Shah Allah Ditta Caves
Posted in Archaeological sites Islamabad

Shah Allah Ditta Caves

Shah Allah Ditta Caves are located in the village of Shah Allah Ditta, a more than seven hundred years old village nestled in the Margalla Hills of Islamabad, was actually named after a Mughal period Darvesh. The caves, on both sides of a spring under the shadow of deep-rooted banyan trees, contains traces of human existence from ancient times are believed to have been a meditation site of Buddhist monks in the 4th century BC. Hindu families lived in Shah Allah Ditta until the partition of the subcontinent and the caves were used for their daily worship. Shah Allah Ditta is a model village and an ideal picnic spot worth a visit for locals and foreign tourists alike.

The village was located on the historic route between Afghanistan and the Subcontinent. The pathway right next to the village was said to have used by Alexander the Great to invade the subcontinent by defeating the local king Porus. Moreover, the lion king Sher Shah Suri and Mughal rulers and emperors often passed through while traveling from Afghanistan to the subcontinent. Its history, therefore, dates back to the Gandhara civilization of Taxila.

The caves on both sides of the spring are located on a fair elevation. Historically these caves were used for spiritual meditation and believed to have attracted monks and priests from all over the region who sought peace and enlightenment. There is also a Buddhist stupa deep inside the gorge at approximately1.5-hour walk from the caves. The tomb and shrine of Shah Allah Ditta are also located in the vicinity.

Physically the caves have slightly eroded in places over time yet still are well preserved and the area around them has been conserved by the CDA as ‘Sadhu ka Bagh.’ There are the remnants of an ancient water well lies at a short distance from the caves and was believed to had it constructed by Mughal Emperor Akbar. However, one can enjoy the typical village environment with natural streams all around the area, enhancing the serenity of the village.

Besides the caves, there is much more to enjoy. The model village is continuously developing. Food outlets, live music, horse riding facilities for children, Archery and Paint Ball, Rock Climbing and Camping facilities, walking trails to the hilltop, construction of the road leading to the summit of the hills offering magnificent views, and its cool climate make this place a great retreat in summers and a must visit tourist spot.

Shah Allah Ditta Caves are situated to the west of Islamabad, near the D-12 sector of Islamabad, about 15 km from Golra interchange, in a centuries-old village, once called Sadhu Ka Bagh. It is easily accessible and highly recommended to visit, particularly in summers.

Day excursions from Islamabad
Posted in Islamabad

Day Excursions from Islamabad

The capital city of Islamabad is ideally located in the heart of Pakistan with easy access from within Pakistan and from around the world. Likewise, the city is surrounded by attractive destinations providing magnificent opportunities as “Day excursions from Islamabad”.

DAY EXCURSION TO TAXILA

Taxila
Taxila

The ancient metropolis of Taxila is a town located in Punjab, about 45km north of Islamabad (the capital city), Pakistan. The name Taxila was derived from the Sanskrit term Taksasila, literally, means “city of cut stones”. It is an important archaeological site founded in the late 1800s by a renowned archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunningham. It has a rich museum and more than 50 sites stretched over some 30 sq km. Taxila was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1980.

 DAY EXCURSION TO TAKHT-E-BAHI

Takht-e-Bahi Monastery
Takht-e-Bahi Monastery

The relics of the imposing Takht-i-Bahi Monastery are an important Buddhist site in Gandhara region and can be reached in 2.5 hours from Islamabad. It made up to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Pakistan in 1980. Takht-i-Bahi monastery has a guarding view of the Mardan city and is situated on the crest of a small hill about 16 kilometres northwest of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

 DAY EXCURSION TO ROHTAS FORT

Rohtas Fort
Rohtas Fort

Rohtas Fort (also called Qila Rohtas) is one of the six World Heritage Sites in Pakistan, designated in 1997. The gigantic Rohtas fort is an exceptional example of early Muslim military architecture surviving today. It was built by Farid Khan – the “Lion King” of the subcontinent. He was well known as Sher Shah Suri in the 16th century. The fort was strategically built in a gorge on a small hill 300ft above its surroundings, some 16km northwest of Jhelum city of Punjab in Pakistan. It is so strategically positioned that it commands the old route from the north to the plans of Punjab across the Potohar Plateau. Rohtas Fort is located some 98 km from Islamabad and takes about 2 hours to reach. The major reason behind the erection of this rampart was to subdue the pro-Mughal Ghakkar tribe and to thwart the possible return of Mughal Emperor Humayun who had fled to Iran after his defeat in the battle of Kanauj at Chaunsa.

