karakoram highway tourist attractions
Posted in City Breaks Gilgit-Baltistan Roads & Highways

Karakoram Highway Tourist Attractions

The Karakorum Highway (KKH), N-35, is the greatest wonder of the modern world. The highway is also dubbed as the 8th wonder of the world. It is a human determination and ingenuity and considered a great feat of engineering by Chinese and Pakistani workers. It runs along the Indus for 310 kilometers and leaves the Indus at the Junction of three mountain ranges for Gilgit, Hunza, and Khunjerab rivers to take on the Karakoram range where 12 out of 30 highest mountains in the world overlook the KKH. The Karakoram Highway tourist attractions are worldly known and there is no other highway in the world crowned with such rich attractions.

The 1300 kilometers (800 miles) long KKH originates from Hassan Abdal, a historic city some 45 kilometers from Islamabad on the Islamabad – Peshawar Highway. The asphalt ribbon runs through the cities of Abbottabad, Manshera, crosses the River Indus at Thakot, on to Gilgit through rugged mountains of Besham, Pattan, and Sazin and Chilas, and snakes through Hunza and Sost before crossing the Khunjerab Pass at 4,733 meters (15,750ft). The Khunjerab top is also named as Zero Point between Pakistan and China. The highway then enters the high Central Asian plateau before winding down through the Pamirs to Kashgar, at the western edge of the Taklamakan Desert.

The Karakoram Highway is crowned with a huge number of attractions ranging from ancient rock carvings and petroglyphs, natural beauty, and manmade marvels. Major attractions along the Karakoram Highway include:

Ashoka Rocks Mansehra

ashoka rocks mansehra
ashoka rocks mansehra

The three granite boulders bearing 14 edicts engraved by order of the Mauryan King Ashoka in the 3rd century BC are located on the north side of the town of Mansehra. The inscription bearing Kharoshti script is fading away and almost impossible to see despite the shelters to protect.

Petroglyphs in Chilas

Petroglyphs in Chilas
Petroglyphs in Chilas

The town of Chilas is surrounded by striking petroglyphs and are easy to access. The jeep bridge leading to Thalpan is the ‘Chilas I’ site with inscriptions found on both sides of the KKH. The most striking art is found on the large stupa bearing banners flying. And across the river, there are boulders bearing art of mythical animals, battle scenes, royal lineages, and Buddhist tales. The ‘Chilas II’ site near the police check post on the KKH, less than 1km down the jeep track, is a huge rock bearing hunting and battle scenes and Buddhist stupa, the long-horned ibex, symbols of fertility, and elusive trophy animals.

Fairy Meadows and Nanga Parbat

The Karakoram Highway
The Karakoram Highway

About 80 km short of Gilgit placed the Thakot Bridge on the Karakoram Highway which is also the place of departure for Fairy Meadows and Nanaga Parbat (the Killer Mountain) base camp. There are several places along the Karakoram Highway and Thalechi viewpoint is a designated point to make a short stopover to enjoy superb views of Nanga Parbat.

Partab Bridge

Partab bridge
Partab bridge

The Partab Bridge (Pul, in urdu), located at about 40 km southeast of main Gilgit city near the Junction Point of Three Mountain Ranges on the KKH, served as a major source of communication for the entire region. It was built to connect Gilgit with Bunji, Astore and Kashmir, years before the construction of the Karakoram Highway (KKH). The bridge was named after Maharaja Partab Singh, Maharaja of Kashmir in the 1890s.

The suspension bridge was constructed during 1889 and 1893 by a British agent named Col Algernon Durand who also inaugurated it and was used mainly for defense and trade. However, during the revolt of 1947 when Gilgit won its independence from Dogra raj, it was burnt down. Later it was rebuilt but again it had nearly collapse from a decade long neglect and was rebuilt after 2010 floods.

Junction Point of Three Mountain Ranges

Junction Point of three mountain ranges
Junction Point of three mountain ranges

The junction point of three mountain ranges is situated near Jaglot on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), only 40 km southeast of Gilgit, Pakistan. It is here that the world’s three famous mountain ranges – the Karakoram (the black gravel), the Himalaya (home of snow), and the Hindukush (the killer of Hindus) – make a knot popularly known as the “Junction Point of the world’s three mountain ranges”. This exclusive site also serves as the junction of Gilgit and Indus Rivers and the Skardu road branches out from the KKH near this place.

Uprising Memorial Gilgit

The Uprising Memorial is the final resting place of local heroes who rose against the Maharaja in 1947. The local heroes Mohammed Babar Khan and Safiullah Beg of the Gilgit Scouts, and Mirza Hassan Khan of the Kashmir Infantry. Through a rebellion, these heroes were able to emancipate Gilgit-Baltistan by arresting Governor Ghansara Singh on Nov 01 from the Maharaja of Kashmir.

The Victory Monument of Taj Mughal

Victory monument of Taj Mughal
Victory monument of Taj Mughal

The 700 years old Victory Monument of Taj Mughal is a commemorative tower, measuring 21’-10” high and 14’-4” wide, located on a mountain lap in Gilgit town, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The monument was named after Taj-ud-Din Mughal, an Ismaili ruler from Badakhshan, who came to Gilgit -Baltistan during the 13th century AD. The Taj Mughal monument was built by his soldiers to celebrate his victory.

Danyore Suspension BridgeDanyore Suspension Bridge

The Danyore Suspension Bridge near Gilgit is one of the oldest suspension bridges in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The 510 ft long bridge has served as a source of commute to the people otherwise had to take the local raft or a detour to travel to Gilgit city – the administrative headquarter and the capital of Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly northern areas. It is now serving as one of the major tourist attractions in Gilgit-Baltistan used only by the pedestrians and motorcyclists.

Danyore Rock Inscription

Danyore Rock Inscriptions1
Danyore Rock Inscriptions1

The Danyore Rock Inscriptions is a gigantic boulder bearing inscriptions from the 7th and 8th centuries A.D. The inscription is the most important discovery of Danyor and was seen for the first time by Karl Jettmar in 1958. The inscribed rock is situated in the premises of a private house in Danyore, across Gilgit city in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan and is locally known as “Likhitu Giri”. The archaeological site is not very much popular and known only to a limited count of individuals/organizations related to archaeology and tourism.

Chinese Graveyard Danyore

Chinese Graveyard
Chinese Graveyard

Locally known as China Yadgar, the Chinese graveyard (The memorial Park) is the final resting place of mighty Chinese engineers and workers who sacrificed their lives during construction of the mighty Karakoram Highway (KKH) in the 1960s and 1970s. The cemetery is located in Danyore, about 10 km across main Gilgit town – the capital city of Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. To be exact, the graveyard can be accessed in the residential area on the KKH, adjacent to Sehat Foundation Hospital.

