Peshawar, the city of valiant Pashtuns, is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) or formerly the North-West Frontier province of Pakistan. Strategically located on the crossroads of Central Asia and the subcontinent, the city was known as the oldest living city in South Aisa. Peshawar has been the hub of Gandhara Civilization and pathway of many great civilizations like the Aryans, Persian, Greeks, Mongols and the Mughals. This culturally vibrant and lively city is the administrative centre and economic hub of KP still retains the glory and old looks of historical streets, buildings and bazaars with just a little change during the past one century. Peshawar is irrigated by various canals of the Kabul River and by its right tributary, the Bara River. There are several tourist attractions in Peshawar to feast eyes with as listed below.
Bala Hisar Fort
Bala Hisar literally means “the raised or great fort” and the name was suggested by Taimor Shah Durrani, an Afghan King. The fort stands on a high mound in the northwest corner of Peshawar city providing a commanding and panoramic view of the clustered city and the surrounding mountains on a clear day. This historic fort was built by the Mughal emperor Babur when he conquered Peshawar in 1526. The royal family lived in this fort before it was destroyed. However, the Sikhs rebuilt a mud fort later and the British replaced it with bricks. The fort can be visited on weekends only and is under the custody of the military. Its incredible architecture and the elbow-shaped rooms of the museum displaying retrieved weapons, apparels, photographs, and a range of other artefacts, are worth a visit.
Built in 1905 during the British Colonial era, the red-brick Peshawar Museum, also known as “Victoria Memorial Hall,” is a two-story building featuring a blend of British, Hindu, South Asian, Buddhist, and Mughal Islamic Architectural style. The museum is one of the most popular museums in south-east Asia for its collection of Gandharan art and currently showcasing about 14,000 items from various civilizations. Major collections include sculptures, coins, household items, weapons, art and crafts excavated from the major Gandharan regions in KPK that include Shah-Ji-Ki-Dheri in Peshawar, Takht-i-Bahi & Sahri Bahlol in District Mardan and later on by Jamal Garhi, and other Gandharan sites excavated by the British archaeologists.
Mahabat Khan Mosque
Mahabat Khan Mosque or Muhabbat Khan Mosque is the finest mosque in Peshawar named after the governor of Peshawar state, Nawab Mahabat Khan bin Ali Mardan Khan, who commissioned this mosque. The mosque was built in 1630 during Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan’s rule. Masjid Mahabat Khan is the only structure that stands in a slim ally of the “Andar Shehar Bazaar” in the town, to the west of Chowk Yadgar, and reminds of the glory the Mughal kingdom’s fondness for construction, especially the mosques. The masque was later renovated in 1898 by the British Government. The Masjid is worth a visit and remains open for tourist except during the prayer times, especially the Friday prayers.
Chowk Yadgaar is the central square of the Old Peshawar city and is known as the reunion place for the old men. The original Chowk Yadgar was demolished and a horse-shoe shaped structure was built which too was demolished and the present-day concrete structure was built at the same location. Its old name was Colonel Hastings Memorial (built around 1884-92 in remembrance of the first British Commissioner of Peshawar, Lieutenant Colonel Edward George Godolphin Hastings). The memorial is also a commemoration of the heroes of the war (1965) between Pakistan and India.
The Chitral Bazaar in the heart of Peshawar was famous for its handmade woollen hats, waistcoats and robes embellished with colourful embroidery. It was established in the 1940s and is famous around the country for its expertly crafted woollen wintery stuff. The Chitrali Bazaar has about 500 shops where native Chitrali people make their livings. It used to be a bustling junction for locals and foreigners alike but remained in a slump after 9/11 yet trying to pick up again.
Once a famous convergence point of foreigners in Peshawar, the Brass market has now tapered to only a few shops. Brass utensils used to be part of daily household use but gradually vanished due to their high costs. Historically, people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa used to present household utensils made of brass to their daughters in dowry but that tradition has also faded gradually because of rareness. However, luckily there are still a few selected artisans producing brassware handicrafts in the form of decorative plates, vases, bowls, and other souvenirs at least to cater to local and foreign tourists. The brass and copperware crafted by old artisans of Peshawar still could not be matched anywhere in the country.
Cunningham Clocktower or Ghanta Ghar
The Cunningham Clock Tower was named after Sir George Cunningham, former British political agent in North Waziristan and later promoted as governor in the province. This masterpiece is locally called Ghanta Ghar which literally mean Hour House, Clock House or Clock tower, built in 1900 in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. The four-tiered tower was designed by James Strachan, the Municipal Engineer of Peshawar and the foundation stone was laid by Sir George Cunningham himself. The clock displayed in this tower is one of the pair (the second one in England) presented by Queen Elizabeth. You will most likely be able to see the Cunningham Clock Tower within a distance no matter which location in the surroundings you are standing, and this clock tower will also help navigate through the area a bit easier.
Qissa Khwani Bazaar or the Storytellers Street
The Qissa Khwani Bazaar or Storytellers Street is Peshawar’s most famous bazaar. It has a historic significance where traders and travellers, mostly from central Asian states, that would gather here, about 1000 years ago, near the fire while sipping the famous Qehwa (a local green tea) and would exchange tales.
Once a Mughal caravanserai, the archaeological complex of Ghor Khatri, standing on a hill on the top end of Sethi street, is a 200 meters square courtyard with huge Mughal gateways on either side. The complex has also remained a governor’s mansion during the Sikh rule and it also contains a neglected Hindu temple. The many strata in its 15 m below the ground archaeological excavations reveal the history of Peshawar to well before the Greeks and Kushans and authenticate the claim that Peshawar has been one of the oldest living cities of south Asia. The small museum and the fire brigade’s two vehicles on the premises are worth a visit.