 DAY EXCURSION TO KHEWRA SALT MINES

Khewra Salt Mines
Khewra Salt Mines

The Khewra Salt Mine (also known as Mayo Salt Mine) is the second largest salt deposit in the world and largest in Pakistan located in Khewra, an administrative subdivision of Jehlum District in Punjab Province of Pakistan. It is one of the largest sources of salt and major tourist attractions in the country with an estimated total of 220 million tons of rock salt deposits.  Khewra is about 160 km from Rawalpindi/Islamabad and can be reached in 3 hours.

 DAY EXCURSION TO MURREE HILLS

Murree hills
Murree hills

Murree is a popular hill station and a famous tourist attraction located about 30 km northeast of Islamabad City. It has a number of attractions for tourists including hiking trails, resorts, flora and fauna, a unique climate, and picturesque valleys. It was founded in 1851 as a summer headquarters of the Punjab Government until 1876 when it was moved to Shimla.

DAY EXCURSION TO PESHAWAR

Peshawar
Peshawar

Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (formerly NWFP) is known as the oldest living city in South Asia and the meeting place of the subcontinent and Central Asia. The city is about 180 km from Islamabad and can be reached in less than 3 hrs. Peshawar is further divided into four major sections. The old walled city is the most exciting part of Peshawar with the history dating from Buddhist, Mughal and Sikh era and was actually surrounded by a wall until the 20th century. The British Cantonment makes up the site founded in 1849 which included the boulevard city and the entire array of elegant buildings standing even today associated with the English men. University Town at 7 km from the city centre has the oldest yet lively building of Islamia College founded in 1913 to educate the sons of Pathan chiefs. Hayatabad is the modern residential area annexed with Karkhano Bazaar where anything can be found at a reasonable price.

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.

 

Islamabad
Posted in Islamabad Tourism Blogs

Islamabad

Islamabad is the modern capital city of Pakistan located in the north of Potohar Plateau, at the foothill of the Margalla Hills, at an elevation of 507 m above the sea level. Geographically the capital city is located 185 km (115 mi) east of Peshawar, 295 km (183 mi) North and Northeast of Lahore, 120 km (75 mi) South and Southwest of Muzaffarabad, and 300 km(190 mi) West and Southwest of Srinagar, the capital of Indian Kashmir.

History of Islamabad

Historically the city is known to have been one of the ancient human settlements in Asia. Some of the earliest Stone Age artefacts found on the plateau date back to 100,000 to 500,000 years. Excavations have also revealed the existence of a pre-historic culture settled on the banks of Soan River where relics and human skulls found were dating back to 5000 BC. Moreover, the region has historically been crossroads of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the Margalla pass acting as a gateway.

Islamabad Capital City

After the partition of the subcontinent, when Pakistan was established in 1947, Karachi was the first capital. Soon it was realized that Karachi as capital was not suitable technically as it was located at one end of the country, making it vulnerable to attacks from the Arabian Sea. A capital, preferably in the centre with a moderate climate, which could easily be accessed from all parts of the country and logistically viable, was therefore needed. The commission that was specially constituted for the selection of the capital city in 1958 chose the land making up current-day Islamabad as the location of Islamabad was closer to army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the disputed territory of Kashmir in the North.

Development

In 1960, Islamabad was constructed as a forward capital for several reasons. Originally nestled against the Margalla hills, Islamabad was planned by a Greek firm of architects, called Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis, based on grid scheme and triangular in shape with apex towards the Hills. The capital territory is divided into eight zones designated Administrative Zone, Commercial District, Educational Sector, Industrial Sector, Diplomatic Enclave, Residential Areas, Rural Areas and Green Area. Islamabad city is divided into five major zones: Zone I, Zone II, Zone III, Zone IV, and Zone V. The sectors are lettered from A to I, and each sector is further divided into four numbered sub-sectors 1, 2, 3 and 4. Each sub-sector is accessed by streets and Galis and any address can easily be accessed.

The city is broadly spread having well paved and wide tree-lined streets, elegant public buildings and larges houses; each sector has its own well – organized residences, shops, and parks. Because of its easy-to-navigate sectors & zones and other characteristics Islamabad is ranked as Gamma-world city. The capital was not moved directly from Karachi to Islamabad, it was first shifted temporarily to Rawalpindi and then to Islamabad when the development was completed.

