Pakistan Wondrous Heritage Tour Overview
Join us Pakistan Wondrous Heritage Tour to learn how ancient culture and dissidents have shaped modern history through the ages.Visit ancient landscapes, explore cultural villages and learn more about the layers that make up the fabric of society.
Pakistan Wondrous Heritage Tour are not only for history buffs, but for anyone with a keen yearning to know more about Pakistan’s interesting past.Why not start at the very beginning with a visit to the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site where the civilization started.
Pakistan Wondrous Heritage Tour hits the highlights of all the most interesting heritage and cultural sites steeped in the country’s rich history. You’ll spend a day and night in each place, exploring their many architectural and cultural sites by day on guided tours and enjoying the distinct nightlife of each city on your own.
Pakistan has nearly 5000 years old history to share with its travelers, historians, archeologists. Besides, the country is a birthplace of several spiritual leaders, founders and rulers who in their way contributed to make Pakistan – a rich land where many religions, culture, crafts, mysticism, art, philosophy, tradition, music and architecture flourished.
The history of Pakistan can be dated back to as early as 5000 years back where first human settlement took place, where the nomadic people of early history make their settles life and during the course of time the development of tribes, community, village, city and modern state along with the history of rulers, dynasties and empires and construction of the various of monuments, palaces, forts, pillars as signs of victory, tombs etc. for different purposes and utilities.
However, no parts of Pakistan are left behind the dominations of one power or the other during its course of evolution. Historical tour of Pakistan generally comprised of four phases of Pakistann history – the ancient historical tours of Pakistan which generally centered around the south Pakistan in Sindh and Balochistan, where the tourists will get an opportunity to view the historical sites of the two ancient religions – Buddhism and Jainism – and their rise and fall. Medieval Pakistan historical tours started since the time of the 10th century AD the arrival of the Arabs on this vast subcontinent and the subsequent rise of the central Asia power among which Mughals sustained for the long period of time till the arrival of the Europeans in Pakistan, that provide an overview the rise and fall of the medieval dynasties while exploring the historical monuments, forts and palaces.
The modern Pakistan historical tours started since the time of the arrival of the British – and their gradual consolidation of the powers on Pakistan and constructed numerous historical monuments, forts and palaces and several other sites of historical importance during the course of clash of powers. Last but not the least, the contemporary historical tours of Pakistan may traced since the time of the first revolt of independence – 1857 in which Pakistan became prime actor in the course of Pakistan Wondrous Heritage Tour.
Pakistan Wondrous Heritage Tour Highlights
- Step steep back into history of one of the ancient sites on our planet.
- visit places that other tours miss, and get to know the locals
- Travel to the cross-cultural villages
- View the impressive UNESCO-listed heritage sites
- Ascend to spectacular Kot Diji fort with its gorgeous view
- Listen to the hum and whistle of the Singing Sand Dunes
- See the exhibits of Buddhist paintings, statues and sculptures at Museums
Pakistan Wondrous Heritage Tour Itinerary
ARRIVAL in karachi
One of our staff will meet you at the airport and escort you to the hotel. Arrival and sight seeing of Karachi city.
The Mausoleum of Quaid-e-Azam is one of the most recognizable sights in Karachi. It was built in honor of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, set at the top of a stepped pyramid in a small park. Built in 1958-68 from the design of a Turkish architect. The tomb itself is guarded at all times, and the ceremonial changing of the guard is an experience that is not to be missed.
After this we will visit Mohatta Palace.
It is the most famous and beautiful place in Karachi where people come and enjoy the attractive scenic views. The building is in pink color in combination of Jodhpur stone and local yellow stone of Gizri. The Mohatta Palace consists of museum where you will see the statues of some legends like Queen Victoria and Soldiers of Raj.
After lunch we will visit Frere Hall.
Frere Hall is a stunning building in the Victorian Gothic architecture style. It dates back to the 1800’s, when the area was under British rule. The surrounding gardens and grounds are the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll and will give you plenty of opportunities to take some great photographs of the historic building.
After this we will drive at the seaside, called Sea View to watch sunset. The area is most beautiful at sunrise and sunset. This area is home to many restaurants and shops to keep you entertained. During the evening on Saturdays and Sundays, one can view one of the tallest jet fountains in the world, right at Clifton Beach. There are boat tours that take you out to see the fountain up close.
Thatta - Hyderabad
After breakfast drive to visit chaukandi.
Chaukandi tombs form an early Islamic cemetery .The tombs are remarkable for their elaborate sandstone carvings. The style of architecture is typical to the region of Sindh. Generally, the tombs are attributed to the Jokhio and known as the family graveyard of the Jokhio tribe, although other, mainly Baloch, tribes have also been buried here. They were mainly built during Mughal rule sometime in the 15th and 18th centuries when Islam became dominant.
This type of graveyard in Sindh and Balochistan is remarkable because of its main north-south orientation. The more elaborate graves are constructed with a buff-colored sandstone. Their carved decoration displays expert craftsmanship and has often kept remarkably well over time. The tombs are embellished with geometrical designs and motifs, including figural representations such as mounted horsemen, hunting scenes, arms, and jewelry.
Tombs were constructed either as single graves or as groups of up to eight graves, raised on a common platform. A typical sarcophagus consists of six vertical slabs, with two long slabs on each side of the grave indicating the length of the body and the remaining two vertical slabs on the head and foot side. These six slabs are covered by a second sarcophagus consisting of six more similar vertical slabs but smaller in size, giving the grave a pyramid shape. The upper box is further covered with four or five horizontal slabs and the topmost construction is set vertically with its northern end often carved into a knob known as a crown or a turban.
After Chaukandi we will visit Bhambore;
Bhambore is the ruins of the ancient port city of Debal from the 7th century, located near Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan, at the base of the Indus River. . Its population was mainly Hindu with a Buddhist minority. It is largely known for the ruins of a castle destroyed by Muhammad bin Qasim during the invasion of Sindh and—on a different note—the legendary love story of Sassi Punnun. The ruins are located approximately 60 km between Dhabeji and Gharo.
Banbhore is an ancient city dating to the 1st century BC, It dates back to the Scytho-Parthian era and was later controlled by Muslims from 8th to 13th century after which it was abandoned. Remains of one of the earliest known mosques in the region dating back to 727 AD are still preserved in the city.
Archaeological records reveal remnants of three distinct periods on the site; Scytho-Parthian (1st century BC to 2nd century AD), Hindu-Buddhist (2nd century AD to 8th century AD), and early Islamic (8th century AD to 13th century AD).
Archaeological findings show that the city consisted of an enclosed area surrounded by a stone and mud wall. The citadel was divided into eastern and western sections by a fortified stone wall in the center. The eastern part contains ruins of a mosque with an inscription dating to 727 AD, sixteen years after the conquest of Sindh, indicating the best preserved example of the earliest mosques in the region. The remains of the mosque were discovered in 1960. Remains of houses, streets, and other buildings have been found both within and outside the citadel.
Contemporary stone buildings from the three periods are also uncovered in the area including a palatial stone building with semi-circular shape, a Shiva temple from the Hindu period, and a mosque. Three gateways to the citadel were also uncovered during excavations.
Then we will visit Thatta.
