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Pakistan Travel Guide

What About Pakistan !

The land where the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is situated today had been a seat of world’s leading Civilizations from the time immemorial. There is plenty of evidence from the pre-historic and historic period to support this argument, e.g. fossil jaws of apes, circa 14  millions years old found from Pothohar. They belong to a species named “Sivapithecus Pakininsis”, said to be the ancestor of Man. A 2 million years old earliest stone hand axe. Now on display in Islamabad Museum, Islamabad.

The legacy of our predecessors at the time of our independence, on August 14, 1947, came to us as a treasure which may be called as Pakistan’s national heritage. So rich and diversified is this heritage that Pakistani nation can be proud of its glorious past, be Islamic, Post Islamic or pre-Islamic period as far back as pre-historic times. No other country of the world can produce the treasure of by gone days as can be found in Pakistan.

land Pakistan (The pure Land) be it called Pakistan or be it (Sindu Sapta the real India ) has probably been the most sought after land in the history. From the King Darius of Persia, the Alexander of Macedonia and numerous others have marched here in quest of this land. There has been lot of culture changes in this soil.

From the mighty stretches of the Karakorams in the North to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River in the South, Pakistan remains a land of high adventure and nature. Trekking, mountaineering, white water rafting, wild boar hunting, mountain and desert jeep safaris, camel and yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching, are a few activities, which entice the adventure and nature lovers to Pakistan.

Pakistan is endowed with a rich and varied flora and fauna. High Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindukush ranges with their alpine meadows and permanent snow line, coniferous forests down the sub-mountain scrub, the vast Indus plain merging into the great desert, the coast line and wetlands, all offer a remarkably rich variety of vegetation and associated wildlife including avifauna, both endemic and migratory. Ten of 18 mammalian orders are represented in Pakistan with species ranging from the world’s smallest surviving mammals, the Mediterranean Pigmy Shrew, to the largest mammal ever known; the blue whale.

Today India boasts to be “India of the past” while it was known as Deserta Incognita (Un Known Desert) in the past. Pakistan is the real old India that world should come to see. This is where Moen Jo Daro of Indus civilization is, This is where the mighty river Indus runs, This here where Buddhism was developed, this is where Sanskrit was born,  and this is where the the Alexander came.

The spectacular views of the mountains the green planes, colorful deserts and the mighty Indus river are just a few things that this country has been blessed with. We are also blessed with the oldest history of the world. When we look at the civilizations like Egypt, Mesopotamia and others our Indus civilizations looks way too far well developed and well planned. We are the first urban civilization where city planning existed. We are the people who had binary system of the weights and the most accurate one 5000 yes five thousand years ago.

Today people talk of taxes and hygiene and organic food and saving nature we have had these ideas in 2500 BC we had a tax system democracy and even a system which was most eco friendly and well aware of nature and was protecting it.

This is an open invitation to every one come visit Pakistan, please; don’t listen to media, don’t listen to advisories, this country is full of friendly folks, flora and fauna. Nature smiles here and sun pays its first homage here in Pakistan.

The Cultural Heritage of Pakistan is spread over the centuries, starting from pre-historic times to the present day and which may be summarized in the following periods:

Indus CivilizationGandhara Civilization:   Islamic Period:   Sikh Period:   British Period:  Post independence Period


Pakistanis a kaleidoscope of some of the most diverse natural beauty in the world; it’s a cradle of ancient civilizations and a ‘melting pot’ of religions and cultures. The World Economic Forum placed Pakistan among the top 25 per cent of global destinations for its UNESCO ‘World Heritage Sites.’

From the stretches of great mountain ranges in the north, to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus River in the south, Pakistan remains a land blessed with nature’s beauty and majestic mountains. With shining deserts and some of the world’s highest peaks, the country has myriad attractions for sightseers, skiers, trekkers and mountaineers. For those interested in white water rafting, trout fishing, jeep, camel and yak safaris and out of this world flora and fauna, Pakistan is the place to be. It’s a land that holds a reservoir of knowledge for archaeologists, historians, artists, teachers and anthropologists, and it contains contains deep religious heritage for pilgrims of various faiths and beliefs.

Pakistan is ranked No. 1 on Condé Nast Traveller’s list of 20 best holiday destinations for 2020.

Lonely Planet called Pakistan ‘tourism’s next big thing.’

Forbes ranked Pakistan as one of the ‘10 Coolest Places to go in 2019.’

The British Backpacker Society (BBS) declared Pakistan as the world’s third best potential adventure destination for 2020. The year before, the BBS declared that ‘Pakistan tops the list of world’s best travel destinations’, describing it as ‘one of the friendliest countries on earth.’ A land of splendour, the landscape stretches remarkably from the high mountain ranges in the north to the plains and deserts of central Pakistan, and the Arabian Sea in the south. In addition to the natural beauty in the four provinces of Pakistan, the people are very hospitable and generous toward foreign tourists.

Five of the world’s highest mountain peaks

Pakistan’s mountain ranges include the famous Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindukush. There are several high peaks in Pakistan, with the tallest being K2(at 8,611 metres), the second highest in the world. The country is blessed with five out of the 14 highest mountain peaks of the world. From April to September, domestic and international mountaineers throng the area.

Highest Trade Route in the World

The 806km Karakorum Highway constructed along the ancient Silk Road linking Pakistan to Chinais the highest trade route in the world. Additionally, the nearby Mintaka Pass lies along the fabulous ancient Silk Road that linked Europe to Asia and over which history’s most famous tourists once travelled. These include the Venetian trader Marco Polo in the thirteenth century (the wild Marco Polo sheep was named after him), the Chinese Monk Fe Hien in the fourth century, and Arab historian Al-Beruni in the eleventh century.

