Derived from the Persian words Punj (five) and Ab (water), Punjab literally means “(The land of) Five Rivers” referring to the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas. The Beas is now in Indian Punjab and Indus is included as the fifth river of Punjab in Pakistan. Punjab is the most fertile, populous, and prosperous province of Pakistan housing approximately 56% of the country’s population.
Geographically, Punjab is the land of contrasts, mostly consists of the alluvial plain of the Indus River and its four major tributaries – the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej rivers. From the plains of the Indus River to the deserts of Cholistan and from the Himalayan foothills to the Potwar plateau and the Salt range, it encompasses an area of 205,344 square kilometres. The province is surrounded by Kashmir to the northeast, the Indian state of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, Sindh to the south, Baluchistan to the southwest, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west and Islamabad (the capital) to the north.
There are 36 districts in the province of Punjab. Lahore is the provincial capital and the largest city which had been the historical capital of the wider Punjab region before the creation of Pakistan. Major cities in Punjab include Bahawalpur, Multan, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Sialkot, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Lahore, Jhelum, Attock, and Rawalpindi,
Shreds of evidence reveal that man settled on the bank of the Soan River more than 100,000 years ago. However, it was the 5000 years old Harappan civilization that shaped subsequent cultures in South Asia and Afghanistan and still speaks louder today. Invaders from Greece, Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan entered the subcontinent through Punjab due to its strategic location. Historically Punjab has been part of various empires and dynasties including the Indus Valley Civilization, Aryans, Kushans, Scythians, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Ghaznavids, Timurids, Afghans, Mughals, Sikhs, and the British just before the creation of Pakistan.
Traditionally the land of Punjab has served as an epicentre on the old Mughal Highway – the Grand Trunk Road (GT Rd) – from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. Lahore even then (way before partition) was the capital for almost thousand years and remained a significant cultural, historical and intellectual hub of the region.
During the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, the Muslim dominated areas went on to constitute the present-day province of Punjab while the Sikh and Hindu controlled regions formed the Indian states of Punjab. Punjab today serves as the hub of the nation and centre of all political and economic progress.
The warm-hearted and fun-loving people of Punjab live in rural and urban areas making up a heterogeneous society belonging to tribes, clans, and communities. Punjabi people in the villages live a simple and harmonious life having respect for cultural norms yet with strong beliefs on superstitions like ir-faqeers, Jogi, Taweez, manat-ka-dhaga, saint of repute, and black magic. In the cities, however, due to literacy, people have become somewhat rational. Punjabis also believe in the caste system but gradually with rising education, the differences are getting blurred. Popular casts of Punjabis are: Jats, Maliks, Mughals, Arains, Gujjars, Awans, Rajputs, Gakhars, Khokhars, Sheikhs, Kambohs, Niazis, Legharis, Khosas, Dogars, Mirani, Qureshis, and Syeds.
The traditional dress for Punjabi men in the villages is Pagri (turban), dhoti/Lacha (lose cloth used as tourers) kurta (knee-ling shirt), and Khusa (traditional shoes). Women wear Gharara, or choridar pyjama or colourful shalwar kameez, Paranda, choli/duppata, Khusa, kola puri chappal or Tillay wali Jutti. In cities, both men and women follow fashion and wear trend trendy dresses.
Punjab was predominantly a Hindu state with some Buddhist minorities before the arrival of Islam by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 AD. Gradually the religion spread in the region through the strong teachings of Sufi saints. Although the region remained under the Mughals control for more than 200 years from 1524-1739 who erected great architectural wonders; mostly mosques, forts, and gardens, the province has been strongly influenced by Sufism. Numerous Sufi shrines spread across Punjab which attracts millions of devotees annually.
Arts and crafts
Punjab being the most populated province is also the major manufacturing industry in Pakistan’s economy. There is a place for manufacturing of each art and craft. Major produce of the province included basketry, pottery, textile, embroidered cloth woven on handlooms, cotton, silk, carpets, stone craft, jewellery, metalwork, truck art, woodworks, etc.
The rich culture of Punjab traces its roots in the highly developed Harappan Civilization. The succeeding civilization gradually shaped the culture from time to time. Therefore, the Punjabi culture is deeply rooted in philosophy, poetry, music, artistry, architecture, and cuisine. The scope, density and history of its culture are rather vast. However, Sufism had a significant role to play in the society in spreading Islam which is the main source of harmony among the people. There were other religions with traditions tied. People have different festivities to commemorate these traditions. The fairs and festivals of Punjab reflect the entire circle of its folklife and cultural traditions. Punjab is known in Pakistan for its relatively liberal social attitudes.