In the heart of the walled city of Peshawar, the Sethi Street is surrounded by seven impressive houses (including the main Sethi House currently serving as cultural heritage) called Sethi Mahallah. These unique houses with colourful wooden carved doors featuring an intricate artwork, partitions, balconies, and mirrored and painted rooms, were built by the Sethi family. The construction of these houses reflects a blend of Gandharan and central Asian art and architecture. The Sethi Muhallah is one of the major tourist attractions in Peshawar one must visit. The Sethis were rich Hindu traders having businesses in China, India, Afghanistan, Iran and in several cities of Central Asia. Besides business, the family was involved in considerable welfare work in Peshawar.
The main Sethi house, located at the end of the Sethi street, was constructed by Karim Bakhsh Sethi in 1884. This oriental style highly embellished building presents a unique architecture with easy air moment facilities. Its highly carved wooden doors and windows and its colourful wooden ceilings still boast of its brilliance. The building covering a total of 33 Marlas is currently serving as cultural heritage functioning under the Directorate of Archaeology. Visitors are subject to pay entry fees and there are special charges for still photography and video photography. Museum timings during summers are 08:30-12:30/14:30-17:00 hrs (from 1st April to 30 September) and during winters from 09:00-13:00/13:30-16:00 hrs (1st October to 31st March). Sethi House remains closed on Fridays.
Founded in 1913 by the personal initiatives led by Sir S.A. Qayyum and Sir George Roos Keppel, the Islamia college is one of the oldest institutes of higher education in Pakistan. The prestigious building was also featured on the country’s Rs. 1000 currency note is well worth a visit. The Victorian-style building constructed of red bricks, facing the Jamrud Road, can easily be seen and accessible to anyone. The magnificent building surrounded by manicured gardens presents an atmosphere of a real oasis.
Smugglers’ Bazaar or Karkhano
The Smugglers’ Bazaar or Karkhano falls on the way to Khyber Pass, just on the fringes of Peshawar. A fairly large set up of concrete shops lined up and stocked with imported goods, mostly smuggled from Afghanistan and other countries is a paradise for shoppers to get imported goods on a reasonable price. Major inventory includes cut-price electronics, fabric, and other items of household necessities.
The legendary Bab-e-Khyber or the Khyber Gate is a monument standing at the entrance of the Khyber Pass located to the west of Peshawar city at GT Road which is also the entrance to Khyber Pass that further leads to Torkhum border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Khyber Gate is about 16 km from the main city and takes about 30 min to reach. This post-independence structure was built in 1964 by Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The historic Jamrud Fort is located adjacent to the Khyber Gate. There is no decent rest area and the monument is only surrounded by some local Bazar and fruit market around the roadside.
Jamrud Fort is located adjacent to Khyber Pass, about 16km west of Peshawar. The fort was built by Hari Singh Nalwa (1791-1837), lost by the Afghan Durrani Empire, in 1836 to mark the western edge of their empire. Hari Singh Nalwa, the commanding officer of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s Sikh Khalsa Army and the founder of Haripur city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was responsible for the expansion of the frontier of Sikh empire beyond the Indus River and the western boundary of the empire was Jamrud at the time of his death. The construction of the fort was completed in 54 days with the help of 6000 soldiers and was originally named Fatehgarh to commemorate the Sikh victory over the disunited tribes. The fort was originally built on a high mound from where Khyber, Mohmand, and Bara areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could be seen. Its construction resembles the Balahisar Fort in Peshawar as its security walls were six yards high with security watch towers duly cannon installed on all of them to keep an eye on outside attackers. There is another separate tower 12 foot high attributed to Hari Singh Nalwa.
When it comes to food, the Charsi Tikka in Peshawar is one of the famous places to visit and try the delicious Afghan dish called Charsi Tikka. This place, also known as Namak Mandi, is well known for BBQ and Karhai offered with salads and the magical Qehwa (green tea). The aroma of outdoor BBQ and the traditional set up is quite unique and attracts people from all walks of life from surrounding cities, including foreign tourists visiting Peshawar who have a taste for rich food.
The Karakorum Highway (KKH), N-35, is the greatest wonder of the modern world. The highway is also dubbed as the 8th wonder of the world. It is a human determination and ingenuity and considered a great feat of engineering by Chinese and Pakistani workers. It runs along the Indus for 310 kilometers and leaves the Indus at the Junction of three mountain ranges for Gilgit, Hunza, and Khunjerab rivers to take on the Karakoram range where 12 out of 30 highest mountains in the world overlook the KKH. The Karakoram Highway tourist attractions are worldly known and there is no other highway in the world crowned with such rich attractions.
The 1300 kilometers (800 miles) long KKH originates from Hassan Abdal, a historic city some 45 kilometers from Islamabad on the Islamabad – Peshawar Highway. The asphalt ribbon runs through the cities of Abbottabad, Manshera, crosses the River Indus at Thakot, on to Gilgit through rugged mountains of Besham, Pattan, and Sazin and Chilas, and snakes through Hunza and Sost before crossing the Khunjerab Pass at 4,733 meters (15,750ft). The Khunjerab top is also named as Zero Point between Pakistan and China. The highway then enters the high Central Asian plateau before winding down through the Pamirs to Kashgar, at the western edge of the Taklamakan Desert.
The Karakoram Highway is crowned with a huge number of attractions ranging from ancient rock carvings and petroglyphs, natural beauty, and manmade marvels. Major attractions along the Karakoram Highway include:
Ashoka Rocks Mansehra
The three granite boulders bearing 14 edicts engraved by order of the Mauryan King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC are located on the north side of the town of Mansehra. The inscription bearing Kharoshti script is fading away and almost impossible to see despite the shelters to protect.
Petroglyphs in Chilas
The town of Chilas is surrounded by striking petroglyphs and are easy to access. The jeep bridge leading to Thalpan is the ‘Chilas I’ site with inscriptions found on both sides of the KKH. The most striking art is found on the large stupa bearing banners flying. And across the river, there are boulders bearing art of mythical animals, battle scenes, royal lineages, and Buddhist tales. The ‘Chilas II’ site near the police check post on the KKH, less than 1km down the jeep track, is a huge rock bearing hunting and battle scenes and Buddhist stupa, the long-horned ibex, symbols of fertility, and elusive trophy animals.