Punjab (Mughal era monuments and Gandhara Buddhist civilisation)

The Punjab province comprises rich agricultural lands, an extensive network of rivers and channels, shrines, ancient forts and gardens from the Mughal era. Over 2,000 years ago, the world famous Gandhara Buddhist civilisation flourished in northern Pakistan, with Taxila as the principal seat of Buddhist learning.

Balochistan (Mountain Ranges and Caves)

The Balochistan province is the largest in the country in terms of area. Besides being blessed with nature’s bounty of mineral resources, it also has immense natural beauty comprising mountain ranges, mines and a very long coastal belt, including the newly developed Gwadar Port. In Balochistan there are many caves for tourists to visit, including the Juniper Shaft Cave, Shahre-e-Roghan, the Murghagull Gharra cave, Mughall saa cave, and Pakistan’s naturally decorated cave, the Mangocher Cave.

Sindh (Moenjodaro, Karachi, Arabian Sea)

In the south, the province of Sindh also abounds in natural beauty. It is most famous as home to the ancient city Moenjo-daro (Indus Valley Civilisation), the commercial hub city of Karachi, plus its seaports and beautiful beaches, spread over hundreds of miles of coastline.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (Kaghan and Swat Valleys)

Again, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is well known for its varying natural beauty, comprising some awe-inspiring valleys and mountains in the north, including the Kaghan and Swat valleys, and the famous Khyber Pass.

Northern areas (Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu)

Spread over 72,496 square km, the northern areas of Pakistan are as captivating and mesmerising in beauty as the other regions. Amid towering snow-clad peaks, several over 8,000 metres, the beautiful serene valleys of Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu are magnificent. 

Forty skiers from 13 countries including Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, Hong Kong,the UKand Belgiumparticipated in the International Skiing Cup in Pakistan in February 2019 at Naltar, Gilgit Baltistan. The cultural patterns in this region are as varied and interesting as its topography.

Vegetation and Fauna

Pakistan is also rich in vegetation and fauna. With their alpine meadows and permanent snow line, coniferous forests down the sub-mountain scrub, the vast Indus plain merging into the great desert, the coastline and wetlands, the Himalayas, Karakoram and the Hindukush ranges all offer a remarkably rich variety of vegetation and wildlife including avifauna, both endemic and migratory. 10 of 18 mammalian orders are represented in Pakistan with species ranging from the world’s smallest surviving mammal, the Mediterranean Pygmy Shrew, to the largest mammal ever known, the blue whale.

Indus Valley Civilization

Through the centuries, waves of invaders and migrants settled down in the land that is now Pakistan, influencing the locals and slowly being absorbed among them. Modern Pakistanis are a blend of Harappan, Indo-Aryan, Indo-Iranian, Saka, Parthian, Kushan, White Hun, Afghan, Arab, Turkic and Mughal heritages. Thus, the region encompassing modern-day Pakistan is home to the oldest Asian civilisation (and one of the oldest in the world after Mesopotamia and Egypt), the Indus Valley Civilisation (2,500-1,500 BC).

Religious Tourism

Pakistan is a land of love and hospitality. A land of spiritual endowment, it is also the resting place of many spiritual saints from all religions, be it the sufi mystics of Islam; the Hindu Tiraths dating back to 3,000BC; the disciples of Buddha attaining ‘nirvana’ buried under the remains of Gandhara civilisation; or Baba Guru Nanak Ji, the founder of the Sikh religion who was born in 1,469AD at Nankana Sahib, about 72km north of Lahore. Pakistan has always whole-heartedly worked to preserve its historical sites — whether it’s a church, Gurdwara, temple, mosque, museum, tomb, fort or shrine.

Pakistan’s Buddhist Heritage

Born in the foothills of the Himalayas, Buddhism found avid followers, supporters and patrons in Gandhara, the Land of Fragrance. Pakistan became the custodian of rich collections of sacred relics and superb specimens of art and architecture from Buddhist civilisation. For example, the Buddhist ruins of Taxila are priceless treasures of immense interest to Buddhists and researchers around the world. Taxila became a centre of excellence when the first ever university was founded there in the 10th century BC.

Pakistan’s Christian Heritage

Thomas the Apostle came to present day Taxila in the first century AD. Pakistan has historical churches in various locations, and these religious buildings symbolise the spirit of a community and the cultural context of centuries. Our Lady of Fatima Church, Islamabad, Christ Church, Kotri, St Paul’s Church, Rawalpindi, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Lahore, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Karachi, Holy Rosary Church, Quetta, St Mary’s Cathedral Church, Multan, and St Luke’s Church, Abbottabad are just a of the few churches in Pakistan well worth visiting.

Pakistan’s Sikh Heritage

Sikhism was founded by Guru Nanak, who was born in Nankana Sahib, Pakistan. Since Punjab was the centre of activities for Sikh Gurus, and later the political power base of the Sikhs, there are numerous sites in Pakistan that are sacred to the Sikh community. Thousands of pilgrims visit these places from all over the globe.

Among the sacred shrines is Gurdwara Darbar Sahib, Kartarpur, near Lahore. Pakistan’s government opened the Kartarpur Corridor to allow visa-free access to Sikh pilgrims from India. In 2019, the government renovated and expanded Kartarpur Corridor to celebrate the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak, and it has thus emerged as a centre of interfaith harmony and a symbol of goodwill of the people of Pakistan for the Sikh community.

Gurdwara Panja Sahib, Hasan Abdal, Gurdwara Choa Sahib, Rohtas, Gurdwara Bhai Joga Singh, Peshawar, Gurdwara Sadhu Bela, Sukkur, and Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore are just a few of the many Gurdwaras that are visited by thousands of Sikhs from around the world each year.

The Gurdwara has become the centre of the annual pilgrimage by Sikh communities the world over. All Gurdwaras and Sikh shrines in Pakistan have been declared sacred places and are meticulously maintained by our government. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) offers special pilgrimage tours, and Pakistani embassies and consulates abroad issue expeditious pilgrimage visas for that purpose.

