Shah Allah Ditta Caves are located in the village of Shah Allah Ditta, a more than seven hundred years old village nestled in the Margalla Hills of Islamabad, was actually named after a Mughal period Darvesh. The caves, on both sides of a spring under the shadow of deep-rooted banyan trees, contains traces of human existence from ancient times are believed to have been a meditation site of Buddhist monks in the 4th century BC. Hindu families lived in Shah Allah Ditta until the partition of the subcontinent and the caves were used for their daily worship. Shah Allah Ditta is a model village and an ideal picnic spot worth a visit for locals and foreign tourists alike.
The village was located on the historic route between Afghanistan and the Subcontinent. The pathway right next to the village was said to have used by Alexander the Great to invade the subcontinent by defeating the local king Porus. Moreover, the lion king Sher Shah Suri and Mughal rulers and emperors often passed through while traveling from Afghanistan to the subcontinent. Its history, therefore, dates back to the Gandhara civilization of Taxila.
The caves on both sides of the spring are located on a fair elevation. Historically these caves were used for spiritual meditation and believed to have attracted monks and priests from all over the region who sought peace and enlightenment. There is also a Buddhist stupa deep inside the gorge at approximately1.5-hour walk from the caves. The tomb and shrine of Shah Allah Ditta are also located in the vicinity.
Physically the caves have slightly eroded in places over time yet still are well preserved and the area around them has been conserved by the CDA as ‘Sadhu ka Bagh.’ There are the remnants of an ancient water well lies at a short distance from the caves and was believed to had it constructed by Mughal Emperor Akbar. However, one can enjoy the typical village environment with natural streams all around the area, enhancing the serenity of the village.
Besides the caves, there is much more to enjoy. The model village is continuously developing. Food outlets, live music, horse riding facilities for children, Archery and Paint Ball, Rock Climbing and Camping facilities, walking trails to the hilltop, construction of the road leading to the summit of the hills offering magnificent views, and its cool climate make this place a great retreat in summers and a must visit tourist spot.
Shah Allah Ditta Caves are situated to the west of Islamabad, near the D-12 sector of Islamabad, about 15 km from Golra interchange, in a centuries-old village, once called Sadhu Ka Bagh. It is easily accessible and highly recommended to visit, particularly in summers.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), the land of gallant Pakhtuns, is one of the four administrative provinces of Pakistan located to the northwest of the country. Geographically, the smallest province of Pakistan, KPK is the third largest by population and economic contribution. The province houses some 35.53 million (2017 census) people in 101,741 km² landmass. It was formerly called the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and later in 2010, the province was renamed as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK). Peshawar is the provincial capital and the largest city.
Geographically, Afghanistan makes the 1100 km long northwestern section of the province’s border, Gilgit-Baltistan is located to the northeast; the Federal Capital of Islamabad, Azad Kashmir, Punjab cover the southeastern section and the northern tip of Balochistan makes up the southern border of the province.
The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 35 districts and 46 cities. Peshawar is the provincial capital and the largest city of the province. Major cities and towns of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are Abbottabad, Bannu, Barikot, Charsada, Chitral, Haripur, Mardan, Mingora, Mansehra, Nowshera, Peshawar, and Saidu Sharif.
The region making today’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has for centuries been a doorway to the subcontinent. Its unique landscape and strategic location made it home to the grand civilizations of history. However, being a stronghold of Buddhism, the region’s history was characterized by successive invasions under various empires because of its proximity to the Khyber Pass.
Persians, Greeks, Mauryans, Kushans, Shahis, Ghaznavids, Mughals, Afghanistan, Sikhs, and the British Empire have all left strong imprints at various points in history. Today, the ruins of the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, including its capital Pushkalavati near modern-day Charsada, spread in major areas of the province making it one of the alluring regions of the world. Takht-e-Bahi, one of the six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Pakistan, is located in the province of KPK. The entire region is abundant in tourist attractions that have a universal significance.
Culture and Heritage
The region is home to 11.9% of Pakistan’s total population of the country. Majority of the inhabitant’s being Pakhtuns or Pashtuns followed by Hazarewal, Chitrali, Kalash, and Gujjars. Pashtun or the Pathans being the majority in number (more than 75%) are the dominant groups in the province. They are very well known for their bravery, loyalty, and gallantry. Most of the disputes are settled in the Jirgah system headed by the tribal elders of the society. Major tribes included Yusufzai, Bangesh, Khattak, Marwat, Afridi, Orakzai, Mohmand, Mahsud, Wazir, Bannuchi, Bhittani, Daavi, Qazi Khel, Gandapur, and Ghargasht. The non-Pashtun tribes living in the province are Jhut, Mughal, Turks, Rajputs and Abbasi Syeds. According to Thomas H. Jhonson and M. Chris Mason in “No Sign Until the Burst of Fire”, “Pashtun believes that their social code produces men, who are superior to those under the western model, and they have no desire to have a new social system imposed on them by outsiders”.
The traditional dress of Pashtun men usually comes in Shalwar Qameez (Partoog-Korteh in Pashtu) with a turban which is considered a symbol of honor. However, the turban is usually worn by old men while the new generation either wears topi or kufi which is also unique to the Pashtuns. Besides Pakistan, Pashtuns in Quetta and in Afghanistan have almost the same dress code. Since they have a strong tribal-based society, the tribe leaders usually wear a Karakul hat. Peshawari Chappal is the traditional footwear not only famous in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but across the country. Women in the urban areas are dressed as per existing trends, however, in the rural areas, women wear Burqa to cover the entire body.
The majority of the residents of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are the followers of Islam while the tribes of Kalash in southern Chitral still have been able to retain their ancient Greco Animist religion. Moreover, there are very small numbers of adherents of Roman Catholicism sect of Christianity, Hinduism, and the Sikhism
Arts & Craft
Major arts and crafts of the province included woodwork, Chappal making, stone jewelry, vessels of brass and copper, hand-woven woolen fabrics, leatherwork, and hand knotted rugs, carpets, caps, made of wool etc.
Pashtu culture is based on Pashtunwali which is an ancient way of life characterized by the use of pure Pashtu language and wearing traditional dress. Besides the dress code, Pashtu poetry, folk music, and traditional dances are a great part of the rich culture of the Pashtuns. People still live in the joint family system and the arranged marriage system is part of the culture. Historically, the Pashtu culture traces its roots back to the time of Alexander the Great. However, over the centuries, the Pashtun culture has to some extent been influenced by the people of south and western Asia. The Hindko culture has many resemblances with the Pashtu culture, however, the Chitrali and the Kalash tribes have entirely different patterns. The Kalash people have their own architecture, rituals and folktales and musical instruments. The Chitrali people have their own distinct set of cultural values having resemblance with that of Gilgit-Baltistan.
Pashtu is the provincial language of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa spoken by the majority (more than 75%) of the total population as the first language. Hindko, Saraiki, Khowar, Kohistani, Kalasha, and Gojri are the secondary languages spoken by different ethnic groups in the regions they are residing in. Urdu, the national language, is a medium of communication in educational institutions and spoken for official communication while English is used for official correspondence and also taught in academic institutions. Arabic is used as religious purposes and education. The provincial government, in 2011, approved the introduction of Pashto, Hindko, Saraiki, Khowar, and Kohistanis as compulsory subjects for the schools in the areas where they are spoken.
The cuisines of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are famous across Pakistan as the Chinese food is famous around the world. These are the devoted and hardworking individuals value the importance of good eating. Famous food items include Tikka, Dunba Karhai, Chappal Kabab, Kabuli Pulao, Saag and roti (bread) of Jawar, and their special long bread. The Chitrali and Kalash people living in the remote colder zone of the province eat organic and low-fat food mostly made of dry fruits, meat, and organic veggies.
The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has a rich blend of tourist attractions and a tourism friendly environment. Due to its geographical location, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has had been a confluence of different civilizations which flourished and vanished with the passage of time.
The region is divided into three major zones geographically.
The Northern Zone is a mountainous region comprised of the remarkable valleys of Swat, Galiyat, Kaghan, Naran, Kalash, Chitral, and Dir. The majestic tourist destinations of the northern zone are rich in natural picturesque valleys, national parks, serene lakes, gushing rivers, glaciers, mountains, historic places, and cultural diversity providing opportunities for winter sports and a great retreat in summer. The mountainous zone has a worldly recognition particularly for its Kalash region and the tribe sustaining a unique culture.
The Central Zone consists of Peshawar Valley which has been a seat of various successive civilizations left their strong imprint in the region making great history for the generations.
The Southern Zone of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa comprises of the districts of Kohat, Karak, Bannu, Lakki Marwat, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan, and adjoining tribal territories featuring rugged, dry hills and vast gravelly plains with patches of alluvial agricultural fields. The area has seen many ups and downs because many invaders in the past marched on Hindustan through this region. The ruling dynasties have therefore left their imprints in the area, which are of interest to historians, tourists, and researchers.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has the third largest economy of Pakistan contributing to 10.5% of the country’s GDP. Agriculture, where the main cash crops include wheat, maize, tobacco, rice, sugar beets, as well as fruits; forestry; and mining are the major components of the province.