Punjab is home to the Punjabis and several other ethnic groups. Punjabi is the mother tongue spoken by 44% of Pakistanis and understood by most of the population followed by Saraiki, Hindko, Pahari, Pathowari along with some other dialects. Urdu is the national language spoken mostly in the cities to communicate with non-Punjabi populations and English being official language used for official correspondence.
People of Punjab celebrate both religious and cultural festivals with zeal and zest. Shab-e-Barat, Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, Eid Milad u Nabi, and Muharram are revered religious festivals of Muslims while cultural festivals include national horse and cattle show, Pakistan day, Baisakhi/Vaisakhi (Sikh festival), Basant, Teej, and Kanak Kati.
Punjabi foods are delicious and most traditional Punjabi dishes are usually made using oil or clarified butter with extensive usage of spices. The food is eaten either with rice or roti (bread). Sugar tea, butter and paratha are part of breakfast. Major Punjabi dishes for lunch and dinner mostly made in villages are Mash di daal, Makai ki rotti, Saron da Saag, while in cities Choley, Haleem, Biryani and other popular spicy dishes. Zarda, Gulab-Jamuns, Kheer, and Jalaibi, are popular sweet dishes while Samosa and Pakorey are eaten any time with tea mostly as a refreshment. During summers people drink lassi, doodh-soda, aloo bokharey ka sharbat, lemonade etc.
Punjab is richly diverse in tourist attractions – from the prehistoric era to contemporary times. The timeline of the province is lavishly rich in significant events and erections that have turn out to be a rich heritage today. Its diverse landscape is rich in natural attractions and manmade marvels. From the cool and cloudy hill stations of Murree to the burning deserts of Cholistan the province harbours the Khewra Salt Mines, sites of Buddhist and Hindu influences, Islamic heritage, Mughal architecture, Sikh legacy, the British heritage, and the glorious buildings of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur. Punjab has the potential of becoming a destination of choice owing to what it preserves for tourists including historical monuments, cultural diversity and hospitable people.
Punjab is also one of South Asia’s most developed regions with approximately 40% of people living in urban areas. Its human development index rankings are high relative to the rest of Pakistan. Its economy is supported extensively by agriculture followed by industry and both sectors are the main sources of income and employment. The agricultural output of the province contributes 68% of Pakistan’s food grain production. Wheat, rice, corn, millet, cotton, sugarcane, fruit, and vegetable are the major productions. Likewise, the manufacturing industries make up 24% of the province’s GDP by producing textiles, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, metals, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods.
The economy of Punjab is subject to the climatic conditions as is mostly supported by agriculture. It is not uniform over the entire region; weather extremes are notable from the hot and barren south to the cool hills of the north making the sections adjacent to the Himalayas receiving heavier rainfall. Punjab’s climate is characterized by three distinct seasons – hot summers (mid-April to June end with temperature reaching to 49 °C (120 °F)), monsoon (July to September), and cold and foggy winters accompanied by rains (December and January with average temperature of 5 °C (41 °F)) – and two transitional periods between monsoon and winter, and between winter and hot season.
During the transitional period from winter to the hot season, sudden hailstorms and heavy showers may occur followed by temperature rise; springtime weather continues until mid-April when the summer heat just about to set in.
Best time to visit
Most of Punjab, except the Murree Hills near Islamabad, is located southwards and makes up the hottest regions of Pakistan. Punjab is the best to visit during winters preferably from November to March. During summers, it is sometimes unbearable for the heat resistant tourists visiting from the cooler regions of the world.
Things to do
Be it an adventure tour or cultural city sightseeing, Punjab has a diverse range of attractions. Murree hills offer a great retreat during summers for the heat resistant while people rush from far regions to enjoy the snow. The Mughal heritage in central Punjab has always been a focus for culture lovers while the Sufi shrines in Multan and the iconic castles of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur have no parallel for the architectural intricacy and rugged beauty. Besides, the Khewra salt mines, Ketasraj temples, and Wahga border flag lowering ceremony are must-visit places for all tourists.
Punjab being in the heart of the country has easy access to/from all provinces and territories of Pakistan. There are airports in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, and Islamabad giving direct international access from around the world. By road, Punjab is well connected by train and by bus.