Saints, Sufis, and Shrines

Pakistan is a land of saints and sufis who preached amity, peace and universal love. Their teachings promoted religious co-existence, communal harmony and tolerance in society, which is why there has always been communal harmony in Pakistan. This provides further opportunities for religious tourism in the country.

History reveals that various Sufi saints have bestowed Pakistan with messages of adoration and peace to promote Islamic virtues. Pakistanis consider the country to be blessed as the resting place of Saints in the Shrines of Data Ganj Bakhsh Hajveri, Lahore, Hazrat Abdullah Shah Ghazi, Karachi, Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, Sehwan Sharif, Sachal Sarmast, Khairpur, and Hazrat Bahauddin Zakaria, Multan.

Royal Couple’s visit to Pakistan

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit to Pakistan was an important milestone in bilateral relations. After all, HRH Prince William had accompanied HRH Princess Diana to Pakistan at a very young age. Attracting international attention with huge media coverage, the visit was a boost of confidence for Pakistan’s tourism and cherished by Pakistan and its people.

Information & guide cities of Pakistan. Articles & News

  • Pakistan Profile
  •  History of Pakistan (Chronological history)
  • Museums in Pakistan
  • Distances between major cities of Pakistan
  • Weather information
  • Airports of Pakistan.
  • Land communication (Railroads & Highways)
  • Mountains of Pakistan
  • Pakistan Currency Notes

Famous Festivals of Pakistan

  • Desert Safari Jeep Rally
  • International Malam Jabba ski Tournament
  • Basant Festival
  • Shandur Polo Festival
  • Kalash Festival
  • Spring Festival
  • Autumn Festivals
  • Lok Virsa…Folk Festival
  • National Horse and Cattle show
  • 23rd March- Pakistan Day


Pakistani National Cuisine is the inheritor of Muslim Culinary Traditions and known for having aromatic and sometimes spicy flavors. Pakistani Cuisine is divide into wider range of Regional Cuisine. i.e. Punjabi Cuisine, Sindhi Cuisine, Pashtun Cuisine, Balochi Cuisine, Hunza Diet, Kashmiri Cuisines

What is Pakistan Famous For?

1. The name Pakistan derives from two words, “Pak,” which is Persian for holy, clean or pure, and “istan” derives from the Hindi word “isthan,” which means a place.

2.Pakistan has six designated UNESCO World Heritage sites: the archeological ruins at Moenjodaro; the Buddhist ruins of Takht-i-Bahi and neighboring city remains at Sahr-i-Bahlol; the fort and Shalamar Gardens in Lahore; the monuments at Makli; Fort Rohtas; and the ancient ruins of Taxila.

3. Pakistan has the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system, according to the United Nations.

4. The world’s first PC virus was created by two Pakistani brothers. Basit Farooq Alvi and Amjad Farooq Alvi created “Brain,” which was discovered in 1986 and targeted IBM PC platforms.

5. The Karakoram Highway is the world’s highest paved international road, according to Travel+Leisure magazine. The 800-mile highway connects Pakistan to western China, and reaches a maximum height of 15,300 feet.

6. Speaking of heights, the ATM at the world’s highest elevation belongs to the National Bank of Pakistan and sits in the Khunjerab Pass, in Gilgit-Baltistan. It was established in November 2016 and is 15,397 feet above sea level.

7: Pakistan is home to the second highest mountain K2, third highest Tirich Mir and the three highest mountain ranges in the world (Hindukush, Karakoram and Himalayas).
8. The world’s largest deep sea port, Gwadar, is in Pakistan.
9. Pakistan’s Edhi Foundation proudly runs the world’s largest volunteer ambulance service.
10. Pakistan’s Sialkot produces over half the world’s footballs, making the country world’s largest producer of hand-sewed footballs. The official footballs in the last two FIFA World Cups were made in Pakistan.
11.World’s second largest salt mines (Khewra Mines) are located in Pakistan. The world’s famous pink Himalayan salt is also mined in Pakistan.
12. The highest polo ground in the world is in Shandur, Pakistan.
13.Pakistan is the only Muslim nuclear power country in the world.
14. The world’s oldest and largest civilizations (Indus Valley Civilization) flourished in the region that is today Pakistan.
15. Tarbela Dam of Pakistan is the largest earth-filled dam in the world, and also the largest dam by structural volume

Destination of Pakistan In Detail!

The Islamic Republic Pakistan is situated between the Karakoram mountain range, the Himalayas and  China in the northeast, Afghanistan  in the northwest, Iran in the southwest, the Arabian Sea in the south, and India in the east.

Formerly part of the British Empire in India,

Within Pakistan’s landscape, there is the flat fertile Indus plain in the east, nurtured by the Indus, the country’s longest river and a key water resource. Pakistan’s north is mountainous. The nation’s highest mountains are the K2 in the Karakoram Range and the Nanga Parbat, the ‘Naked Mountain,’ in the Himalayas in Gilgit-Baltistan. Pakistan’s largest and least populated province is Balochistan in the southwest; the region includes the Balochistan Plateau and the Sulaiman Mountains.

The country occupies an  of 796,095 km²;

The fifth most populous country in the world has a  of more than 22.3 million people (in 2021).
Its capital is Islamabad. The largest port, city and business capital is Karachi. Pakistan’s second-largest city is Lahore .Other major Pakistani cities are Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala, Hyderabad (Pakistan), Peshawar, and Quetta.
Spoken  are Urdu (a form of Hindustani), English (both official), Punjabi, Sindhi, Dari, Balochi, and Pashto.
Main religion is Islam (96%).