Major industries that support the economy of the province include canning and preservation of fruits and vegetables, as well as manufacturing and refining of sugar, cotton textiles, cement, furniture, and tobacco processing. Similarly, mineral products including Limestone, marble, rock salt and gypsum are also the strong components contributing to the economy of KPK. Besides, there is also trade that involves almost every product to help the economy.
Since the province stretches from the northern mountainous region to the southern dry hills and gravelly plains bordering Balochistan, its climate varies immensely from north to south. The northern zone experiences cold and snowy in winters with heavy rainfall and pleasant summers. The central zone is made of Peshawar basin which is hot in summer and cold in winter with moderate rainfall. The southern zone, being arid, has extremely hot summers and relatively cold winters.
Rainfall also varies widely in the region making a diverse landscape. The large parts of the province remain typically dry yet the province contains the wettest parts of Pakistan in its eastern periphery especially in monsoon season from mid-June to mid-September.
Best time to visit
Since the region is diverse geographically, climatically, and in terms of tourist attractions, one can always find a reason to be in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. If there is no any reason, the rich food at Namak Mandi in Peshawar can be a solid one. Peshawar also has a diverse range of attractions and can be visited round the year except for peak summers of June, July, and August. The southern parts are good to visit in winters. The northern parts are considered Paradise and good to visit its different parts from blossom in March till autumn in fall.
Things to do
The ranges of activities vary as does its diverse landscape and cultural attractions. The northern valleys in the mountainous regions are good to visit during spring, summers, and fall. The different valleys of Chitral and Kalash manifest spellbinding beauty during blossom and fall providing a great opportunity for photographers and nature lovers. Likewise, the mountains and glaciers of Chitral attract foreign tourists to undertake mountaineering and climbing activities during summers. There are cultural festivities in the Kalash valleys during early summer and fall that also engage tourists. Swat, Chitral, Kaghan valleys and the Galiyat receive enough snow and provide winter sports opportunities for tourists during winters and provide a great retreat in summers. Peshawar is more historical with its archaeological and cultural sites and great to visit almost year round. The southern part is historical yet not as alluring as the central and northern regions.
Peshawar has an international airport while Chitral has a domestic one. But KPK is located at easy access from all parts of the country because of its latitudinal expanse touching Balochistan, Punjab, Islamabad, and Gilgit-Baltistan.
Derived from the Persian words Punj (five) and Ab (water), Punjab literally means “(The land of) Five Rivers” referring to the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas. The Beas is now in Indian Punjab and Indus is included as the fifth river of Punjab in Pakistan. Punjab is the most fertile, populous, and prosperous province of Pakistan housing approximately 56% of the country’s population.
Geographically, Punjab is the land of contrasts, mostly consists of the alluvial plain of the Indus River and its four major tributaries – the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, and Sutlej rivers. From the plains of the Indus River to the deserts of Cholistan and from the Himalayan foothills to the Potwar plateau and the Salt range, it encompasses an area of 205,344 square kilometres. The province is surrounded by Kashmir to the northeast, the Indian state of Punjab and Rajasthan to the east, Sindh to the south, Baluchistan to the southwest, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west and Islamabad (the capital) to the north.
There are 36 districts in the province of Punjab. Lahore is the provincial capital and the largest city which had been the historical capital of the wider Punjab region before the creation of Pakistan. Major cities in Punjab include Bahawalpur, Multan, Gujranwala, Sargodha, Sialkot, Gujrat, Sheikhupura, Sahiwal, Faisalabad, Lahore, Jhelum, Attock, and Rawalpindi,
Shreds of evidence reveal that man settled on the bank of the Soan River more than 100,000 years ago. However, it was the 5000 years old Harappan civilization that shaped subsequent cultures in South Asia and Afghanistan and still speaks louder today. Invaders from Greece, Central Asia, Iran and Afghanistan entered the subcontinent through Punjab due to its strategic location. Historically Punjab has been part of various empires and dynasties including the Indus Valley Civilization, Aryans, Kushans, Scythians, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, Turks, Ghaznavids, Timurids, Afghans, Mughals, Sikhs, and the British just before the creation of Pakistan.
Traditionally the land of Punjab has served as an epicentre on the old Mughal Highway – the Grand Trunk Road (GT Rd) – from Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. Lahore even then (way before partition) was the capital for almost thousand years and remained a significant cultural, historical and intellectual hub of the region.
During the partition of the subcontinent in 1947, the Muslim dominated areas went on to constitute the present-day province of Punjab while the Sikh and Hindu controlled regions formed the Indian states of Punjab. Punjab today serves as the hub of the nation and centre of all political and economic progress.
The warm-hearted and fun-loving people of Punjab live in rural and urban areas making up a heterogeneous society belonging to tribes, clans, and communities. Punjabi people in the villages live a simple and harmonious life having respect for cultural norms yet with strong beliefs on superstitions like ir-faqeers, Jogi, Taweez, manat-ka-dhaga, saint of repute, and black magic. In the cities, however, due to literacy, people have become somewhat rational. Punjabis also believe in the caste system but gradually with rising education, the differences are getting blurred. Popular casts of Punjabis are: Jats, Maliks, Mughals, Arains, Gujjars, Awans, Rajputs, Gakhars, Khokhars, Sheikhs, Kambohs, Niazis, Legharis, Khosas, Dogars, Mirani, Qureshis, and Syeds.
The traditional dress for Punjabi men in the villages is Pagri (turban), dhoti/Lacha (lose cloth used as tourers) kurta (knee-ling shirt), and Khusa (traditional shoes). Women wear Gharara, or choridar pyjama or colourful shalwar kameez, Paranda, choli/duppata, Khusa, kola puri chappal or Tillay wali Jutti. In cities, both men and women follow fashion and wear trend trendy dresses.
Punjab was predominantly a Hindu state with some Buddhist minorities before the arrival of Islam by Muhammad bin Qasim in 712 AD. Gradually the religion spread in the region through the strong teachings of Sufi saints. Although the region remained under the Mughals control for more than 200 years from 1524-1739 who erected great architectural wonders; mostly mosques, forts, and gardens, the province has been strongly influenced by Sufism. Numerous Sufi shrines spread across Punjab which attracts millions of devotees annually.
Arts and crafts
Punjab being the most populated province is also the major manufacturing industry in Pakistan’s economy. There is a place for manufacturing of each art and craft. Major produce of the province included basketry, pottery, textile, embroidered cloth woven on handlooms, cotton, silk, carpets, stone craft, jewellery, metalwork, truck art, woodworks, etc.
The rich culture of Punjab traces its roots in the highly developed Harappan Civilization. The succeeding civilization gradually shaped the culture from time to time. Therefore, the Punjabi culture is deeply rooted in philosophy, poetry, music, artistry, architecture, and cuisine. The scope, density and history of its culture are rather vast. However, Sufism had a significant role to play in the society in spreading Islam which is the main source of harmony among the people. There were other religions with traditions tied. People have different festivities to commemorate these traditions. The fairs and festivals of Punjab reflect the entire circle of its folklife and cultural traditions. Punjab is known in Pakistan for its relatively liberal social attitudes.
Punjab is home to the Punjabis and several other ethnic groups. Punjabi is the mother tongue spoken by 44% of Pakistanis and understood by most of the population followed by Saraiki, Hindko, Pahari, Pathowari along with some other dialects. Urdu is the national language spoken mostly in the cities to communicate with non-Punjabi populations and English being official language used for official correspondence.
People of Punjab celebrate both religious and cultural festivals with zeal and zest. Shab-e-Barat, Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Adha, Eid Milad u Nabi, and Muharram are revered religious festivals of Muslims while cultural festivals include national horse and cattle show, Pakistan day, Baisakhi/Vaisakhi (Sikh festival), Basant, Teej, and Kanak Kati.
Punjabi foods are delicious and most traditional Punjabi dishes are usually made using oil or clarified butter with extensive usage of spices. The food is eaten either with rice or roti (bread). Sugar tea, butter and paratha are part of breakfast. Major Punjabi dishes for lunch and dinner mostly made in villages are Mash di daal, Makai ki rotti, Saron da Saag, while in cities Choley, Haleem, Biryani and other popular spicy dishes. Zarda, Gulab-Jamuns, Kheer, and Jalaibi, are popular sweet dishes while Samosa and Pakorey are eaten any time with tea mostly as a refreshment. During summers people drink lassi, doodh-soda, aloo bokharey ka sharbat, lemonade etc.
Punjab is richly diverse in tourist attractions – from the prehistoric era to contemporary times. The timeline of the province is lavishly rich in significant events and erections that have turn out to be a rich heritage today. Its diverse landscape is rich in natural attractions and manmade marvels. From the cool and cloudy hill stations of Murree to the burning deserts of Cholistan the province harbours the Khewra Salt Mines, sites of Buddhist and Hindu influences, Islamic heritage, Mughal architecture, Sikh legacy, the British heritage, and the glorious buildings of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur. Punjab has the potential of becoming a destination of choice owing to what it preserves for tourists including historical monuments, cultural diversity and hospitable people.