Bahawalpur is the capital city of district Bahawalpur located in the south of Punjab province of Pakistan. It is the 11th largest city of Pakistan and the 6th largest city of Punjab province. It has remained a princely state under the rule of the Abbassi Nawabs from 1748 to 1954. The Nawabs made it a glorious city by erecting some of the mesmerizing landmarks in the city during their 200-year reign. The architectural legacy bequeathed by the Abbasid Nawabs is still well preserved and serves as the hallmark of the city.
The city is ideal to visit between October and February. Bahawalpur has an airport but one can still fly to Multan and drive to the nearby city of Bahawalpur. The city is accessible by air from Islamabad, Lahore, and Karachi while one can travel by road from Karachi and Lahore also.
Major highlights of Bahawalpur are listed as below:
A must-explore site to visit, Darawar Fort is a gigantic citadel located on the edge of the Cholistan Desert in Bahawalpur. It makes an exciting trip from the city centre and located about 95 km taking roughly 2 hrs to reach. The square-shaped fort is so massive in size, towering over the surrounding semi-desert, and can be easily cited from miles. The red brick edifice has been fortified by a 5 foot thick and 30 meters high round bastioned walls, running 1500 m in circumference, making it the most robust and glorious fortification. It looks more impressive from the outside than from inside.
Abbassi Mosque or the White Marble Mosque
Abbasi Mosque BahawalpurThe white marble mosque standing in front of the Derawar Fort is Abbassi Mosque also known as the White Marble Mosque and locally as Abbasi Masjid. It was built in 1849 for the Nawabs Bahawal Khan’s personal holy man, Pir Ghulam Farid. The Abbasi Mosque is an exact replica of the Moti Masjid at the Red Fort in Delhi, India. It was entirely built with white marble looks like a pearl in the desert of Cholistan. The mosque has a large hall and a courtyard and can accommodate up to 1000 people at a time. Its high minarets can be sighted from a far distance of Cholistan desert. The mosque is still well maintained by the local residents.
Abbasi Royal Graveyard
The Abbasi Royal Graveyard is the final resting place of the Abbasi family. The graveyard is situated close to Abbasi Masjid in Derawar. The graveyard is owned and controlled by the Nawabs’ surviving family members. It is a covered area with a large rectangular room that houses the graves of 12 Nawabs that ruled the state of Bahawalpur. The room also has the graves of Nawabs who held honorary title following the merger of the state of Bahawalpur with Pakistan. The other tombs outside the main rectangle room belonged to the immediate family of the Nawabs. All these tombs are erected with architectural dexterity and accomplished artwork including the calligraphy, engravings, patchwork, and patterns. Prior coordination and permission to visit the graveyard is mandatory.
Lal Sohanra National Park
The Lal Sohanra National Park is one of the 14 major national Parks/ protected areas of Pakistan located about 50 km east of Bahawalpur developed in 1972. It is declared a biosphere reserve by UNESCO and is one of the largest national parks in South Asia. The park has an enormously diverse landscape spreading over an area of 127,480 acres (51,368 hectares) – 20,974 acres (8,491 hectares) make up green land (irrigated plantations), 101,726 acres (40,942 hectares) covers dry land (desert), and 4,780 acres constitutes wetland (ponds and lakes). The park is the home to many animals and birds, including the rare Chinkara Gazelle and plentiful wild boar. In winter there are abundant ducks in the lake. The Park is crossed by the dried-up bed of the Hakra River featuring an important wetland of Patisar Lake. For accommodation, there is a small facility by Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) and camping can also be done in selected campsites.
Sadiq Garh Palace
The elegance and glory of Sadiq Garh Palace dwarf even other mesmerizing palaces in Bahawalpur. Surrounded by lush green lawns filled with beautiful plants and flowers, and covered by a huge fortification, the sky building topped by a central dome surrounded by bastions at every corner truly presents the outstanding taste of the Nawabs family for architecture. It looks even more graceful at night when it is glowing with lights of different colors. Its interior is embellished with the furniture and other supplements of the best quality. It was established in 1882 by Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan (IV) under the supervision of expert engineers and its cost fifteen lac rupees. It took 10 years for the palace to be completed.