Thatta is an ancient town with an interesting history dating back to the time of the Macedonian, Alexander the Great, who used the port to rest his weary troops. The present Thatta was founded in the 15th century. Under the Mughals it was a provincial capital and during this period there were as many as 400 institutions of learning in the city.
Some outstanding architecture left from the Mughal period remains in the religious and historical monuments. Thatta is famous for its necropolis, which covers 10 km2 (3.9 sq mi) on the Makli Hill, which assumed its quasi-sacred character during Jam Nizamu-d Din’s rule. The site became closely interlinked with the lives of the people. Every year thousands perform pilgrimage to this site to commemorate the saints buried here. The graves testify to a period of four centuries when Thatta was a thriving center of trade, religion and scholarly pursuits and the capital of Sind.
Then we will visit Shah Jahan Mosque in Thatta.
The Shah Jahan Mosque was built during the reign of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. He made it as a gift for the kind and warm hospitality of the people of Thatta.
It is unique in this way that it contains no minarets but has a total of a staggering, 100 domes, the highest for any structure in Pakistan. Unlike other Mughal-era structures, it also does not contain pink sandstone.
It was made using materials from areas of Sunday such as Hala (where the bricks were imported from). The mosque was built with acoustics in mind: a person speaking on one end of the dome can be heard from the other end when the speech exceeds 100 decibels.
Later resume drive to Hyderabad.
Bhit shah Excursion
Today we will make a full day excursion to Bhit Shah & Hala.
Bhit Shah is famous for the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif, one of the most famous Sufi poets of Indian sub-continent during 18th century. Situated about 50 Kms from Hyderabad, the shrine of Shah Abdul Latif is the hub of devotional activities including the singing, folk music and dancing by his devotees from all the corners of Sindh.
He is remembered for the compendium of his poetry called ‘Risalo’, a treasure house of wisdom as well as romantic folklore and fine pottery. He also founded a musical tradition of his own which is still popular. Devotees sing with fervor and frenzy his love-intoxicated Kafis to the strains of yak-tara (single string instrument) mainly on the occasion of his “Urs” held every year between 13th and 15th of Saffar, the second Islamic lunar month.
Situated at another 05 Kms from Bhit Shah is Hala, which is the most famous handicraft center of Sindh as well as Pakistan. The New city of Hala is located about 03 Kms from banks of River Indus as the old city was destroyed during the disastrous flood. Even today the potters in Hala produce the best of blue lined white ceramics besides the other specialties of Hala, which include pottery vases, birds & tiles, lacquer work chairs, beds and cots and wood carvings.
We will also visit the Mausoleum of famous Muslim Saint, Makhdoom Nooh. The facade of his mausoleum is covered by some of Hala’s best blue and white tile work in floral and geometric designs. Later we drive back to Hyderabad.
ranikot fort, pakka Qilla
After breakfast we will visit Ranikot Fort, which is also known as The Great Wall of Sindh and is believed to be among one of the world’s largest fortswith a circumference of approximately 26 kilometres (16 mi). Kumbhalgarh Fort, a World Heritage Site as part of the Hill Forts of Rajasthan, with over 38 km long wall has the second longest wall in the world after the Great Wall of China.
The fort has been compared to the Great Wall of china. The original purpose and architects of Ranikot Fort are unknown. However, it is believed that the fort was built during the regimes of the Sassanians, the Scythians, the Parthians or the Bactrian Greeks.
Archaeologists point to the 17th century as the time of its first construction but Sindh archaeologists now agree that some of the present structures were reconstructed by Talpurs in 1812 at a cost of 1.2 million rupees (Sindh Gazetteer, 677). The battlements of Ranikot formed the last capital of the Amirs of Sind, when they were brought under the colonial rule of the British Empire.
The fort is huge, connecting several bleak mountains of the Kirthar hills along contours, and measures 31 kilometres (19 mi) in length. The fort is interspersed with several bastions in between and three[clarification needed] are of semi-circular shape.
The northern part of the fort’s perimeter is a natural high hilly formation while on the other three sides it is covered by fort walls. Within this main fort there is a smaller fort known as the “Meeri” which is about 5–6 miles from the entry gate of the main fort, and is reported to have served as the palace of the Mir royal family. The entire fort structure has been built with stone and lime mortar. The fort is built in a zig-zag form, with four entry gates in the shape of a rhomboid. Two of the gates, facing each are crossed diagonally by the Sann river; the first gate is on the western side and is skirted by the river water and is difficult to approach.
The southern entry gate has a double doors gate. Within the gates there are two niches which have floral ornamentation and carved stones. The Sann gate is well preserved and can be climbed to reach the top of the fort from both sides to get a scenic view of the terrain around the fort.
Later on we will visit pacco Qillo fort in Hyderabad, which was constructed on the hillock known locally as Gunjy, by Mian Ghulam Shah Kalhoro, around 1768 when he founded the city of Hyderabad.
Located right in the centre of Hyderabad, Sindh, are the remains of a fort. Only a part of the ruined majesty remains now. The walls of the fortress are built of brick and stone, and are of immense thickness; it is about half a mile square and contains nearly 1800 dwelling houses; some of them are the palaces of the Ameers of Scinde; in its interior there is also a very lofty tower mounted by seventy-six steps to the top, in which are placed four large pieces of ordnance, 84-pounders, of Persian manufacture.
Activities: Sightseeing, Cultural Exploration, History
Today in the morning we will drive to Larkana via Sehwan. At Sehwan we will visit the shrine of great Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, a famous Muslim Sufi Saint of 10th century.
The shrine was built in 1356, but was subsequently upgraded. The completed portions are now extensively covered in white marble, glazed tiles, and mirror work. The shrine’s gold-plated main door was donated by the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, in the 1970sThe saint’s tomb is located under the shrine’s central dome, with some illumination provided by small earthen oil lamps similar to those used in Hindu ceremonies.
The main attraction of shrine is Dhamal (sufi’s dance) with folk music and colorful dress and this dhamal is at its full swing during the annual urs (death ceremony), when his devotees from all around Pakistan get gathered here. After visit to Sehwan, we will go to Mohanas Boat villages and then onward to Larkana.
Mohenjo daro- Khair pur
After breakfast drive to Moenjodaro.The archeological ruins of Moenjodaro are situated on the western bank of the river Indus, in Larkana district.
Built around 2500 BCE, it was one of the largest settlements of the ancient Indus Valley civilization, and one of the world’s earliest major urban settlements, contemporaneous with the civilizations of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Minoan Crete, and Norte Chico.
Mohenjo-daro was abandoned in the 19th century BCE as the Indus Valley Civilization declined, and the site was not rediscovered until the 1920s. Significant excavation has since been conducted at the site of the city, which was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
From the articles discovered here it is believed that the Iron Age had not yet dawned on the Indus Valley civilization. The vessels discovered are of lead, silver, copper or bronze, whereas the weapons are made only of bronze. The museum displays interesting relics found during excavation, such as engraved seals, utensils, ornaments, weapons, sculpture, and pottery.
Mohenjo-daro has a planned layout based on a street grid of rectilinear buildings. Most were built of fired and mortared brick; some incorporated sun-dried mud-brick and wooden superstructures. The covered area of Mohenjo-daro is estimated at 300 hectares. The Oxford Handbook of Cities in World History offers a “weak” estimate of a peak population of around 40,000.