Punjab is also one of South Asia’s most developed regions with approximately 40% of people living in urban areas. Its human development index rankings are high relative to the rest of Pakistan. Its economy is supported extensively by agriculture followed by industry and both sectors are the main sources of income and employment. The agricultural output of the province contributes 68% of Pakistan’s food grain production. Wheat, rice, corn, millet, cotton, sugarcane, fruit, and vegetable are the major productions. Likewise, the manufacturing industries make up 24% of the province’s GDP by producing textiles, machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, metals, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods.
The economy of Punjab is subject to the climatic conditions as is mostly supported by agriculture. It is not uniform over the entire region; weather extremes are notable from the hot and barren south to the cool hills of the north making the sections adjacent to the Himalayas receiving heavier rainfall. Punjab’s climate is characterized by three distinct seasons – hot summers (mid-April to June end with temperature reaching to 49 °C (120 °F)), monsoon (July to September), and cold and foggy winters accompanied by rains (December and January with average temperature of 5 °C (41 °F)) – and two transitional periods between monsoon and winter, and between winter and hot season.
During the transitional period from winter to the hot season, sudden hailstorms and heavy showers may occur followed by temperature rise; springtime weather continues until mid-April when the summer heat just about to set in.
Best time to visit
Most of Punjab, except the Murree Hills near Islamabad, is located southwards and makes up the hottest regions of Pakistan. Punjab is the best to visit during winters preferably from November to March. During summers, it is sometimes unbearable for the heat resistant tourists visiting from the cooler regions of the world.
Things to do
Be it an adventure tour or cultural city sightseeing, Punjab has a diverse range of attractions. Murree hills offer a great retreat during summers for the heat resistant while people rush from far regions to enjoy the snow. The Mughal heritage in central Punjab has always been a focus for culture lovers while the Sufi shrines in Multan and the iconic castles of the Nawabs of Bahawalpur have no parallel for the architectural intricacy and rugged beauty. Besides, the Khewra salt mines, Ketasraj temples, and Wahga border flag lowering ceremony are must-visit places for all tourists.
Punjab being in the heart of the country has easy access to/from all provinces and territories of Pakistan. There are airports in Lahore, Multan, Bahawalpur, and Islamabad giving direct international access from around the world. By road, Punjab is well connected by train and by bus.
Balochistan is the largest of the four provinces of Pakistan spreading over an area of 347,190 Sq km., constituting 44 percent of the total area of Pakistan. As compared to that of other provinces, Balochistan has clustered population in smallest proportions. The province has a diverse landscape from the 760 km long southern coastal line through the deserts and plains to the hilly ranges.
Balochistan has a strategic location bridging the Middle East and southwest Asia to central Asia and South Asia. The province has the closest oceanic frontage for the landlocked countries of central Asia. It makes up the southwest of Pakistan bordering Iran to the west and Afghanistan to the north, the Arabian Sea to the south, Karachi to the east, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the northeast.
Balochistan’s 6 divisions subdivided into 34 districts/cities. Major cities of the province include Quetta, the capital city; Gwadar, the port city, Ziarat, the land of Junipers; Turbat, the historical city; Kalat, the former kingdom of the Khan of Kalat; Hinglaj, the sacred place of Hindus; Hub, the town bordering Karachi; Chaman, northwestern town bordering Afghanistan; Pishin, a lush green agriculture town; Sibi, the city of famous Bolan pass; and Taftan, the town bordering with and accessible from Iran.
Balochistan has an exciting history tracing as far back 9000 years Mehergar civilization. The unique human settlements unearthed from the site prominently reveal a distinct shift from Stone Age hunters & gatherers to a settled life society for the first time in human history. Major features of the Mehergarh civilization included the domestication of animals, cultivation of plants, and pottery making. However, before the birth of Christ, the region had trade links with the then Babylonia.
History had it that Alexander the great passed through Balochistan in 325 B. C. and had an encounter with the Sibia tribe of Balochistan. However, following his death, Balochistan came under the rule of Seleucus Nicator whose descendants lost power to the Graeco-Bactrians. Great conquerors and warriors including Macedonians, Arabs, Ghaznavids, Mongols, and Mughals have all marched and left their imprint in Balochistan in the past.
The arrival of Muhammad Bin Qasim in 712 A.D. established the Muslim rule in the region. Mehmood Ghaznavi came to Balochistan in the 11th century. Ghorids succeeded the Ghaznivids and in 1219 it was annexed to the dominion of Sultan Mohammad Khan of Khwarizm (Khiva). The Mongols landed in the year 1223 in the south of Makran and later in 1595, it became a part of the Mughal Empire. However, later Nadir Shah of Persia captured it. But Ahmed Shah Durrani of Afghanistan established his rule in 1747 before the Khanate of Kalat emerged in 1758 when Nasir Khan-I revolted against the Afghans.
The two major Afghan wars between 1839 and 1879 helped the British to consolidate their power in Balochistan right before the arrival of Muslim rule. The British government negotiated a number of treaties with the Khan of Kalat during 1854 to 1901through the chief strategist and architect of British strategy Sir Robert Sandeman, who later became Chief Commissioner of Balochistan. The British Government gained control over the leased territory of Chaghi, Bolan Pass, Quetta, and other areas through these treaties. Other princely states including Makran, Kharan, Lasbela and Kalat state acceded to Pakistan following 1947. Balochistan was merged into one unit of West Pakistan in 1955 but following the dissolution of one-Unit, the province emerged as one of the four new provinces of Pakistan.
Culture and Heritage
Balochistan province is populated by a tribal society of nomadic and semi-nomadic tribes and clans. Despite its scarce population, Balochistan has an uncommon racial and tribal diversity. Major tribes include Baloch, Pashtoon, and Brahvi and speak their respective language, usually with an additional language or two fluently. The Baloch originally are believed to have come from Arabia or Asia Minor can be further divided into the Sulemani and Mekrani. All these major tribes are further subdivided into sub-tribes. Each tribe is headed by a Sardar (Chieftain) and each sub-tribe is headed by a Malik, Takari, or Mir.
The Balochi speaking tribes include Rind, Lashar, Marri, Jamot, Ahmedzai, Bugti Domki, Magsi, Kenazai, Khosa, Rakhshani, Dashti, Umrani, Nosherwani, Gichki, Buledi, Notazai, Sanjarani, Meerwani, Zahrozai, langove, kenazai, and Khitai. Among the eighteen major Baloch tribes, the principal ones are Bugtis and Marris settled in the ramparts of the Sulemania.
The Pashtoon tribes include Kakar, Ghilzai Tareen, Mandokhel, Sherani, Luni, Kasi, and Achakzai.
Brahvi speaking tribe include Raisani, Shahwani, Sumulani, Sarparrah, Bangulzai, Mohammad Shahi, Lehri, Bezenjo, Mohammad Hasni, Zehri , Sarparrah, Mengal, Kurd,Sasoli, Satakzai, Lango, Rodeni, Kalmati, Jattak, Yagazehi and Qambarani.
Men in all three tribes (Balochi, Pashtoon, and Brahvi) of Balochistan wear the same dress with slight dissimilarities. The traditional dress constitutes Turban, a common headwear, wide loose trouser (shalwar) and knee-long shirt (Qameez) of different colors. Woman wear typical shirt having embroidery work on usually with embedded small round mirror pieces having a big pocket in front. To cover up, long rectangular scarf (Dopatta or Chaddar) piece of cloth cascading down the shoulders, are used.
Although the cultural landscape of Balochistan portrays various ethnic groups and people speak different languages yet there is a similarity in their literature, beliefs, moral order and customs based on Islam which provides a strong foundation for unity and common social order.
Arts & Craft
Balochistan has a long and a rich tradition of producing handicrafts and are known all over the world for unique and intricate production of handicrafts including hand-made Balochi shoes, fine mirror work, embroidery, marble work, and fine quality precious stones. Their needlework, especially “Kowchik” stitching, “Jok” and “Moshamka” using with various colors and shades is unique to different parts of the province. Women particularly are skilled at embroidery and their skills usually are reflected in their traditional costumes, caps, purses, belts, tablecloths, cushions, wall hangings etc with elaborated geometric and abstract designs. Balochi nomadic tribes have alluring arts and crafts famous for their design, decor, and durability.
Historically free from foreign invasion and influence, the Balochi culture retains a unique identity in the history of mankind. Its cultural heritage dates as far back as to Stone Age and inherits relics in the form of stone tools, rock carvings, and engravings to date. Since the hunting and gathering era people came and left their distinct cultural heritage in the region and the legacy continued.
People are hospitable, sincere in dealings, and welcoming with open arms. The lifestyle, particularly the dress code and traditions are very alluring and distinct from that of other communities. Balochi handicrafts are very famous that included woolen items, rugs, leather and metalwork, jewelry, musical instruments, baskets, and ropes. Likewise, gold ornaments such as necklaces and bracelets are an important aspect of Baloch women’s traditions. The most favored items of women’s jewelry are dorr; heavy earrings fastened to the head with gold chains and also a gold brooch (Tasni) made in different shapes and sizes by local jewelers and is used to fasten the two parts of the dress together over the chest.