About 80 km short of Gilgit placed the Thakot Bridge on the Karakoram Highway which is also the place of departure for Fairy Meadows and Nanaga Parbat (the Killer Mountain) base camp. There are several places along the Karakoram Highway and Thalechi viewpoint is a designated point to make a short stopover to enjoy superb views of Nanga Parbat.
The Partab Bridge (Pul, in urdu), located at about 40 km southeast of main Gilgit city near the Junction Point of Three Mountain Ranges on the KKH, served as a major source of communication for the entire region. It was built to connect Gilgit with Bunji, Astore and Kashmir, years before the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). The bridge was named after Maharaja Partab Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir in the 1890s.
The suspension bridge was constructed during 1889 and 1893 by a British agent named Col Algernon Durand who also inaugurated it and was used mainly for defense and trade. However, during the revolt of 1947 when Gilgit won its independence from Dogra raj, it was burnt down. Later it was rebuilt but again it had nearly collapse from a decade long neglect and was rebuilt after 2010 floods.
The junction point of three mountain ranges is situated near Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), only 40 km southeast of Gilgit, Pakistan. It is here that the world’s three famous mountain ranges – the Karakoram (the black gravel), the Himalaya (home of snow), and the Hindukush (the killer of Hindus) – make a knot popularly known as the “Junction Point of the world’s three mountain ranges”. This exclusive site also serves as the junction of Gilgit and Indus Rivers and the Skardu road branches out from the KKH near this place.
Uprising Memorial Gilgit
The Uprising Memorial is the final resting place of local heroes who rose against the Maharaja in 1947. The local heroes Mohammed Babar Khan and Safiullah Beg of the Gilgit Scouts, and Mirza Hassan Khan of the Kashmir Infantry. Through a rebellion, these heroes were able to emancipate Gilgit-Baltistan by arresting Governor Ghansara Singh on Nov 01 from the Maharaja of Kashmir.
The 700 years old Victory Monument of Taj Mughal is a commemorative tower, measuring 21’-10” high and 14’-4” wide, located on a mountain lap in Gilgit town, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The monument was named after Taj-ud-Din Mughal, an Ismaili ruler from Badakhshan, who came to Gilgit -Baltistan during the 13th century AD. The Taj Mughal monument was built by his soldiers to celebrate his victory.
The Danyore Suspension Bridge near Gilgit is one of the oldest suspension bridges in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The 510 ft long bridge has served as a source of commute to the people otherwise had to take the local raft or a detour to travel to Gilgit city – the administrative headquarter and the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly northern areas. It is now serving as one of the major tourist attractions in Gilgit-Baltistan used only by the pedestrians and motorcyclists.
The Danyore Rock Inscriptions is a gigantic boulder bearing inscriptions from the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. The inscription is the most important discovery of Danyor and was seen for the first time by Karl Jettmar in 1958. The inscribed rock is situated in the premises of a private house in Danyore, across Gilgit city in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and is locally known as “Likhitu Giri”. The archaeological site is not very much popular and known only to a limited count of individuals/organizations related to archaeology and tourism.
Locally known as China Yadgar, the Chinese graveyard (The memorial Park) is the final resting place of mighty Chinese engineers and workers who sacrificed their lives during construction of the mighty Karakoram Highway (KKH) in the 1960s and 1970s. The cemetery is located in Danyore, about 10 km across main Gilgit town – the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. To be exact, the graveyard can be accessed in the residential area on the KKH, adjacent to Sehat Foundation Hospital.
Memorial Monument on the KKH
Memorial monument on the KKH
At a distance of about 35 km from Gilgit, on the main Karakoram Highway, a monument bearing the symbol of a Drilling Machine has been erected in memory of the brave people who lost their lives during the construction of the Karakoram Highway. The monument reads:
MEMORIAL 103 EB (Engineering Battalion)
In memory of their gallant men who proffered to make the Karakorams their permanent abode.
There shall be-
In that rich soil a richer dust conceals.
Silk Route segments
Running parallel to the Karakoram Highway, across the river between Gilgit and Hunza, several sections of the ancient Silk Route still exist retaining the rich legacy of ancient trade. It is only being used by the locals mostly to graze heard or to travel locally to annexing valleys. These sections can be utilized to draw in tourists.
The collision point of continental plates is located near Chalt Valley on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), some 53 km north of Gilgit town. The Indian and the Eurasian continental plates collided along a line which passed through this point giving rise to the Himalayan mountain range and formed Tibetan plateau some 50 million years ago. The tremendous pressure forced the earth’s crust to produce the towering Karakoram Mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.
Kino Kutto” or the Black Knee in local Shina language, is a section of the historic Silk Road which is now not in use. Located high up on the cliff side between Budalas valley of Nagar and Khizrabad village of Hunza, the section can easily be seen from the KKH. Once a footpath, then evolved to a pony track, it was later widened to a single jeep road in 1958-60 but remained unused since the construction of the Karakoram Highway. However, to show the nature of the historic connection, the Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan (AKCSP), with funding from the Royal Norwegian embassy Islamabad, restored the visible section of the road in partnership with Budalas and Khizerabad (Hunza) communities. Kinu Kutto has great views of Rakaposhi.
Rakaposhi View Point or “the Zero Point of Rakaposhi” is a prominent viewpoint offering the closest view of Rakaposhi and the natural beauty lies in its scenery. This remarkable viewpoint is located right on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) in Ghulmet village of Nagar Valley.