Memorial Monument on the KKH

Memorial monument on the KKH

Memorial monument on the KKH

At a distance of about 35 km from Gilgit, on the main Karakoram Highway, a monument bearing the symbol of a Drilling Machine has been erected in memory of the brave people who lost their lives during the construction of the Karakoram Highway. The monument reads:

MEMORIAL 103 EB (Engineering Battalion)

In memory of their gallant men who proffered to make the Karakorams their permanent abode.

There shall be-

In that rich soil a richer dust conceals.

1966-1972

Silk Route segments

Running parallel to the Karakoram Highway, across the river between Gilgit and Hunza, several sections of the ancient Silk Route still exist retaining the rich legacy of ancient trade. It is only being used by the locals mostly to graze heard or to travel locally to annexing valleys. These sections can be utilized to draw in tourists.

Collision Point of Continental Plates

Collision point of continental plates
Collision point of continental plates

The collision point of continental plates is located near Chalt Valley on the Karakoram Highway (KKH), some 53 km north of Gilgit town. The Indian and the Eurasian continental plates collided along a line which passed through this point giving rise to the Himalayan mountain range and formed Tibetan plateau some 50 million years ago. The tremendous pressure forced the earth’s crust to produce the towering Karakoram Mountains in Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan.

Kino Kutto

Kino Kutto
Kino Kutto

Kino Kutto” or the Black Knee in local Shina language, is a section of the historic Silk Road which is now not in use. Located high up on the cliff side between Budalas valley of Nagar and Khizrabad village of Hunza, the section can easily be seen from the KKH. Once a footpath, then evolved to a pony track, it was later widened to a single jeep road in 1958-60 but remained unused since the construction of the Karakoram Highway. However, to show the nature of the historic connection, the Aga Khan Cultural Services Pakistan (AKCSP), with funding from the Royal Norwegian embassy Islamabad, restored the visible section of the road in partnership with Budalas and Khizerabad (Hunza) communities. Kinu Kutto has great views of Rakaposhi.

Rakaposhi View Point

Rakaposhi View Point
Rakaposhi View Point

Rakaposhi View Point or “the Zero Point of Rakaposhi” is a prominent viewpoint offering the closest view of Rakaposhi and the natural beauty lies in its scenery. This remarkable viewpoint is located right on the Karakoram Highway (KKH) in Ghulmet village of Nagar Valley.

Nilt Fort

Nilt fort
Nilt fort

The Nilt Fort was a fort once existed in Nilt, Nagar, on the main KKH about 65km from Gilgit. It was destroyed in the famous Anglo-Brusho war fought between locals of Hunza-Nagar and the British during 1891revolt. The Nilt Fort withstood for days but the offensive from a far superior army, duly supported by a local conspiracy, apparently lead to its destruction. However, a lasting history still remains. It’s not just the Nilt Fort that disappeared and only seen in the literature but the historic Maiun Fort in lower Hunza (Shinaki) across the river and the forts in Chaprote, Thol, and Pisson have all disappeared gradually even without any historical accounts. The Nilt Fort site is easily overlooked by travellers, even though it is easily accessible on the way to Hunza from Nagar.

Queen Victoria Monument

Malika mo Shikari
Queen Victoria Monument Hunza

Locally known as Malika mo Shikari, the Queen Victoria Monument on the shoulder of the rock face over Karimabad is a tower believed to be erected by Nazim Khan.  The tower can be reached in an hour from Baltit village by going straight up to the base of the cliff.

Kha Basi Cafe

Kha Basi Cafe
Kha Basi Cafe

The Kha Basi Café is a unique restaurant located under the shadow of Altit Fort in the ancient royal garden called “the Kha Basi” – a gorgeous and very well-kept-up fruit orchard full of apricot trees – located on the edge of the Altit town in Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. It was a nice piece of simple old-fashioned architecture almost falling to decay. The Café was recently renovated and turned into a classic restaurant. Standing at the verge of the royal garden, overlooking the majestic mountains of Hunza/Nagar and the Karakoram Highway running along the Hunza River, the Kha Basi Café has both majestic views and a traditional taste.

Altit Fort

Altit fort Hunza
Altit fort Hunza

Perched on the edge of a 1000 feet high rocky cliff rising sharply from the Hunza River, the epoch-making 900 years old impressive Altit Fort is one of the ancient forts surviving today in Gilgit-Baltistan (formerly northern areas), Pakistan. It has, for centuries, served as a palace to the local Mirs – the hereditary rulers of the state of Hunza – and later as a fort following some subsequent additions. The award-winning Altit Fort is a major tourist attraction not only because of its longstanding rich history but also for its unique architectural design facing the Karakoram Highway and for its strategic location on the ancient Silk Route.

Baltit Fort

Baltit Fort
Baltit Fort

Standing arrogantly on the moraine of Ultar glacier, with a commanding view of Hunza valley and its tributaries, the over 700 years old Baltit Fort featuring the Tibetan influenced architecture, is a glorious structure purposefully built for defence and definition of the then rulers of Hunza. The majestic fort now serves as a museum and a cultural centre. Baltit Fort is the recipient of several international awards and holds a global recognition.

Ganish Historic Settlement

Ganish Historic settlement
Ganish Historic settlement

Ganish (derived from Ghenish which in local brushaski language means Gold) is the oldest and the very first known settlement on the ancient Silk Road (now the Karakoram Highway) in the Hunza Valley. The town is located about 100 km (approx 2.5 hours traveling time) from Gilgit and about 180 km, approx 3.5 hours) from the Chinese border and situated on the right bank of Hunza River. It is one of the striking valleys bearing a rich history. The  more than 1000 years old settlement (now renovated) houses various homes, narrow streets, imposing watch towers, traditional mosques with striking floral designs, modern religious centers, and a water reservoir near the main entrance.

Haldikish

Sacred rocks of Hunza
Haldikish – petroglyphs and rock inscriptions on the KKH

Haldikish – the sacred rocks of Hunza – is a 30 ft high and 200 yards long huge boulder on the left bank of Hunza River located at a distance of 1.5 km from Ganish village and about a kilometre from Ganish Bridge on the KKH. The rocks are inscribed with the scripts and carvings of many different eras from past. Divided into two major portions, the upper portion of the sacred rock consist of inscriptions carved in Sogdian, Kharosthi, Brahmi, Sarada and Proto Sarada languages while the lower portion is engraved by the images of Ibexes. These ibexes are shown in different situations, including being hunted. There used to be many Buddhist shelter caves in ancient times which later collapsed or fell over time.