Balochi people have a rich traditional melodious culture. The tradition of a Baloch mother singing lullabies to her children has played an important role in the transfer of knowledge from generation to generation since ancient times. Folk songs and tribal poems are sung all over the country and famous folk dances including Attan, Chap, Lewa, and jaffarki and considered the identity of the people. Balochi people annually on March 2 with festivities to celebrate their rich culture and history
There are three major provincial languages spoken in Balochistan – Balochi, Pashtu and Brahvi. The Balochi language is an ancient language with its roots tracing back to the Iranian branch of the Indo-European family. It has resemblance with languages such as Sanskrit, Avesta, Old Persian, and Phalavi, which are either at the verge of extinction or considered to be as dead languages. Most of the people living in the cities and towns usually understand and speak more than two local languages. In addition to local languages, the majority of the population understands and speaks Urdu, the national language, while English is the source of communication in the literate fraternity and in official correspondences. Seraiki and Sindhi are the languages spoken in Kachhi and Sibi districts of Balochistan. Quetta, the capital city, is the melting pot of all linguistic groups accommodates not only Urdu, Balochi, Pashtu, Brahvi and Sindhi speaking people but Darri and Persian speaking ones as well. Moreover, Dehwar tribe of Sarawan sub-division in Kalat also speaks a language derived from Persian.
Tracing its roots back to the ancient Mehergar civilization, the Sibi festival is one of the major attractions drawing tourists every year which is characterized by folk music performance, cultural dances, handicraft stalls, cattle shows and a number of other amusing activities. Likewise, Buzkashi is a peculiar festival showing velour of Balochi people on horse-back by two teams using unique skills of snatching a goat from each other.
The province of Balochistan is endowed with tremendous tourist attractions. Its scenic beauty is characterized by a diverse landscape from the golden beaches at the Arabian Sea to the hills of Sulaiman Range. The land is rich in marine life, mud eruption volcanoes, natural beauty, sacred places, archaeological sites, caves, historic monuments, hiking trails, passes and highways, cultural heritage, fruit orchards, flora & fauna, and mineral deposits. Balochistan has the second largest Juniper Forest in the world in Ziarat, Zarghhon and Harboi hills.
Balochistan is the largest and the richest province blessed with natural resources. Its economy is largely based upon the production of natural gas, coal, and other variety of minerals. Though the province remained largely underdeveloped during the past, several major development projects including the construction of a new deep sea port at the strategically important town of Gwadar, and the Gwadar International airport are underway which are believed to bring about tremendous economic gains in near future. The port is projected to be the hub of an energy and trade corridor to and from China and the Central Asian republics.
The upper highlands of Balochistan are very cold in winters and warm in summers while lower highlands vary from extremely cold in the north to mild conditions near Makran coast. Summers are usually hot and dry with temperatures rising as high as 120 degrees F (50 degrees C). Winters are mild in the plain areas usually temperature remaining above freezing point. Its desert areas are hot and arid with strong windstorms sometimes making these areas quite inhospitable.
Balochistan is extremely arid with average annual precipitation of 2 to 20 inches (50 to 500 mm). Even its wettest hilly areas receive 8 to 20 inches (200 to 500 mm) of rain annually while the western deserts receive 1 to 2 inches (25 to 50mm). However, when it rains, it comes in sudden bursts and causes temperatures to vary enormously. Evaporation rates are higher than the precipitation and generally, vary from 72 to 76 inches (1830 1930 mm) per annum.
Best time to visit
Spring (March-May) and autumn (Sep-Nov) with haze-free pleasant days and cool nights are the ideal times to visit Balochistan. Spring is characterized by green fields full of wildflowers while in autumn mostly orchards filled with ripe fruits and trees expressing themselves in diverse colors. Summers are always very hot in major cities with the temperature hitting as high as 52 degrees while the hill resorts remain comparatively pleasant with temperature on average remains around 30 degrees.
Things to do
Balochistan’s rich cultural and traditional heritage, archaeological treasure, its alluring landmarks, natural beauty, deserts, mangroves, serene beaches and rock formations along the Makran Coastal Highway make the province a destination of choice. Besides its landscape, the warmly welcoming people and their delicious collection of traditional food is yet another strong basis to visit Balochistan.
Balochistan shares a running border with Iran to its west and is accessible from Iran via Taftan through a metal road. To its northwest, Balochistan is connected with Afghanistan by Chaman Border while the south is connected with Karachi via RCD highway. Balochistan is also well connected with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa via Zhob. One of the easiest yet scenic way to reach Quetta capital of Balochistan is from Sukkur via Bolan Pass the terrain is very scenic and spectacular.
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.
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.
The café has in the past served as a summerhouse of the royal family of Hunza. It was a nice piece of simple old-fashioned architecture almost falling to decay. It 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.
For the tourists visiting the town and the fort, the Kha Basi Café is the top choice that proudly presents traditional Hunza cuisine as well as light snacks and refreshments. Although the range of choices is quite extensive, the real specialities indeed are the top of the line local traditional dishes. Dawdo, Chap Shuro, Burus Shapik, Diram Phitti, Berikutz, and Tumuru Chai are some of the recommended food choices that one must taste at the Kha Basi Café.
The café is run solely by local women and remains open 7 days a week. The staff is trained by Serena Hotels and the property itself functions under the administration of Serena Hotels. The cafe has a small indoor dining space and an “L” shaped veranda providing majestic views of the orchard and surrounding mountains. There is no better place to enjoy traditional Hunza food and relax and enjoy the atmosphere before or after visiting the nearby Altit Fort.
The Kha Basi Café is not only a place to eat local food in a serene atmosphere, yet it is a place truly representing the traditional warmth and cultural beauty of the Hunza Valley. For tourists seeking to soak into local tradition, there is a group of trained young artists to entertain guests on special occasions. There is also a small traditional house, a unique piece of architecture, offering exclusive accommodation for tourists who wish to enjoy their stay in a traditional house with modern facilities. It was a successful pilot project of CIQAM – a social enterprise of local women – particularly built using indigenous material. The facility provides a serene and sophisticated atmosphere not many had the pleasure to enjoy.
The orchard has a repute for being one of the gorgeous places for photography. During the blossom, the entire garden emanates the romantic fragrance and presenting an exquisite look; during summers, it is lush green and cool; in autumn it turns as a place must visit to see the diverse colours and it wears a white blanket of snow during winters.
Location and Access
There is a single entrance gate to visit the Kha Basi and the café itself, the traditional house, and the Altit Fort. Kha Basi is accessible at the end of the streets of Altit town. The Altit Town is located across Karimabad, on the Ahmedabad road approachable from the Karakoram Highway.
Call for booking during the business hour at (0581) 3457012
For further information about the Kha Basi Cafe, Hunza, please visit http://serenagilgitbaltistan.com/altit-fort-cafe/
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
Sindh is the third largest provinces of Pakistan with Karachi being the capital city. Locally known as Mehran, the region covers an area of 54,407 square miles (140,914 square km) inhibiting some 47,886,051 (as per 2017 census) people following a unique culture with 52.02% urban population.
Geographically Sindh is located to the southeast of the country making up the lower Indus Basin. The entire landscape of Sindh province is flat except the Kirthar range making the western border with Balochistan province. Punjab is located to the northeast, the Indian state of Rajhistan and Gujrat to the east, and the Arabian Sea bordering the entire south.
The province of Sindh has 29 districts including 5 in Karachi. Major cities of Sindh are Karachi, Thatta, Hyderabad, and Sukkur, where most of the tourist attractions are located.
The name “Sindh” has been derived from a Sanskrit word “Sindhu” which essentially means “ocean, river or stream” referring primarily to “Indus River”. The term “Sindhu” was phonetically transformed into Hindu in old Persian and with a slight further modification, it was then called Indu by the Greek who conquered Sindh under the command of Alexander the great. The word Indu was further extended to the word Indus to feature a broader concept, basically a name given by the British to an entire region of South Asia and called it India.
The land making up today’s Sindh has been a cradle of successive civilizations. The first known village settlements to the human on this land dates as far back as to 7000 BCE when the Mehrgarh settlements of Baluchistan expanded westward to Sindh. It then gave rise to the Indus valley civilization which was known as a highly developed society ever existed in the region from about 3000 BC to 1500 BCE.
Sindh was conquered by the Persian Achaemenid Empire in the sixth century BC before Alexander the Great conquered the region in 326 and 325 BC. Following his death, Sindh came under the dominance of the ancient Greek Seleucids Empire for a brief period and then Mauryan Empire lead by Chandragupta. The Mauryan emperor Ashoka spread the Buddhist religion in Sindh during his rule and later it was replaced by Hinduism which introduced the caste system. The 17 years old Arab conqueror Mohammad Bin Qasim invaded Sindh in 711 AD to spread Islam which is still deep-rooted in the region.
Form 9th to 19th century the province hosted seven successive dynasties named as Sumras, Sammahs, Arghuns, Tarkhan, Mughals, Kalhoras, and Talpurs.