The Nilt Fort was a fort once existed in Nilt, Nagar, on the main KKH about 65km from Gilgit. It was destroyed in the famous Anglo-Brusho war fought between locals of Hunza-Nagar and the British during 1891revolt. The Nilt Fort withstood for days but the offensive from a far superior army, duly supported by a local conspiracy, apparently lead to its destruction. However, a lasting history still remains. It’s not just the Nilt Fort that disappeared and only seen in the literature but the historic Maiun Fort in lower Hunza (Shinaki) across the river and the forts in Chaprote, Thol, and Pisson have all disappeared gradually even without any historical accounts. The Nilt Fort site is easily overlooked by travellers, even though it is easily accessible on the way to Hunza from Nagar.
Queen Victoria Monument
Locally known as Malika mo Shikari, the Queen Victoria Monument on the shoulder of the rock face over Karimabad is a tower believed to be erected by Nazim Khan. The tower can be reached in an hour from Baltit village by going straight up to the base of the cliff.
The Kha Basi Café is a unique restaurant located under the shadow of Altit Fort in the ancient royal garden called “the Kha Basi” – a gorgeous and very well-kept-up fruit orchard full of apricot trees – located on the edge of the Altit town in Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It was a nice piece of simple old-fashioned architecture almost falling to decay. The Café was recently renovated and turned into a classic restaurant. Standing at the verge of the royal garden, overlooking the majestic mountains of Hunza/Nagar and the Karakoram Highway running along the Hunza River, the Kha Basi Café has both majestic views and a traditional taste.
Perched on the edge of a 1000 feet high rocky cliff rising sharply from the Hunza River, the epoch-making 900 years old impressive Altit Fort is one of the ancient forts surviving today in Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly northern areas), Pakistan. It has, for centuries, served as a palace to the local Mirs – the hereditary rulers of the state of Hunza – and later as a fort following some subsequent additions. The award-winning Altit Fort is a major tourist attraction not only because of its longstanding rich history but also for its unique architectural design facing the Karakoram Highway and for its strategic location on the ancient Silk Route.
Standing arrogantly on the moraine of Ultar glacier, with a commanding view of Hunza valley and its tributaries, the over 700 years old Baltit Fort featuring the Tibetan influenced architecture, is a glorious structure purposefully built for defence and definition of the then rulers of Hunza. The majestic fort now serves as a museum and a cultural centre. Baltit Fort is the recipient of several international awards and holds a global recognition.
Ganish Historic Settlement
Ganish (derived from Ghenish which in local brushaski language means Gold) is the oldest and the very first known settlement on the ancient Silk Road (now the Karakoram Highway) in the Hunza Valley. The town is located about 100 km (approx 2.5 hours traveling time) from Gilgit and about 180 km, approx 3.5 hours) from the Chinese border and situated on the right bank of Hunza River. It is one of the striking valleys bearing a rich history. The more than 1000 years old settlement (now renovated) houses various homes, narrow streets, imposing watch towers, traditional mosques with striking floral designs, modern religious centers, and a water reservoir near the main entrance.
Haldikish – the sacred rocks of Hunza – is a 30 ft high and 200 yards long huge boulder on the left bank of Hunza River located at a distance of 1.5 km from Ganish village and about a kilometre from Ganish Bridge on the KKH. The rocks are inscribed with the scripts and carvings of many different eras from past. Divided into two major portions, the upper portion of the sacred rock consist of inscriptions carved in Sogdian, Kharosthi, Brahmi, Sarada and Proto Sarada languages while the lower portion is engraved by the images of Ibexes. These ibexes are shown in different situations, including being hunted. There used to be many Buddhist shelter caves in ancient times which later collapsed or fell over time.
The Attabad Lake in Hunza, on the main Karakoram Highway, is a gorgeous lake and a major tourist attraction. It was created as a result of a massive landslide on January 04, 2010. The incidence claimed precious human lives and properties appearing a doomsday at the time of occurrence, but the entire scenario changed over time and unlocked a range of opportunities in the region. The lake has earned a great reputation and already placed itself as a leading tourist hotspot drawing a multitude of visitors on a daily basis.
At 2,600 meters (8,500 ft) Borith Lake is a natural lake surrounded by Borith hamlet in Gulmit, upper Hunza Valley in Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan. The lake can be reached via a 2 km unpaved uphill jeep track from Husseini village, adjacent to Ghulkin village, on the KKH. The lake is a sanctuary for migrating wildfowl and is often visited by bird-watchers and nature lovers. The site is also a launching pad for beautiful Patundas trek and walking trails to nearby villages of Gulkin and Kamaris in Gulmit Village.
Husseini Suspension Bridge
The Husseini Suspension Bridge over the Hunza River in upper Hunza (Gojal) is a rickety cable and plank bridge with huge gaps between them. The long bridge connects Husseini village with Zarabad hamlet and used by locals mostly with heavy loads on. Tourists flock from around the world to test their nerves on this crumbling structure. It is probably the worst still-functioning bridge in the world located at about 45 km from Aliabad Hunza and 132 km from Gilgit.
The 20.5 km long Passu Glacier spreading over 115 sq km can be seen as soon as one enters the Passu village while travelling from the south to north along the Karakoram Highway. The glacier is located to the east of the highway displaying a panoramic view. At the same time, one has the best ever views of the entire Passu valley and the Passu Cones (Cathedrals) from this point. The Passu Glacier flows directly from the 7,478m (24,534 ft) Passu Peak which itself is positioned in the back end of the glacier.
Passu Cathedral or the Passu cones are the jagged spires rising from a set of mountain peaks located to the north of Passu Valley in the Karakoram mountain range of Pakistan. Standing to the other side of the Hunza River, the cones present a majestic view from different points along Karakoram Highway passing through the Gulmit and Passu Valleys. The sun-drenched mountain peaks are known by several names including Passu Cones, Cathedral Spires, and locally called Tupopdan but are still prominent among the tourists as Passu Cathedral. Passu Cathedral is the most photographed peak scaled for the first time by the British in 1987.