History Of Pakistan Through Centuries

Pakistan, the Indus land, is the child of the Indus in the same way as Egypt is the gift of Nile. The Indus has provided unity, fertility, communication, direction and the entire landscape to the country. Its location marks it as a great divide as well as a link between central Asia and south Asia. But the historical movements of the people from Central Asia and South Asia have given to it a character of its own and have established closer relation between the people of Pakistan and those of Central Asia in the field of culture, language, literature, food, dress, furniture and folklore. However, it is the Arabian Sea that has opened the doors for journey beyond to the Arabian world through the Gulf and Red Sea right into the ancient civilization of Mesopotamia and Egypt. It is this Sea voyage that gave to the Indus Land its earliest name of Meluhha because the Indus people were characterized as Malahha (Sailor) in the Babylonian records. It is for this reason that the oldest civilization of this land, called Indus Civilization, had unbreakable bonds of culture and trade link with the Gulf States of Dubai, Abu Dabi, Sharja, Qatter, Bahrain and right from Oman to Kuwait. While a Meluhhan village sprang up in ancient Mesopotamia (Modern Iraq), the Indus seals, painted pottery, lapis lazuli and many other items were exchanged for copper, tin and several other objects from Oman and Gulf States. It is to facilitate this trade that the Indus writing was evolved in the same proto-symbolic style as the contemporary cuneiform writing of Mesopotamia. Much later in history it is the pursuit of this seaward trade that introduced Islam from Arabia in to Pakistan. The twin foundations of cultural link have helped build the stable edifice of Islamic civilization in this country. All these cultural developments are writ-large in the personality of the people of Pakistan.

As in many other countries of the world, man in Pakistan began with the technology of working on old stone by using quartzite and flint found in Rohri hills and stone pebbles found in the Soan Valley. The oldest stone tool in the world, going back to 2.2 million years old, has been found at Rabat, about fifteen miles away from Rawalpindi, thus breaking the African record. The largest hand Axe has also been found in the Soan Valley. Although man is still hiding in some corner, the Soan pebble stone age culture show a link with the Hissar Culture in Central Asia. Later about fifty thousand B.C. at Sangho Cave in Mardan District man improved his technology for working on Quartz in order to chase the animal in closed valleys. Still later he worked on micro quartz and chert or flint and produced arrows, knives, scrapers and blades and hunted the feeling deer and ibexes with bow and arrow. Such an hunting scene is well illustrated on several rock carvings, particularly near Chilas in the Northern Areas of Pakistan along the Karakorum Highway – a style of rock art so well known in the trans- Pamir region of Tajikistan and Kirghizstan. However, the first settled life began in the eight millennium B.C. when the first village was found at Mehergarh in the Sibi districts of Balochistan comparable with the earliest villages of Jericho in Palestine and Jarmo in Iraq. Here their mud houses have been excavated and agricultural land known for the cultivation of maize and wheat. Man began to live together in settled social life and used polished stone tools, made pots and pans, beads and other ornaments. His taste for decoration developed and he began to paint his vessels, jars, bowls, drinking glasses, dishes and plates. It was now that he discovered the advantage of using metals for his tools and other objects of daily use. For the first time in seventh millennium B.C. he learnt to use bronze. From the first revolution in his social, cultural and economic life. He established trade relation with the people of Turkamenistan, Uzbekistan, Iran and other Arab world.

He not only specialized in painting different designs on pottery, made varieties of pots and used cotton and wool but also made terracotta figurines and imported precious stones from Afghanistan and Central Asia. This early bronze age culture spread out in the country side of Sindh, Balochistan, Punjab and North West Frontier Province.

And this early beginning led to the concentration of population into small towns. Such as Kot-Diji in Sindh and Rehman Dheri in Dera Ismail Khan District. It is this social and Cultural change that led to the rise of the famous cities of Mohenjodaro and Harappra, the largest concentration of population including artisans, craftsman, businessmen and rulers. This culminated in the peak of the Indus Civilization, which was primarily based on intensive irrigated land agriculture and overseas trade and contact with Iran, Gulf States, Mesopotamia and Egypt. Dams were built for storing river water, land was Cultivated by means of bullock- harnessed plough – a system that still prevails in Pakistan, granaries for food storage were built, furnace were used for controlling temperature for making red pottery and various kinds of ornaments, beads of carnelian, agate and terracotta were pierced through, and above all they traded their finished goods with Central Asia and Arab world. It is these trade divided that enriched the urban populace who developed a new sense of moral honesty, discipline and cleanliness, and above all a social stratification in which the priests and the mercantile class dominated the society. The picture of high civilization can be gathered only by looking at the city of Mohenjodaro, the first planned city in the world, in which streets are aligned straight, parallels to each other, with a cross streets cutting at right angles. It is through these wide streets that wheeled carriages, drawn by bulls or asses, moved about, carrying well-adorned persons seated on them, appreciating the closely aligned houses, made of pucca bricks, all running straight along the streets. And then through the middle of the streets ran stone dressed drains covered with stone slabs – a practice of keeping the streets clean from polluted water, for the first time seen in the world.