Attabad Lake

Attabad Lake
Attabad Lake

The Attabad Lake in Hunza, on the main Karakoram Highway, is a gorgeous lake and a major tourist attraction. It was created as a result of a massive landslide on January 04, 2010. The incidence claimed precious human lives and properties appearing a doomsday at the time of occurrence, but the entire scenario changed over time and unlocked a range of opportunities in the region. The lake has earned a great reputation and already placed itself as a leading tourist hotspot drawing a multitude of visitors on a daily basis.

Borith Lake

Borith Lake
Borith Lake

At 2,600 meters (8,500 ft) Borith Lake is a natural lake surrounded by Borith hamlet in Gulmit, upper Hunza Valley in Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan. The lake can be reached via a 2 km unpaved uphill jeep track from Husseini village, adjacent to Ghulkin village, on the KKH. The lake is a sanctuary for migrating wildfowl and is often visited by bird-watchers and nature lovers. The site is also a launching pad for beautiful Patundas trek and walking trails to nearby villages of Gulkin and Kamaris in Gulmit Village.

Husseini Suspension Bridge

Husseni Suspension bridge
Husseni Suspension bridge

The Husseini Suspension Bridge over the Hunza River in upper Hunza (Gojal) is a rickety cable and plank bridge with huge gaps between them. The long bridge connects Husseini village with Zarabad hamlet and used by locals mostly with heavy loads on. Tourists flock from around the world to test their nerves on this crumbling structure. It is probably the worst still-functioning bridge in the world located at about 45 km from Aliabad Hunza and 132 km from Gilgit.

Passu Glacier

Passu Glacier
Passu Glacier

The 20.5 km long Passu Glacier spreading over 115 sq km can be seen as soon as one enters the Passu village while travelling from the south to north along the Karakoram Highway. The glacier is located to the east of the highway displaying a panoramic view. At the same time, one has the best ever views of the entire Passu valley and the Passu Cones (Cathedrals) from this point. The Passu Glacier flows directly from the 7,478m (24,534 ft) Passu Peak which itself is positioned in the back end of the glacier.

Passu Cathedral

Passu Cones
Passu Cathedrals

Passu Cathedral or the Passu cones are the jagged spires rising from a set of mountain peaks located to the north of Passu Valley in the Karakoram mountain range of Pakistan. Standing to the other side of the Hunza River, the cones present a majestic view from different points along Karakoram Highway passing through the Gulmit and Passu Valleys. The sun-drenched mountain peaks are known by several names including Passu Cones, Cathedral Spires, and locally called Tupopdan but are still prominent among the tourists as Passu Cathedral. Passu Cathedral is the most photographed peak scaled for the first time by the British in 1987.

Sost

Sost
Sost

Sost is a beautiful village in upper Hunza and the last town on the Karakoram Highway before the Chinese border. At 2800 m above the sea level Sost is now a busy bazaar, has Pakistani immigration and customs departments based here, and all the trade goods and passengers pass through this town. It is almost a melting pot of diverse people, mostly traders, from different geographic backgrounds. Local inhabitants speak Wakhi Language but here almost every language is spoken which is spoken in all major cities of Pakistan besides some dialects of Chinese language and also English as a tourist language. Sost has a couple of good hotels providing accommodation facilities for domestic and international tourists.

Khunjerab Pass

Khunjerab Pak-China Border
Khunjerab Border

At 4700 m the Khunjerab Pass is the highest paved international border crossing in the world. It is the meeting point of two sections of the Karakoram Highway connecting Gilgit-Baltistan area of northern Pakistan and Xinjiang province of western China. Out of the 1300 km highway, 887 km traverses through Pakistan while rest of the 413 km passes through the Chinese territory.

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions
Posted in Balochistan City Breaks Roads & Highways

Makran Coastal Highway Attractions

The Makran Coastal Highway in Blochistan, also known as National Highway 10 (N-10), is a 653 km road connecting the western provinces of Sindh and Balochistan and running mostly along the Arabian Sea coast. The highway is decked with unique attractions becoming prominent to the world. Major Makran Coastal Highway Attractions are:

Princess of Hope

It was not discovered until the Hollywood actress Angelina Julie visited the area in 2002 and named the naturally carved rock formation as “Princess of Hope”. The standing lady is a fascinating natural mud structure in Hingol National Park that it appears to be a masterpiece of a skilled artisan. It is located about 275 km from Karachi and can easily be sighted while travelling on the Makran Coastal Highway. God knows for how long it has been standing there bearing all kind of weather conditions.

princess of hope
princess of hope

The Sphinx

About 150 km from the Zero Point of Makran Coastal Highway and about 280 km from Karachi, past Kund Malir beach, the Sphinx-like structure is another natural formation. The coast of Makran mostly constitutes of muddy hills with very fast winds blowing year round. These fast blowing winds cut through the muddy hills result in the formation of natural structures like the standing lady (Princess of Hope) or sphinx. The Sphinx is largely associated with Egypt, which were carved shapes as Egyptian goddesses. The Natural Sphinx is although not as sharply shaped as the Sphinx in Egypt, however, the structures are worth seeing.

The Sphinx
The Sphinx

Hingol National Park

Hingol National Park stretches over an area of 1,650 square km along the Makran coast in southwestern Balochistan contains a variety of topographic features. It is one of the largest national parks in Pakistan and was established in 1988. The park has some 250 plant species, 35 species of mammals, 65 species of amphibians and reptiles and 185 species of birds.

Hingol National Park
Hingol National Park

Hingol Mud Volcanoes

The Hingol mud volcanoes, also called Chandragup Mud Volcanoes, located about 200 km west of Karachi and about 8 kilometres off the main Coastal Highway leading from Lasbela to Gwadar. The unique construction of all of the muddy hills and statues in Hingol National Parks is an artwork of these mud volcanoes constantly erupting with clay. Only the locals may provide guidance to the exact location. A landmark, however, is an SSGC installation. The site has total 21 volcanoes including 3 major mud volcanoes. The site is also a sacred Hindu worship place.

Hingol Mud Volcanoes
Hingol Mud Volcanoes

Hinglaj Mandir

Hinglaj Mandir or Hinglaj Mata is a Hindu temple in Hinglaj town in the middle of the famous Hingol National Park on the Makran coast. It is also named as Hinglaj Devi or Nani Mandir considered to be one of the oldest temples in the world and an important place of pilgrimage for the Hindu population in Sindh. The Mandir is located in a narrow gorge on the west bank of Hingol River about 19 km inland from the Arabian Sea on the coastal highway, 250 km to the northwest of Karachi, at the end of Keerthar Hill range in the Makran Desert stretch. Unlike other shrines having manmade images, the Hinglaj Mandir has a small shapeless stone smeared with Sindoor (Vermilion) in a small natural cave which is worshipped as Hinglaj Mata.