Sost is a beautiful village in upper Hunza and the last town on the Karakoram Highway before the Chinese border. At 2800 m above the sea level Sost is now a busy bazaar, has Pakistani immigration and customs departments based here, and all the trade goods and passengers pass through this town. It is almost a melting pot of diverse people, mostly traders, from different geographic backgrounds. Local inhabitants speak Wakhi Language but here almost every language is spoken which is spoken in all major cities of Pakistan besides some dialects of Chinese language and also English as a tourist language. Sost has a couple of good hotels providing accommodation facilities for domestic and international tourists.
At 4700 m the Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved international border crossing in the world. It is the meeting point of two sections of the Karakoram Highway connecting Gilgit-Baltistan area of northern Pakistan and Xinjiang province of western China. Out of the 1300 km highway, 887 km traverses through Pakistan while rest of the 413 km passes through the Chinese territory.
The Makran Coastal Highway in Blochistan, also known as National Highway 10 (N-10), is a 653 km road connecting the western provinces of Sindh and Balochistan and running mostly along the Arabian Sea coast. The highway is decked with unique attractions becoming prominent to the world. Major Makran Coastal Highway Attractions are:
Princess of Hope
It was not discovered until the Hollywood actress Angelina Julie visited the area in 2002 and named the naturally carved rock formation as “Princess of Hope”. The standing lady is a fascinating natural mud structure in Hingol National Park that it appears to be a masterpiece of a skilled artisan. It is located about 275 km from Karachi and can easily be sighted while travelling on the Makran Coastal Highway. God knows for how long it has been standing there bearing all kind of weather conditions.
About 150 km from the Zero Point of Makran Coastal Highway and about 280 km from Karachi, past Kund Malir beach, the Sphinx-like structure is another natural formation. The coast of Makran mostly constitutes of muddy hills with very fast winds blowing year round. These fast blowing winds cut through the muddy hills result in the formation of natural structures like the standing lady (Princess of Hope) or sphinx. The Sphinx is largely associated with Egypt, which were carved shapes as Egyptian goddesses. The Natural Sphinx is although not as sharply shaped as the Sphinx in Egypt, however, the structures are worth seeing.
Hingol National Park
Hingol National Park stretches over an area of 1,650 square km along the Makran coast in southwestern Balochistan contains a variety of topographic features. It is one of the largest national parks in Pakistan and was established in 1988. The park has some 250 plant species, 35 species of mammals, 65 species of amphibians and reptiles and 185 species of birds.
Hingol Mud Volcanoes
The Hingol mud volcanoes, also called Chandragup Mud Volcanoes, located about 200 km west of Karachi and about 8 kilometres off the main Coastal Highway leading from Lasbela to Gwadar. The unique construction of all of the muddy hills and statues in Hingol National Parks is an artwork of these mud volcanoes constantly erupting with clay. Only the locals may provide guidance to the exact location. A landmark, however, is an SSGC installation. The site has total 21 volcanoes including 3 major mud volcanoes. The site is also a sacred Hindu worship place.
Hinglaj Mandir or Hinglaj Mata is a Hindu temple in Hinglaj town in the middle of the famous Hingol National Park on the Makran coast. It is also named as Hinglaj Devi or Nani Mandir considered to be one of the oldest temples in the world and an important place of pilgrimage for the Hindu population in Sindh. The Mandir is located in a narrow gorge on the west bank of Hingol River about 19 km inland from the Arabian Sea on the coastal highway, 250 km to the northwest of Karachi, at the end of Keerthar Hill range in the Makran Desert stretch. Unlike other shrines having manmade images, the Hinglaj Mandir has a small shapeless stone smeared with Sindoor (Vermilion) in a small natural cave which is worshipped as Hinglaj Mata.
Kund Malir Beach
Kund Malir is one of the serene beaches located in Hingol National Park, some 145 km from the Zero Point, around 270 km from Karachi. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in this world. However lacking the basic facilities like hotels, restaurants, fuel stations and no cell phone signals it still is worth visiting with a really calm peaceful and soothing environment. Apart from Kund Malir, there are long stretches of Arabian Sea beaches along the Coastal Highway which turns this long ride into a driving delight.
Ormara Beach is located on the midway between Karachi and Gwadar on the Makran Coastal Highway – about 360 km west of Karachi and 230 km east of Gwadar. Ormara basically was the name given to the town and then to the beach from one of the generals of Alexander the Great called “Ormoz” who died here when Alexander the Great and his army stayed there on their way back after conquering Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces of modern-day Pakistan in 326 BC.
Pasni is an important small town at the Arabian Sea in Gwadar. Its significance relates to the discovery of rock formations including the ancient ruins of the Harappan era and the presence of antique Hindu temples, and proofs of Alexander’s passing the coastal belt.
About 25 km south of the nearest part of the coast and 39 km southeast of the fishing port of Pasni is a small uninhabited island called Astola Island or Jazira Haft Talar. It is known to be largest offshore Island measuring 6.7 km long and 2.3 km wide, and 246 ft above sea level. The Island is accessible by motorboat in about 5 hrs or by helicopter. It is a popular eco-tourism destination with no lodging facilities on the Island. Anyone planning for an overnight stay must carry a tent and food. The Island is famous for scuba diving, fishing, and to observe turtle breeding.
The term Gwadar is a combination of two Balochi words Gwat (meaning the wind) and Dar (meaning Gateway) thus Gwadar means “The gateway of wind”. There is a slightly different concept which suggests that the world Gwadar was derived from “Gedrosia” which was the ancient name of Balochistan given by the Greeks to the arid area making up the southern part of Balochistan.
Gwadar today is a port city on the southernmost coast of Balochistan at the Arabian Sea near the border with Iran located to the east of Persian Gulf and opposite Oman. However, historically, the city and environs were possessions of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman from 1783 until Prince Karim Aga Khan purchased it on September 8, 1958, and presented to Pakistan. Pakistan assumed the territory on December 8, 1958, and integrated into Balochistan Province on July 01, 1970 as Gwadar District. It used to be a medium-sized settlement of fishing community.