Darbar Mahal is one of the several royal palaces in Bahawalpur commissioned by Nawab Bahawal Khan (V) in 1904. Originally conceived as “Bahawal Garh”, the fort was completed in 1905 and dedicated to one of the wives of the Nawab. Its architectural grandeur is cleverly blended with local and foreign influence including the Mughal, Indian, Sikh, and European makes it a unique edifice ever built. The exterior in red with white color topped while the interior painted light gold-tan colored displays both robustness and peace. Even it has an excellent view from outside if not allowed to get in as the fort is under the custody of Pakistan Army since 1971.
Noor Mahal was the palace of the fifth the ruler of the Abbasi family, Nawab Sir Muhammad Sadiq. The imposing double-storey Italian style building has 32 rooms and 14 basements and was built in 1885. Although it was built as a residence of the Nawab yet he did not stay for a single night here. It was, however, used as the state guest house and had the honor of hosting some of the nobles and high profile guests. The palace currently houses some of the antiquities of the family besides the exquisite furniture and remarkable fixtures. Besides, the Noor Mahal Palace is richly adorned with arms, muskets, and swords on walls. The palace was used as an army club in 1999 and is still in the possession of Army. The Noor Mahal Palace has now been protected under the Antiquities Act of 1975.
Gulzar Mahal was constructed in 1902 and has the privilege of being the first ever building to have concealed electric wiring in Bahawalpur. It was commissioned by Nawab Sadiq Muhammad Khan IV. Its architectural influence bears distinctly European influence and is a place worth a visit.
Jamia Masjid Al Sadiq
Jamia Masjid Al-Sadiq is among the largest mosques in Pakistan built by Nawab Sadiq Khan Abbasi by donating his personal property. It was built on a 12 ft elevated platform and its foundation stone was laid by Great Sufi of Chishtia clan and the Spiritual Master of Nawab of Bahawalpur Hazrat Noor Muhammad Maharvi more than 200 years ago. The mosque has a capacity to accommodate 50 to 60 thousand people at a time. It is one of the most beautiful mosques embellished with marble work and a great feat of engineering, particularly in acoustics. Its renovation was carried out in 1935 by Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Abbasi V. This beautiful mosque is located in the heart of the town’s main bazaar area. It serves as Bahawalpur’s major Friday mosque.
The Tomb of Bibi Jawindi in Uch Sharif
Uchh Sharif is an ancient town situated about 50 km west of Bahawalpur. It is founded by Alexander the Great and famous for the ancient shrines and for Sufi culture. The tomb of Bibi Jawindi in Uchh Sharif was built in 1493 by an Iranian prince, Dilshad, for Bibi Jawindi, the great-granddaughter of a famous Sufi saint. The structure of the tomb is built by bricks and is decorated by stunning blue glazed tile mosaic while the turrets feature with a bunch of broad flowering leaves. This unique design makes it different from Multani tombs. The entire structure is a three-storey building – the ground floor is octagonal in shape, the second storey is surrounded by a narrow gallery to walk around while the third and the top floor is a hemispherical dome crowning the building. The aesthetically carved wooden mehrab in the west wall of the building signifies the typical pattern of Multani architecture. The tombs of Hazrat Rukn-e-Alam and Baha-ud-Din Zakria are built with the same pattern.
Bahawalpur has a modest museum housing a good variety of collections. The museum has various sections featuring galleries housing different artifacts. The Pakistan Movement Gallery has a great collection of photos; the Islamic art gallery is rich in arms, textiles, graphic arts, and metalware; the archaeological gallery houses relics from Moenjodaro and Harappa; the Coins and Medals Gallery has items by the former state of Bahawalpur; the Ethnological Gallary features handicrafts from Cholistan and Bahawalpur; the Fabrics Gallary has a variety of regional costumes from the region; and the Manuscripts & Calligraphy Gallery is rich in wood and stone carvings of Islamic and pre-Islamic era as well as camel silk paintings. The museum is located about less than 1 km southeast of Farid Gate.
Bahawalpur Central Library
Its design bearing Italian Architectural influence, the Bahawalpur Central Library is the second largest library in Punjab and considered one of the best libraries of Pakistan. Its foundation stone was laid on March 8, 1924, by Sir Rufus Daniel Isaacs, the then Viceroy and Governor General of India on the eve of the coronation of the Nawab of Bahawalpur State, Nawab Sir Sadiq Muhammad Khan Khamis Abbasi. The library houses an impressive collection of more than 100,000 books. It also stocks all the editions of major national newspapers since 1947. The Bahawalpur Central Library has more than 12000 active members and is located next to the Bahawalpur Museum.
