For a simple layman, Pakistan is not associated with tourism. But in vain. A country with a rich and very ancient history can surprise.
Things to do in Pakistan
The architecture of Pakistan will be of interest to fans of antiquities. The Lahore fortress, turned into a palace with the light hand of Shah Jahan, impresses with its elegance. Deravar is an impenetrable stronghold in the Cholistan Desert. Its 30-meter walls are a real engineering feat of the Middle Ages. The snow-white mausoleum of Jinnah is the resting place of the Pakistani leader, thanks to which a new state appeared on the world map.
Fans of secrets and mysteries should go to the city-state of Mohenjo-Daro. The ruins, which are several thousand years old, indicate that an advanced civilization lived there. But the reason for its decline is unknown.
Religion occupies an important place in the life of Pakistanis. To understand the mentality of the inhabitants of this country, it is worth visiting the local mosques. The Pearl Mosque is the epitome of grace, the Faisal Mosque attracts attention with its innovative architecture, and the murals and bas-reliefs of Vazir Khan are a real work of art.
A visit to Lake Rawal or the dynamically developing resort of Pir Sokhava will help you recuperate after intense excursions.
The citadel with an area of about 20 hectares is located in the historical center of Lahore. The first buildings that served as the royal residence for Muhammad Guri appeared on this site as early as the 12th century. Since then, the fortress has been repeatedly destroyed.
The structure that has come down to us was built by the Mughal ruler Akbar. His son Shah Jahan, the same one who built the famous Taj Mahal, turned the dreary fortress into a pompous palace. After the fall of the Mughal dynasty, the architectural gem went to the Sikhs, and then to the British.
Inside the citadel are the front gates of Alamgiri. The main attractions of the complex are the Mirror Palace and the Pearl Mosque, masterpieces of Shah Jahan. They were built from imported materials, among which there is rare Aleppo glass. Along the canal, not far from the fortress, there are Shalimar gardens (16 hectares), laid out in 1641-42.
The impregnable citadel of 1733 stands in the heart of the Cholistan desert. It has a classic square layout, the length of each side is about 1.5 km. The height of the walls is 30 m — an unheard of achievement for medieval engineers.
There are 40 semicircular towers in the fortress, as if growing out of massive walls. Located in a single harmonious row, they are associated with brave warriors, ready to repulse the enemy at any moment.
Mausoleum of Jinnah
In Karachi, there is the tomb of Muhammad Ali Jinn, a politician who stood at the origins of the Pakistani state. The mausoleum was built in the 1960s, but it took on its final appearance only in the next decade. The main architectural asset of the mausoleum is a giant dome, which can be seen from almost any part of the city.
The building, 43 meters high, is lined with white marble and decorated with four pointed arches in the Moorish style. They serve as a passage to the hall, which is decorated with a giant crystal chandelier and a memorial plate inlaid with silver.
The pink two-story mansion in the Indo-Saracenic style is practically a remake by local standards. It was built in 1927 as a summer residence for the influential and prosperous businessman Shivratan Mohatta.
After the transformation of Pakistan into an independent state, the palace was expropriated and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was placed in it. Then the luxurious apartments were handed over to representatives of the influential Jinn family.
A museum has been operating in the building since 1999. Its goal is to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of Pakistan. 3 halls with permanent and temporary expositions are available for inspection.
The monument appeared in Islamabad in 2007. The structure resembles a blossoming bud: 4 large petals represent the provinces of Pakistan, and 3 small petals represent administrative units. The architectural composition looks especially beautiful in the evening in the rays of illumination. The monument was built in honor of the Muslim participants in the Pakistani movement, whose goal was to create an independent state.
Inside the building there is a museum with a rich collection. It is divided into sections and exhibitions that tell about the civilizations in the Indus Valley, the birth of Islam in this area, the war for independence in 1857, as well as other important milestones in the history of the state. A library with rare publications and manuscripts is also available here, a media center is available, aimed at teachers, students and researchers.