The Indus Civilization is the first literate Civilization of the subcontinent. The cities were centres of art and craft. Where the artisan produced several kinds of goods that were exported to other countries. Sailing boats sailed out from Mohenjodaro and anchored in the port of the Gulf, which region was perhaps known as Dilmin. However, it was the city administration that managed the urban life in strict discipline and controlled the trade in their hands. The discipline is derived from the strict practice of meditation (yoga) that was practiced by the elite of the city, who appear to have trimmed their beard and hair combed and tied with golden fillets. The body was covered with a shawl bearing trefoil designs on them. Such a noble man with a sharp nose and long wish eyes shows a contrast with a bronze figurine of a dancing and singing girl, plying music with her fully bang led hand, as we find today with the Cholistan ladies having bangled hands. Obviously there were distinctive ethnic groups of people in Mohenjodaro but the dominant class of rulers and merchants appear to be distinctive from the rest of the population. It is these literate people who inter- acted with the Arabian people and continued to maintain strict discipline in the society. It is they who developed astronomy, mathematics, and science in the country along with numerical symbols, weights and measures but they thoroughly intermixed in the society and also believed in the local cult of tree and tree deities and animal totems. The most prominent animals as attested in the seals are bull, buffalo, elephant, tiger, rhinoceros, alligator and deer and ibexes. However, Mesopotamian influences are seen in the figures of Gilgamash, Enkidu, joint statue of the bull and man and other animals with several heads and bodies. However, the unique local concept is that of highly meditative man, seated in his heels, with three or four heads, and combining in himself the power to control the animals probably with a crown of horns or some times a tree overhead. It is this supreme deity, depicted on Seals, that draws the serpent worshippers and overpowers the animals. A part from these there was no concept of nature worship as we find in the Vedas of the Aryans. The ritual consisted of offerings through the intermediary of mythological composite animals to the tree deity. These dose not appear to have been any concept of animals sacrifice nor worship of any idol or idols. The Indus civilization lasted for nearly five hundred years and flourished up to 1750 B.C. when we notice the movements of nomadic tribes in Central Asia. As a result the Asian trade system was greatly disturbed. Consequently the trade and industry of the Indus people greatly suffered with the result that led to the end of the Civilization. The cities vanished, the noble lost their position. The writing finished. The common people met with the influx of new horse-riding pastoralists who hardly understood the system of irrigated agriculture and hence the value of dams. Such nomadic tribes are known from the large number of graves and their village settlements all over Swat, Dir and Bajaur right up to Taxila. In the Northern Areas of Pakistan different group of such tribes, known as Dardic people are known from their graves. The tribes of the plains are recognized as different groups of the Aryans from the hilly tribes of the North- the ancestors of the Kalash people and those who now speak Shina, Burushaski and other Kohistani languages. They had nothing to do with the cities as we find them building small villages nor did they know irrigation. Infect they believed in nature gods, one of them Indra destroyed the dams and spelled disaster on the local Dasyus who differed from them in colour, creed and language. These Aryans conquerors developed there own religion of the Vedas, practiced animal sacrifice and gradually built up tribal kingdoms all over the Indus Valley. The most prominent being that of Gandhara with capitals at Pushkalavati (modern Charsadda) and Taxila, the last having been the older capital of Takshaka, the king of serpent worshippers. Taksha-sila (a Sanskrit word, literally translated in to Persian Mari-Qila) survive in modern Margala. It become the strong hold of the Aryans, whose great epic book Mahabharata was for the first time recited here. Since that time Takshka-sila or Taxila lying on the western side of Margala remained the capital of the Indus land, which was called Sapta- Sindhu (the land of seven rivers) by the Aryans. It because of this central location, en routs from Central to South Asia that the new capital of Pakistan has been established at Islamabad on the eastern side of Margala hill , thus giving a historical link from the most ancient to modern time and new significance to Pakistan as a link between Central and South Asia.

The city of Taxila began to grow from 6th century B.C. onward when Achaemenian kings by name Cyrus and Darius joined this city by road and postal services with their own capital at Persepolis in Iran. Here one can see the Aryan village at Hatial mound lying above the pre-Aryan bronze age capital of Takshakas (Serpent worshippers). One can also visit the Achaemenian city at Bhir mound, where old bazaars and royal palace, with long covered drain, have been discovered. Land rout trade with Iran and the west once again started with the issue of coin currency for the first time in the Indus land. But the most important was the great use of iron technology, which produced several kind of iron tools, weapons and other objects of daily use as known as from the excavations at Taxila. Above all a new writing known as Kharoshti was developed here. At the same time the oldest University of the world was founded at Taxila, where taught the great grammarian Panini, born at the modern village of Lahur in Sawabi district of the Frontier Province. It is the basis of this grammar that modern linguistics has been developed. It is in this University that Chandra Gupta Maurya got his education, who later founded the first sub continental empire in South Asia. He developed the Mauryan city at Bhir mound in Taxila, where ruled his grandson, Ashoka, twice as governor. He introduced Buddhism in Gandhara and built the first Buddhist monastery, called Dharmarajika Vihara, at Taxila. Ashoka has left behind his Rock Edicts at two palaces, one at Mansehra and another at Shahbazgari, written in Kharoshti.

Long before the rise of Chandra Gupta Maurya the Achaemenian empire, that had extended from Pakistan to Greece and Egypt, had collapsed under the onslaught of Alexander of Macedonia. He first finished with the Greek city states, united the Greeks, and dashed forward to annex the Achaemenian empire and hence proceeded to all those places where the Achaemenian had ruled. In this march they come to Taxila in 326 B.C. where he was welcomed by the local king Ambhi in his palace at Bhir mound. It is here as well as at Bhira in Jhelum district that Alexander’s remains can be seen. However, he fought the greatest battale on the bank of the Jhelum river opposite the present village of Jalalpur Sharif against Porus, the head of the heroic Puru tribe, whose descendents still supply military personal to the Pakistan army. Alexander’s battle place was at Mong, where he founded a new city, called Nikea, the city of victory. The other city which he founded was called Bucaphela after the name of his horse that died here. However, the most captivating site is at Jalalpur Shaif, laying on the bank of rivulet Gandaria, perhaps Sikanaria, where Alexander’s monument has now been built on the spot where he stopped for about two months before launching his attack on Porus.

