Don't Miss Places In Pakistan
Pakistan is an Islamic republic in southern Asia. Along its northeastern border with China, the high peaks of the Karakoam Range form a desolate barrier of ice and stone. By contrast, the neighboring territory of Jammu and Kashmir is a beautiful land of lakes and mountains. In the northwest a road climbs the lonely heights of the Khyber Pass, a narrow passage through the mountains of Afghanistan. To the west a dusty highway leads to southern Iran.
In the southwest little grows on the dry and rocky Baluchistan Plateau, while the sandy wastes of the Thar Desert stretch into the southeast from India. The Arabian Sea yields an immense array of fish, including sharks and several kinds of herring. Pakistan exports large quantities of fish and shellfish in the nearby Arabian Peninsula.
Here are ten of the not to be missed places in Pakistan.
Mohatta Palace Museum
The Mohatta Palace Museum was the original residence of Fatima Jinnah (Quaid E’ Azam’s younger sister). It is located in Karachi and initially served as the summer residence of a rich Rajasthani family in 1920 before it got sold to the Pakistan government in the 1990’s. Built on top of a hill and in the main center of the city of Karachi, the yellow and pink colored palace proudly stands as a living monument of a historical era. The ceiling decorations and ornate interior design, the exhibition halls and the Rashid Rana tour are the interesting features of the Hindu and Islamic inspired museum.
The government restored and beautifies the exhibit rooms, opened it to the public and focused on highlighting classic art works of well known and contemporary artists in Pakistan and all over the world. The top floor houses the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It stands next to a famous shopping mall and is adorned with intricate windows, ceilings, hallways, staircases and colorful floor tiles. There is a gift shop, handicraft store and book shop located inside the museum. The exterior is equally stunning and at night the whole palace gets illuminated from the dome up to its adjacent lush green park.
The Badshahi Mosque in Lahore is a Mughal Empire inspired architecture that is strikingly beautiful with its clear marbles, solemn and unique atmosphere. Standing for more than three centuries it is the 5th largest Mosque and the official symbol of Lahore City. The huge courtyard can accommodate more than 100,000 faithful Muslims and visitors. Completed in 1673, this religious structure faces the Mughal Fort of Lahore which is a famous landmark and meeting place in the city.
This mosque is kept simple and elegant with efforts to renovate its façade that is blackened with smog and pollution. The night lighting with fog makes the Mosque a magical sight to behold. The architectural style is romantic as the lighted dome tips bear a resemblance to the famous Taj Mahal in India. It has eight minarets and the five modified doors symbolize the five pillars of Islam. You need to hire a local guide to better appreciate the whole sacred grounds and to understand the Museum of the Koran.
The relic of the turban of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) can also be found in the museum. Shoes are not allowed even in the courtyard area and modest clothing is expected from non Muslim visitors. Being barefoot is not allowed so bring extra socks and make a little donation for the upkeep of the Mosque at the entrance. On Fridays, worshippers crowd in front of the great Mosque. The people of Lahore were converted into Islam by Arab invaders around A.D. 700.
Lahore Fort – Shahi Qila
This city is a major center of industry, banking, culture and education. On a busy day, people, bicycles, and three wheeled motor rickshaws crowd the street of the main center. The Lahore Fort is located opposite the Badshahi Mosque with a beautiful main entrance gate. The structures inside are well preserved as well as the rare frescoes on display within its territory. Tourists are welcomed by guides who are knowledgeable about every corner of the fort. The Mirror Palace and its ceiling mosaics filled with tiny mirror pieces is worth visiting. With a guide you will know all bout the stories and how the royal family that ruled Pakistan during the ancient times (Mughal Dynasty)once lived.
The only downside to the attraction is the absence of markers about its chambers and important buildings. Their love for the arts is clearly evident as the walls, pillars, ceilings and arches are skillfully laced with paintings and murals of how Lahore city use to be during the early time of civilization. Ramparts, war ruins, old guns are still intact and preserved along its grounds. There is a special Mosque built for the Queen inside this historical fortress. Because the place is so big, it is advisable to hire a guide to save time in going to the most visited sites within the fort.
Wagah Border – Lahore
Located on the border between India and Pakistan the must see national show performed during the changing of the guards is what entices every tourist to come and see this daily spectacle at sunset. Do not miss the moment to take pictures and videos as well. The marching and stomping presentation of the national guards along with the screams of patriotic Pakistanis on the bleachers with “Long Live Pakistan!” is one of the awaited and fun part of the show. You have to go in advance to witness this different ceremony performed by national guards of both countries that occurs at the border territory line between India and Pakistan. It is located 30 minutes drive away from the outskirts of Lahore City.