Climate

Islamabad features a strange climate with hot summers accompanied by a monsoon season and then follows wet winters. Usually, its micro-climate is regulated by three artificial reservoirs; Rawal Lake in Islamabad, Simli Dam, and Khanpur Dam. Summers from May to July are the hottest months with an average temperature of 40 degrees; the highest temperature recorded was 45 °C (113.0 °F) on June 23, 2005. Monsoon season spans from July through September with heavy rainfalls and thunderstorms where the highest monthly rainfall recorded in July 1995 was 743.3 millimetres (29.26 in). Winters, however, are from October to March with temperature varies subject to location. The lowest ever temperature was recorded was −6 °C (21.2 °F) on January 17, 1967.

Things to Do:

Islamabad is a beautiful city for sightseeing. There are a number of exciting things to do in Islamabad including fishing in Rawal Lake, Paragliding on the Margalla Hills, Cycling along various designated routes in Islamabad, walking on the specially designed trails named as Trail 1, Trail 2, Trail 3, Trail 4, Trail 5, Trail 6, Saidpur Trail, and Bari Imam Trail, exploring museums and tourist places and visiting surrounding attractions in Rawalpindi, and Murree Hills as day excursion.

Shopping

Islamabad is well-planned city and each sector in Islamabad has a central shopping mall. One can hope to find all types of local and international brands at a reasonable cost. The popular markets are the F6 Markaz (aka Supermarket) F7 Markaz (aka Jinnah Super Market), F8 Markaz (aka Ayub Market), G6 Markaz (aka Melody Park), and G9 Markaz (aka Karachi Company). Each Markaz (Center) has its own uniqueness and each one is worth visiting. Besides, the Blue Area in Islamabad also has a variety of shops from tech shops to backers to garments and what not.

Super Market and Jinnah Super Market have a large collection of western food products, handicrafts, rugs and carpets, Pashmina shawls, Jewelry, souvenirs, gift items, furniture, bookstores and whatever tourists like to buy at reasonable prices.

Where to Eat:

Islamabad has almost all the tastes of food. From the Restaurants of star hotels to international chain restaurants to local food chains, and from Chinese to Thai to Italian to local cuisines, the food variety is diverse. Major restaurants are located in

How to reach Islamabad

By Air:

Islamabad has an international airport called Benazir Bhutto International Airport (IATA: ISB).  Flights from a variety of international destinations, including Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, London, Thailand, Sri Lanka, China.

By Bus:

Local transport companies including Skyways, Faisal Movers, Niazi express, and Daewoo Sammi are some of the international standard long-haul operators. It is possible to travel directly from major cities of Pakistan including Karachi, Multan, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Lahore, Peshawar etc. Almost all major transport stations are located outside twin cities and they have alternate arrangements to get passengers to the offices located within cities.

By Train:

There is train service to Rawalpindi from all major cities and it is possible to make it by train to Islamabad.

 

Daman-e-Koh
Posted in Islamabad

Daman-e-Koh

Daman-e-Koh is a prominent tourist attraction and a viewpoint in the heart of Margalla Hills, located to the north of the capital city, Islamabad. The name “Daman-e-Koh” is a blend of two Persian words “Daman” and “Koh” which together mean “Lap of the Mountain”.

Historically Daman-e-Koh was established in the early 80s and was later developed with modern amenities in 2007 as a major tourist point under the leadership of Kamran Lashari. It is located at an elevation of 2400ft from the sea level and almost 500ft from the city of Islamabad.

While driving from Islamabad to Pir Sohawa – another attraction and viewpoint at the top of the Margalla Hills at an elevation of 3600m – Daman-e-Koh serve as the midpoint. It is a popular and a must-visit point for tourists visiting the capital city and for local residents who visit the site frequently. Its cool climate attracts voluminous visitors during summers, especially on weekends. The weather at Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa always remain pleasant.

Explore

There are two major spots – the northern viewpoint and the southern lookout. The northern viewpoint is adjacent to the parking lot with tuck shops and a café catering to the needs of visitors. With a spacious parking lot and other amenities for visitors including eateries, private benches and tables on the carpeted grass under shades of green trees, electric powered cars to shuttle visitors to the northern viewpoint, Daman-e-Koh has always been filled with tourists.

The southern viewpoint located at an elevation provides a panoramic view of Islamabad. Telescopes are installed for keen observers. The tourists experience an exclusive view of the Seventh Avenue, Faisal Mosque, the Centaurus towers, Blue Area, Shakar Parian Hills, Rawal Lake, and Rawalpindi city to the south on a clear day.