The Farid Gate is one of the seven gates of the walled city of Bahawalpur still surviving today. Conservation efforts are underway to preserve it and the surrounding areas to their former glory.
Sadiq Public School
Sadiq Dane High School
Lahore is the second largest city and cultural hub of Pakistan, also known as Pakistan’s cultural capital. It is the provincial capital of Punjab, enormously blessed with architectural and cultural heritage. Tourist attractions in Lahore are spread in abundance and the city also has the honour of holding the largest number of important educational institutions.
Founded in the legendary times, Lahore – also known as the city of gardens – has an array of diverse attractions for the visitors. The lively city has been a centre of architectural excellence for over a thousand years. The Mughal architecture, the Sikh legacy, the colonial-Gothic buildings lined up along the Mall road existing from the British Raj, and the palatial mansions and trendy shopping malls in the suburbs make Lahore a city of choice.
Lahore has a number of eye-catching gardens and it was therefore called the city of gardens. The Shalimar Garden, a unique collage of nature and architecture, was accomplished in 1641-42 AD under the supervision of Khalilluah Khan, a noble of Shah Jahan’s court. The construction of the garden was influenced by regions like Central Asia, Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Dehli Sultanate and reflects the affinity of Shah Jahan for nature and architecture. The Shalimar Garden was incorporated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1981. The 16 hectares (658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west) rectangle garden by crenellated walls of red sandstone is arranged in three terraces descending from south to north with each terrace given a special name. The garden is located close to Baghbanpura on the GT road 5km northeast of city centre. The site of the garden belonged to the Arian Mian Family and Shah Jahan rewarded them with the Mian title for its services and contribution to the Mughal Empire.
The 60-meter high Minar-e-Pakistan is a national monument built to commemorate the day when the Pakistan resolution was passed on March 23, 1940. The memorial tower is located next to the Badshahi Mosque in Iqbal Park originally known as Minto Park. Minar-e-Pakistan was designed by a Turkish architect, Murat Khan, and the construction work completed in 8 years from 1960-68. This is the historic site where Nehru and the Indian National Congress declared the independence of the subcontinent from Britain in 1929. Generous funding of Rs. 500,000 was generated by the then governor of West Pakistan, Akhtar Hussain, for the construction. It was opened to the public on October 31, 1968.
Chau Burji is a local term for the monument with four minarets. The monument has a historical significance and is located on the Multan road in Lahore. Historically the tower has been an entry point to a Mughal garden associated with Zeb un Nisa, the daughter of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. The garden does not exist anymore but the monument is standing by the Metro Bus Track. It was built in the year 1646 CE with a typical Mughal style construction. With the passage of time, apathy of authorities, and due to weather conditions the monument lost most of the inscriptions on it yet Ayat-ul-Kursi (Quranic verses) on the upper-most part of the structure and the two couplets written in Persian above the arch could still be legible. Comprehensive conservation of this monument was carried out in 2018 before its fall forever.
Daata Darbar is the largest Sufi shrine in South Asia. It was built to house the remains of a Muslim mystic and a revered saint Abdul Hassan Al Hujwiri also popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, he is said to have lived on the site in the 11th century. The shrine was built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim later in the 11th yet subsequent expansions were made since then and Hajvary Mosque was part of it. The shrine is located near the Bhati Gate into Lahore’s Walled City and visited by more than 30,000 visitors on a daily basis. People of all faiths are welcome to visit the shrine.
Lahore Railway Station
Lahore Railway Station was literally the first purpose-built British imperial building, a representative of typical grand British architecture in the subcontinent during British Raj. It was built in 1857 following the Indian Mutiny and was intentionally designed to function both as a station and as a fort for the safety and accommodation of employees. Its construction was entirely of brick masonry. The architect, William Brunton who called it the “best in the world”, was confident that the building could survive even full-scale howitzer fire.
Lahore High Court
Known as a place where legal history is made, the Lahore High Court has much to see for the tourists. The architectural marvel that the building holds is beyond imagination. Its elegant look owing to the unique architectural design places it among the top rated tourist attractions of Lahore.
General Post Office
The General Post Office (GPO) Lahore is a public building located at the end (T turn) of Mall Road near Anarkali. It was designed by eminent architect Sir Ganga Ram and was built around 1887 in order to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Although not as attractive as other colonial buildings to plan a special visit yet for photographers, particularly those who are into architecture, it is a must see facility. Its structure is a unique European style building with the Mughal touch. It has three towers on the front with a central taller one having a domed top and four huge clocks on all four sides. It was renovated in 1970 and declared a heritage site. GPO Lahore handles about 20,000 pieces of mail per day.