In 2015 Pakistan and China announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of One Belt One Road.
Jiwani is a town and commercial port strategically located in the Gwadar District along the Gulf of Oman some 80 km west of Gwadar city and 34 km east of Iranian border. With an estimated population of 25000, the town making up the eastern end of Gwadar Bay duly shared between Pakistan and Iran and the area around the bay constitutes important mangrove forest which habitats a wide variety of wildlife. The town is also adjacent to the shipping lanes, has a small naval base and a 5500 ft runway. The town was used in WWII as an airfield and there is Victoria Hut built for Queen Victoria who planned to visit the area to watch the sunset. It is still not confirmed whether Queen Victoria visited or not but the Victoria Hut is still maintained.
The journey from Karachi to Gwadar is long enough without any proper shops, fuel stations, cellular connection or other provisions. Careful planning is very important before undertaking a journey along the Coastal Highway. Here are some recommendations.
- Start as early in the morning as possible to make it to Gwadar on time.
- Top up fuel tank in Karachi and refuel at Hub fuel station as there is no fuel station on the way.
- Keep basic tools and extra tires. Make sure the wheels are in good condition.
- Make necessary calls before Zero Point, mobile signals recede beyond Zero Point.
- Kund Malir Beach (Agor) and Ormara beach are major stopovers on the way.
- Keep enough water, cookies, dry/fresh fruit etc as reserve stock during travel.
- Make a hotel reservation in advance.
Historically a village of fishermen bordering the southernmost Arabian Sea, Karachi has grown to be the economic hub of Pakistan. It is the largest and most populous city rich in historic and contemporary attractions. Besides the magnificent tourists’ attractions spreading within the city, there are a number of interesting destinations located to the north and eastward and are easily accessible as a day excursion. Below are the top most picks to have a single day trip from Karachi.
The ruins of Banbhore or Bhambore
Banbhore is a prehistoric port city and a famous archaeological site located about 65 km east of Karachi on the north bank of Gharo Creek. Its history spans from 1st century BC to 13th century AD featuring three distinct periods of occupation: Scythe Pathians from 1st century BC to 2nd century AD, Hindu Buddhist period from 2nd to 8th century AD, and Muslim period from 8th to 13th century when it was abandoned due to change in the course of River Indus. Currently, it is a heap of a mound with ruins of an ancient city – the earliest known mosque dating back to 727 AD and other constructions including a deep well. The Arab General Muhammad Bin Qasim entered the subcontinent via Banbhore in712 AD. Some unique artifacts have been collected from the site and are displayed in the Banbhore Museum.
Located some 98 km east of Karachi, in the Thatta district, the gigantic Muslim necropolis of the historical monuments, Makli is one of the world largest graveyards in the world. The cemetery encompasses an area of 10 km2 and is home to about half a million monuments witnessing glorious Sindhi culture between the 14th and 18th centuries. Sprawling in a diamond-shaped site, Makli houses tombs, graves, and mausoleums of people from all walks of life; notably of kings & queens, scholars & soldiers, philosophers, governors, and saints. It was included in the UNESCO world heritage sites in 1981. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hrs from Karachi and another 3-4 hrs to explore.
The Haleji Lake in Thatta district of Sindh is 91 km from Karachi providing an eventful day trip to the lake itself and other attractions of Thatta city. The lake is Asia’s largest bird sanctuary attracting thousands of migrant birds from Siberia during the winters. It is home to 223 bird species including coots, ducks, purple moorhens, kingfishers, pigeons, white herons, teals, waders, mallards, pelicans, cormorants, egrets, black-headed gulls, pheasants, partridges, and storks. This lake is a paradise for bird-watchers. Though the waterfowl is the best part of the Haleji Lake, it also boasts of many other species including the marsh crocodiles.
Located at 122 km from Karachi and about 22 km from Thatta, the blue-watered Keenjhar Lake is the second largest freshwater lake in Pakistan. It was built in 12th century by the local rulers as a water reservoir for the then capital of Sindh, Thatta. The lake is a great wildlife sanctuary providing a favorable habitat for winter migratory birds including ducks, geese, flamingos, cormorants, waders, herons, egrets, ibises, terns, coots, and gulls. It also serves as a breeding area of the black-crowned night heron, the cotton pygmy goose, purple swamphen, and pheasant-tailed jacana. The famous Sindhi folklore of Noori-Jam Tamachi is associated with this lake and the raised tomb at the center of the lake is said to be that of Noori – the Fisher girl – whom Jam Tamachi – the then ruler of Sindh – married.
Shah Jahan Mosque or Jamia Masjid Thatta
Built by the Mughal King Shah Jahan (1644-47) as a gift for the hospitality of the people of Thatta, the Shah Jahan mosque (Jamia Masjid Thatta) is a striking edifice standing elegantly till date. It was built using red brick with blue glazed tiles and embellished with exquisite geometric designs. Moreover, unlike other Mughal mosques, there are no frescos in this mosque. The architecture Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta deviates from conventional Mughal architecture in many ways. There are no minarets at all and the roof is topped by 93 domes. Its architecture bears a blend of Sindhi, Persian, Timurid, and Indian influence. The voice coming out from the Mehrab reaches out all corners of the mosque without a need for acoustic aid. The ceilings of verandas are designed with ultimate engineering that allows maximum cool breeze inside the mosque. The mosque underwent repairs several times. It is on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1993.
Manora is a small 2.5km2 island known as a popular picnic point ideal for a day excursion from Karachi. The island is accessible by a 30 min ferry ride from Keamari Harbour – the entrance to Karachi’s busy port. Its long sandy beaches along the southern edge and the breeze make it a unique spot to enjoy. Visitors usually carry their own food and enjoy the day out of the city hustle bustle. Historically it has been the site of the fort where the Talpur rulers surrendered to the British who later erected a lighthouse still intact. Moreover, Alexander the Great was said to have camped after his Indus Valley campaign on his way to Babylonia.