The Margalla Hills are a great bird sanctuary and while travelling by car or hiking through different tracks, one can see different bird species. Moreover, Margalla hills are home to monkeys and during winters when it snows heavily, there are chances that one can sight the Cheetah.

Access

The road to Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa is quite adventurous and scenic with every turn giving a panoramic view of the city and surroundings. At only 5km from the Zoo, taking 15 to 20 min by car, Daman-e-Koh is a well-managed tourist attraction.

Daman-e-Koh and Pir Sohawa are also accessible through various hiking trails with each trail given specific name ranging from Trail 1 to Trail 6. Trail 2 starting from the Zoo (starting either side of the Zoo as both trails meet up) leads up to Daman-e-Koh and it hardly takes 40 minutes.

Instructions

  • Do not walk through the hills all alone.
  • Do not enter the hills very early or when it is dark.
  • Do not make a fire in the jungle.
  • Always follow the trail.
  • Never try to disturb wildlife.
  • Dress properly
  • Do not litter in the hills.
Faisal Mosque Islamabad
Posted in Islamabad Mosques

Faisal Mosque

The Faisal Mosque in Islamabad is the 6th largest mosques in the world. The mosque is popular in the Islamic world and famous for its size and architecture. By design, Faisal mosque is a blend of ultramodern and conventional architecture. The Faisal Mosque is sited at the foothills of the Margalla Hills at an elevated land and can be seen day and night from miles. Unusual in design, the mosque is one of the key tourist attractions in Islamabad and permissible to people of all faiths. Faisal mosque is considered a national mosque of Pakistan.

History of Faisal Mosque

When Shah Faisal of Saudi Arabia visited Pakistan in 1966, he supported the initiative to build a grand mosque, giant as largest in the world that time, in Islamabad. Four years later, in this regard, in 1969, an international competition held and 43 architects from 17 countries submitted design proposals. The unique design submitted by the Turkish architect Vedat Delokay was approved as the final design. Vedat Delokay was the recipient of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for this project.

Construction of the mosque began in 1976 and it took 10 years to complete the whole building. Finally, in 1988, the project was completed at a total cost of 130 million Saudi Riyal (US$ 120 million) fully financed by King Shah Faisal. It has the honor of being the largest mosque of the world from 1988 to 1993 until the Hasan II mosque of Casablanca in Morocco was built. The name given to the mosque, as Shah Faisal Mosque, was named after the late King Faisal Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia.

Art & Architecture 

The unconventional design without domes and arches was inspired by a desert Beduin tent. The main hall is surrounded by four equal height minarets adjoining its four corners as tall as 260 feet (79 m) and 10 x 10 m in circumference. The eight-sided shell shaped sloping roofs forming a triangular worship hall feature a contemporary design and reflect a stark contrast from the conventional Islamic architecture. At the time of construction the design was heavily criticized for its unconventional design but with its completion, the criticism also pacified.

The interior of the main building is richly decorated with mosaics and calligraphy by Sadequain, the famous Pakistani artist. The overhanging spectacular Turkish-style chandelier from the 40-meter high roof is an added beauty. West wall of the building is adorned with mosaic pattern and has Kalimah written on in early Kufi script.

Accommodation Capacity

The hall can accommodate 10,000 worshippers at a time. The front of the hall is a huge courtyard and can accommodate up to 40,000 worshippers. The whole structure of the mosque covers an area of 5,000m2 (54,000 sq. ft.). The surrounding porticoes, courtyard, and adjoining grounds have the capacity to hold more than 200,000 worshippers at a time.

Location and Attractions

The Faisal Mosque is situated at the foot of Margalla Hills, at the north end of Faisal Avenue – the name given to the road leading to the mosque after the assassination of King Faisal in 1975. The ground floor of the mosque housed the campus of International Islamic university now moved to a different location.

The mosque is surrounded by lush green grounds. The mausoleum of the late President, Zia ul-Haq who died in an air crash in 1988, is adjacent to the mosque. the surroundings are all decked with green carpeted grass, trees, flowers of various kinds, sitting areas and ample parking lot. The best view of the mosque is probably from Daman-e-Koh viewpoint.

The building can be entered from a small courtyard surrounding a small water pond. The staircases on both sides of the courtyard lead up to the main courtyard of the mosque. The main courtyard offers the best view of the main building and surroundings.