Hinglaj Mata Mandir
Hinglaj Mata Mandir

Kund Malir Beach

Kund Malir is one of the serene beaches located in Hingol National Park, some 145 km from the Zero Point, around 270 km from Karachi. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in this world. However lacking the basic facilities like hotels, restaurants, fuel stations and no cell phone signals it still is worth visiting with a really calm peaceful and soothing environment. Apart from Kund Malir, there are long stretches of Arabian Sea beaches along the Coastal Highway which turns this long ride into a driving delight.

Kund Malir Beach
Kund Malir Beach

 

Ormara Beach

Ormara Beach is located on the midway between Karachi and Gwadar on the Makran Coastal Highway – about 360 km west of Karachi and 230 km east of Gwadar. Ormara basically was the name given to the town and then to the beach from one of the generals of Alexander the Great called “Ormoz” who died here when Alexander the Great and his army stayed there on their way back after conquering Sindh, Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces of modern-day Pakistan in 326 BC.

Ormada Beach
Ormara Beach

 Pasni

Pasni is an important small town at the Arabian Sea in Gwadar. Its significance relates to the discovery of rock formations including the ancient ruins of the Harappan era and the presence of antique Hindu temples, and proofs of Alexander’s passing the coastal belt.

Astola Island

About 25 km south of the nearest part of the coast and 39 km southeast of the fishing port of Pasni is a small uninhabited island called Astola Island or Jazira Haft Talar. It is known to be largest offshore Island measuring 6.7 km long and 2.3 km wide, and 246 ft above sea level. The Island is accessible by motorboat in about 5 hrs or by helicopter. It is a popular eco-tourism destination with no lodging facilities on the Island. Anyone planning for an overnight stay must carry a tent and food. The Island is famous for scuba diving, fishing, and to observe turtle breeding.

Astola Island
Astola Island

Gwadar

The term Gwadar is a combination of two Balochi words Gwat (meaning the wind) and Dar (meaning Gateway) thus Gwadar means “The gateway of wind”. There is a slightly different concept which suggests that the world Gwadar was derived from “Gedrosia” which was the ancient name of Balochistan given by the Greeks to the arid area making up the southern part of Balochistan.

Gwadar today is a port city on the southernmost coast of Balochistan at the Arabian Sea near the border with Iran located to the east of Persian Gulf and opposite Oman. However, historically, the city and environs were possessions of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman from 1783 until Prince Karim Aga Khan purchased it on September 8, 1958, and presented to Pakistan. Pakistan assumed the territory on December 8, 1958, and integrated into Balochistan Province on July 01, 1970 as Gwadar District. It used to be a medium-sized settlement of fishing community.

In 2015 Pakistan and China announced the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as part of One Belt One Road.

Gwadar
Gwadar

Jiwani

Jiwani is a town and commercial port strategically located in the Gwadar District along the Gulf of Oman some 80 km west of Gwadar city and 34 km east of Iranian border. With an estimated population of 25000, the town making up the eastern end of Gwadar Bay duly shared between Pakistan and Iran and the area around the bay constitutes important mangrove forest which habitats a wide variety of wildlife. The town is also adjacent to the shipping lanes, has a small naval base and a 5500 ft runway. The town was used in WWII as an airfield and there is Victoria Hut built for Queen Victoria who planned to visit the area to watch the sunset. It is still not confirmed whether Queen Victoria visited or not but the Victoria Hut is still maintained.

Recommendations

The journey from Karachi to Gwadar is long enough without any proper shops, fuel stations, cellular connection or other provisions. Careful planning is very important before undertaking a journey along the Coastal Highway. Here are some recommendations.

  1. Start as early in the morning as possible to make it to Gwadar on time.
  2. Top up fuel tank in Karachi and refuel at Hub fuel station as there is no fuel station on the way.
  3. Keep basic tools and extra tires. Make sure the wheels are in good condition.
  4. Make necessary calls before Zero Point, mobile signals recede beyond Zero Point.
  5. Kund Malir Beach (Agor) and Ormara beach are major stopovers on the way.
  6. Keep enough water, cookies, dry/fresh fruit etc as reserve stock during travel.
  7. Make a hotel reservation in advance.
Day excursions from Karachi
Posted in City Breaks

Day Excursions from Karachi

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.

Makli Graveyard

Makli Graveyard
Makli Graveyard

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.

Haleji Lake

Haleji Lake
Haleji Lake

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.

Keenjhar Lake

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 Island

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

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 Beach
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.

Ranikot Fort

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.

Tourist attractions in Bahawalpur
Posted in City Breaks

Tourist Attractions in Bahawalpur

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:

Darawar Fort

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 Bahawalpur

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

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

Dera Nawab
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

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

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

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

Tomb of Bibi Jawindi - Uch Sharif
Tomb of Bibi Jawindi – 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 Museum

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.

Bahawalpur Zoo

Farid Gate

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

Bijnot Fort

 

 

Tourist Attractions in Islamabad
Posted in City Breaks Islamabad

Tourist Attractions in Islamabad

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.

Blue Area:

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:

Margalla Hills National Park
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.

Pir Sohawa:

Pir Sohawa
Pir Sohawa

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:

Daman-e-koh
Daman-e-koh

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:

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.

Islamabad Zoo:

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.

Shah Faisal Masjid:

Faisal Mosque
Shah Faisal Mosque Islamabad

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 Hills:

Shakarparian hills
Shakarparian hills

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).

Pakistan National Monument:

Pakistan Monument
Pakistan Monument

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.

Rawal Lake:

Rawal Lake
Rawal Lake

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.

Lake View Park:

Lake View Park Islamabad
Lake View Park Islamabad

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.

 Chattar Bagh:

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.

Sara-e-Kharbooza:

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 Islamabad
Shah Allah Ditta Caves Islamabad

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.

Hiking trails

Trail 1: 

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.

Trail 2:

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.

Trail 3:

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.

Trail 4:

This trail links Trail 3 and Trail 5. One can do this trail either way – from Trail 3 to 5 or in reverse direction.  

Trail 5:

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.

Trail 6:

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.

Saidpur trail:

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.

 

Hidden Treasures of Lahore
Posted in City Breaks Punjab

Hidden Treasures of Lahore

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.

Kamran’s Baradari

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.

Anarkali’s Tomb

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.

Tourist attractions in Karachi
Posted in City Breaks Sindh

Tourist Attractions in Karachi

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.

Major Attractions

Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum (Mazar-e-Quaid)

quaid e azam mausoleum

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.

Wazir Mansion

Wazir Mansion Karachi
Wazir Mansion Karachi

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.