The sheer size of the city, and its provision of public buildings and facilities, suggests a high level of social organization. The city is divided into two parts, the so-called Citadel and the Lower City. The Citadel – a mud-brick mound around 12 metres (39 ft) high – is known to have supported public baths, a large residential structure designed to house about 5,000 citizens, and two large assembly halls.
The city had a central marketplace, with a large central well. Individual households or groups of households obtained their water from smaller wells. Waste water was channeled to covered drains that lined the major streets. Some houses, presumably those of more prestigious inhabitants, include rooms that appear to have been set aside for bathing, and one building had an underground furnace (known as a hypocaust), possibly for heated bathing. Most houses had inner courtyards, with doors that opened onto side-lanes. Some buildings had two stories.
In 1950, Sir Mortimer Wheeler identified one large building in Mohenjo-daro as a “Great Granary”. Certain wall-divisions in its massive wooden superstructure appeared to be grain storage-bays, complete with air-ducts to dry the grain. According to Wheeler, carts would have brought grain from the countryside and unloaded them directly into the bays. However, Jonathan Mark Kenoyer noted the complete lack of evidence for grain at the “granary”, which, he argued, might therefore be better termed a “Great Hall” of uncertain function. Close to the “Great Granary” is a large and elaborate public bath, sometimes called the Great Bath. From a colonnaded courtyard, steps lead down to the brick-built pool, which was waterproofed by a lining of bitumen. The pool measures 12 metres (39 ft) long, 7 metres (23 ft) wide and 2.4 metres (7.9 ft) deep. It may have been used for religious purification.
Other large buildings include a “Pillared Hall”, thought to be an assembly hall of some kind, and the so-called “College Hall”, a complex of buildings comprising 78 rooms, thought to have been a priestly residence.
Mohenjo-daro had no series of city walls, but was fortified with guard towers to the west of the main settlement, and defensive fortifications to the south. Considering these fortifications and the structure of other major Indus valley cities like Harappa, it is postulated that Mohenjo-daro was an administrative center.
Both Harappa and Mohenjo-daro share relatively the same architectural layout, and were generally not heavily fortified like other Indus Valley sites. It is obvious from the identical city layouts of all Indus sites that there was some kind of political or administrative centrality, but the extent and functioning of an administrative center remains unclear.
Mohenjo-daro was successively destroyed and rebuilt at least seven times. Each time, the new cities were built directly on top of the old ones. Flooding by the Indus is thought to have been the cause of destruction
Once the tour is finished in Moenjo daro, we will resume our journey to Khairpur.
Activities: Cultural Exploration, History
Kot Diji- Fort - Sukkur
Today in the morning we will make an excursion to Kot Diji. The ancient site at Kot Diji was the forerunner of the Indus Civilization.
The occupation of this site is attested already at 3300 BCE. The remains consist of two parts; the citadel area on high ground (about 12 m), and outer area. The site covers 2.6 ha. The earliest occupation of this site is termed ‘Kot Dijian’, which is pre-Harappan, or early formative Harappan.
At the earliest layer, Kot Diji I (2605 BC), copper and bronze were not used. The houses and fortifications were made from unbaked mud-bricks. Lithic material, such as leaf-shaped chert arrowheads, shows parallels with Mundigak layers II-IV. The pottery seems to anticipate Harappan Ware. Later, bronze was used, but only for personal ornaments. Also, potters wheel was already used.
The Early Harappan phase consists of two clearly defined areas. Citadel on high ground for the elites separated by a defensive wall with bastions at regular intervals. This area measures about 500 ft x 350 ft.Outer area, or the city proper consisted of houses of mud bricks on stone foundations.
Pottery found from this site have design with horizontal and wavy lines, or loops and simple triangular patterns. Other objects found are pots, pans, storage jars, toy carts, balls, bangles, beads, terracotta figurines of mother goddess and animals, bronze arrowheads. Well fashioned stone implements were also discovered.The interesting find at Kot Diji is a toy cart, which shows that potter’s wheel lead to wheels for bullock carts.
Kot Diji Fort which is a magnificent early 19th century fort built by Talpurs, the former rulers of Sindh from 1789 to 1843. It is a well preserved fort perched on the ridge of a steep narrow hill and is an interesting place to visit. The fort sits atop a 110 foot tall high hill that rises above the city of Kot Diji. The fort’s 30 foot tall walls encircle the uppermost portion of the fort, resulting a narrow-width fortress with perimeter of 1.8 kilometers. The fort contains three strategically placed towers that are each 50 feet tall.
The fort contains several sites for cannon placement, and contains numerous inner passages for protection. The fort also contains a water reservoir, ammunition storage, prison, courtroom, numerous cells for security personnel, and a small regal residence.
In the afternoon we will visit Faiz Mahal, which was built in Khairpur Mirs in 1798 as the principal building serving as the sovereign’s court for the royal palace complex of Talpur monarchs of the Khairpur dynasty. Originally it included the ruler’s chambers along with 16 waiting rooms for courtiers and guest rooms for royal guests along side the durbar and dining halls. Additionally there was the Hathi Khana for the royal elephant and the horses stables where today there is a mango orchard. In the evening drive to Sukkur. Sukkur is an important road and rail junction while traveling between Karachi, Lahore and Quetta.
Activities: Sightseeing, Cultural Exploration, History
Sukkur - sadiqabad- Ahmed Pur Sharqia
After breakfast visit Sukkur Barrage. The Sukkur Barrage has 66 Gates. The Sukkur Barrage (formally called Lloyd Barrage), built under the British Raj on the Indus River, controls one of the largest irrigation systems in the world. It was designed by Sir Arnold Musto KCIE, and constructed under the overall direction of Sir Charlton Harrison, KCIE, as Chief Engineer. Construction of the barrage was started in 1923 and completed in January 1932. The 5,001 feet (1,524 m) long barrage is made of yellow stone and steel and can water nearly 10 million acres (40,000 km2) of farmland through its seven large canals. Some of the canals are larger than the Suez Canal.
After visit of barrage, we drive to Lower Punjab to Sadiqabad. On the way we will stop at Bhong, which boasts an extraordinary modern mosque started in the 1960s and winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
It is built in traditional style with extravagant use of gold leaf, mirror work and onyx; it is particularly famous for its stylized Arabic calligraphy. A rich merchant Rais Ghazi sponsors the mosque. Muslim shrines and a river island having a Hindu temple are of particular interest for locals and visitors alike.
We will continue our drive to Ahmed Pur Sharqia and visit Uch Sharif.
Uch is an important historical city, having been founded by Alexander the Great. Formerly located at the confluence of the Indus and Chenab rivers, it is now 100 kilometres (62 mi) from that confluence, which has moved to Mithankot. It is believed that in 325 BC Alexander the Great founded a city called Alexandria on the Indus at the site of the last confluence of Punjab rivers with the Indus.
Nevertheless, some historians believe that Uch predates the advent of Bikramjit when Jains and Buddhists ruled over the area, and that Mithankot or Chacharan Sharif was the true settlement of Alexandria. In AD 712, Muhammad bin Qasim conquered the city and during the Muslim period Uch was one of the centres of Islamic studies of South Asia.