In 1524 the Mughal Empire was welcomed into Sindh and the empire became more powerful in the region gradually. During the reign, Mughals produced various scholars but after the death of Aurangzeb, the Mughal Empire and its institutions began to decline. The British came through East India Company in the 19th century and divided it into districts and assigned the Wadera system to collect taxes. The British ruled the area for a century before it became part of Pakistan in 1947.
Sindhis are the most colorfully dressed people. The women in the cities wear the Shalwar kameez or the sari and those in the rural deserts dress in long red skirts and bright tie-died shawls. The men in the urban wear the traditional shalwar kameez or the kurta with pajama and typical Sindhi colorfully cap embroidered with glittered tiny mirrors. In the rural areas, the men wear traditional long-tailed shirts over Lungis and embroidered slippers with upturned pointed toes.
Sindh is also known as “Bab ul Islam” meaning “the gateway to Islam”. Most of the rural Sindhi cultural life revolves around the Shrines of Sufi saints where devotional songs and religious music makes up the major part of religious ceremonies.
Arts and crafts
The tradition of Sindhi craftwork has roots dating back to 5000 years of invaders and settlers. The graceful floral and geometrical patterns that can be observed in everyday objects from clay to fabric and from wood & stone to metal traces the Muslim influence in the region.
Sindh is world renowned for its arts and handicrafts. The province was historically a large producer of traditional indigo and cotton cloth and the produce was sold in ancient markets of Damascus, Baghdad, Basra, Istanbul, Cairo, and Samarkand. Sindhi blue shade Ajrak has existed in Sindh since the birth of its civilization and is a mark of respect when it is given to an honored guest or friend.
The Sindhi language is the major provincial language and the identity of the province yet there are other regional languages like Kutchi, Lari, and Saraiki are also spoken in the different parts of the province. Karachi, the provincial capital, is a melting pot of diverse cultures and languages where Urdu is spoken as a major source of communication while English is the official language in the entire province.
Sindh, one of the ancient cities of the world, has a number of tourist attractions ranging from historic ruined cities to contemporary edifices. Mohenjo Daro, Sukkur bridge, The Talpur-era Kot Diji Fort, Noor Mahal Palace in Khairpur, the gigantic Ranikot Fort, Shah Jahan Mosque, Makli Necropolises, Heliji Lake, Keenijhar Lake, Sindh Museum, Karachi port, and tourist attractions in Karachi are the places make Sindh a destination of choice.
Sindh also has a rich legacy of traditional handicrafts evolved over the centuries. Its tradition of Lacquered woodwork; paintings on woods, tiles and pottery; and hand-woven textiles and Ajraks is a tradition alive today and is a source of living for many hardworking Sindhis.
The economy of Sindh is largely agriculture-based and depends entirely on Indus River as a prime water source. Major produces include cotton, rice, wheat, and sugarcane besides the production of dates, bananas, and mangoes which are sold in the international markets. The province also has a reputation for producing polished ornaments including pottery, leatherwork, textiles, carpets etc. and the craftsmanship of Sindhi people since the Indus Valley Civilization.
Sindh lies in the tropical and subtropical regions of Pakistan; the climate of Sindh, therefore, ranks among the hottest during summers (30 to 50 degrees) and mild during winter (10-30 degrees). The northern territories are mostly hot and humid being mostly desert plains while the southern regions annexing the Arabian sea enjoy cool breezes in the evenings and nights.
Best time to visit
November to March is the best time to visit Sindh as summers are hard to travel particularly in the interior parts of the province.
Things to do
Sindh has a rich cultural, architectural, and natural heritage. Its several thousand years old ancient ruins, holy shrines, Palaces, Forts, British era Gothic-style buildings, Lakes, and its rich wildlife heritage in the Kirthar national park provides with a range of options to choose from. Karachi is base, one can enjoy tourist attractions in Karachi and day excursions from Karachi.
Sindh is accessible both by air and by road. Jinnah international airport in Karachi is the major international airport besides several domestic airports at major cities. One can also fly from Islamabad International airport and Lahore International airport by making a domestic connection with an international flight. By road, Sindh is accessible from other major cities of Pakistan either by train or by private buses.
The capital city of Islamabad is ideally located in the heart of Pakistan with easy access from within Pakistan and from around the world. Likewise, the city is surrounded by attractive destinations providing magnificent opportunities as “Day excursions from Islamabad”.
DAY EXCURSION TO TAXILA
The ancient metropolis of Taxila is a town located in Punjab, about 45km north of Islamabad (the capital city), Pakistan. The name Taxila was derived from the Sanskrit term Taksasila, literally, means “city of cut stones”. It is an important archaeological site founded in the late 1800s by a renowned archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham. It has a rich museum and more than 50 sites stretched over some 30 sq km. Taxila was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1980.
DAY EXCURSION TO TAKHT-E-BAHI
The relics of the imposing Takht-i-Bahi Monastery are an important Buddhist site in Gandhara region and can be reached in 2.5 hours from Islamabad. It made up to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1980. Takht-i-Bahi monastery has a guarding view of the Mardan city and is situated on the crest of a small hill about 16 kilometres northwest of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.
DAY EXCURSION TO ROHTAS FORT
Rohtas Fort (also called Qila Rohtas) is one of the six World Heritage Sites in Pakistan, designated in 1997. The gigantic Rohtas fort is an exceptional example of early Muslim military architecture surviving today. It was built by Farid Khan – the “Lion King” of the subcontinent. He was well known as Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century. The fort was strategically built in a gorge on a small hill 300ft above its surroundings, some 16km northwest of Jhelum city of Punjab in Pakistan. It is so strategically positioned that it commands the old route from the north to the plans of Punjab across the Potohar Plateau. Rohtas Fort is located some 98 km from Islamabad and takes about 2 hours to reach. The major reason behind the erection of this rampart was to subdue the pro-Mughal Ghakkar tribe and to thwart the possible return of Mughal Emperor Humayun who had fled to Iran after his defeat in the battle of Kanauj at Chaunsa.
DAY EXCURSION TO KHEWRA SALT MINES
The Khewra Salt Mine (also known as Mayo Salt Mine) is the second largest salt deposit in the world and largest in Pakistan located in Khewra, an administrative subdivision of Jehlum District in Punjab Province of Pakistan. It is one of the largest sources of salt and major tourist attractions in the country with an estimated total of 220 million tons of rock salt deposits. Khewra is about 160 km from Rawalpindi/Islamabad and can be reached in 3 hours.
DAY EXCURSION TO MURREE HILLS
Murree is a popular hill station and a famous tourist attraction located about 30 km northeast of Islamabad City. It has a number of attractions for tourists including hiking trails, resorts, flora and fauna, a unique climate, and picturesque valleys. It was founded in 1851 as a summer headquarters of the Punjab Government until 1876 when it was moved to Shimla.
DAY EXCURSION TO PESHAWAR
Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP) is known as the oldest living city in South Asia and the meeting place of the subcontinent and Central Asia. The city is about 180 km from Islamabad and can be reached in less than 3 hrs. Peshawar is further divided into four major sections. The old walled city is the most exciting part of Peshawar with the history dating from Buddhist, Mughal and Sikh era and was actually surrounded by a wall until the 20th century. The British Cantonment makes up the site founded in 1849 which included the boulevard city and the entire array of elegant buildings standing even today associated with the English men. University Town at 7 km from the city centre has the oldest yet lively building of Islamia College founded in 1913 to educate the sons of Pathan chiefs. Hayatabad is the modern residential area annexed with Karkhano Bazaar where anything can be found at a reasonable price.
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.
Lahore is the second largest city and the cultural hub of Pakistan. The city has a charming longstanding history and is entirely rich in tourist attractions, mostly of historic and cultural significance. However, sadly, only a few conventional landmarks out of a cluster are known to the general public and tourists. The “Hidden Treasures of Lahore” has not yet been unearthed properly. The wealth of attraction that is still hiding behind deserves to be known to the public and tourists which certainly will add to the historic significance of Lahore.
Wazir Khan Baradari
The Wazir Khan Baradari (12-door pavilion) is sited between the Punjab Public Library (PPL), National College of Arts (NCA), and the Lahore Museum and is accessible from the PPL road. It was named after Hakim Ilumddin titled ‘Wazir Khan’, a benefactor of numerous impressive buildings across Lahore including the splendid Wazir Khan’s Mosque and Wazir Khan’s Hammam ( also known as Shahi Hammam), in the Walled City. The Baradari is surrounded by a fine garden with a large number of palm trees. The two-story pavilion has been incorporated into the grounds of the Punjab Public Library in 1860 and serves as a reading room. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Wazir Khan Baradari was used as a museum and as the Settlement and Telegraph Office under the British rule.
Maryam Zamani or Begum Shahi Mosque or Barood Khana Wali Masjid
Maryam Zamani was one of the queens of Emperor Akbar, mother of Jahangir and sister of Bhagwan Das. She built a mosque near Masti Gate of the Walled City in 1614 AD and is believed Lahore’s earliest surviving example of the Mughal era mosque that influenced the construction of the larger Wazir Khan Mosque. Thus it was named after the queen Maryam Zamani who was actually born Rajkumari Hira Kunwari, a Rajput princess, the daughter of Raja Bihari Mal of Jaipur (the then Amber). The mosque has a beautifully adorned prayer hall with a remarkable central dome adorned by muqarnas and painted frescos. The Mosque is close to the Akbari gate entrance and was once used as gunpowder factory by Ranjit Singh thereby called Barood Khana Wali Masjid. However, it was restored in 1850 under the British.