Mohatta Palace

Mohatta Palace
Mohatta Palace

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.

Frere Hall

Frere Hall
Frere Hall

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

Sindh High Court
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 Building Karachi
KMC Building Karachi

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 Monument
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) 

Hindu Gymkhana Karachi
Hindu Gymkhana Karachi

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.

Museums

Quaid-e-Azam House Museum

Quaid-e-Azam House Museum
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

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

PAf-Museum-in-Karachi

PAf-Museum-in-Karachi

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

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

PIA Planetarium Karachi

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

State Bank Museum Karachi
State Bank Museum Karachi

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.

Holy Places

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

St. Patrick 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

Tooba Mosque Karachi
Tooba Mosque Karachi

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

ziarat-of-abdullah-shah-gazi-karachi
ziarat-of-abdullah-shah-gazi-karachi

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

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Karachi
Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Karachi

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

Holy Trinity Church Karachi
Holy Trinity Church Karachi

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

St. Andrews Church Karachi
St. Andrews Church Karachi

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.

Chaukhandi Tombs

Chaukandi tombs
Chaukandi tombs

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.

Shopping

Dolmen Mall Clifton

Dolmen Mall Clifton
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

Zainab Market Karachi
Zainab Market Karachi

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

Empress Market Karachi

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.

Amusement Parks

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

Clifton Beach

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

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.

Turtle Beach

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.

Hawkes Bay

Hawksbay
Hawksbay

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.

French Beach

French Beach
French Beach

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

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

Mubarak Village/Beach

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.

Keamari Harbor

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

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

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.

Food

Do Darya

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

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.

Tourist Attractions in Lahore
Posted in City Breaks Punjab

Tourist Attractions in Lahore

Lahore is the second largest city and cultural hub of Pakistan, also known as Pakistan’s cultural capital. It is the provincial capital of Punjab, enormously blessed with architectural and cultural heritage. Tourist attractions in Lahore are spread in abundance and the city also has the honour of holding the largest number of important educational institutions.

Founded in the legendary times, Lahore – also known as the city of gardens – has an array of diverse attractions for the visitors. The lively city has been a centre of architectural excellence for over a thousand years. The Mughal architecture, the Sikh legacy, the colonial-Gothic buildings lined up along the Mall road existing from the British Raj, and the palatial mansions and trendy shopping malls in the suburbs make Lahore a city of choice.

Shalimar Garden

Shalimar Garden Lahore
Shalimar Garden Lahore

Lahore has a number of eye-catching gardens and it was therefore called the city of gardens. The Shalimar Garden, a unique collage of nature and architecture, was accomplished in 1641-42 AD under the supervision of Khalilluah Khan, a noble of Shah Jahan’s court. The construction of the garden was influenced by regions like Central Asia, Persia, Kashmir, Punjab and Dehli Sultanate and reflects the affinity of Shah Jahan for nature and architecture. The Shalimar Garden was incorporated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1981. The 16 hectares (658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west) rectangle garden by crenellated walls of red sandstone is arranged in three terraces descending from south to north with each terrace given a special name. The garden is located close to Baghbanpura on the GT road 5km northeast of city centre. The site of the garden belonged to the Arian Mian Family and Shah Jahan rewarded them with the Mian title for its services and contribution to the Mughal Empire.

Minar-e-Pakistan

Minar-e-Pakistan
Minar-e-Pakistan

The 60-meter high Minar-e-Pakistan is a national monument built to commemorate the day when the Pakistan resolution was passed on March 23, 1940. The memorial tower is located next to the Badshahi Mosque in Iqbal Park originally known as Minto Park. Minar-e-Pakistan was designed by a Turkish architect, Murat Khan, and the construction work completed in 8 years from 1960-68. This is the historic site where Nehru and the Indian National Congress declared the independence of the subcontinent from Britain in 1929. Generous funding of Rs. 500,000 was generated by the then governor of West Pakistan, Akhtar Hussain, for the construction. It was opened to the public on October 31, 1968.

Chau Burji

Chau Burji is a local term for the monument with four minarets. The monument has a historical significance and is located on the Multan road in Lahore. Historically the tower has been an entry point to a Mughal garden associated with Zeb un Nisa, the daughter of Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. The garden does not exist anymore but the monument is standing by the Metro Bus Track. It was built in the year 1646 CE with a typical Mughal style construction. With the passage of time, apathy of authorities, and due to weather conditions the monument lost most of the inscriptions on it yet Ayat-ul-Kursi (Quranic verses) on the upper-most part of the structure and the two couplets written in Persian above the arch could still be legible. Comprehensive conservation of this monument was carried out in 2018 before its fall forever.

Daata Darbar

Daata Darbar is the largest Sufi shrine in South Asia. It was built to house the remains of a Muslim mystic and a revered saint Abdul Hassan Al Hujwiri also popularly known as Data Ganj Bakhsh, he is said to have lived on the site in the 11th century. The shrine was built by the Ghaznavi king Sultan Zakiruddin Ibrahim later in the 11th yet subsequent expansions were made since then and Hajvary Mosque was part of it. The shrine is located near the Bhati Gate into Lahore’s Walled City and visited by more than 30,000 visitors on a daily basis. People of all faiths are welcome to visit the shrine.

Lahore Railway Station

Lahore Railway Station
Lahore Railway Station

Lahore Railway Station was literally the first purpose-built British imperial building, a representative of typical grand British architecture in the subcontinent during British Raj. It was built in 1857 following the Indian Mutiny and was intentionally designed to function both as a station and as a fort for the safety and accommodation of employees. Its construction was entirely of brick masonry. The architect, William Brunton who called it the “best in the world”, was confident that the building could survive even full-scale howitzer fire.

Lahore High Court

Known as a place where legal history is made, the Lahore High Court has much to see for the tourists. The architectural marvel that the building holds is beyond imagination. Its elegant look owing to the unique architectural design places it among the top rated tourist attractions of Lahore.

General Post Office

Lahore GPO
General Post Office Lahore

The General Post Office (GPO) Lahore is a public building located at the end (T turn) of Mall Road near Anarkali. It was designed by eminent architect Sir Ganga Ram and was built around 1887 in order to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. Although not as attractive as other colonial buildings to plan a special visit yet for photographers, particularly those who are into architecture, it is a must see facility. Its structure is a unique European style building with the Mughal touch. It has three towers on the front with a central taller one having a domed top and four huge clocks on all four sides. It was renovated in 1970 and declared a heritage site. GPO Lahore handles about 20,000 pieces of mail per day.