The Achaemenian and Alexander’s contacts with Pakistan are very important from the point of view of educational and Cultural history. The Achaemenian brought the learning and science of Mesopotamia Civilization that enriched the University of Taxila. They also introduced their administrative system here, on the basis of which the famous book on political science, called Arthasastra was written in Sanskrit language in Taxila by Kautilya, known as Chanakya, the teacher of Chandra Gupta Maurya. It is this book that was adapted for the administrative of the Mauryan empire. On the basis of Achaemenian currency the Mauryan punch marked coins. So well known in Taxila, were produced. It is their Aramaic writing, used by Achaemenian clerks, that led to the development of Kharoshti in Pakistan and trade with the Semitic world that created the Brahmi writing in India. On the other hand Alexander brought Greek knowledge and science to Taxila and introduced Greek type of coin currency. It is Taxila that philosophers and men of learning of the two countries met and developed science, mathematics and astronomy. Above all Alexander left behind large number of Greeks in Central Asia, who founded the Bactrian Greek kingdom in mid-third century B.C. it is the descendants of these Bactrian Greeks who later advanced in to Pakistan and built up the Greek kingdom here and built up their own city at Sirkap in Taxila. This is the second well planned city in Pakistan. The Greeks introduced their language, art and religion in the country of Gandhara, where ruled thirteen Greek kings and queens. Their language lasted more than five hundred years and their art and religion and considerable influence on the flourish of Gandhara Civilization.

This civilization was the result of interaction of several peoples who followed the Greeks, the Scythians, the Parthians and Kushans who came one the other from Central Asia along the Silk Road and integrated them selves into the local society. It is under their patronage that Buddhism evolved here into its new Mahayana form and this become the religion of the contemporary people in Pakistan. Under their encouragement the Buddhist monks moved along the Silk Road freely and carried this religion to central Asia, China, Korea and Japan. It is again the trade along the silk road that was particularly controlled by the Kushana emperors, who built a mighty empire with Peshawar as their Capital, the boundaries of which extended from the Aral Sea to the Arabian Sea and from Afghanistan to the Bay of Bengal. It is the dividends of trade that enriched Pakistan and led to the development of Gandhara Art, which mirrors the social, religious and common man’s life of the time. It is an art that was blend of the Greek classical and local arts, which created the finest statues of Buddha and Buddhisatttvas that today decorate the museums all over the world. At the same time the sculpture depict the whole life of the Buddha in a manner that is unsurpassed. Many Greek themes, their gods, typical toilet trays, Greek life scenes showing musicians, drinking bouts and love making are presented in there natural fashion. The Kushanas period was the golden age of Pakistan as the Silk Road trade brought unparalleled prosperity to the people of the country.

The luxury items produced in the country enrich the museum at Taxila at that show the Cultural and trends of life of the time. Gandhara art is the high water achievement of the people of Pakistan. Mahayana Buddhism was the inspiring ideal of the time and the Buddhist stupas and monasteries survive in every nook and corner of the hills. It was this time that the country was known as Kushana-shahar, the land of the Kushanas, to which came the Romanships to carry the luxury goods in exchange for Roman Siler and Gold, that were used by the Kushana emperors and as a result their gold currency flooded the country and all along the Silk road. It is these Kushana kings who have gifted the national dress of shalwar and kamiz and sherwani to Pakistan. Their dress and decorations are deeply imprinted on the Indus land, that is now Pakistan.

Then came from Central Asia the Huns and the Turks who gave to Pakistan the present ethnic, their Culture, Food and Adab. The Jats, Gakkhars, Janjuas (Jouanjouan of the Chinese) and Gujars all trekked into Pakistan and made their home here. The Rajput rose and founded the feudal system in Punjab and Sindh in the same way the Pashtuns, who borrowed the surname of Gul and later the title of Khan from the Mongols, their Sardari system in Balochistan, and slowly developed the Wadera practice in the Indus delta region of Sindh. This feudal arrangements, which was the result of confederated tribes of the Huns, led to new administrative system in the country and created a new form of land management that has lasted until today. The tribes have fused into the agricultural society but their brotherhoods have survived and they have given a permanent character to Pakistan.

In the early eight Century A.D. the Arabs brought Islam in Sindh and Multan built up the kingdom of Al-Mansurah in Sindh. At the same time their east ward Sea trade introduced porcelain and called on were from China and popularized glass were from Iran Syria- new materials that can be seen in the excavations at Bambhore in Sindh. With the Muslims Turks came the Sufis and Dervishes from Central Asia. Iran and Afghanistan and they spread Islam all over the country. It is Sultan Mahamud of Ghazni who made Lahore- the city of Data Sahib as his second capital. However, the city of Multan become famous as the city of Saints although it lay en route the camel caravan that carried on trade between Pakistan and Central Asia right up to Baku in Azerbaijan. It is these cities that the famous Muslims monuments of old are to be seen. As a result of the Saintly activity Pakistan become a land of Islamic Civilization. In several villages and cities we now find the Dargah of these Muslims Saints. While Shahbaz Kalandar is a well known in Sindh, Baba Farid Shakarganj resided over Pak Pattan in Punjab, Buner Baba rules over the Frontier region, and Syed Ali Hamdani is the real Sufi Saint in Kashmir. The capital city of Islamabad enshrines the well known Golra Sharif and Barri Imam. It is in these Saints who influenced the development of Sufi literature in all the languages of Pakistan and their monumental tombs that attract the people from all the country. In the old city of Thatta at Makli hill several tombs and Mausoleums are spread over the place that surpass in the beauty of stone carving but much more than this they evidence the historical evolution of architecture from 12th century A.D. to the Mughal time.

