The Changa Manga Forest is a wildlife preserve in Pakistan’s Punjab province that was previously thought to be the world’s largest man-made forest. It is about 80 kilometres southwest of Lahore and takes about an hour to get there by car. Graana.com has compiled a guide on Changa Manga Forest below if you are planning a visit anytime soon.
A Brief History of Changa Manga Forest
It is one of the world’s oldest hand-planted forests, dating back to 1866, when the North-Western Railway network was being built. The forest wood would be utilised as wooden sleepers on the rail rails.
There are some exquisite tree families unique to this subcontinent, such as Sheesham (rosewood) and white mulberry. Other trees, such as Kikar, can also be found in this woodland.
The forest property was originally designated to serve the Lahore-Karachi railway line. The Changa Manga Forestry Railway was created in 1870 to conduct logging operations. Initially, the locomotives were powered by fire engines that burned wood for fuel, but they were later replaced with coal-driven engines to prevent accidental fires.
Changa Manga also supplied timber to the Indian timber market. There is also an irrigated plantation. However, in recent years, mismanagement and illegal deforestation have led this woodland to decrease.
Rehabilitation of Changa Manga Forest
The government’s Billion Tree Project afforestation efforts are allegedly successful, and the adoption of organic ways to reduce plantation damage has had favourable results. The forest spans 49 square kilometres, or almost 12108 acres.
Through Forestry Wardens, the government has made initiatives to restrict illicit tree cutting and make the forest more secure. They are stationed in the forest and monitor entry and exit routes around the clock, day and night, all year.
Maintenance of the Reserve
The Changa Manga Railway is still in operation. It mostly delivers lumber and can be used by tourists during visiting hours and on special events.
The leisure park for guests was created by the forest keepers. A 5-kilometer journey on a miniature railway through the forest is provided, and it has become a popular tourist attraction, particularly for youngsters.
There are also other attractions such as a waterfall, a water turbine, a children’s play area, and a lake called Lunar Lake, which has boating facilities.
The Changa Manga also contains a nature sanctuary covering forty acres. The forest is home to a variety of unusual animals and bird species that have lived there for many years.
Recreational Forest Resort Park
The park is open to tourists throughout the year, and is especially busy during national holidays. It is a beautiful place to visit, where families or friends can go for picnics or where corporate employees can plan outdoor activities.
Recently, the government planted even more trees in the forest. The honey produced here is also sold in abundance in the local market.
The recent Billion Tree afforestation campaign of the government also resulted in an increased output of honey. Visitors can also take some samples of pure honey from here as a souvenir.
Extended Stay at Changa Manga Resort
The Changa Manga Forest Rest House has also been built here for those visitors who wish to extend their stay.
The guest house has a British colonial look, and has been modified and upgraded to offer guests a range of facilities. Another four-room motel is also available for booking.
Changa Manga Resort
Due to limited resources, the rest house may not be built according to international standards. However, it provides an authentic experience of spending a night in the jungle, making it a memorable visit for guests. During the daytime, children can go and take a look at the animals as well.
Changa Manga Wildlife Park and Zoo
The Changa Manga’s flora and fauna are diverse. There are fourteen species of mammals, fifty species of birds, six species of reptiles and two species of amphibians. More than twenty-five insect species have been recorded.
The mini zoo is a popular family spot, especially among kids. The wildlife park is connected by a tramway.
Changa Manga Forest Lake
Lunar Lake is another popular attraction; boating facilities are provided and there is a pagoda that you can visit as well. Registration and related information can be obtained from the Tourism Development Corporation of Punjab (TDCP) office in Lahore or Kasur (Tehsil Chunian).
More Details about Changa Manga
The rest house at Changa Manga falls under the Punjab Forest Department. The air-conditioned rooms are well-kept and comfortable. Booking can be arranged through the concerned DFO/SDFO.
You can ask the caretaker there for other information about facilities, bookings, and related charges. Entry to the park is free for all.
The park offers many facilities, like hiking trails, bicycle tracks, log cabins, motorboats, car rides for children, camping sites, jogging tracks, rain sheds, a cafeteria, a gazebo and short sightseeing tours.
To ensure the security and safety of visitors, they are generally advised to stay within the precinct. However, if a group wishes to take a trek along a beaten path, the management may be informed so that they can provide any basic guidelines or special instructions, including how to seek emergency assistance if needed.
The park as a whole is a safe and peaceful place to visit, where you can do multiple activities for entertainment.
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 kilometres from the Changa Manga Forest Resort and a 16-minute drive away.
How to Reach Changa Manga Forest
Visitors can reach Changa Manga primarily by road and railway. Changa Manga Forest is only 77 kilometres (1 hour) away by road from Lahore. The distance from Multan to Changa Manga is 60 kilometres via Motorway M-4 (which takes about 1 hour and 50 minutes).
On the other hand, the distance from Islamabad to Changa Manga is a little over 420 kilometres, which takes 5 hours and 40 minutes via Motorway M-2, and 7 hours via Sialkot-Lahore.
In a Nutshell
Boasting scenic views and a serene environment, the Changa Manga Forest has been a popular tourist spot for several decades. Bike trips, camping and cycling tours are especially enjoyed by adventure lovers, and visitors can also arrange picnic trips here. Pakistan needs more forests to tackle the adverse effects of climatic changes.
If you want to know more about other forests in Pakistan, follow the Graana blog.