University of Punjab

Informally called “Punjab University”, the University of Punjab is the oldest and largest public research university located in the downtown area of Lahore. The University of Punjab was established on 14 October 1882. It is the fourth major university established by the British Government in the subcontinent. Like other facilities erected during the British Raj, the Punjab University building is worth a visit. The university has produced a great number of scholars and is ranked amongst top large-sized multiple faculty universities by the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan. The university is also a member of Association of Commonwealth Universities of the United Kingdom.

Aitchison College Lahore

Aitchison College in Lahore is a legacy left behind by the British. It has impressive huge colonial buildings featuring a charming architecture and lush green sprawling lawns stretching from Davis road to Canal road. The college has swimming pools, running tracks, and several sports fields. It was established in 1886 as a school to teach and educate the elite class – the sons of chiefs and nobles working under the British. Its list of alma mater includes politicians, cricketers and businessmen and finance chiefs who have studied at world-leading institutions. Prime minister Imran Khan, former president Farooq Lagari, and many other notable figures from Pakistan have been the alma mater of this institution. It educates around 3000 students at any given time. Due to security, you must prebook campus visit.

Anar Kali Bazar

Lahore is blessed in all aspects of travel – food, heritage sites, shopping, and for special ceremonies. When it comes to shopping, Anar Kali Bazar is a name to choose out of its array of shopping malls and markets. This nearly 200 years old place is named after Anarkali, the slave girl, who was buried alive by the Mughal Emperor Akbar for having a love affair with his son, Prince Saleem.  One can hope to find items of all types and categories including silk, leather, jewellers, and what not.

Pak Tea House

It was originally believed to have set up by a Sikh family in 1932 but given to YMCA later on in 1940 when it was originally established as India Teahouse by Boota Singh. Later it was taken over by two Sikh brothers Surtej Singh Bhalla and Kaiser Singh Bhalla in 1944. After partition, the restaurant was allotted to Sirajuddin Ahmed in 1947 who renamed it to “Pak Tea House” in 1950 and ran this restaurant successfully till 1978. His Son closed it in 2000 and remained closed till 2013 until it was renovated and reopened. It has for long been a melting pot of celebrated intellectuals of the subcontinent. The Pak Tea House is located at the bank of Mall Road and remains open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm

Emperor Jahangir’s Tomb

Emperor Jahangir's Tomb
Emperor Jahangir’s Tomb

Standing on the right bank of River Ravi, about 8 km north-west of Lahore, the tomb of Emperor Jahangir (1605-1627) was built by Shah Jahan in 1637 AD. Its construction features a unique architecture using decorated marble gravestone with pietra-dura floral and the 99 names of God are inlaid in black.

Noor Jahan’s Tomb

Tomb of Noor Jahan
Tomb of Noor Jahan

Empress Noor Jahan’s Tomb is located in the Shahdra Bagh in Lahore, across Ravi River, just separated by a train track from that of her husband’s and her brother’s tombs. She was the beloved wife of the Mughal Emperor Jahangir and most popular queen of Mughal period. She died in 1645 and was buried in the tomb she built for herself during her lifetime. Empress Noor Jahan’s tomb is located near Emperor Jahangir’s Tomb.

Tomb of Asif Khan

Tomb of Asif Khan
Tomb of Asif Khan

Mirza Abdul Hasan Asif Jah (also known as Asif Khan) was the brother of Empress Noor Jahan (Jahangir’s wife), and the father of Mumtaz Mahal (Shah Jahan’s wife). He was the Prime Minister of India and the Viceroy of Punjab under Shah Jahan. He had a palace in Lahore called Asif Jah’s Haveli. He died in 1641 and his tomb is located opposite to the mausoleum of Jahangir. The octagonal tomb resembles that of Murad Khan’s tomb, topped by a double-layered bulbous dome and was commissioned by Shah Jahan. The red sandstone mausoleum has water reservoirs at four corners. Each side has recessed alcove with a door and arched windows looking into the tomb. The blue kasha tiles and the marble have been stripped off. Likewise, the marble and stone inlay in the inner section was also removed. Its ceiling decked with high plaster relief and it still contains the carved Quranic inscriptions.

Akbari Sarai

Akbari Sarai
Akbari Sarai

The Akbari Sarai (Palace of Akbar) is a large oblong shaped courtyard situated between Jahangir’s Tomb and Asif Khan’s Tomb in Lahore city in Punjab province of Pakistan.  This unique Mughal era structure was built in 1637 to host travellers and caretakers of Jahangir’s Tomb. It also served as mail station known as dak chowki.

The Lahore Canal

The 82-kilometer-long and 5 feet deep canal, tree-lined Banba-wali Ravi-Bedian (BRB) waterway was a great feat of the Mughals. In 1861, it was upgraded and extended to the Punjab irrigation system by the British. It slices its way through the heart of Lahore – starting from BRB, winding through colonies, famous educational and religious institutions, business complexes, smooth highways, and sports grounds and ends at Raiwind Road. The Lahore Canal is a national heritage and a great source of recreation during the scorching summers. Colourful floats are placed in the Canal and the entire line is lit up during festivals. The Canal is accompanied by roads on both sides and there are twelve bridges at different sections of the Canal to connect the roads.

Lahore Zoo

Spreading over an area of 25 acres, the Lahore Zoo is the oldest and largest Zoo in South Asia and was established in 1872. It houses a great collection of 1380 animals of 136 species. It is a well-maintained zoo and a great source of a picnic for the people from all walks of life. The zoo is situated on the Mall Road and is surrounded by Jinnah Park and Quaid-e-Azam library.

Lahore Museum

Lahore Museum
Lahore Museum

Lahore has the largest and the oldest museum showcasing the intriguing history of Pakistan. It was inaugurated by Prince Victor Albert in 1894 at its present site. Its 17 galleries interpret the complete history and culture of Pakistan and its surrounding regions. The museum has a superb collection of Gandhara sculptures, Buddhist rare manuscripts, Islamic calligraphy, the oldest manuscript of Guru Granth Sahib, and a good collection of centuries-old coins, crafts, and relics of the region.

Zamzamah – Bhangian Wali Taop – Kim’s Gun

Zamzamah-Bhangian wali taop or Kim's Gun
Zamzamah-Bhangian wali taop or Kim’s Gun

The Bhangian Wali Taop (or Zamzamah) or the Kim’s Gun is a large bore Cannon placed on display at the upper Mall (Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam) in front of the  Lahore Museum in Lahore, Pakistan. It is the largest gun ever made in the subcontinent measuring 14 feet 4 ½ inches in length with a bore at its aperture of 9 ½ inches. It was cast in Lahore in 1757 by a metalsmith called Shah Nazir under the directions of the then prime minister Shah Wali Khan in the reign of the Afghan King Ahmed Shah Durrani (Abdali). It was made out of copper and brass vessels extracted from the local Hindu population as a tribute. The gun was employed to win the battle of Panipat in 1761. After the battle, Ahmed Shah, on his way to Kabul, left the gun with his governor, Khwaja Ubed. Later in 1762, Hari Singh Bhangi seized the gun in a battle with Khwaja Ubed and it was renamed Bhangi Toap. It came to be known as Kim’s Gun after Rudyard Kipling in whose childhood memoirs it obtained frequent mention. It was placed in this position on the occasion of the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Lahore in 1870.  It was severely damaged during several wars and was repaired in 1977.