The whole flag changing ceremony elicits wild reactions from tourists who represent their country in groups at the stadium like area giving the impression that both countries are still in conflict but not. It is advisable to come early to have the best seat and join the fun of the gate closing ceremony. Towards the end of the day the road becomes full of people walking to the border. Some even come in their colorful national costumes and amidst cheers the atmosphere at Wagah Border becomes magical and lively. Bring the flag of the country that you support and make sure you are seated with the right section of the makeshift arena.
Jahangir’s Tomb and Kamran’s Baradari Pavilion
Located in the northernmost part of Pakistan, a visit to the tomb of Jahangir and the Kamran Pavilion you will notice a different feel, environment, and wonderful architecture. The visit of the various mausoleums and tombs is worth the trip. On a lucky day, you can witness the ardent devotion and prayer time of its worshippers. Spend enough time to admire all the creative frescoes done from centuries ago to honor the spirit of Jehangari inside the dome covered tomb.
The former Mughal emperor is deeply revered on this attraction surrounded by a well laid out garden and a peaceful atmosphere. The murals evoke philosophical undertones and it is much better understood with a guide who can explain the importance of such markings on the tomb of the once mighty ruler. The tomb remains beautiful but the park needs to be well maintained with basic facilities. There are nice shades and a single café shop near the entrance gate where one can enjoy cold drinks on a humid day at the open park and the two tombs. A visit is a must when in the outskirts of Lahore city.
The Saidpur Village just outside of Islamabad at the foot of Margalla Hills is a nice cultural attraction with several traditional restaurants and craft shops. But of course you have to know that this village is not a real village anymore because it was developed by the government to become part of a tourist project. Even if it’s a representation of what a typical Pakistan community is there are lots to see and explore inside the village. The Barber under a tree, the small cattle market, the rickshaws and the seller of pottery and other traditional goods.
Check out the craft workshops offered and presented by the skilled artisans that work with the community. Pakistan has a long tradition of making fine craftwork, which also includes carpet making, leather tooling and metal work. The workers are all very friendly and welcomes guests with a souvenir craft item. The restaurant here hires only female workers and staff and offers Pakistan cuisine at its finest. Alcohol is not allowed and you can enjoy fine dining with great views of the capital city Islamabad on their terraces.
The Faisal Mosque is the landmark of Pakistan's capital city, Islamabad. Even from far away you can see this huge religious construction. In particular, the distinctive four minarets(more than 80 meters each in height) which tower above the arrows to move up and the high and pointed converging hall. It is the largest mosque in Pakistan and one of the largest in the world.
Also very special are the adornments of real gold and the golden crescent moon at the top of the roof of the main hall. It is dedicated to the late King Faisal who has always wanted and even financed a huge mosque built in Islamabad. It is clean, overwhelming, and is the emblem of the capital of Pakistan. But it is a modern building, which is not as large as other more historical structures in the city. Without a doubt, its majestic architecture and unparalleled beauty make it a must visit when in the city of Islamabad.
The Hunza Valley is part of the Karakorum highway that leads from the Chinese border to Peshawar City in Pakistan. The almost parallel valley of is a gem for lovers of mountains and the excellent views of its mythical thousand peaks. The snow capped peaks are the real attraction of the valley. It is also the highest altitude point of the Peshawar region that is a favorite spot of mountaineers and curious tourists.
Even the community is tourist oriented as every local find ways to be enterprising by setting up small hotels, bed and breakfast inns and restaurants and café diners. Once on top you can enjoy a homemade coffee paired with locally made pastries with a great view of the nearby snow covered Rakaposhi Mountain, its surrounding lakes and lush greenery on the great plains.
Rohtas Fort – Rawalpindi
The almost 4 kilometers long Rohtas Fort stands two hours away from the Rawalpindi and Islamabad region. Travel is only accessible through a rented car and a rented tour guide to best appreciate its history and importance. The fort itself is amazing and as huge as several football fields joined together. Of particular interest are the walls of the fort because in some areas they are in very good condition. While some parts definitely need renovation and restoration to preserve its historical value.
Armed national guards protect this huge witness of the Indu and Moghul era. Unfortunately, except for a few walls and structures of the fort is little left. In every corner you will feel the calm and somber presence of the history that happened within its walls. It looks so massive even from afar and the tributary Jhelum River compliment the presence of this huge structure.
Mohenjo - Daro
The ruins of the city of Mohenjo-Daro show that it was one of the earliest examples of a planned city. The streets were laid out according to a grid and well drained. It was an important center of the Indus civilization which flourished in Pakistan about 4,000 years ago.
The UNESCO World Heritage site stands more than 5 kilometers away from the airport and accessible from the next town called Larkana. If coming from Karachi, a train ride that stops at the city of Dokri or a bus ride from the city to Larkana are the advisable routes to take to reach these ancient ruins.