Aslam, federal minister of climate change & advisor to Pakistan PM, speaking to The Indian Express, said, “It was around 10-11 months back that our team was carrying out plantation work in the area when they discovered this tunnel. Its opening point was buried under mounds of garbage and filth. When we saw the ‘1891’ sign atop, we started looking at its history. We found it was the ‘Moto Tunnel’ built by the British. We had lost track of it due to neglect. A water pipeline runs through it and it was probably built to solve water problem in the nearby Murree. The tunnel is part of the longer ‘nature pipeline walk’ which runs through Ayubia National Park. Earlier the walk was of 4 kms, but with the opening of the tunnel, it has been extended to 16 kms.”

The main track of the walk is 4-kms from Dunga Gali to Ayubia. The tunnel was constructed to connect Ayubia with Khaira Gali. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

Moto Tunnel, Moto Tunnel in Pakistan, Moto Tunnel Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, What is Moto Tunnel, Where is Moto Tunnel, Indian Express A British-era architectural marvel, the tunnel since decades was lying closed. It was buried under heaps of trash and filth. (Express Photo)

How has the tunnel been restored?

Aslam says that the Pakistan government has spent nearly Rs 20 lakh to ‘revive’ the ‘heritage architectural piece’ and ‘has not tampered with its original structure’ so that tourists and nature & heritage explorers can ‘have a walk through history’. “The tunnel’s original stone work has not been tampered with. We have not used any new construction material. We have just removed mounds of filth, cleaned the area, installed some tourist facilities such as benches, lights inside the tunnel, refurbished old stone work and opened it for tourists. We plan to install some artefacts. Other facilities such as a coffee shop, information centre will come up soon,” he said. The project has been undertaken under the Sustainable Forest Management Project.

What is the topography of the Tunnel?

“Since the water pipeline runs through it and the tunnel was used for water transportation, it is a completely flat walk through the tunnel,” said Aslam.

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