The cyclopean-sized defensive structure in the vicinity of the Punjab province was built by order of the commander Sher Shah in 1543. The fort stood as an insurmountable obstacle in the way of Humayun, a descendant of Timur and the second padishah of the Mughal Empire.
The perimeter of the fortress walls is about 4 km, their thickness exceeds 12 m, and their height is 18 m. Almost 70 semicircular towers located around the entire circumference of the fort made enemy attacks meaningless and doomed to a bloody failure.
Humayun failed to take the citadel by storm. 10 years after the death of Sher Shah, the traitor commandant simply opened the gates to the enemy troops.
It is one of the cities founded by the Harappan civilization around 2600 BC. e. The first excavations were carried out in the early 1920s. Scientists have found that the area of the settlement was approximately 250 hectares. The perimeter was guarded by thick walls of baked bricks, behind which life was in full swing.
Ancient people had a granary, a school, a hall for making important government decisions, as well as a sewerage system. The layout of the streets was based on a clear grid of quarters. Among the interesting finds were figurines made of bronze, stone and terracotta clay.
Mohenjo-Daro existed for about 900 years, about 35 thousand people lived in the city. The reason for the death of such a huge policy is unknown. Perhaps it was a natural disaster.
The museum was founded in 1865 when Lahore was the capital of Pakistan. The exhibition moved to its current building 30 years later. It presents the richest collection of artifacts dating back to prehistoric times. Of particular interest are finds relating to the Hellenistic period, the Mughal era, as well as objects of the Indus civilization.
Among the exhibits are carved doors, jewelry, musical instruments, weapons, textiles, ceramics and much more. An interesting fact is that for several years the father of the famous writer R. Kipling worked as the curator of this museum.
The building was built in 1986 in Islamabad with the money of the Saudi king Faisal ibn Abdul Iziz al-Saud and was named after him. It is the largest mosque in the Asian continent. Its area exceeds 5 sq. km, and up to 300 thousand Muslims can pray in it at the same time.
The construction of concrete and white marble hardly looks like a religious Islamic building. There is no traditional dome here, instead there is a base with broken corners, reminiscent of a nomadic Bedouin yurt. Another architectural highlight of the mosque is 4 minarets of 90 m each.
A snow-white marble mosque with three domes and two minarets is located on the territory of the Lahore Fort. The construction was built in 1630-1635 by order of Shah Jahan.
When the Mughals lost influence, and power passed to the Sikhs, Ranjit Singh turned the mosque into a mandir, and then into a treasury. It was sacked by the British who invaded the Punjab in 1849. They got a lot of precious stones.
Wazir Khan Mosque
This architectural masterpiece was built during the time of the Great Mughals, who did a lot for the cultural and economic enrichment of the region. The construction of the mosque began in 1634, and 8 years later people prayed and read sermons there. This speed of medieval architects is impressive.
The walls of the building are decorated with skillful paintings and bas-reliefs. The interior decoration has been preserved almost intact since the 17th century.
Resorts and parks
This reservoir with an area of 8.8 sq. km feeds the cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Its picturesque surroundings have become a popular holiday destination. Along the shore, shady alleys for walking have been created, and areas for barbecues and outdoor activities have been equipped. Private clubs offer boating, water skiing, diving and sailing.
The recreational area in Karachi awaits lovers of active and contemplative recreation. The park has a paintball court, mini-golf and a climbing wall. For nature lovers there are benches on the shore of the lake with swans. There is also an elephant farm where you can get up close and personal with the good giants.
This is both a small park and an observation deck at the northern tip of Islamabad, whose name translates as «the center of the hill.» Daman-e-Koh seems to hover above the city at an altitude of 150 m. From here, stunning panoramic views of the quarters, the main sights of the city and the picturesque surroundings open up.
A relatively young and rapidly developing resort about 20 km from Islamabad is located at the peak of the Margalla mountain range. Height over 900 m provides excellent panoramic views. The resort has a hotel and a restaurant.
To the east of the hotel is Tilla Grani — the highest point in the area (1181 m). Several hiking trails of varying difficulty and length lead to the peak.