Ali Mardan Khan’s Tomb
Ali Mardan Khan was originally a noble at the court of Shah Tahmasp, a Safavid king. After surrendering Iranian Qandahar to Emperor Shah Jahan in 1638, he joined the Mughal court and rose to great heights rapidly and became Governor of Kashmir, Lahore, and Kabul. He was also granted the title of Amir al-Umara (Lord of Lords) in 1639 and became a commander of 7,000 troops as well as appointed viceroy of Punjab from Kabul to Delhi. Besides a commanding figure, Ali Mardan Khan was also a renowned engineer who coined the idea of the construction of a canal from the river Ravi for the supply of water to the Shalimar Gardens, as well as for the irrigation and cultivation of surrounding areas. His tomb is a massive brick construction work standing on an octagonal podium. The structure of the tomb is also octagonal with a bulbous dome and kiosks on angular points. The tomb once stood in the centre of a luxuriant garden and the extent of which could be seen by its double story gateway. The imposing tomb is accessible by a 300 m long walkway through narrow streets of the Railway Carriage Workshop.
Saru Wala Maqbara or Cypress Tomb
The tomb of Sharf-un-Nisa Begam is popularly known as ‘Saru Wala’ Maqbara. Saru is the Urdu term used for Cypress and because of images of cypress trees used on its walls, it is thus called Cypress tomb. Sharf-un-Nisa Begam was a sister of Nawab Zakariya Khan, governor of Lahore province during the reign of Emperor Mohammad Shah Rangeela. Before her death, the Begum would read the holy Quran on daily basis on the first floor of the Chamber and then would deposit the holy book and the jewelled sword, descending by means of a portable wooden stair. After her death, she was buried in the same chamber along with the copy of the holy Quran and her jewelled sword. The unusual tower-like tomb is 16 feet above the ground and was made inaccessible by blocking up all openings in 1745. It is located near to the north of Dai Anga’s tomb in the Begumpura neighbourhood of Lahore. The structure of the tomb is unique in itself for its unusual shape and decoration of the cypress motif as a jewel of Mughal architecture.
Dai Anga’s Tomb
Dai Anga, the wet nurse of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan and his daughter (Princess Sultan Begum), was the name given to Zeb-un-Nisa (1671 AD). She was the wife of a Mughal noble Murad Khan, magistrate of Biknar under Jahangir. Her splendid mausoleum lies near the Gulabi Bagh gateway in Begampura, outside the Walled City. The rectangular shaped mausoleum with eight rooms encircling the perimeter of a central chamber lies on a raised plinth. A dome with frescoes is directly above the central empty chamber as the actual tomb of Dai Anga lies below in the basement just next to her daughter, Sultana Begum. The interior of the tomb is richly decorated with carved inscriptions from the holy Quran while the exterior with rich Kashi Kari or Qashani tile-work but lost much of its charm.
Dai Anga Mosque
The real name of Dai Anga was Zaib-u-Nisa, the wife of Mughal noble Murad Khan. She was the wet nurse of Shah Jahan and his daughter and remained a powerful figure in the Mughal dynasty. Several charming monuments associated in her name are still surviving in Lahore. Dai Anga Mosque was constructed in 1635 AD and is located near Lahore Railway station. Small in size yet rich in decor, the Dai Anga Mosque is embellished with multicolored mosaic on floral themes and remained in excellent condition since Dai Anga donated a substantial endowment to ensure its maintenance even after her death. Sadly, during the British rule, it was converted into the residence of a newspaper editor called Henry Cope. However, it was restored to its original state in 1903 and began to serve as a mosque.
Tomb of French General Allard and his Daughter
General Jean Allard (1785-1839) was a French General in the Army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh who made the Sikh army invincible by training on European pattern. He was died in 1839 in Peshawar and was buried alongside his daughter’s tomb in Lahore. His tomb is located to the east of the main road leading to Jain Mandir from old Anarkali. It was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh to honour him, especially with a typical Sikh era cupola dome structure. His daughter, Marie Charlotte, died on 5th April 1827 in Lahore, and she was laid on a mound.
The Kamran’s Baradari (pavilion with twelve doors) and Garden is the oldest Mughal structure in Lahore often gets bypassed. It was said to have built in 1540 by Mirza Kamran who ruled over Lahore from 1535-40. He was the son of Babar and the stepbrother of Emperor Humayun. Humayun ascended to the throne immediately following the death of Babur and Kamran captured Lahore in 1530 while built this Baradari in 1540. The picturesque Baradari was built as a summer house and used as a place for relaxation of Mughal rulers and recreational place for the Mughal family during summers. It was the time when Ravi flowed at a considerable distance but following the change of river course, it became an island. During the British rule, the red sandstone Baradari was used as a toll house to collect tolls from boats. It was renovated after independence and serving as a tourist attraction. It is about 15 min drive from the walled city.
Zebunnisa’s Tomb and Garden
Zeb-un-Nisa (1637 to 1702), literally meaning “most beautiful of all women”, was the talented and learned daughter of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. She was a passionate poetess and wrote under the pen name of “Makhfi”. She loved Lahore so much and built a garden at Nawankot where she was laid to rest in 1669. Her tomb was embellished with precious stones, pavilions and fountains now only the remains of the garden can be seen. It is located across a junction known as Samanabad Mor on Multan road. However, there are still conflicting accounts about her burial place as some believe she was buried in Agra, India.
Dara Shikoh’s Mosque
Dara Shikoh (20 March 1615 – 30 August 1659) was the eldest son of the fifth Emperor Shah Jahan and the brother of Aurangzeb Alamgir and Jahanara Begum. He held a great affection for Lahore due to his deep devotion for Sufism, particularly for the Sufi mystic Hazrat Mian Mir. The area around the shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir was called ‘Darapur’, where Dara Shikoh built a beautiful mosque. The mosque has an exquisitely styled ‘Palki’ domes and has been extended, making the heart of Mian Mir Village. The high tower mosque is decorated artistically and known as ‘Khawaja Behari Mosque’ because of the nearby tomb of Hazrat Khawaja Behari who was a devout disciple of Hazrat Mian Mir.
Nadira Begum’s Tomb & Garden
Nadira Banu Begum (14 March 1618 – 6 June 1659) was the wife of Dara Shikoh. She was a famous poet and remained the Governor of Punjab during the 1640s. Aurangzeb’s rise to power posed as a grave danger to Dara Shukoh’s immediate family and supporters. Nadira died in 1659, several months before her husband’s execution, and was buried near the shrine of Hazrat Mian Mir in a square shape tomb whom she and Dara Shikoh were spiritually attached. It is a two storey Baradari constructed with massive brick masonry and is surrounded by an enormous water tank.
The octagonal Tomb of Anarkali (Nadira Begum who belonged to the harem of Emperor Akbar and was given the title Anar Kali meaning the pomegranate bud) is one of the most significant buildings of the Mughal period and was built in 1615 by Emperor Jahangir (Saleem) when he ascended to the throne. It was built in the memory of his beloved who was buried alive behind the walls by Emperor Akbar in 1599 for her romantic folly with Saleem. Her tomb arrogantly stands in the enclosure of the Punjab Civil Secretariat. It has lost all original decorations as it underwent changes from time to time. It was surrounded by a fine garden called “Anarkali Garden” but was put to several uses. The mausoleum was occupied by Kharak Singh during the Sikh regime and it remained the residence of General Ventura, the Italian General of Ranjit Singh’s Army. Later, it was converted into a Christian Church during British rule. The mausoleum serves as Punjab Records Office since 1891.
Qutbuddin Aibak’s Tomb
Qutbuddin Aibak originally was a Turkish slave who was brought to Ghazni by Shahabuddin Ghauri. He rose to the heights of Commander in Chief of the forces of Shahabuddin Ghauri and was crowned in Lahore on the death of Shahabuddin Ghauri in 1206. He then established the Slave Dynasty and became the king who was followed by nine other kings. He had a palace in Lahore in what is known as Anarkali today. It was then called Mohallah Kuttab Ghauri. He was fond of playing polo and died in 1210 while playing polo. His tomb was built by Shamsuddin Altumash. The Qutub Minar in Dehli was built by the great king.
Tomb of Malik Ayyaz
The Georgian slave, Malik Ayaz, became the favourite and trusted general of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni. In 1021 AD, Sultan Mahmud Ghazni raised Ayaz to kingship and awarded him the throne of Lahore. The city was burnt and depopulated, and taken after a long siege by Mahmud, Ayaz rebuilt and repopulated Lahore. On the ruins of a previous fort, Ayaz built the masonry fort during 1037-1040 on which today’s Lahore Fort stands. During his reign, the city became a cultural and academic centre. His tomb is situated in Rang Mahal on Royal Trail, inside Shah Alam Gate in the walled city. It was ruined during the Sikh era and was rebuilt after independence.