Wahga Border (Flag lowering ceremony)

Wahga Border Lahore
Wahga Border Lahore

Missing to witness the most exciting “lowering of flags ceremony” at the Wahga Border is like a trip to Lahore unaccomplished. The flag lowering ceremony takes place at Wahga border every day before sunset since 1959. The parade performance at the crossing border between Pakistan and India is a fun experience that every tourist would love to observe. It is an emotional exchange of patriotic slogans by the cheering crowd on both sides of the border during military parade performance of Pakistani Rangers and Indian Border Security Forces.  The patriotic slogans further stimulate the parade performance of the giant guards wearing graceful turbans to amuse the visitors. The flag is lowered simultaneously on both sides and wrapped at the end of the ceremony to conclude the event. It, however, begins with a handshake of the army persons of both sides every afternoon. The ceremony attracts a lot of visitors including international tourists on a daily basis.

Grand Jamia Mosque

Grand Jamia Mosque Lahore
Grand Jamia Mosque Lahore

With the capacity of 70,000 worshippers, including 25,000 indoors, the Grand Jamia Mosque in Baharia Town, Lahore, is the third largest mosque in Pakistan and 7th largest mosque in the world. It was designed by Nayyar Ali Dada and its architecture is influenced by Badshahi Mosque, Wazir Khan Mosque, and Sheikh Zayed mosque. It has a grand dome surrounded by 20 smaller domes and four minarets each 165 ft tall. Its exterior is decked with 4 million handmade Multani tiles. Its interior is embellished with more than 50 Iranian chandeliers and the ground is layered with custom-made Turkish carpets. An entire floor consists of an Islamic heritage museum, an Islamic library and an Islamic art gallery. The museum houses rare Quranic collections and the art gallery has antique artefacts.

Walled city of Lahore
Posted in City Breaks Punjab

Walled City of Lahore

The cultural capital has in its heart is one square kilometer densely populated walled city once accessible by 13 gates. The Walled City of Lahore is also known as the Old City of Lahore and was established around 1000 CE. Most of the monuments housed in the city belong to the Mughal era, notably the lavishly decorated Wazir Khan Mosque, the massive Badshahi Mosque, and the Shahi Hammam.

Gates of Walled City of Lahore

Gates of Walled city
Gates of Walled city of Lahore

The Walled City of Lahore was covered by a 9-meter high brick wall and accessible by 13 gates, made of wood and iron, with their unique names. These gates were constructed during the reign of Emperor Akbar (1584-98).

  • The Raushnai Gate, or the Gate of Lights, is located between the royal mosque and the citadels.
  • The Kashmiri Gate is so called because of its direction towards Kashmir.
  • The Masti Gate, actually the Masjidi Gate referring to a mosque
  • The Khizri or the Shranwala Gate named after Khizr Elias, the patron saint.
  • The Yakki Gate, originally the Zaki Gate, a name derived from the name of a martyred saint while defending the city
  • The Delhi Gate is so called because of its opening on to the highway to Delhi.
  • The Akbari Gate was named after the Mughal Emperor Muhammad Jala-ud-din Akbar who rebuilt the town and fort.
  • The Mochi Gate was actually called Moti Gate to refer to Pearl named after Moti Ram, an officer of Akbar who resided here at that time.
  • The Shah Almi Gate was named after the son and successor of Aurangzeb, Mohomed Mo’azzam Shah Alam Bahadur Shah and died on the 28th February 1712 in Lahore.
  • The Lahori Gate, also known as Lohari Gate, has been named after the city of Lahore.
  • The Mori Gate was the smallest of all and used as an outlet for the refused and sweepings of the city.
  • The Bhatti Gate was named after the Bhatis, an ancient Rajput tribe lived in these quarters.
  • The Taxali Gate, named after the Taxal or Royal Mint

During the reign of Ranjit Singh (1799 to 1849), the damaged walls were rebuilt in 1812. All of these marvellous gates continued to exist until the 19th century. Some damaged gates were rebuilt using simple structures, except for Delhi Gate and Lahori Gate. Currently, only 6 of these gates exist those includeRoshnae, Delhi, Shairanwala, Bhati, Kashmiri and Lahori.

Below is the detail of the hidden architectural treasure inside the Walled City Of Lahore

Badshahi Mosque

Badshahi Mosque Lahore

Badshahi Mosque Lahore

The crown jewel of Lahore, the Badshahi Mosque, was a symbol of power in the Mughal Empire. It has been the largest mosque in the world for 313 years (1673 to 1986). The grand mosque was used more like a military base by the armies of Ranjit Singh and the British troops than as a religious structure. It is now the second largest in Pakistan and South Asia and 5th largest in the world with a capacity for more than 150,000 worshippers on its grounds.

 Lahore Fort

Lahore Fort

Lahore FortThe Lahore Fort or Shahi Qila is a citadel spreading over an area greater than 20 hectares located at the northern end of Lahore’s Walled City. It has 21 notable monuments, some of which date as far back as to the era of Emperor Akbar. The Fort was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century when the Mughal Empire enjoyed the height of its reign. According to records, it was said to be a mud-brick fort in the 11th century but the foundations of the modern Lahore Fort was laid in 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar. The fort featured both Islamic and Hindu motifs in its architectural design. However subsequent amendments were carried out with the passage of time by the subsequent Mughal Emperors.  However, the facility was turned into the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire, after the fall of Mughal Empire and later passed on to British who made some major changes in its design as per their own need. The fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for its “outstanding repertoire” of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.

 Fort Road Food Street

Fort Road Food Street Lahore
Fort Road Food Street

The Fort Road Food Street is a prominent yet mystifying street clustered with a great variety of food outlets where food enthusiasts of all colours and creeds gather for a taste of their choice, mostly made inside multi-story heritage buildings and served either along the street or on rooftops. These rooftops are surrounded by significant landmarks provide magnificent views of the buildings clustered surrounding the old city. Food Street is also the best place to enjoy the dramatic sunset.  It is also a prominent tourist attraction located between Fort Road and Roshni Gate of the Walled City of Lahore. Historically the street was once taboo being a part of the renowned red light area of Lahore.