There are several tombs of famous mystics (Sufis) in Uch, notably the tombs of Syed Jalaluddin Bukhari and his family. These structures were joined by a series of domed tombs; the first is said to have been built for Baha’al-Halim by his pupil, the Suharwardiya Sufi saint Jahaniyan Jahangasht (1307–1383), the second for the latter’s great-granddaughter, Bibi Jawindi, in 1494, and the third for the latter’s architect. which are considered masterpieces of Islamic architecture and are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list.
Activities: Sightseeing, Cultural Exploration, History
Derawar Fort & Mosque - Mausoleums
Today we will make an excursion to Derawar Fort, an impressive building in the heart of Cholistan Desert.
Derawar Fort is a large square fortress, with forty bastions of Derawar are visible for many miles in the Cholistan Desert. The walls have a perimeter of 1500 metres and stand up to thirty metres high.
Derawar fort was built by Rai Jajja Bhatti, a Rajput ruler of the Bhatti clan. The fort was built in the 9th century AD as a tribute to Rawal Deoraj Bhatti, a Rajput sovereign king of the Jaisalmer and Bahawalpur areas who had his capital at Lodhruva.The fort was initially known as Dera Rawal, and later referred to as Dera Rawar, which with the passage of time came to be pronounced Derawar, its present name.
In the 18th century, the fort was taken over by Muslim Nawabs of Bahawalpur from the Shahotra tribe. It was later renovated by Abbasi rulers, but in 1747 the fort slipped from their hands owing to Bahawal Khan’s preoccupations at Shikarpur. Nawab Mubarak Khan took the stronghold back in 1804. 1,000 year-old catapult shells were found in the debris near a decaying wall in the fort.
At Derawar, we will visit the unique Derawar Mosque made by white marble in contrast to the desert all around. In the evening we will drive to Bahawalpur.
Bahawalpur - Multan
After breakfast we will visit few land marks of Bahawalpur, also lies near the ancient Derawar Fort in the Cholistan Desert near the border with India, and serves as the gateway to Pakistan’s Lal Suhanra National Park.
Bahawalpur was once the capital of the former princely state of Bahawalpur ruled by Nawabs. The Nawabs of Bahawalpur were regarded as part of the Rajputana States, the majority of which now form the bulk of the neighbouring Indian state of Rajasthan. The Nawabs bestowed Bahawalpur with several monuments, such as the palaces of Noor Mahal, Sadiq Ghar Palace, and Darbar Mahal. Which include Royal Palaces of Noor Mahal, Darbar Mahal, Gulzar Mahal and Nishat Mahal.
We will pass through Fareed Gate to visit Abbasi Mosque and Jamia Masjid Al Sadiq.
After visit of Bahawalpur Museum and visit of Handicraft bazar / market we will continue our journey to Multan.
In the morning we will visit mystic shrines of sufi saints of Multan.
Multan’s history stretches back into antiquity. The ancient city was site of the renowned Multan Sun Temple, and was besieged by Alexander the Great during the Mallian Campaign. Multan was one of the most important trading centres of medieval Islamic India, and attracted a multitude of Sufi mystics in the 11th and 12th centuries, earning the city the nickname City of Saints. The city, along with the nearby city of Uch, is renowned for its large collection of Sufi shrines dating from that era.
Afternoon city tour of Multan that commences with visit to Old Fort, which is an eloquent example of the proud history of this city.
Among the attractions inside the fort are the elaborately decorated shrines of Sheikh Bahad-ud-din Zakriya, Shah Shams Tabriz and Shah Rukn-e-Alam. Damdama, the highest point in the fort, provides a bird’s-eye panoramic view of the city, which has survived the destruction of invaders since Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C.
We will also visit Prahladpuri Temple, adjacent to tomb of Hazrat Baha’ul Haq Zakariya. The Prahladapuri temple like the Sun Temple of Multan had been destroyed after Muslim conquest of Multan, suffered several material losses and was reduced to a nondescript shrine by the 19th century. A mosque has subsequently built adjacent to temple.
The original temple of Prahladpuri is said to have been built by Prahlad, son of Hiranyakashipu, the king of Multan (Kashya-papura)in honor of Narsing Avatar, an incarnation of Hindu god Vishnu, who emerged from the pillar to save Prahlada.
Other tombs of interest are.
Shah Yousaf Gardezi (d. 1136), tomb located inner Bohar Gate Multan
Mai Maharban (11/12th Century), tomb located near Chowk Fawara, children complex Multan
Bahauddin Zikarya (1170–1267), tomb located in Multan Fort
Shah Rukne Alam (1251–1335), tomb located in Multan Fort
Khawaja Awais Kagha (d. 1300)3, tomb located in Dera Basti graveyard Multan
Among the other places to visit are Eidgah Mosque and Hussain Agahi Bazaar for blue pottery , camel skin work and clay pottery craftsmanship at work.
Harappa - Lahore
Today after breakfast drive to Lahore with an en-route stop to visit Harrappa. Harrappa located about 200km (124 miles) from Lahore and about 30 km (19 miles) from Sahiwal, is the site of an ancient and important settlement of the prehistoric Indus Valley Civilization (3rd to 2nd millennium B.C.) and stands witness to the 5000 years old cultural continuity of civilization in Pakistan.
Harrappa was the cradle of one of the earliest civilization known to man and conjures up images of fifty centuries ago, a period about which very little is knwon.An interesting and well maintained museum at the Harrappa site houses artifacts found in the area.
The site of the ancient city contains the ruins of a Bronze Age fortified city, which was part of the Cemetery H culture and the Indus Valley Civilization, centered in Sindh and the Punjab. The city is believed to have had as many as 23,500 residents and occupied about 150 hectares (370 acres) with clay sculptured houses at its greatest extent during the Mature Harappan phase (2600–1900 BC), which is considered large for its time. Per archaeological convention of naming a previously unknown civilization by its first excavated site, the Indus Valley Civilization is also called the Harappan Civilization.
The two greatest cities, Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, emerged circa 2600 BCE along the Indus River valley in Punjab and Sindh.The civilization, with a possible writing system, urban centers, and diversified social and economic system, was rediscovered in the 1920s after excavations at Mohenjo-daro in Sindh near Larkana, and Harappa, in west Punjab south of Lahore.
A number of other sites stretching from the Himalayan foothills in east Punjab, India in the north, to Gujarat in the south and east, and to Pakistani Balochistan in the west have also been discovered and studied. Although the archaeological site at Harappa was damaged in 1857, when engineers constructing the Lahore-Multan railroad (as part of the Sindh and Punjab Railway), used brick from the Harappa ruins for track ballast, an abundance of artifacts has nevertheless been found.
The bricks discovered were made of red sand, clay, stones and were baked at very high temperature. As early as 1826 Harappa located in west Punjab attracted the attention of a British officer in India, gets credit for preliminary excavations in Harappa. The excavators of the site have proposed the following chronology of Harappa’s occupation:
- Ravi Aspect of the Hakra phase, c. 3300 – 2800 BC.
- Kot Dijian (Early Harappan) phase, c. 2800 – 2600 BC.
- Harappan Phase, c. 2600 – 1900 BC.
- Transitional Phase, c. 1900 – 1800 BC.
