The Forest Resort: Changa Manga
In a Glimpse
The Changa Manga is a wildlife preserve in the Punjab province of Pakistan, once considered the largest man-made forest in the world. It is situated approximately 80 kilometers south-west of Lahore and takes 1 hour by road.
The forest spreads over parts of the districts of Lahore and Kasur. This tourist resort can be reached by a paved (metaled) road and train from any city in Pakistan.
A Brief History
It is known as one of the oldest hand-planted forests in the world and dates back to 1866, at the time when the North-Western Railway network was planned. The wood from it would be used on the rail-tracks as wooden sleepers. Some magnificent tree families, like Sheesham (rosewood) and white mulberry, native to this subcontinent are here. Other trees, like Kikar, are also found in this forest.
The land for the forest was originally allocated to cater to the Lahore-Karachi railway line. In 1870, the Changa Manga Forestry Railway (small gauge) was established to carry out logging operations. Initially, the locomotives used fire engines that burned wood for fuel, and later these were replaced with coal-powered types that were added for safety against accidental fires. The Changa Manga also supplied timber for the timber market in India. The Changa Manga has an irrigated plantation. Neglect and illicit deforestation have caused this woodland to shrink in recent years
The government’s Billion Tree Project afforestation efforts are reportedly successful, and the use of organic methods to decrease damage to the plantations has brought good results. The forest covers an area of 49 square kilometers, or almost 12,000.
The government has taken steps to control the illegitimate cutting of trees and generally made the forest protected and safe through Forestry Wardens. They are based inside the forest area and control entry and exit routes to the forest and the public park area full-time, day and night, throughout the year.
Maintenance and Upkeep of the Reserve
The Changa Manga Railway is still in operation and serves as a tourist attraction. It transports timber or tourists during visiting hours and on special occasions.
The forest keepers developed the recreational park for the visitors. A 5-kilometer train joyride is available on a miniature train passing through the forest, and it has become a major tourist attraction, especially for children. There are other attractions too, like the waterfall, water turbine, a children’s play area, and boating is allowed on a lake named Lunar Lake.
The Changa Manga also has an area of forty acres demarcated as a wildlife reserve. The forest is home to some beautiful animals and bird species that have been dwelling in this habitat since olden times. The golden jackal, nilgai, wild boar, hog deer, Indian peafowl, and mouflon (wild sheep) were among the species that were thought to be on the verge of extinction at the time.
The Changa Manga has a boundary wall adorned with an iron grill that runs around the forest to secure the forest and public park.
Recreational Forest Resort Park
The park is open to tourists throughout the year. It is a beautiful place to visit for picnics, where families may enjoy get-togethers and friends or corporate employees plan outdoor activities. The public swarms this area during national holidays and also to enjoy the special weather and outdoor activities that the park offers.
Recently, the government has planted more trees to give the forest a better look.
The forest has a honey-bee population, producing honey that has achieved popularity in the local market. The recent Billion Tree afforestation campaign of the government also resulted in an increased output of honey. The visitors who may be aware of this souvenir could find some take-home samples of pure honey.
Extended Stay at Changa Manga Resort:
Changa Manga also has the Changa Manga Forest Rest House for those tourists or visitors who wish to take advantage of an extended stay and lodging. The guesthouse building has a British colonial look and has been modified and upgraded to entertain guests with facilities. Another four-room motel for visitors is also there now.
Due to the meager resources of the Changa Manga administration, the rest-house may not be kept to international standards. However, those who take the challenge and accept the comfort level as it is, may find the experience quite memorable since the forest offers the ambiance, aroma, feel, and sounds of a jungle at night. The occasional call of one or the other of the zoo animals adds spice to the experience. During the daytime, children can go and take a look at the animals from closed quarters.
Changa Manga Wildlife Park and Zoo:
The Changa Manga’s flora and fauna are diverse. There are mammals of fourteen species, and fifty species of birds are native. There are six species of reptiles and two species of amphibian animals. More than twenty-five insect species have been recorded.
The mini zoo is a family drawer, where kids enjoy watching wildlife specimens kept there for the purpose. The wildlife park is connected by a tramway.
Changa Manga Swimming Pool:
There is also a swimming pool for those who may enjoy a dip during the summer months. Visitors interested in using the swimming pool should arrive with their kits and costumes. Visitors can get advice on safety and health standards from the management’s pool-side personnel.
Picnic lovers use the lawns. And Lunar Lake, as named, is an added attraction; there is a pagoda there, and visitors enjoy boating; bridges add beauty to the waterfront scenery. Registration and related information can also be obtained from the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) office in Lahore or Kasur (Tehsil Chunian).
The rest house at Changa Manga falls under the Punjab Forest Department. It has nine air-conditioned rooms. Booking can be arranged through the concerned DFO/SDFO. Other information about facilities, bookings, and related charges is available with the caretaker on the spot. Entry to the park is free for all.
The park offers many facilities, like trekking, biking (bicycle), jogging-tracks, rainy-sheds, and site-seeing, which are allowed through the forest area and the park. For visitors, camping sites, a cafeteria, a gazebo, and a grassy lawn are available to them. For fun and games, log cabins, motorboats, children’s gadgets, and children’s cars are provided.
To ensure the security and safety of visitors, people are generally advised to stay within the demarcated precincts. However, if a group wishes to take a trek along the beaten path, the management may be informed and receive any basic guidelines or special instructions, as well as how to seek emergency assistance, if needed. The park as a whole is a safe place with a positive recommendation to visit. There is so much fun and amusement for visitors to find peace in the rest house and adjacent park area.
How to reach Changa Manga
Visitors can reach Changa Manga by road and railway. Changa Manga Forest is only 77 kilometers (1 hour) by road from Lahore City. The distance from Multan to Changa Manga is 60 kilometers via Motorway M-4 (drive time: 1 hour 50 min).
From Islamabad to Changa Manga through Lahore is a little over 420 kilometers (takes 5 hours and 40 minutes) via Motorway M-2, and it takes 7 hours via Sialkot-Lahore.
Changa Manga Resort Railway Station:
The Changa Manga Railroad Station is situated in Changa Manga Town, Kasur. It is as old as the Changa Manga Forest itself. The station is 8 kilometers from the Changa Manga Forest Resort and a 16-minute drive by road. Visitors can also reach this site from many cities, connected via Pakistan Railways. The Punjab Forest Department, Forest Division, Kasur (Punjab) looks after the park, assisted by the TDCP.
The urban residents of Lahore and Multan, being the nearest recreation hunters, visit the park more often. Also, people from the whole of Punjab know this spot and are keen on visiting it whenever they find an opportunity.