Churna Island is an ideal place for water sports including scuba diving, jet-skiing, Banana boating, wake tubing, cliff jumping, snorkeling, and other water activities. It is a small rock-reef in the Arabian sea surrounded by many attractive marine creatures and coral gardens and is much famous among kids and families. This ideal paradise makes a great day excursion from Karachi. The island is located about an hour’s drive from Mubarak Village.
Kund Malir Beach
Kund Malir is a serene beach on the Makran Coastal Highway in Balochistan’s Hingol National Park. The beach is accessible at 250 km as an ideal day excursion from Karachi taking approximately 4 hours each way. The excursion to the beach also provides with an opportunity to explore some of the marvels along the highway and at the Hingol National park including the Princess of Hope and the Sphinx. The shallow stretch of the golden beach provides tourists with fabulous views and sports opportunities. It is now included in Asia’s top 50 beaches. Yet, there is still no food and fuel but limited network facilities available on the way after the Zero Point. From Karachi, take RCD highway towards N25 and then follow the Makran Coastal Highway on N10.
The Ranikot Fort is known as the “Great Wall of Sindh” located in Jamshoro district of Sindh province in Pakistan. The Fort is a world-class tourist attraction located on the peaks of Lakki Mountains accessible in around 2 hours from Hyderabad (123 km) and 3.5 hours from Karachi (270 km). It’s a large fort with walls built on natural cliffs and mountains spanning approximately 29 kilometers and built in the 17th century. The massive fort connects several hills of the Kirthar range and houses two fortresses called “Meeri” and “Shergarth”. It was built from stone and lime mortar, but its original architects and the purpose for its construction remain unknown. The fort has four entry gates, one of which is touched by the Sann River. It’s important that visitors take their own food as the area around is deserted and undeveloped.
Kirthar National Park
The Kirthar National Park is in the Kirthar Mountain Range of Sindh district founded in 1974. Stretching over 3,087 km, it is the second largest national park in Pakistan after the Hingol National Park in Balochistan province. The Kirthar National Park is accessible by a 4-wheel drive in 3 hours from Karachi providing an excellent driving spree for the desert driving enthusiasts. It is home to several high points providing incredible views and excellent hiking and trekking opportunities for the visitors. There are rest houses by the wildlife department to stay overnight and BBQ space for food enthusiasts. Visitors are advised to bring own food items and water. The park was once home to wild predators like wolves, Indian leopards, and striped hyenas which are at the verge of extinction now. However, the wildlife that can be spotted is Chinkara gazelles, Sindh wild goats, urials, and badgers. Blackbuck antelopes being rare are kept in an enclosure for reintroductions.
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
Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, is one of the beautiful cities of the world. The city is the melting pot of diverse cultures, mostly constitutes 9 to 5 working class moved in from different parts of the country, speaking their respective provincial and regional languages. The major source of communication is Urdu due to the ethnic mix of the population while English as the official language is widely used. Islamabad has a wealth of attractions ranging from ancient archaeological sites to modern buildings housing shopping malls and eateries. Below are the details.
The Blue Area is a corridor running along Islamabad’s Khayaban-e-Quaid-e-Azam serving as a commercial and business hub of Islamabad, Pakistan. It is named the “Blue Area” because it was represented in a colour blue in the original design of the planned city. The Centaurus, The stock exchange building, U Fone tower, Saudi-Pak tower, Green Trust Tower, UBL Building, OGDCL Building, Statelife Building, and Shaheed-e-Millat building are tall skyscrapers lined up along the blue area attracting significant business.
Margalla Hills National Park:
The Margalla Hills National Park is the offshoot of the Himalayas located to the north of Islamabad. The Park is made up of Margalla Hills, Shakarparian, and Rawal Lake. The park covers approximately 17,386 hectares (67.13 sq mi) and was established in 1980. Margalla National park is rich in biodiversity, especially flora and fauna including 600 plant species, 250 bird varieties, 38 mammals, and 13 species of reptiles. Pir Sohawa and Daman-e-Koh are two major viewpoints visited by local and international tourists frequently.
At 3600 ft above sea level, Pir Sohawa on the top of the Margalla Hills is the highest viewpoint in Islamabad. The viewpoint has modern restaurants with ample parking and security facilities. Pir Sohawa is accessible by car in about 30 min from Islamabad Zoo and by foot along Trail 3, from F-6/3 in around 2-3 hours and along Trail 5 from G-5 around 3-4 hours.
Daman-e-Koh is a viewpoint in the heart of Margalla Hills above E-6 sector with panoramic views of the capital city. At an elevation of 2400 m above sea level, Daman-e-Koh is just a 5 km drive from Islamabad zoo. This tourist attraction draws a huge volume of visitors every day, particularly during the summers. Daman-e-Koh can be reached by foot from the zoo via trail 2 in 40 min.
Japanese Park is a children’s park located at the foot of Margalla hills adjacent to Margalla road across the F6 sector near Islamabad Zoo. The park is equipped with all modern facilities and is famous among children and families.
Stretched over 82 acres Islamabad Zoo is home to more than 300 animals including 200 birds of different kinds. The zoo is located at the foot of Daman-e-Koh viewpoint at an easy access form all sectors of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. The zoo is visited by a huge number of citizens and foreigners on a daily basis.
Saidpur Model Village:
Saidpur is a 400 to 500-year-old village and a popular attraction in the foothills of Margalla visited frequently by people from all walks of life. The model village is named after Said Khan, one of the sons of Sultan Sarang, the Gakhar chief of the Pothohar region during the reign of the Mughal Emperor Babur. The village was converted into a place of Hindu worship by a Mughal commander, Raja Man Singh and after renovation, the Saidpur village is now home to many Hindu temples showcasing Hindu civilization and architecture. Currently, it is one of the best places in Islamabad to eat out.