- Late Harappan Phase, c. 1800 – 1300 BC.
By far the most exquisite and obscure artifacts unearthed to date are the small, square steatite (soapstone) seals engraved with human or animal motifs. A large number of seals have been found at such sites as Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Many bear pictographic inscriptions generally thought to be a form of writing or script. Evening drive to Lahore.
Today morning after breakfast at hotel we will move out on The Mall Road, which was a modern thoroughfare lined with exquisite buildings of great public and private utility during British time.
We will stop over at Gymkhana Club or Little Britain opposite Lawrence Gardens to take a view of this symbol of prestige and a favorite haunt of men of diverse talents and fortune. The halls of club were built in memory of two Governors Sir John Lawrence and Sir Robert Montgomery.
We will move to The Lahore Museum built by the British in Moghul Gothic style and opened in 1894.John Lockwood Kipling, Rudyard’s father was the museum’s first curator. It is the best museum in Pakistan with a superb collection of Moghal period includes illustrated manuscripts, miniatures, rugs and carvings. It also has excellent galleries of pre historic Pakistan and a superb collection of Buddhist stone sculpture. The famous Zam – Zama gun casted in 1760 stand in front of the Museum.
From here we move to Royal Palace of Lahore Fort which rank in size and beauty with the Moghul forts at Delhi and Agra. Akbar began building it the 1560s on the site of an older fort. The fortress is located at the northern end of Lahore’s Walled City, and spreads over an area greater than 20 hectares. It contains 21 notable monuments, some of which date to the era of Emperor Akbar. The Lahore Fort is notable for having been almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century, when the Mughal Empire was at the height of its splendour and opulence.
Though the site of the Lahore Fort has been inhabited for millennia, the first record of a fortified structure at the site was in regard to an 11th-century mud-brick fort.
The foundations of the modern Lahore Fort date to 1566 during the reign of Emperor Akbar, who bestowed the fort with an architectural style that featured Hindu motifs.
Additions from the Shah Jahan period are characterized by luxurious marble with inlaid Persian floral designs, while the fort’s grand and iconic Alamgiri Gate was constructed by the last of the great Mughal Emperors, Aurangzeb, and faces the renowned Badshahi Mosque.
After the fall of the Mughal Empire, the Lahore Fort was used as the residence of Ranjit Singh, founder of the Sikh Empire. The fort then passed to British colonialists after they annexed Punjab following their victory over the Sikhs at the Battle of Gujrat in February 1849.
In 1981, the fort was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its outstanding repertoire of Mughal monuments dating from the era when the empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
From here we walk to Badshahi Mosque built by Emperor Aurangzeb in 1674 after the mosques of Delhi and Agra. It consists of a huge square with a minaret at each corner. You can climb up the 204 steps to the top of one of the minarets for a bird’s eye view of the old city of Lahore.
We will move for lunch to a local restaurant and enjoy the best local taste known the world over as Tanduri.
Activities: Sightseeing, Cultural Exploration, History
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
After Breakfast we will go to Jahangir’s Tomb across the River Ravi ‘s bridge.
The Tomb was built by his son Shah Jahan , of Taj Mahal fame in 1627. A 180 room hotel Akbari Serai was also built here by Shah Jahan in 1637 around spacious garden. The Tomb of Asif Khan father of Mumtaz Mahal is also here , the lady for whom the Taj Mahal was built in Agra.
Lahore is considered the cultural capital of Pakistan because of its numerous colleges, places of learning, sports activities frequent stage plays etc.
We will now move to impressive Shalimar Garden built by Shah Jahan in 1642 for the royal household, it follows the Moghul concept of the perfect walled garden with geometrically arranged ponds, fountains and marble pavilions, surrounded by flowers and fruit trees.
Shalimar Garden ‘s Construction began in 1637 C.E. during the reign of Emperor Shah Jahan and was completed in 1641.
The Shalimar Gardens were laid out as a Persian paradise garden. The gardens measure 658 metres by 258 metres, and cover an area of 16 hectares east of Lahore’s Walled City. The gardens are enclosed by a brick wall that is famous for its intricate fretwork.
In 1981 the Shalimar Gardens were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as they embody Mughal garden design at the apogee of its development. The gardens date from the period when the Mughal Empire was at its artistic and aesthetic zenith.
The gardens have been laid out from south to north in three levels of terraces, with levels spaced by 4–5 metres (13-15 feet) above the other, descending from south to north. The respective names of the three terraces have been listed as follows:
The middle level terrace of the garden, known as the Faiz Bakhsh terrace
The upper level or the third terrace named Farah Baksh meaning Bestower of Pleasure
The middle level or the second terrace named Faiz Baksh meaning Bestower of Goodness
The lower level terrace named Hayat Baksh meaning Bestower of Life
Architecture of Shalimar Garden
Shalimar Gardens draws inspiration from Central Asia, Kashmir, Punjab, Persia and the Delhi Sultanate. The Shalimar Gardens are laid out in the form of an oblong parallelogram, surrounded by a high brick wall, which is famous for its intricate fretwork. This garden was made on the concept of a Persian paradise garden. The gardens measure 658 meters north to south and 258 meters east to west.
From this basin, and from the canal, rise 410 fountains, which discharge into wide marble pools. It is a credit to the creativity of Mughal engineers that even today scientists are unable to fully comprehend the water systems and thermal engineering from architectural blueprints. The surrounding area is rendered cooler by the flowing of the fountains, which is a particular relief for visitors during Lahore’s blistering summers, with temperature sometimes exceeding 120 °F (49 °C). The distribution of the fountains is as follows:
The upper level terrace has 105 fountains.
The middle level terrace has 152 fountains.
The lower level terrace has 153 fountains.
All combined, the Gardens has 410 fountains.
The Gardens have 5 water cascades including the great marble cascade and Sawan Bhadoon.
Later afternoon we will go to watch the Wahgah border flag lowering ceremony. The lowering of the flags ceremony at the Wagah border is a military practice, every evening before sunset at the Wagah border, which as part of the Grand Trunk Road was the only road link between these two countries before the opening of the Aman Setu in Kashmir in 1999.
The spectacle of the ceremony attracts many visitors from both sides of the border, as well as international tourists.
The drill is characterized by elaborate and rapid dance-like maneuvers. It is alternatively a symbol of the two countries’ rivalry, as well as brotherhood and cooperation between the two nations.
The ceremony starts with a blustering parade by the soldiers from both the sides, and ends up in the perfectly coordinated lowering of the two nations’ flags. It is called the “beating retreat” border ceremony on the international level. One infantryman stands at attention on each side of the gate. As the sun sets, the iron gates at the border are opened and the two flags are lowered simultaneously.
The flags are folded and the ceremony ends with a retreat that involves a brusque handshake between soldiers from either side, followed by the closing of the gates again.
The soldiers of this ceremony are specially appointed and trained for this auspicious ceremony. Also they have additional beard and moustache policy in which they are paid additionally for it.
After the ceremony we will drive back to Lahore for dinner and back to hotel.
Activities: Sightseeing, Cultural Exploration, History
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lahore - Rohtas fort - khewra salt mine- katasraj temple- Islamabad
After break fast will drive toward Rohtas Fort near Dina. is a historical garrison fort located near the city of Jhelum in Punjab, Pakistan. It was built under Afghan king Sher Shah Suri, to subdue the rebellious tribes of the northern Punjab region, in the 16th century. This fort is about 4 km in circumference.