This was a period of great change in the historical integration of the people in Pakistan when the country was brought closer to Central Asia and the Arab world. The mixing of several tribes from both these regions transformed the ethnic complex of the country. Just as in the period of Kushanas of Mahayana type rose here and the Buddhist monks out from this land along the Silk road to carry the massage of the Buddha, now it was the Arabs and the Muslims Saints from Central Asia who came in the reverse direction and flocked in the prosperous land of Pakistan. New trade route were opened in the reverse direction from those countries into the Indus land. From the Huns to the Turks the age of cavalry dominated the life scene. Many Rock carvings in Central Punjab show men riding, even standing on horse back and brandishing their swords and shooting arrows. Hence forward Polo game become common and sword dance was common, as seen in the Rock carving near Chilas. The foundation of Muslims state was firmly laid, in which the dominate position first occupied by the Arabs in Sindh and Multan and later by the Gaznavid and Ghorid Sultans who made the Indus country as their spring board from the onward conquest of India. A beautiful monument in memory of sultan Ghori can be seen at Suhawa on the National Highway. It was therefore in the fitness of things that the first missile made in Pakistan was named after Ghori. Several Muslims kingdoms grew up in this country. Beginning from north we find the Tarkhan ruling dynasty, who came from trans-pamir region here and become supreme in the Gilgit area. The descendent of Shah Mir founded the Muslims Sultanate in Kashmir maintained its independents until the time of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The Pushtun tribes made their movements and asserted their independence in the land watered by the western branch of the Indus River. The Langhas and later the Arghuns become the Master of Multan. The Sama ruling dynasty started a new era of Cultural development and prosperity in Sindh. The Baluchis in concert with Brahuis leapt forward not only to build their kingdom in Balochistan but also migrated eastward and northward. Apart from these political shape of the country, there was an unparalleled development in art and architecture, literature and music, and particularly new social integration took place on the basis of the patronage of local languages, such as Baluchi, Sindhi, Panjabi, Pashto, Kashmiri, Shina and Burushaski. All these languages received literary form with the support of the Muslims rulers and the first time their literatures began to take shape. They received influence from Arabic and Persian and added many themes from the Folklores as well as from those of Central Asia. Such an unusual developments transformed the society with the stories from Shahnama and Hazar Dastan and with the Folk-tales from Lila-Majnun, Sassi-Punnu and Hir-Ranjha. The stringed instruments, the dholak and the dhap and also flute and trinklets gave a new tone to the life of the people of Multan, Thatta, Marha Shrif in D.I. Khan, Swat and Kashmir, and finally Gilgit, Hunza and Baltistan created the finest architecture of the time. That was the period of new religious activity in the country side when Islam become the dominant religion of the people who were directly linked in religious ties with the people of Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Arab world.

The migrant people had brought the new technology of straining the horse from Central Asia and Iran. Were ever the horse galloped right up the corner of Bengal and Orissa, the Turks and Afghans advanced from Pakistan and established new empires. Here the artisans and craftsman gathered in new centre, cities began to grow with new craft mohallas, and they began to specialise in the products of Shawl and carpets in Kashmir, chapkan, chadar and dopatta in Punjab and Chitral and Northern Areas, tile work in Multan, Hala and Hyderabad, block printing in Sindh and fine carpentry in Chiniot, Bhira and Dera Ismail Khan. As a result several families occupied themselves in traditional crafts and passed them on to their own children.

Then came the Mughal emperors, descendent of Amir Timur, who, following the Mongol ruler Changiz Khan, had embarked on building a new world empire on the basis of organizing a new type of cavalry and making a new disciplined army in the unites of hundred and thousand. The later still survive in the name of Hazara both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The first Mughal emperor, Zahiruddin Muhammad Baber, who had to come out from Farghana, brought a new taste of poetry, baghicha and architectural forms from the natural environment and landscape from Farghana and Samarqand, latter city reflecting the delicious water of Zarafshan (golden) river. Baber built his first terraced garden in Kabul and then choose the beautiful spot at Kalda or Kallar Kahar in Chakwal district and built here Bagh-i-Safa on the very spot marked by this throne seat. It was again terraced garden watered by a near by spring. At the old Bhira on the bank of Jhelum he built a fort and then proceeded to Shah Dara (the Royal pass Gate) that opened his route the city of Lahore. At Shah Dara several garden were laid by by the Mughal noblemen but only one is preserved inside Jahangir tomb that was built by his queen Nur Jehan who lies buried in another mausoleums. The tomb along with the garden is now desolate. There is also Kamran’s baradari, without the garden, that still defies the flood of the Ravi river. When the Mughal emperors followed Baber one after the other, they choose the old Lahore on the bank of Ravi to their main Urban centres in Punjab. It was developed as a city of gardens with numerous gardens around but the main Mughal fortress was built in an Island, surrounded by the Ravi on the three sides and only on the east it was joined to the city proper. Here third Mughal emperor Akbar transferred his capital from Agra to meet the challenge of cousin Mirza Hakim. Here he laid the foundation of a typical Mughal citadel with royal residences, called Akbari Mahal and Jahangiri Mahal, with a prominent Diwan-i-Aam built in the traditional Iranian style, all constructed in red sand stone imported from Rajistan. Later Akbar’s grandson Shah Jehan, the King of architecture, transformed many buildings and renewed to his taste with white marble. He added Diwan-i-Khas that overlooked Ravi, his palace and Turkish Bath and still more important the Moti Masjid, the gem of monuments, with beautiful decorative designs in precious stones set in marble.

However, his choicest building is the Shish Mahal, the Mirror Palace that was the constructed by the side of a Char-bagh style garden with running water channel and fountains, but later destroyed by the Sikhs, and quadrangles remodelled. Such garden, called Mehtab, can be seen in other quadrangles in the Fort. The Shish Mahal is the luxurious place of resort particularly during summer months with rest rooms of a long hall at its either end, opening on to the brilliantly dazzling Veranda that looks at the marble paved quadrangle with a fountain in the middle side. The mirror reflects the stars and the bedrooms presents, in its ceiling, the panorama of a star lit Sky. On the western side there is a unique building of Bengali style, called Naulakha, whose brilliance of precious stone outshone the natural setting of flowers and tree leaves that decorate the walls. Alas ‘ the Sikh and British soldiers have robbed many of the precious stones. Even then the Shish Mahal, even in its changed character by the Sikhs, presents a dazzling brilliance in its perfect creation by the Mughal emperor Shah Jehan. It is the climax of Mughal luxury surpassed nowhere in the world.