University of Punjab
Informally called “Punjab University”, the University of Punjab is the oldest and largest public research university located in the downtown area of Lahore. The University of Punjab was established on 14 October 1882. It is the fourth major university established by the British Government in the subcontinent. Like other facilities erected during the British Raj, the Punjab University building is worth a visit. The university has produced a great number of scholars and is ranked amongst top large-sized multiple faculty universities by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. The university is also a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities of the United Kingdom.
Aitchison College Lahore
Aitchison College in Lahore is a legacy left behind by the British. It has impressive huge colonial buildings featuring a charming architecture and lush green sprawling lawns stretching from Davis road to Canal road. The college has swimming pools, running tracks, and several sports fields. It was established in 1886 as a school to teach and educate the elite class – the sons of chiefs and nobles working under the British. Its list of alma mater includes politicians, cricketers and businessmen and finance chiefs who have studied at world-leading institutions. Prime minister Imran Khan, former president Farooq Lagari, and many other notable figures from Pakistan have been the alma mater of this institution. It educates around 3000 students at any given time. Due to security, you must prebook campus visit.
Anar Kali Bazar
Lahore is blessed in all aspects of travel – food, heritage sites, shopping, and for special ceremonies. When it comes to shopping, Anar Kali Bazar is a name to choose out of its array of shopping malls and markets. This nearly 200 years old place is named after Anarkali, the slave girl, who was buried alive by the Mughal Emperor Akbar for having a love affair with his son, Prince Saleem. One can hope to find items of all types and categories including silk, leather, jewellers, and what not.
Pak Tea House
It was originally believed to have set up by a Sikh family in 1932 but given to YMCA later on in 1940 when it was originally established as India Teahouse by Boota Singh. Later it was taken over by two Sikh brothers Surtej Singh Bhalla and Kaiser Singh Bhalla in 1944. After partition, the restaurant was allotted to Sirajuddin Ahmed in 1947 who renamed it to “Pak Tea House” in 1950 and ran this restaurant successfully till 1978. His Son closed it in 2000 and remained closed till 2013 until it was renovated and reopened. It has for long been a melting pot of celebrated intellectuals of the subcontinent. The Pak Tea House is located at the bank of Mall Road and remains open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm
Standing on the right bank of River Ravi, about 8 km north-west of Lahore, the tomb of Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627) was built by Shah Jahan in 1637 AD. Its construction features a unique architecture using decorated marble gravestone with pietra-dura floral and the 99 names of God are inlaid in black.
Empress Noor Jahan’s Tomb is located in the Shahdra Bagh in Lahore, across Ravi River, just separated by a train track from that of her husband’s and her brother’s tombs. She was the beloved wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and most popular queen of Mughal period. She died in 1645 and was buried in the tomb she built for herself during her lifetime. Empress Noor Jahan’s tomb is located near Emperor Jahangir’s Tomb.
Mirza Abdul Hasan Asif Jah (also known as Asif Khan) was the brother of Empress Noor Jahan (Jahangir’s wife), and the father of Mumtaz Mahal (Shah Jahan’s wife). He was the Prime Minister of India and the Viceroy of Punjab under Shah Jahan. He had a palace in Lahore called Asif Jah’s Haveli. He died in 1641 and his tomb is located opposite to the mausoleum of Jahangir. The octagonal tomb resembles that of Murad Khan’s tomb, topped by a double-layered bulbous dome and was commissioned by Shah Jahan. The red sandstone mausoleum has water reservoirs at four corners. Each side has recessed alcove with a door and arched windows looking into the tomb. The blue kasha tiles and the marble have been stripped off. Likewise, the marble and stone inlay in the inner section was also removed. Its ceiling decked with high plaster relief and it still contains the carved Quranic inscriptions.
The Akbari Sarai (Palace of Akbar) is a large oblong shaped courtyard situated between Jahangir’s Tomb and Asif Khan’s Tomb in Lahore city in Punjab province of Pakistan. This unique Mughal era structure was built in 1637 to host travellers and caretakers of Jahangir’s Tomb. It also served as mail station known as dak chowki.