The Rohtas Fort was built to crush the local Ghakhar tribes of Potohar, who rebelled against the Sur dynasty after the Mughal emperor Humayun was ousted by the former.It took eight years to build the fort, it was captured by Mughal emperor Humayun in 1555. Nadir Shah, the Turkic ruler of Persia, Afghan ruler Ahmed Shah Abdali and the Maratha army also camped here during their respective campaigns in the Punjab region. Rohtas was also occasionally used for administrative purposes by the Sikh ruler Ranjit Singh after he captured it in 1825. Due to its location, massive walls, trap gates and 3 Baolis (stepped wells) it could withstand a major siege although it was never besieged.Most of the fort was built with ashlar stones collected from its surrounding villages such as Tarraki village. Some parts of the fort were built with bricks.
The fort is irregular in shape and follows the contours of the hill it was constructed on. The fort is exactly 5.2 km in circumference. A 533 metre long wall divides the citadel (for the Chieftain) from other parts of the fort.
The fortification has 68 bastions (towers) at irregular intervals. Out of the 3 Baolis, one of them is in the citadel and the rest are in the other parts of the fort. One of the Gates (Langar Khani) opens into the citadel and is a trap gate because it is in the direct line of fire of the bastions.
The Khwas Khani gate is an example of double walling. A small enclave on the western side is a citadel within a citadel. It is accessible by only one gate and also had a very fine Baoli which suggests that it was meant for the Chief and his family. In this citadel there is a beautiful Mosque called the Shahi Mosque (Not to be confused with the one in Lahore). There are no palaces in the Fort except for a structure built by Raja Man Singh called the Haveli of Man Singh. It is built on the highest point of the citadel.
After Rohtas Fort, we will go for lunch followed by visit to Khewra Salt mine.
It is Pakistan’s largest and oldest salt mine and the world’s second largest and a major tourist attraction. Its history dates back to its discovery by Alexander’s troops in 320 BC, but it started trading in the Mughal era.
The main tunnel at ground level was developed by Dr. H. Warth, a mining engineer, in 1872 during British rule. After independence, the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation took over the mine, which still remains the largest source of salt in the country, producing more than 350,000 tons per annum of about 99% pure halite.
The salt reserves at Khewra were discovered when Alexander the Great crossed the Jhelum and Mianwali region during his Indian campaign. The mine was discovered, however, not by Alexander, nor by his allies, but by his army’s horses, when they were found licking the stones. Ailing horses of his army also recovered after licking the rock salt stones. During the Mughal era the salt was traded in various markets, as far away as Central Asia. On the downfall of the Mughal empire, the mine was taken over by Sikhs.
We will go into the mine on a train. There are numerous pools of salty water inside. The Badshahi Mosque was built in the mining tunnels with multi-colored salt bricks about fifty years ago.
Other artistic carvings in the mine include a replica of Minar-e-Pakistan, a statue of Allama Iqbal, an accumulation of crystals that form the name of Muhammad in Urdu script, a model of the Great Wall of China and another of the Mall Road of Murree
A clinical ward with 20 beds was established in 2007, costing 10 million rupees for the treatment of asthma and other respiratory diseases using salt therapy.
We will also visit 75-meter-high (245 feet) Assembly Hall; Pul-Saraat, a salt bridge with no pillars over a 25-meters-deep (80-foot-deep) brine pond; Sheesh Mahal (Palace of Mirrors), where salt crystals are light pink.
After salt mine we will visit Katasraj Temple, which is a Hindu temple complex situated in Katas village near Choa Asidan shah.
Dedicated to Shiva, the temple has, according to Hindu legend, existed since the days of Mahābhārata and the Pandava brothers spent a substantial part of their exile at the site and later Krishna himself laid the foundation of this temple and established his hand made Shelving in it.
Prehistoric tools and weapons such as axes and knives made of granite, and artifacts like terracotta bangles and pottery have been unearthed at the Katasraj site. The latter have been found to be similar to those excavated in Harappa, but have not been dated for want of expert opinion. The fascinating Salt Ranges have a vast archaeological treasure still hidden underground. The Salt Ranges have also been yielding prehistoric finds. While some local experts place the fossils discovered in the period between 6000 and 7000 BC.
The Katas site houses the Satgraha, a group of seven ancient temples, remains of a Buddhist stupa, a few medieval temples, havelis and some recently constructed temples, scattered around a pond considered holy by Hindus.
The temples at Katas are mostly constructed on square platforms. The elevation of the sub shrines seems to form a series of cornices with small rows of pillars, crowned by a ribbed dome.
After Katasraj visit, in the evening we will drive to Islamabad.
Activities: Sightseeing, Cultural Exploration, History
Meals provided: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Drive: 8 – 9 hrs
Islamabad - Rawalpindi
After breakfast, we will visit Rawalpindi, which is located on the Pothohar Plateau, known for the existence of a Buddhist community, particularly in neighboring town of Taxila, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was destroyed during the invasion of Mahmud of Ghazni before being taken over by Gakhars who went on to name the city as “Rawalpind” in 1493. In 1765, the Gakhars were defeated as Rawalpindi became part of the Sikh Empire. The city became part of the British Raj in 1849 and in 1851 became the largest garrison town for the British Indian Army. After the partition of India in 1947, the city became home to the headquarters of Pakistan Army hence retaining its status as a major military city.
We will visit famous Raja Bazar for sights and smell of Rawalpindi, followed by the visits of alleys of old Rawalpindi town including visits of Haveli Man singh and Lal Haveli.
We will also visit the jewelers’ bazar, where the artisans are at work as well as embroidery workers to see their working.
After this we will visit Truck Art painting site for an insight of this living art in Pakistan and meet the artist at work there.
Pakistan’s ‘truck art’ is now quite a well-known ‘genre’ around the world. For long, it has been an homegrown art-form in South Asia, especially in Pakistan, where the whole idea of decorating trucks (also, lorries and even rickshaws) with complex floral patterns and poetic calligraphy, has evolved in the most radiant and innovative manner.
Our next stop would be Heritage(folk lore) Museum.
The Heritage Museum is the first state museum of ethnology in Pakistan which presents the history and living traditions of the people of Pakistan both from the mainstream and the remotest regions of the country.
The Lok Virsa Folk Heritage Museum offers an enchanting journey spanning from the neolithic cultures of South Asia to the present day folk heritage and traditions of Pakistan. One can traverse through several thousand years of history in the space of a walk through the extensive corridors of the museum.
The museum shows the evolution of culture and tradition through the ages, accounting for most of the cultural changes and influences along the way. Every gallery of the museum imparts the essence of a bygone era, replete with the traditions, costumes, jewelry and folklore, and ending with depictions of the present folk heritage of the four provinces of Pakistan. Passing through the gallery called ‘Pottery through the ages’ one sees ancient pottery from thousands of years ago, including artifacts such as cooking stoves and pots, pitchers, plates, and grain containers etc.
After museum our next stop would be Shah Faisal Mosque, which is a major tourist attraction, and is referred as a contemporary and influential feature of Islamic architecture. Combined the structure cover an area of 54,000 square ft, the mosque dominates the landscape of Islamabad.