The exterior wall of the Shish Mahal one can see the beautiful mosaic paintings that depict everyday sport of the Mughal princes for the enjoyment of the people who used to gather below the fort not only to have a view of the emperor sitting in the Jharokha but also to admire the brilliance of colour on the wall. Here one can observe galloping horses, humped camels, elephant ride, hunting scene, animal fights, horse man plying polo or chaughan, camel fights, figures of angels, demon head sand moving clouds, horse and elephant riders crossing Swords and verities of floral and geometrical designs. There are three gates to enter the fort, all three of them showing different tastes. The Masti (or correctly Masjid) Gate on the east shows Akbar’s taste of red sand stone. The Shahburj gate on the west presents the fine mosaic decorations of the time of Janhangir. The last is the Alamgiri gate built by Emperor Aurangzeb, showing tasteful simple entrance with multiple facetted Tower at either end, crowned by Kiosks.

From Shish Mahal one can have a magnificent view of the Badashahi Masjid built by Aurangzeb on a spot regained after the river Ravi shifted further away. Its magnificent Stair way leading to the elegant red sand stone gate way on the east is highly impressive. It is on the left side that later the tomb of Allama Iqbal was built. The gate way, which is preserved the relic of the Prophet and also in one of the copy of the Holy Qur’an with brilliant calligraphy, leads into a wide open courtyard, having a washing pond in its middle, and rows of cells on its sides. On its west is the main prayer chamber of oblong shape marked by four tall corner towers. On its roof are three marble dooms of bulbous shape that attract the eye from a long distance. The interior of the mosque has chaste decoration in the mehrab chamber that opened in to equally well decorated side aisles. It has a Verandah on the front that is again tastefully decorated. But the most elegant are the tall towers at four corners of the quadrangle, from the top of which one can have an unforgettable view of the city of Lahore.

There are two other beauties in the city of which the greatest monumental gems of Lahore. The first is the most chaste fully painted mosque of Wazir Khan, which was once the centre of religious and educational activities during the Mughals period. In its original design the mosque was fronted by an open maidan that presented from a distance a marvellous view of the mosque. It was built by Ilmuddin Ansari, hailing from the old trading city of Chiniot, but later he gave rise to the city of Wazirabad. He was raised to the high post of governor by Shah Jehan for his devoted service and great skill of Hikmat. But of greater importance in his taste of decorative architecture which he has translated into this mosque. The mosque plan, which is typical Mughals style but for its squat domes has tall minarets crowned by tasteful Chhatris. The most attractive is the mosaic ornamentation of the facade, the minars, and particularly the mihrab, which remains unsurpassed in its setting and choice of decorations and calligraphic work. In its charging decoration the mosque symbolises high sense of taste and marks a magnificent attraction in Lahore, to which both Shah Jehan as well as his officials gave a new face of colour and charm.

And yet the greatest jewel of the city of Lahore is the Shalimar Bagh, the unique pleasure resort that has been gifted to the world by the Mughal emperors. With paying a visit to this garden one can hardly understand the Mughal love for pleasances. In its creation what a real pleasure they have bestowed to the people of Lahore. The garden sumbolises the elixir of life that the Mughals alone could imagine. They had long left Farghana but the beauteous charm of its terraced fields lingered behind that has been recaptured in the Char bagh style of the garden in Shalimar, as Taj Mahal in Agra is the symbol of unforgettable love of emperor Shah Jehan, in the form of unique architectural creation, for the beloved queen Mumtaz Mahal, so is the Shalimar, the epitome, of Shala (fire of love), the embodiment of the highest playful joy in life that the emperor and empress could have in this world. The garden is a combination of Char baghs, water channels, fountains, Cascades, water falls and bathing hall in three different terraces, each terrace headed by beautiful pavilions for a pause of pleasurable enjoyment and then to pass on the other ponds of joy, inset with showering fountains, each terrace presenting varieties in scenic complex. Starting from a elaborate gate way in the south , with a water fountain in its middle chamber, we enter the open space, surrounded on right and left, by residential quarters, having long walkways, in the middle of either side of a channel marked by fountain, that join together on the four sides on a watery platform. And then we pass to the first pavilion that looks at a square pond remarkable sitting a cascade of a water falling down below the pavilion, series of fountains around a central seat for musicians and dancers and smaller pavilions at the four corners. From the top pavilion the elite royalties draw their pleasure from the scenic panorama in front and from the corner pavilions guests could roll in pleasance and enjoy the music of the running fountains coupled with the music of the singers and dancers. The next lower terrace begin with a rare bathing hall in the middle with water fountains lower down and lighted lamps in the arched niches of the walls. Here one could cool the legs during summer months- a novel way of cooling the atmosphere in the days when there were no electricity and air conditioners. And thus we find here a thrilling atmosphere where natural art has been channelised in the service of man. What a creation of charming loveliness that is combined with cooling water in various forms to soothe the evening of warm Lahore.

That is not all of Mughal architecture. If one likes to see the Mughal fondness for hunting, one can go to Sheikhupura, not far from Lahore , and admire the construction of Hiran Minar by Emperor Jahangir on the spot where his dearly loved deer died. That minar stands by the side of a tank which has in its middle a three storied pavilion for a general view around. If one is interested to see the defence arrangements of the Mughals, one can go to Attock on the bank of the Indus River, where Akbar built a magnificent fort, made arrangements for crossing the river by boat-bridge and laid a new road south of the Kabul river leading to Peshawar through the Khyber pass to Kabul. And then come to Attock the empress Nur Jahan, who constructed here a caravan serai, known as Begum Ki Serai, with a platform at its four corners and living rooms cooled by the Indus breeze. It is from one of the top platform that one could look at the magnificent expanse of the Indus River, full of flowing life and natural beauty, that perhaps will remain as the lasting memory of the Indus land, that is Pakistan.

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