Karachi, the city of lights, is the largest city on the Arabian coast, a prominent industrial and marine port of Pakistan. Tourist attractions in Karachi are as abundant as the enormous city itself is, providing immense activities for the visitors. Major tourist attractions in Karachi include cultural, architectural, and archaeological heritage, top of the line food outlets, entertainment centres, besides plenty of educational institutions.
Quaid e Azam mausoleum
Standing graciously atop a 54 square meters platform with a commanding view, the Quaid-e-Azam’s Mausoleum in the heart of Karachi is the final resting place of the father of nation and Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The monumental mausoleum was built by a Pakistani architect Yahya Merchant in 1958-68. The exterior is decked using white marble and interior is adorned with a four-tiered Chinese crystal chandelier adorned with an Iranian silver railing. The mausoleum also houses the graves of Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah (sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah) and that of the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Liaqat Ali Khan, in its basement. Bearing a fusion of traditional and modern Islamic architecture, the mausoleum was inspired by the Samanid Mausoleum in Uzbekistan.
The Wazir Mansion in Karachi is the birthplace of the founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. After partition, this house was sold to a landlord who gave the name Wazir Mansion to this facility. It was purchased by the government of Pakistan in the 1970s and turned into a heritage site. The protected national monument is a three-story building situated in Kharadar, Karachi, and attracts thousands of devoted Pakistanis to pay homage. The ground floor of the mansion currently serves as a museum while the upper floors exhibit the personal belongings of Jinnah.
The Mohatta Palace in Karachi was built by a Marwari businessman, Shivratan Chandraratan Mohatta, in 1925 as his summer residential palace covering an area of around 18,500 sq. feet. Defining distinctive features of Rajasthani architecture, the palace was built using pink Jodhpur stone and local yellow stone from Gizri. It was dedicated to Hindu God, Lord Shiva, situated on the terrace of the Palace. He could use the palace only until the partition and left for India. Following Pakistan’s independence, the two sisters of the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah & Shireen Jinnah, subsequently occupied the palace until 1980. However, after the death of Shireen Jinnah, the palace was converted into a museum. It is now used as an art gallery and museum and the premises are used for exhibitions.
Dating back to 1865, the Frere Hall building recalls the time of British rule in the subcontinent. It is a well-preserved beautiful structure surrounded by lush green gardens. The building serves as a library and an art gallery today. Designed by Henry Saint Clair Wilkins, the unique building of Frere Hall is located in the Saddar district, which is also home to many other picturesque colonial architectures. It was built in honour of the then commissioner of Sind (1851-1859) Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere who promoted some economic development in Karachi. This yellowish Karachi limestone edifice has two floors comprising a hall, an orchestral gallery and the Liaquat Municipal Library on the ground floor
Sindh High Court
The Sindh High Court building in Saddar is an iconic colonial building built from1923-1929. This beautiful Renaissance architecture building was built using the reddish tinged Jodhpur sandstone and embellished with cupolas, balconies and tall Roman-style columns. The building was declared open by His Excellency Sir Frederick Hugh Sykes, Governor of Bombay. The Sindh High Court is one of the very few well-preserved heritage buildings of Karachi. Tourist can visit 8:30 till 5:00 Monday to Saturday without any ticket or permission.
Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building (KMC)
KMC is a historic building located at M. A. Jinnah road. Its foundation stone was laid in 1927, construction work completed in 1930, and it was inaugurated in 1932. Karachi has an abundance of architecturally fascinating buildings built during British Raj and many of these intriguing buildings are now public offices and aren’t so easily accessible for sightseeing. This includes the impressive Karachi Metropolitan Development Corporation Building built in 1935 to mark George V’s Silver Jubilee. The building has pointed Oriental cupolas rising at its four corners and has a prominent clock tower that’s also domed in the same style.
Three Swords Monument
Three Swords or Commonly known as Teen Talwaar is one of the oldest monuments in Clifton, Karachi. The swords convey Jinnah’s creeds Unity, Faith, and Discipline. It was commissioned by Pakistan’s former President and Prime Minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and built by the great Pakistani architect Mr. Mistri in early 1970. When it was first built on Karachi’s Clifton Road, it was a prominent landmark.
Hindu Gymkhana (National Academy of Performing Arts)
The Hindu Gymkhana in Karachi is a major tourist attraction on Sarwar Shaheed Road in Sadar. It is a colonial-era building established as a club for the Hindu elite class in 1925 and stretched over a leased area of around 47,000 sq. yds. Its 100 years lease will end in 2020. The condition the Gymkhana was deteriorated and was almost demolished in 1984 but was protected by Heritage Foundation of Pakistan. Its architecture is an amalgamation of both the Mughal and Hindu style. The Hindu Gymkhana houses the National Academy of Performing Arts – an institution established to conserve and teach performing arts and music.
Quaid-e-Azam House Museum
The Quaid-e-Azam House Museum is an important National Monument in the heart of Karachi also used to be the residential place of Quaid-e-Azam from 1944 till his death in 1948 and his sister Fatima Jinnah lived till 1964. This place is also known as “Flagstaff House” because the British Indian Army rented it and allotted it to senior officers including General Douglas David Gracy, who later served as the second commander in chief of the Pakistan Army. The building was designed by a British architect, Moses Somake. This gorgeous yellow stone double story house consists of arched openings, carved pillars, semicircular balconies and six spacious rooms. It was purchased by Quaid-e-Azam in 1943 at the cost of Rs. 1,15,000 and it was acquired by the Pakistani government in 1985 and conserved as a museum.
National Museum of Pakistan
National Museum of Pakistan
Established in 1950, the National Museum of Pakistan in Karachi is the richest museum of the city that houses a diverse range of artifacts including paintings, relics, sculptures, coins, manuscripts and much more associated with all aspects of Pakistani culture. Its eleven galleries showcasing a set of 58,000 coins, 70,000 books and other antiquities its collection from the Indus Valley & Gandhara Civilization, the collection of Islamic art in the form of rare manuscripts of the holy Quran and its information of economy to the political history of Pakistan. The major purpose of creating this museum was to promote people and history of Pakistan through the rich collections it holds.
PAF museum in Karachi is a renowned museum houses planes, jets, radars, and weaponry that have been used by the Pakistan Air Force through the course of years, particularly during the 1965 war with India. Moreover, there are also WW 1 and WW2 scale models and some modern planes on the display as well. The Museum is located next to the PAF Base Faisal on the main Shahrah-e-Faisal. It was inaugurated on the 14 August 1997 and opened to the general public in October 1997.
Pakistan Maritime Museum
Pakistan Maritime Museum
Pakistan Maritime Museum is a Navel museum ranked among the city’s best attractions. Stretched over 28 acres the museum building comprises of 6 galleries and an auditorium. It is a very educative place for visitors – galleries inside it and an auditorium along with exterior marine displays. The park outside provides the visitors most relax environment and helps build up the knowledge about Aircraft. It gives visitors a chance to see a real submarine, along with several aircraft and different artillery of the previous years that were used by the Pakistan Navy.
PIA Planetarium KarachiPIA Planetarium in Karachi is a Pakistani planetarium contains a Sky-Dome and a Boeing jet plane standing in a park. It was established in 1985 and is a good source of education to students of science. Special shows for school and college student groups are arranged. A special documentary on tourist attractions in Pakistan is shown in the plane while a documentary on the solar system can be watched in the Planetarium. This planetarium is working under Pakistan International Airlines. A short visit to the Planetarium.
State Bank Museum
The State Bank Museum in Karachi is the best kept and informative Art Gallery. There are information panels presented all around. It begins with the trading and bartering all the way up to present day currency. It has a very big collection of stamps, coins, and notes on the lower floors of the museum. The upper floor central hall has frescoes by Sadequain on both sides – the smaller room on one side has smaller artwork while the other side has the larger paintings of Sadequain. The impressive building is constructed in the 1920s with red stone like other British era buildings in the city. Its architectural resemblance is like that of Greek’s with four column façades of the entrance. The building stands out elegantly amongst the other concrete buildings, mostly banks, on I.I. Chandrigar road close to the Karachi city Railway station. The only problem is the parking as the surroundings lack parking area. To enter, it is mandatory to prove the identity and you are required to carry the CNIC.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
St. Patrick CathedralSt. Patrick’s Catholic Cathedral Church in Karachi is the first worship place in Karachi situated on Shahrah-e-Iraq near Empress Market, Sadar. It was initially built in 1845 and was design by the famous architect Father Karl Wagner. It was destroyed by a storm in 1885 and later the new improved and huge space building was beautifully designed and intelligently constructed under the architect Kausar Ali. The Church can accommodate about 1500 worshippers at a time. Under the Sindh Cultural Heritage Protection Act, the cathedral was declared as a protected monument in 2003 for its outstanding architectural beauty.