Instructions

Visitors are always welcome and are free to explore all areas of the building and take photographs. The courtyard of the building presents a scenic view of the surrounding Margalla hills. This place is quite peaceful and cool during summers.

While entering the main building, visitors must leave shoes at the counter. Remember to dress conservatively, women especially must wear a headscarf. Avoid eating, dancing, singing or making loud voices.

Lake View Park
Posted in Islamabad

Lake View Park

Lake View Park or Rawal Lake Park is a modern park located in Federal Capital Islamabad. It’s, no doubt, a beautiful addition as a recreation and picnic spot. The park is situated near Malpur village in Islamabad. It attracts people from all walks of life.

How to reach Lake View Park?

The park is located on the Murree road, partially surrounded by Rawal Lake in Islamabad. To be exact, the entrance of Lake View Park is on the Murree Road about 2km after turning right from the roundabout near Islamabad club. It is operational under the Capital Development Authority (CDA). The park is constructed on the back shore of Rawal Lake, an artificial water reservoir providing water needs of Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Recreation at Lake View Park

Rawal Lake is the only place offers visitors with numerous fun activities including water sports and fishing. There are other different sections of the park catering people of all ages through numerous activities including sitting pagoda, picnic point, ibex club, rock climbing gym, motorsports ranch, fancy aviary, festival arena, passenger road train, paintball battlefield, and swimming pool.

The park has ample food outlets that meet immediate refreshment needs and requirements of visitors. Moreover, for those who love open air cooking, the park has Bar BQ grills installed. Anyone can set organize open air Bar B Q with family and friends. It is without any doubt the park is a great retreat for people from all backgrounds.

In addition to all the fun activities one can enjoy live music at the park. There are professional artists entertaining the visitors. Moreover, one can come over with personal instruments to amuse visitors. However, privacy of other visitors should be given priority.

Flora and Fauna at Lake View Park

There is an animal park and bird’s aviary inside the Lake View Park. It houses unique and beautiful birds and has been numbered as 3rd largest aviary in the world. Similarly, the sanctuary has inside a bird’s hospital for treatment and vaccination and a bird’s shop where birds are sold. Lake View Park a heaven for bird lovers and researchers.

Rawal Lake Park is well developed and has trees of most kinds, is lush green and decked with beautiful flowers. In addition, the park has ample and organized car parking for visitors. Daily visitors come from immediate surroundings in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. However, the park receives a great number of students on weekends from surrounding cities and villages. Likewise, the park is famous among foreigners as well and foreign tourists visiting Islamabad must visit this park. For the entertainment, there are artists performing on the elevated podium of the park.

Lake View Park was built for people to enjoy the clean environment and neat green grass to sit, play and relax. However, disorders have recently been noticed. In addition, people do not properly utilize trash bins and litter the whole area without any consideration. People entering park must be educated about the environment to keep it clean and in order.

 

Pakistan Monument
Posted in Islamabad

Pakistan Monument

Perched at a high location on the west viewpoint of Shakarparian Hills spreading over a total area of 2.8 hectares the Pakistan Monument is an impressive reddish brown granite structure designed and built to represent Pakistan’s diverse culture and national unity and depicts the story of Pakistan movement.

The structure is made up of four blossoming flower petals representing four provinces (Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) and the three sandwiched petals representing three territories (Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir, and Federally Administered Tribal Areas) collectively make up a crescent representing the unity of Pakistan. The inner walls of the petals are decorated with murals.

The crescent comprising of petals are from inside inscribed with sayings of Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Poetry of Allama Iqbal along with an embossed pictorial representation of cultural heritage of provinces and regions.  The central platform is made in the shape of a five-pointed star surrounded by a water body.

The aerial view is astounding with the monument elevated in the middle, a decked gallery in the backyard giving a picturesque view of Islamabad and Margalla hills in the background, and the museum showcasing post-independence memorabilia is erected right in the forefront.  The four pillars each signifying the sayings of the father of Nation are raised in the main ground by the stairs leading up the monument.

The monument is bordered with well-trimmed flowers and evergreen trees which give a natural contrast to elaborate the beauty of this location. The monument attracts a great number of domestic and international tourists on daily basis.

The project was initiated in May 2004 and was completed by the end of 2006 but it was officially inaugurated in March 2007. It provides a panoramic view of Islamabad and the Margalla Hills. Today, Pakistan monument is a great addition to the city of Islamabad and one of the major tourist destinations anyone would like to visit.

 

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