The Shah Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the largest mosque in South Asia and 6th largest in the world, gifted by King Shah Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. It is a desert Beduine tent-shaped structure designed by the Turkish Architect Vedat Delokay. The mosque was completed in 1988 after ten years and it cost USD 130 million. Its 5000 m2 area can accommodate 10,000 worshippers in the main hall, 24000 in the porticoes and courtyards, and about 200,000 in the adjoining grounds.
Fatima Jinnah Park:
Fatima Jinnah Park, also called F-9 Park is a public recreational park made of the entire F-9 sector of Islamabad. Named after Miss Fatima Jinnah (the sister of the founder of Pakistan: Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah), the park is considered one of the largest in South East Asia.
Shakarparian is one of the most frequently visited tourist points in Islamabad located near Zero Point at 2000 ft. It is a small hill station with a beautiful view of Islamabad. Pakistan monument and the nearby wax museum are also located in Shakarparian. The old Ghakhar tribe leaders settled here before partition. Shakarparian used to be a “place to rest” and is basically the combination of two Potohari words Shakar (sweet) and Parian (parao).
Built in 2004, the Pakistan National Monument is a symbol of national progress. The four petals represent the four provinces (Balochistan, North West Frontier Province, Punjab, and Sindh), while the three sandwiched smaller petals represent the three territories (Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas). The aerial view of petals representing a crescent and the central star together represent Pakistan flag.
The Rawal Lake or Rawal Dam is an artificial lake in Islamabad and source of water in the twin cities dug in 1962. The lake is fed by Korang River and adjoining small creeks. The total area the lake covers is 8.8km2.
It is a beautiful modern park in Islamabad built to provide all kinds of recreation amenities. The Park has a panoramic view of Rawal Lake and the town across the lake. The Park has a beautiful bird sanctuary, outdoor cooking places, eateries, walking paths, running tracks, boating and sailing facilities, live music, flower gardens, ample parking lot and shades, and bathroom facility.
Rose and Jasmine Garden:
The beautiful Rose and Jasmine Garden is located adjacent to Islamabad sports complex & Aabpara market. The garden has a collection of almost all varieties of roses.
Located to the northeast of Islamabad, on the way to Murree Hills, Chattar bagh is a small water park at around 25 minutes away from Islamabad. The park has a few amusement rides and famous for families and children. However, for people having experience in amusement parks, it’s slightly less facilitated.
During the reign of Sher Shah Suri (Farid Khan), also known as the Lion King, the Grand Trunk Road (GT Road) from Kabul to Calcutta was connected by many Traveler Inns for rest and recreation of travellers which were called the Sarai. Each Sarai was equipped with basic facilities for travellers. Sara-e-Kharbooza is one of them and is dilapidated and encroached.
Shah Allah Ditta Caves
Shah Allah Ditta Caves are situated to the west of Islamabad, about 15 km from Golra interchange, in a centuries-old village called Shah Allah Ditta (also known as sadhu ka bagh), just next to the tomb and shrine of Shah Allah Ditta. The more than seven hundred years old village was named after a Mughal period Darvesh. The caves, however, are believed to have been a meditation spot of Buddhist monks in the 4th century BC. There are only two caves on both sides of a spring which contains traces of human existence from ancient times. Hindu families lived in Shah Allah Ditta before the partition and the caves were used for their daily worship. There is a pathway right next to the village is said to have been used as a route from Kabul to the Taxila by Alexander the Great and Sher Shah Suri while Mughal rulers and emperors often passed through while travelling from Afghanistan to the Hindustan. There is also a Buddhist stupa at a 1.5-hour walk from the caves.
Pakistan Railways Heritage Museum
The Pakistan Railways Heritage Museum, also known as Golra Sharif Railway Museum, near E-11 sector of Islamabad, has a rich collection of relics dating back to the establishment of railways in the subcontinent by the British to memorabilia depicting the creation of the museum. The museum has a big yard and three different halls. The big yard has cranes, saloons, trolleys, coaches, and tracks assembled impressively, while the halls contain artefacts reflecting the history of the railway over a period of more than 150 years. The open yard has an array of relics which have become almost extinct. The station was established in 1882 and upgraded as a junction in 1912 while the museum was established in October 2003, is truly a site not to miss. The huge old banyan trees around this railway museum add to the scenery.
Lok Virsa Museum
Lok Virsa Museum on the Shakarparian Hills Islamabad, also known as the National Institute of Folk & Traditional Heritage, showcases the cultural heritage of the people of Pakistan and the living style of the different areas of Pakistan. It is the finest cultural museum housing the rich history and art in the form of statues, pictures, pottery, music and textile work.
This trail leads to the top terminal of the Pir Sohawa road, in more or less two hours. The extension of the trail will reach Monal Restaurant in another twenty minutes.
Starting from Islamabad Zoo, it is roughly an hour walk and leads you to Daman-e-Koh. You can move beyond this spot upward to the cactus ridge.
It is the famous trail starts from the Margalla road F-7. The track is exhausting to some extent, due to steep hills. The course will lead you to the summit and concludes near to the three famous restaurants at Pir Sohawa. It is approximately two hours uphill hike.
This trail links Trail 3 and Trail 5. One can do this trail either way – from Trail 3 to 5 or in reverse direction.
This easy to hike trail begins from Margalla Road in sector F-5 and runs almost parallel to Trail 3. The trail 5 leads to the top of Pir Sohawa road. It is possible to switch to trail 3 either at midway via Trail 4 or on the top by walking an extra distance of 1.5 Kms along the ridge of the Margalla Hills. The estimated time to cover the distance on the trail is about 3 – 5 hours depending on the pace.
This is another famous trail starts from the back of the Faisal Mosque in Sector E7. Trail 6 will walk you through a valley along a well-defined route that guides you to the top terminal of the Pir Sohawa road. The trail has a track for mountain bikes and a bird watching point.
This trail leads to Monal Restaurant through the village right along the spring. However, Saidpur trail is only used by the local residents and not much used by the outsiders.