 Wazir Khan Mosque

Wazir Khan Mosque

Wazir Khan MosqueThe Mughal architecture in the subcontinent has been archetypal and has had no matching landmarks to date.  The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore is such a unique and vivid illustration of Mughal architecture. It is also a testimony of their affinity to finesse, frescos and dexterity. It has been described as “a mole on the cheek of Lahore”.

Golden Mosque

Golden Mosque Lahore
Golden Mosque Lahore

The Golden Mosque, locally known as the “Sunehri Masjid” or the Talai Mosque is a late Mughal architecture-era mosque in the Kashmiri Bazar of the famous Walled City (Old City) of Lahore. The mosque was built in 1753 Nawab Syed Bhikari Khan, son of Raushan-ud-Daula Turrabaz Khan, deputy governor of Lahore during the reign of Muhammad Shah. It was the time when the Mughal Empire was in decline. The mosque was built on an 11-foot high plinth in a congested street accessible by 16 stairs opening to a small courtyard measuring 65 x 43 feet that further leads to the prayer chamber measuring 40 x 16 feet. The architectural design of the mosque reflects the Sikh architecture influence from nearby Amritsar, particularly its three golden gilding domes surrounded by four minarets in its four corners. The mosque was seized and converted into a gurdwara by Sikh authorities during the Sikh rule but it was owned back when Fakir Azizuddin persuaded Ranjit Singh and was renovated in the 1820s. It was again renovated in 2011 by the government of Punjab under Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation of the USA.

Tomb of Allama Muhammad Iqbal

Allama Iqbal Tomb

Allama Iqbal TombThe poet-philosopher Dr. Allama Muhammad Iqbal was born on November 9, 1877, in Sialkot and died on April 21, 1938, in Lahore. He was the major inspiration behind Pakistan movement – the man who envisaged a separate homeland of the Muslims of the subcontinent where they could practice the religion peacefully. He was laid to rest in the Hazuri Bagh lawn, adjacent to Baradari, in the walled city where Lahore Fort and Badshahi Mosque face each other. His mausoleum was entirely constructed of red sandstone from Rajasthan while the tombstone marble was gifted by the Afghan government. A guard is maintained on the tomb forever.

 Hazuri Bagh and Baradari

Hazuri Bagh and Baradari

Hazuri Bagh and BaradariHazuri Bagh, a low basin garden, between the main gateways of the Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort, was created by Ranjit Singh. In the year 1818, Ranjit Singh ordered that in the middle of the Fort and the Mosque, a garden be constructed.  Likewise, on the suggestions of Jamadar Khush Hal Singh, a marble seat (pavilion) for royals was constructed and decorated measuring 14 m square white marble and called Baradari (twelve arch pavilion). The marble was plucked out from the tomb of Zaib u Nisa (Nawan Kot), Tomb of Shah Sharaf (Bhati Gate), Tomb of Nur Jahan, Tomb Asif Jah and Tomb of Jahangir. It took only two years to complete the project. Ranjit Singh held court in Huzoori Bagh and dealt with the affairs of his kingdom.

Fakir Khana Museum

Faqir Khana Museum
Faqir Khana Museum

Located inside the Bhati Gate, within the Walled city of Lahore, the Fakir Khana Museum is the largest privately owned museum in South Asia containing over 20,000 objects. Most of these objects were amassed as direct of hand-me-down gifts largely as a result of their ties with Ranjit Singh. These objects include artefacts from 18th to 20th centuries and a unique collection from the Gandharan art. Moreover, the collections at the museum also include 10,000 manuscripts, 180 displayed miniature paintings, Sikh era textiles, pottery, statuary, and carved ivory pieces besides the gifts given by Ranjit Singh to the Fakir family. The museum also has a unique painting of Nawab Mumtaz Ali completed in 15 years done with a single hair. This museum has been open to the public since 1901.

Mubarak Haveli

Mubarak Haveli
Mubarak Haveli

The Mubarak Haveli inside Mochi Gate of the Walled City is a piece of architecture with a fascinating history. It was actually built by the three sons (Mir Bahadur Ali, Mir Nadir Ali, and Mir Bahar Ali) of a famous Hakeem during the time of Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah. The birth of a son to Bahadur Ali’s wife was seen as a good omen and the Haveli was named as Mubarak Haveli. Mubarak Haveli has been a temporary residence of the Afghan King Shah Shuja Durrani during his exile in Lahore in 1813/1814 where he surrendered the Kohinoor diamond to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in exchange for his freedom. The diamond is now in the British Crown Jewels at the Tower of London. The Haveli is currently owned by the Qazalbash family and was granted to the family for their services to the British.

 Naunihal Singh Haveli

Naunihal Singh Haveli
Naunihal Singh Haveli

The marvelous Naunihal Singh Haveli was the private residence of the Sikh ruler Naunihal Singh, the Son of Kharrak Singh and the grandson of Ranjeet Singh. Dating from the Sikh era, between 1930 and 1940, it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Sikh architecture. The Haveli is a 4 story building comprises of 40 rooms and has been turned into Govt. Victoria Girls High School in 1860 during the British era. The building is located near the Bhati Gate and Lahori Gate.

Gurdwara Dera Sahib

Gurdwara Dera Sahib
Gurdwara Dera Sahib

Gurdwara Dera Sahib, the place where Guru Arjan Dev, the 5th guru of Sikhism, died in 1606. Its construction was initiated by Kharak Singh while completed by Duleep Singh in 1884. Its construction design is a blend of Sikh, Hindu, and Islamic architecture.

Samadhi of Ranjit Singh

Samadhi of Ranjit Singh

Samadhi of Ranjit SinghThe 19th-century shrine that houses the funerary urns of the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh who ruled from 1780 to 1839. The Samadhi is located adjacent to Badshahi Mosque and Lahore Fort and Gurdwara Dera Sahib.  While standing close to the eastern wall of Aurangzeb’s architectural marvel, a gleaming golden Minar (tower) atop a white dome – the Minar of the Samadhi (mausoleum) of the infamous “Sher-e-Punjab,” Ranjit Singh can be noticed.

Gurdwara Janam Asthan Guru Ram Das

Gurdwarah Guru Ram Das Jee Chuna Mandi
Gurdwarah Guru Ram Das Jee Chuna Mandi

Guru Ram Das was the 4th Sikh Guru and was born in the Chuna Mandi Bazaar of Lahore in 1534 CE and his Gurdwara is also located in the same place inside the Walled City. The Gurdwara was built on the top of the site once believed to be the site of his birthplace. The shrine was built several steps above street-level using white marble platform. The area of the Janam Asthan measures 122 feet 6 inches by 97 feet 6 inches.

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