The Lahore Canal
The 82-kilometer-long and 5 feet deep canal, tree-lined Banba-wali Ravi-Bedian (BRB) waterway was a great feat of the Mughals. In 1861, it was upgraded and extended to the Punjab irrigation system by the British. It slices its way through the heart of Lahore – starting from BRB, winding through colonies, famous educational and religious institutions, business complexes, smooth highways, and sports grounds and ends at Raiwind Road. The Lahore Canal is a national heritage and a great source of recreation during the scorching summers. Colourful floats are placed in the Canal and the entire line is lit up during festivals. The Canal is accompanied by roads on both sides and there are twelve bridges at different sections of the Canal to connect the roads.
Spreading over an area of 25 acres, the Lahore Zoo is the oldest and largest Zoo in South Asia and was established in 1872. It houses a great collection of 1380 animals of 136 species. It is a well-maintained zoo and a great source of a picnic for the people from all walks of life. The zoo is situated on the Mall Road and is surrounded by Jinnah Park and Quaid-e-Azam library.
Lahore has the largest and the oldest museum showcasing the intriguing history of Pakistan. It was inaugurated by Prince Victor Albert in 1894 at its present site. Its 17 galleries interpret the complete history and culture of Pakistan and its surrounding regions. The museum has a superb collection of Gandhara sculptures, Buddhist rare manuscripts, Islamic calligraphy, the oldest manuscript of Guru Granth Sahib, and a good collection of centuries-old coins, crafts, and relics of the region.
Zamzamah – Bhangian Wali Taop – Kim’s Gun
The Bhangian Wali Taop (or Zamzamah) or the Kim’s Gun is a large bore Cannon placed on display at the upper Mall (Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam) in front of the Lahore Museum in Lahore, Pakistan. It is the largest gun ever made in the subcontinent measuring 14 feet 4 ½ inches in length with a bore at its aperture of 9 ½ inches. It was cast in Lahore in 1757 by a metalsmith called Shah Nazir under the directions of the then prime minister Shah Wali Khan in the reign of the Afghan King Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali). It was made out of copper and brass vessels extracted from the local Hindu population as a tribute. The gun was employed to win the battle of Panipat in 1761. After the battle, Ahmed Shah, on his way to Kabul, left the gun with his governor, Khwaja Ubed. Later in 1762, Hari Singh Bhangi seized the gun in a battle with Khwaja Ubed and it was renamed Bhangi Toap. It came to be known as Kim’s Gun after Rudyard Kipling in whose childhood memoirs it obtained frequent mention. It was placed in this position on the occasion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Lahore in 1870. It was severely damaged during several wars and was repaired in 1977.
Wahga Border (Flag lowering ceremony)
Missing to witness the most exciting “lowering of flags ceremony” at the Wahga Border is like a trip to Lahore unaccomplished. The flag lowering ceremony takes place at Wahga border every day before sunset since 1959. The parade performance at the crossing border between Pakistan and India is a fun experience that every tourist would love to observe. It is an emotional exchange of patriotic slogans by the cheering crowd on both sides of the border during military parade performance of Pakistani Rangers and Indian Border Security Forces. The patriotic slogans further stimulate the parade performance of the giant guards wearing graceful turbans to amuse the visitors. The flag is lowered simultaneously on both sides and wrapped at the end of the ceremony to conclude the event. It, however, begins with a handshake of the army persons of both sides every afternoon. The ceremony attracts a lot of visitors including international tourists on a daily basis.
Grand Jamia Mosque
With the capacity of 70,000 worshippers, including 25,000 indoors, the Grand Jamia Mosque in Baharia Town, Lahore, is the third largest mosque in Pakistan and 7th largest mosque in the world. It was designed by Nayyar Ali Dada and its architecture is influenced by Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque, and Sheikh Zayed mosque. It has a grand dome surrounded by 20 smaller domes and four minarets each 165 ft tall. Its exterior is decked with 4 million handmade Multani tiles. Its interior is embellished with more than 50 Iranian chandeliers and the ground is layered with custom-made Turkish carpets. An entire floor consists of an Islamic heritage museum, an Islamic library and an Islamic art gallery. The museum houses rare Quranic collections and the art gallery has antique artefacts.
Pakistan is a unique and blessed state made up of Asia’s most remarkable landscapes. It has diverse geography blended with rich cultures and a long tradition of hospitality mirrored by the people of its country. There is no other country in the world presenting more prospects to trace roots of modern-day humans than Pakistan.