It is located on an elevated area of land against a picturesque backdrop of the national park on the foothills of Margalla Hills, the westernmost foothills of the Himalayas. The largest mosque in Pakistan, the Faisal Mosque was the largest mosque in the world from 1986 until 1993.
The mosque features a contemporary design consisting of eight sides of concrete shell and is inspired by a Bedouin tent.
Construction of the mosque began in 1976 after a $120 million grant from Saudi King Faisal, whose name the mosque bears. The unconventional design by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay was selected after an international competition. Without a typical dome, the mosque is shaped like a Bedouin tent, surrounded by four 260 feet (79 m) tall minarets. The design features eight-sided shell shaped sloping roofs forming a triangular worship hall which can hold 10,000 worshippers, while the surrounding porticoes and the courtyard up-to 200,000 more.
After Faisal Mosque, our next stop would be Pir Sohawa view point Islamabad , where we would have to retreat our evening and dinner.
After breakfast, we will start our journey towards Taxila,” The World Oldest Existing City”, 32 kilometers from Islamabad spanning a rich history from 516 B.C to 600 A.D. In the 6th century B.C, the Achaemenians of Persia made it the Gandharan capital. Alexander the Great paused here en route from Swat.
Situated strategically on a branch of the Silk Road, Taxila linked China to the West, Taxila reached its apogee between the 1st and 5th centuries. It is now one of the most important archaeological sites in Asia. The ruins of the four settlement sites at Taxila reveal the pattern of urban evolution on the Indian subcontinent through more than five centuries.
The Mauryan emperor Ashoka, a patron of Buddhism, built a university here in 2nd century B.C biggest of its time in the world, to which pilgrims and scholars came from all over Asia. It requires two days to explore this richest archaeological sites of Asia but we will spent one day to view its excellent museum houses one of the best collections of Gandharan Buddhist in the world. Most of the archaeological sites of Taxila (600 BC to 500 AD) are located around Taxila Museum. For over the thousand years, Taxila remained famous as a center of learning Gandhara art of Sculpture, architecture, education, and Buddhism in the days of Buddhist glory.
There are over 50 archaeological sites scattered in a radius of 30 kms around Taxila. Some of the most important sites are: Dhamarajika Stupa and Monastery (300 BC 200 AD), Bhir Mound (600-200 BC), Sirkap (200 BC 600 AD), Jandial Temple (c.250 BC) and Julian Monastery (200- 600 AD).
One of these sites, the Bihr mound, is associated with the historic event of the triumphant entry of Alexander the Great into Taxila. The archaeological sites of Saraikala, Bhir, Sirkap, and Sirsukh are collectively of unique importance in illustrating the evolution of urban settlement on the Indian subcontinent. The prehistoric mound of Saraikala represents the earliest settlement of Taxila, with evidence of Neolithic, Bronze Age, and Iron Age occupation. The Bhir mound is the earliest historic city of Taxila, and was probably founded in the 6th century BC by the Achaemenians. Its stone walls, house foundations, and winding streets represent the earliest forms of urbanization on the subcontinent. Bihr is also associated with Alexander the Great’s triumphant entry into Taxila in 326 BC.
Sirkap was a fortified city founded during the mid-2nd century BC. The many private houses, stupas, and temples were laid out on the Hellenistic grid system and show the strong Western classical influence on local architecture. The city was destroyed in the 1st century by the Kushans, a Central Asian tribe. To the north, excavations of the ruins of the Kushan city of Sirsukh have brought to light an irregular rectangle of walls in ashlar masonry, with rounded bastions. These walls attest to the early influence of Central Asian architectural forms on those of the subcontinent.
The Taxila serial site also includes Khanpur cave, which has produced stratified microlithic tools of the Mesolithic period, and a number of Buddhist monasteries and stupas of various periods. Buddhist monuments erected throughout the Taxila valley transformed it into a religious heartland and a destination for pilgrims from as far afield as Central Asia and China. Other Buddhist archaeological sites at Taxila include the Khader Mohra grouping, the Kalawan grouping, the Giri monasteries, the Kunala stupa and monastery, the Jandial complex, the Lalchack and the Badalpur stupa remains and monasteries, the Pipplian and the Bahalar stupa and remains.
Evening drive back to Islamabad.
Activities: Sightseeing, Cultural Exploration, History
After breakfast we will start our journey towards Peshawar. Aftr 10 kms on grand trunk road we will stop at Wah Moghul Garden which is a pale reflection of the Moghul Garden in Srinagar and being laid out by the Moghul emperor Akber in late 16th century. It was a favorite resort of Akber and Jahangir on their journeys to Kashmir. Our next stop is Hasan Abdal a sacred place of Sikhs and Hindus. The seventh century Chinese Buddhist pilgrim Xuan Zang who stayed here recorded in his journal that a water tank dedicated to the Hindu serpent King Elapatra. Next we stop at 16th century hotel with four rows of small rooms set around a huge court yard on the junction of River Indus and River Kabul where ladies of Mughals families use to stay. Attock’s massive fort’s, built by Mughal Emperor Akber in 1581 AD. view can get from the new bridge on River Indus. Next we pass by a town Jahangira laid out by Emperor Jahangir in 16th century. Peshawar is further 43 kilometers from Jehangira passing through Nowshera, a beautiful and well maintained cantonment by British in 18th century.
In Peshawar our first stop will be Peshawar Museum formerly Victoria Memorial Hall built in 1905. It has one of the best collection of Gandhara art and sculptures illustrating the life of the Buddha are laid out in chronological order. The ethnological section has a Mughal Gallery. Our next stop will be the massive Bala Hisar Fort built by Emperor Babur in 1530. Mughals really turned Peshawar into a city of flowers by planting trees and laying out gardens. In the evening we will go out for bazar tour which is the most exciting part of the tour as its elements date from Sikh, Mughal and even Buddhist time. The Qissa Khawani Bazaar was described by the British Commissioner in Peshawar, Sir Herbert Edwardes as the Piccadilly of Central Asia. You will see people sitting there, sipping green tea and gossiping for hours and hours. Quick visit of Peshawar university, a beautiful and imposing colonial architecture with vast grassy lawns recall us the gone days of British era. Other places we visit are Khyber Bazaar, Chowk Yadgar, Banjara Bazaar and Mohabat Khan Mosque built in the 1670s.
A walk through Sarafa Bazaar (jewellers bazaar) will allow you to measure the degree of adoration that the Pakistani women have for the yellow metal, the gold Chappal kabab restaurants and small tea houses (Qehwa Khana) along the road sides could be an interesting experience.
Note: If you like, your guide will take you to visit the carpet market located at hardly 5 minutes drive from your hotel. Here, you will find a very large variety of Pakistani, Iranian and Afghan carpets and rugs. Pakistan is known in the world for its top quality carpets and for such a purchase, Peshawar is certainly the ideal place where prices are reasonably low compared to the other parts of the country.