Masjid-e-Tooba or Defence Housing Authority Mosque
Masjid-e-Tooba or Masjid-i-Tuba is listed amongst the major tourist attractions of Karachi for the unique architectural design it holds. Locally, the mosque is known as Gol (round) Masjid or Defence Housing Authority Mosque. The mosque is built of the pure white marble with a dome measuring 236 feet in diameter and supported by a low surrounding wall and no central column. Its thermally proofed interior is insulated with thousands of mirror tiles, giving the impression of twinkling stars. It is the 18th largest mosque in the world and can accommodate up to 5000 worshippers at a time. The mosque is located in the Defence Housing Society of Karachi and was designed by a Pakistani architect named Dr. Babar Hamid Chauhan in 1969.
Ziarat of Abdullah Shah Gazi
The shrine with green dome overlooking the Clifton Beach in Karachi is the mausoleum of the 9th century Sufi, Abdullah Shah Ghazi. It used to be a tiny shaky hut on a sandy hillside and was renovated in the 1960s during Ayub’s regime thereby drawing more and more believers. Weekly Qawwali and Dhamaal (devotional singing) take place almost every Thursday which is believed to have mystical healing qualities. Moreover, there are still many people believing that Shah Ghazi’s spirit remains Karachi’s best deterrent against cyclones rampant in the Arabian Sea.
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is the only Swaminarayan temple in Pakistan built in 1849. The Mandir is located at the centre of a Hindu neighbourhood on the M. A. Jinnah Road in Karachi. It was built in the honor of Shri Swaminarayan who was an incarnation of God and lived his life in Ahmedabad, Gujrat. Several temples have been dedicated to him around the world but the temple in Karachi is the only one in Pakistan. The temple has served as a refugee camp in 1947 during partition. The original images of Lord Swaminarayan were taken to India during the times of independence. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is notable for its size and front, over 27,012 m sq. Its 150th anniversary was celebrated in April 2004. Not only Hindus but also Muslims visit the temple which adds to its notability. There is a sacred cowshed within the premises of this temple.
Holy Trinity Cathedral
The Gothic style Anglican Holy Trinity Cathedral at Fatima Jinnah Road, near Zainab Market, was built in 1855 to meet British spiritual needs. The garrison church was designed by Captain John Hill of the Bombay Engineers as the garrison church – the first major churches of Karachi – housing some fascinating plaques inside erected to the memory of British soldiers who died in various campaigns in Sindh. Its original unusually tall tower, which was later reduced by two stories in 1905 for safety, worked as a lighthouse for the ship arriving at Karachi Harbor. Services offered at 09:00 every Sunday.
St Andrew’s Church
The Gothic style Saint Andrew’s Church in Saddar, Karachi – also known as the Scottish church – was built in 1868 by the architect T G Newnham for the Presbyterian (Scottish) mission in British India. The church was used by foreigners until 1947 and services were offered in English. However, in 1969 Urdu services were started by the Christians living in the Saddar area. Following the union of Protestant churches across the country, it was affiliated with the Church of Pakistan in 1970. The Anglican St Andrew’s Church has services at 09:00 every Sunday.
Located about 29 km east of Karachi near Landhi town, the Tombs of Chaukandi are famous for their artfully designed pyramid-shaped sandstone tombs decorated with exclusive geometrical patterns, symbols, flowers, swastikas, and diamonds. Tombs of the female buried have carvings of bangles and necklaces and are easy to identify. These uniquely decorated sandstones are built by Baluchi and Burpat tribes between 15th to 18th century and typical to the Sindh region.
Dolmen Mall Clifton
Dolmen Mall in Karachi is one of the modern shopping malls of international standards houses all famous brands besides a variety of restaurants. It can simply address most of the shopping needs besides a source of great outing with family and friends. The mall can be visited at any time, yet Saturdays are only allowed for families. The shopping mall has ample space for car parking.
Zainab Market is a name synonymous to the residents of Karachi, but visitors must also know that this market is famous for all kinds of export leftover, imported stuff, and local causal & fashion wear including everything related to clothing. Now the market is annexed with some other shopping choices including the Rex centre, international market, Atrium Mall, and Madina Mall. The market is located near the very old and famous shopping area called Zaibunissa Road in Sadar near Avari Towers Hotel.
Empress Market Karachi
Colourful yet chaotic, Empress Market in Sadar, Karachi, is a marketplace that sells all imaginable groceries, live animals, pets, stationery, textile and much more. Its origin dates to the British era between 1884 and 1889 and was named to commemorate Queen Victoria, Empress of India. It is a major tourist attraction also has a historic significance. Empress Market was situated on the grounds where a number of spoys were executed ruthlessly after the Indian rebellion of 1857 and the spoys had their heads blown off by cannibals in an attempt to suppress the feeling of mutiny among locals.
Arabian Sea Country Club
The Arabian Sea Country Club is an ideal place for a quick getaway from the city centre. This golf course and the sports club has a lot to try by your hand – be it a shooting spree or riding horseback. Many of the other facilities include cricket, squash, tennis, snooker and swimming.
Ibne Qasim Park
Stretched over 130 acres of land, the Bin Qasim Park in Clifton, Karachi, is the largest urban park visited by over 10 million people each year. The beachside park is also called Bagh Ibne Qasim named after the Arab conqueror Muhammad bin Qasim. The park has an accommodation capacity of about 300,000 people at a time. It has a green landscape with hundreds of trees and jogging trails for health-conscious residents. The park is equipped with stone benches, lighting towers, footlights for visitors’ convenience and has a turtle pond, washrooms, canopies for shades, dinosaur murals and a rose garden that make it an ideal place to visit for families. It remains open 24/7.
Beaches and Harbors
The popular Clifton Beach in the Arabian Sea near the Sadar town is the busiest beach in Karachi. Many locals and tourists flock to stroll on holidays and weekends. Evenings are always colourful here. Its golden sands, amusement park and an array of food stalls encircling the beach attract tourists like a magnet. Camel and horse ride on the sands are the most popular activities to keep the tourists busy.
Sandspit, a name derived from the pits where turtles lay their eggs. It is a popular beach and a tourist spot in Karachi after Clifton Beach situated near Hawks Bay in the southwest of Karachi. The Sandspit beach is a nesting ground for the Green and Olive Ridley Turtles during winters. It is also home to a variety of algae and crabs. The shallow waters here are ideal for swimming and sunbathing. The beachside has an unusual rock formation that is unique to this place. Besides, like Clifton Beach, Sandspit also has horse and camel rides for tourists.
The Turtle Beach is a breading spot for green turtle species. It is located between Hawk’s Bay and Sandspit. One can easily spot these turtles during winters, usually after dusk. Major attractions of this delightful beach are the blue waters and the turtles which attract visitors.
Hawks Bay or Hawksbay, named after a Governor from the Victorian era, is situated about 25 km southwest of Karachi. It is a popular sandy beach with crystal blue water and attracts beach lovers mostly during summers. Unique and tranquil, Hawks Bay is a great retreat from the hustle and bustle of the busy city life of Karachi. People visiting from outside Karachi must choose a weekday to enjoy the serenity on the beach. Huts are available on rent for the visitors planning to spend the whole day. Camel and horse rides are available on negotiable prices.
At 40 km from the city center, the romantic French Beach in Karachi is a beach mostly visited by Karachi’s upper class and expatriates. It is located between Hawks Bay and Paradise Point. This rocky beach is surrounded by clear waters and is ideal for surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and swimming. Locally it is known as Haji Ismail Goth and is a small fishing village surrounded by a boundary wall and inside there are huts for rent. There are no grocery shops, visitors must bring their own supplies.
Paradise Point at the Arabian Sea is a sandstone rock formation with a natural arch, located about 45 minutes’ drive from the main city center through the Mubarak Goth Road. It is one of the major tourist attractions in Karachi one can enjoy beachside activities including swimming, camel rides, amusement parks etc
About 30 km south of Karachi, along with the shores of the Arabian Sea, is a small fishing village of about 2500 anglers and their families, called Mubarak Village. It is locally known as Mubarak Goth inhabited mostly by Baloch and is accessible in about 1.5 hours. A beautiful beach of jeweled blue waters bordered by golden brown sands is the beach of Mubarak Village, not far from Hawks Bay. It is surrounded by rocky hills and is a delightful escape in Kiamari township. The calm waters of this natural harbor provide a unique spot for fishermen to anchor their boats.
It is a natural harbor strategically perched on the Arabian Sea. It is an entrance to Karachi’s busy port and serves as an economic hub for Pakistan.
Manora Island is a small 2.5 km2 peninsula accessible on a short ferry ride from Kemari Harbor. Karachi’s Talpur rulers surrendered to British at Manora Island and a lighthouse was erected at this place which is still intact. Manora has a great sea breeze to enjoy.
Cape Mount or Cape Monze Beach is shoreline on the Arabian sea located on the beach street near Mubarak village, west to Paradise point. It has been a separation marker for ships moving towards the Karachi Harbor.
The line of these magnificent restaurants goes all the way into the shores of the Arabian Sea. It is a paradise for local food lovers. These restaurants offer almost all the local delights.
Port Grand is where one can find a variety of food in its high-end open-air restaurants annexing the Arabian Sea. Besides the food, the beautiful view of the port and the romantic view of the sunset from the deck is amazing to watch. For people visiting with families, there are places to engage kids and for cultural activities besides the facility of Valet parking.