The territory that constitutes today’s Pakistan has for centuries been a cradle of ancient civilizations and home to ancient cultures and dynasties. Tracing its history back from the 9000 years old Neolithic Mehergarh civilization followed by the 5000 years old bronze age Indus Valley Civilization, the 3000 years old Buddhist Gandhara Civilization, the 16th century Mughal Era, the brief Sikh rule, and the 200 years British occupation, until independence in 1947, Pakistan has seen unprecedented events that no other independent sovereign state might have gone through.
Officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is the world’s 6th most populous country in South Asia housing more than 212,742,631 people (as per 2017 census). It is the 33rd-largest country encompassing 881,913 square kilometres (340,509 square miles). The country has four provinces – Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – and three territories – FATA, Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan – surrounding a well-planned modern capital city, Islamabad, located in the heart of the state.
Pakistan is strategically placed on the crossroads of Asia and divided into three major geographic areas – the northern highlands, the Indus River plains, and the Balochistan Plateau. The country is bordered by the 1046 km coastline of the Arabian Sea in the south, India to the east, China to the northeast, Afghanistan to the northwest, and Iran to the southeast. From the mighty glaciated mountain ranges in the north (Gilgit-Baltistan) to the coastal areas of the south the diverse landscape of Pakistan is rich in alluvial fertile planes, vast deserts, dense forests, plateaus, jungles, flora and fauna, rivers, and lakes.
Pakistan is abundant in tourist attractions.
The northern mountainous part of the country constitutes some parts of KPK (Chitral, Swat, and the Kaghan Valley), Azad Jammu & Kashmir, and the entire Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly northern areas) – making up the westernmost edge of the great Himalayas – a unique playground for adventure lovers. The region is ideal for adventure sports and is known as a haven for nature and adventure lovers.
Gilgit-Baltistan has the honour of hosting world’s highest mountains and longest glaciers located outside the polar region famous for trekking, mountaineering, climbing, white water rafting, mountain & desert jeep safaris, and paragliding. The junction point of three mighty mountain ranges – the Karakoram, the Hindukush, and the Himalaya – and the Pamir mountain range exist in Gilgit-Baltistan. The region has been the melting pot of Buddhism and remained one of the several trade routes of ancient Silk Route – currently the Karakoram Highway connecting Pakistan and China Pakistan and China at Khunjerab Pass as a trade and tourism artery embellished by more than 100,000 petroglyphs and rock carvings testifying the Buddhist rule, towering mountains with tiny valleys and terraced fields in the backdrop, ancient forts featuring architectural dexterity, and hundreds of years old rich history of the natives.
The central territories of the country feature mostly, dense forests, vast deserts, and fertile lands so abundant in history and culture housing unique landmarks. Its archaeological heritage making up ancient sites such as Moenjo-Daro & Harappa of Indus Valley Civilization as well as Taxila & Takht-i-Bahi of Gandhara Civilization are the spotlights drawing domestic and international visitors in volumes. In addition to these sites, Pakistan boasts a wealth of architecturally significant landmarks, many dating from the Islamic era, Moghul Empire, Sikh rule, and from the British era, located in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, Karachi & Peshawar.
Its southern region constituting Sindh and Baluchistan make up archaeological sites, religious landmarks, architectural heritage, lakes, and some of the world’s best golden beaches stretching along the coastal line. The Makran Coastal Highway from Karachi to Gwadar and Jiwani is a unique highway in the world crowned with exclusive tourist attractions. Pakistan hosts six of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and several dozens of sites still lined up to be declared the World Heritage.
The country’s major cities reflect historic and modern influences. The people of different colors and creeds having diverse cultural backgrounds living in different parts of these cities belonging to diverse ethnic groups, practicing their own faiths, wearing colorful costumes speaking some of the world’s distinct languages, consuming rich diet, maintaining and harmonious society are known as the most hospitable people present a true image of the country.
Pakistan is accessible by road from China via Khunjerab border, from Afghanistan via Khyber Pass (currently closed), From Iran via Taftan border and from India via the Wahga border. By air, Pakistan is accessible from several countries directly and indirectly. A number of international flag carriers fly to the major airports of Pakistan including Islamabad, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Sialkot, and Karachi.
The region’s four distinct seasons, its countless landmarks including the highest mountain ranges and longest glaciers outside polar region, crystal blue lakes, gushing rivers, longest highways, trekking routes, terraced fields, monuments, cuisines, and cultural diversity are what make it a distinguished region and draw tourists in volumes.