Takht Bai- swat
We leave today after breakfast for Swat, a picturesque northern Pakistan valley towards north east. It has a rich historical past, too. The “Udayana” (Golden) of the ancient Hindu epics; the land of enthralling beauty, where Alexander of Macedonia fought and won some of his major battles before crossing over the plans of Pakistan. This is the “valley of hanging chains” described by the famous Chinese pilgrim chronices, Huain Tsang and Fa-Hian in the fifth and sixth centuries. Swat was also the historical land where the Muslim conquerors, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Babar and Akbar fought their battles preparatory to conquest of South Asia. En route we visit the Bala Hisar mound at a distance of 28 kilometers dating back to 2500 years old and the capital of Gandhara from sixth century B.C to second century A.D. According to Herodotus , the Greek historian writing in about 460 B.C Darius sent the explorer Scylax of Caryanda to sail down from here and find the sea. Gandhara remained with Achaemenid Empire for next 200 years until its overthrow by Alexander the Great in the fourth century B.C.
Our next stop will be at Takht e Bahi Buddhist monastery of first century A.D. It has 38 votive stupas and the largest statues must have been 33 feet high donated by rich pilgrims, supposed to enshrine the ashes of Lord Buddha and surrounded by the chapels. Then we will see the cells of Monks in the Monastery Court. These cells are believed to be originally plastered and painted in different colours.
The next part of our journey is to Chakdara passing through the Malakand Pass. Photo stop at the top of this pass will allow admire superb panoramic views over the valley. There is also a Fort built by the British. There are also a few Churchill Piquets all along the Pass. These security check posts were used by the British army to watch the movements of local Pathan tribes who fought against them. Despite the heavy fights that lasted years, the British army never succeeded in defeating local tribes who posed them fierce resistance. In fact, British controlled the whole sub¬continent except this zone which is now known as Khyber Pakhtoonkhaw. Next is Chakdara Fort, which was built by Emperor Akbar in 16th century and now in use of Army. We will be in Fiza Ghat by evening for overnight stay.
Today after breakfast, we will visit Chakdara which also has 3500 years old graveyard still in use, Buddhist monasteries of first century A.D and Hindu Shahi forts on the hill top.
According to tradition, Gandhara is also thought to be the location of the mystical Lake Dhanakosha, birthplace of Padmasambhava, founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism identifies the lake with the Andannd Dherai stupa. A spring was said to flow from the base of the stupa to form the lake. From here over 500 pieces of Gandhara sculpture were recovered.
Damkot hill has Six boulders with Buddhist carving mostly of Padmapani date to sixth and seven century. The Aryaans forerunners of the Hindus arrived from Central Asia and settled here in 1700 BC and also composed world oldest religious text “The Rigveda”. Then we will visit ancient site of Chat Pat and Chakdara museum. This museum has a rich collection from first century to seventh century Buddhist Gandharan sculpture and of Hindu Shahi period. Massive ruins of the castle of Raja Giri , the last Hindu ruler of eight century , scattered up the hill side. we will move to Saidu Sharif Museum which has collection of Gandharan sculpture and ethnographic section featuring local embroidery, carved wood and tribal embroidery. Our next stop will be Butkara Stupa built in second century BC by the Mauryan emperor Ashoka. The stupa was excavated by an Italian mission led by archaeologist Domenico Faccenna from 1956, to clarify the various steps of the construction and enlargements.The stupa was enlarged on five occasions during the following centuries, every time by building over, and encapsulating, the previous structure. The mission established that the stupa was “monumentalized” by the addition of Hellenistic architectural decorations during the 2nd century BCE, suggesting a direct involvement of the Indo-Greeks, rulers of northwestern India during that period, in the development of Greco-Buddhist architecture. An Indo-Corinthian capital representing a Buddhist devotee within foliage has been found which had a reliquary and a coins of Azes II buried at its base, securely dating the sculpture to earlier than 20 BCE.
After this we will visit Odegram. Aurel Stein identified this with Ora, a city where Alexander fought one of his battles. Italian archaeologists excavated this site in the 1950s. This site was occupied from 1000 BC to the 14th century AD. During the Hindu Shahi period from the 8th century to the 10th century this was the regional capital of Swat. Ruins of Raja Gira’s Fort, the last Hindu ruler, were excavated by the Italians in the 1950s. The first mosque; Mahmud Ghaznavi Mosque built in Swat was excavated in 1985 below the Hindu Shahi Fort in 1985.
After breakfast we will visit Takar Dara Stupa and monastery on the way to Karakar pass.
The site consists of a large stupa, the associated monastery, living quarters, assembly hall, and an aqueduct cave, two other stupas and several unidentified remains.’
The Large Stupa is probably the best preserved in this area, consists of a hemispherical dome, upper and lower drums resting on a square podium and socle. The stupa court is 32m long to south-north and 72m east-west, fortified by a wall. The main stupa was surrounded by the votive stupas which have been completely destroyed by unauthorized diggers. Faint traces of the votive stupa can still be seen.
The stupa stands to a height of 15m from the ground level and the square plinth of the stupa is measuring 22x22m. Seven steps of a staircase in the middle which is 05.50m in width on the west side, lead to the top of the podium. The main stupa had originally four columns at the four corners of the berm of the square storey, which is indeed a peculiar feature; Such style of structural composition may be seen in the main stupas of Saidu and Gumbatuna. The exterior of the stupa is executed in diaper pattern originally covered by the coating of lime plaster.
The drum of dome which measures 10.67m in diameter, is decorated with two cornices framed as usual by thin vertical slabs of stone projecting at intervals between horizontal courses.
Above the stupa and at a distance of 12m from the southern side of its lowest base, there rises a large walled terrace, measuring 53x53m, containing extensive remains of a monastic quadrangle.
This monastery is rectangular in plan, with its major axis running south-north. It has two entrances: one on the north leading to the main stupa and another on the south leading to an assembly hall. There are six domed cells, square in shape, measuring 03.35m which occupy each side of the Complex. Some of the cells still reserved the vaulted roof. There are ventilators and small niches in each cells for keeping statues or lamps.
Near the south-western corner of the monastery court, there are the high walls of a big hall probably used as an assembly hall for the Buddhist community, measuring 16x15m and 06m height from the ground level. To the east the assembly hall, lie the remains of another ruined stupa enclosed by walls on three sides. The stupa depicts a square plinth measuring 13.71×13.71m with base moulding and stands square to a height of 04.26m. The stupa is ascended by flight of steps with 04.26m width from the north. The stupa is built in large dressed slabs of stones. The stupas were originally graced with Corinthian pilasters, traces of which can still be seen. Ruins of isolated cells lie on the slope of the valley against the rock.
On the eastern side of the glen, about 45m above the monastic quandrangle, lies a cave with its high entrance which is blocked about half of its height by a wall. This cave was probably used by the monks for meditation.
In the area along the streamlet, are the remains of an aqueduct for the purpose of bringing water for domestic use, ablution and also for irrigation purpose. Below the aqueduct, there are the remains of another ruined stupa about 1.82m in height.
After noon, we will drive back via Malakand pass to Islamabad.
Evening back to Islamabad and after farewell dinner, proceed to airport for onward flight out of country.
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From early childhood a place somewhere beyond the horizon was where I wanted to be and in the passing years since, I have made it my goal to satisfy that yearning! growing up in Baltistan gave me a great love for that part of the world, from K2 to Nanga Parbat to makin the first venture on Gondogoro la and much in between.
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