Archaeological sites in Pakistan 


Dunga Gali ( pipeline track )     Katas_Raj  (Ancient architecture of Hindu shrines)
kallar-kahar   (Natural lake with wild peacocks)

lahore-motorway   Mountain Range over Pinddadan 
Patriata        polo and Shandur     Rhotas
rawlakot             Lake saiful muluk                 kunhar_river

other notable sites in Pakistan
Khewra Salt Mines (One of the oldest and biggest natural rock salt deposits)
Fort Malot Ruins (place of origin of janjua tribe)
Fort Nandna Ruins (where Alexander met local Raja Porus)
Khabiki and Uchali Natural lakes ( Local and migratory bird watching sites)
Dhok Ameer Khatoon (Palaeontological / Fossil study)
Dhok Tahlian irrigation dam(bird watching site)
Khokhar Zer irrigation dam(bird watching site)
-Kot Raja irrigation dam(bird watching site)
Videos about Pakistan

History in Making
Strugle to restore the Chief Justice



Pakistan: The unseen paradise

Text and photos by Rome Jorge

Filipinos, we know how wrong international perception can be. The western media just doesn’t get it right. Trouble in far-off Basilan is no excuse to miss all the beauty of Mindanao, a big place with misty virgin forests, rich indigenous culture and the friendliest of people. Or to avoid the entire Philippines for that matter—7,100 islands of the most spectacular beaches with talcum powder fine white sand, breathtaking dive sites of iridescent coral gardens, cuddly dugongs, majestic humpback whales and whale sharks, not to mention hundreds of colorful fiestas in which to revel and indulge.

There is another place in this world much like our own country with a noble people, a rich history and a diverse culture—the often-unseen paradise that is Pakistan.


Pakistan is home to the most ancient Asian civilization in Harrapa, Balochistan, as well as where the Greeks, the Mughals, the British and several other great civilizations have all left their indelible imprint. Go to where the descendants of Alexander the Great’s army of Macedonians, Greeks and Persians still run through the blood of the Kalash tribe in the Chitral region. The ancient ruins of Taxila bear the traces of stupas devoted to the Venus of the Bactrian Greeks as well those of Buddha. Even the sculptures of Buddha in the Museum of Taxila bear unmistakably Grecian beauty. In modern Pakistan, locals can possess blond hair, oriental eyes or dark olive skin. The diversity of cultures is intrinsic in every stage of this country’s proud history.

For those wishing to go back in time to the colonial era, take a romantic steam train through the Khyber Pass where the armies of Aryans, Persians, Arabs, Huns, Afghans, Macedonians and British have all passed, and where the treasures of the Silk Road flowed from Europe and China. Enjoy the service of bow-tied waiters as you chug along the countryside. Marvel at army bagpipe bands and the flag ceremonies that combine all the fierce regality of British pomp and pageantry with Mughal regality.
The towering onion domes of the grand Badshahi Mosque of the Emperor Aurangzeb in Lahore Fort incorporate the gilded spires of Sikh temples and the inverted lotus flower of Buddhist shrines to reflect the cultural diversity of the Mughal Empire. The stupendous yet sublime beauty of the mosque as well as the entire Lahore Fort with its intricate red sandstone walls, honeycomb marble lattices and glazed tile mosaics, speaks eloquently of the sophistication and enlightenment that the Mughal dynasty cultivated. The mosque itself sits beside the Dera Sahib, a most exquisite creation of florid curves in white and gold and one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Sikhs. At the Lahore Museum, explore pavilions devoted to wonderful artworks and relics of Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. Its most arresting treasure piece by far is “the Starving Buddha,” a skeletal portrayal that dares to break symmetry by having the figure lean to one side.

For Muslim travelers, Pakistan is an eye opener with its rich history of Sufi mysticism. Multan, dubbed “the city of saints,” exposes travelers to a rich local culture that tempers the faith.


Pakistan has long been on the map of mountaineers and extreme sports enthusiasts. President Pervez Musharraf declares: “We have the best mountains in the world. We have the K2, which is supposed to be the second highest mountain of the world. We have the 14 highest peaks of the world in Pakistan. We have the largest number of glaciers in Pakistan outside the polar region. Therefore this makes an ideal venue for tracking and rock climbing.”

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also noted that Swiss mountaineers, revered throughout the world, refer to their own peaks as “baby mountains.” “This is where there are real mountains,” he quotes them.

Sohail Azhar—a Pakistani-born and English raised mountaineer, who is now director of the UK-based company TravelPak that facilitates tours of his motherland of other Pakistani expatriates—notes that there is excellent alpine climbing but a few hour’s drive from the capital Islamabad and that Pakistan is where four great valleys converge.

Pakistan offers an alpine experience with crystal-clear mountain lakes, ski slopes and mountain lodges. Azhar recommends going beyond the popular Murree resort town and exploring the quieter lakesides in the mountains.

This year, Pakistan will host numerous extreme-sporting events such as mountain marathons, jeep safaris, white water rafting expeditions and mountain bike competitions. A hot air-balloon festival, aerial safaris of Pakistan’s mountain ranges and Basant—the traditional kite flying festival of Lahore in spring—all provide travelers a uniquely uplifting experience.


And oh, the shopping and the street life! A tour of Lok Virsa, Pakistan’s National Museum of Ethnology in Islamabad whets one’s appetite for all things Paksitani and surprisingly provides a great guide on what handicrafts to buy in the different regions of Pakistan. However, the true bargains are to be found in the ancient cities such as Lahore.

By far, the most authentic Pakistani experience is taking a rikshaw—a three-wheeled contrivance much like our very own four-wheeled jeepney—and weaves in and out of the old city’s narrow crowded streets, hunting for bargain spots such as Liberty (Ladies’) Market in Lahore. Go crazy buying the Pashmina shawls and scarves of the finest wool and the most intricate designs. There are also intricate glass-beaded leather-soled slippers and dainty handbags for ladies, and finely made leather jackets and suits for men. Pakistani women, the epitome of elegance and beauty, have elevated the shalwar kameez, the national dress for both men and women, into a most feminine ensemble.

Woolen carpets, lattice brass lamps, silver jewelry boxes, and if you care to have it shipped—the most intricate door frames and most colorful chairs on Earth—all tempt the traveler.

As you go through bustling avenues, note not only the fusion of British colonial architecture with Mughal motifs but also of the Pakistani penchant for elaborating everything from rickshaws to buses, to trucks, to even tractors. Such folkloric art brims to the surface even in the busiest city streets.

A fine thing to tote back home is a hookah water pipe. One puff of apple-flavored shisha on a hookah pipe inside a cozy café such as the Hangout Bar in Islamabad and you will find cigarettes to be absolutely barbaric; hookah is the proper way to smoke.

By far the most authentic Pakistani experience is feasting on some genuine street food. You haven’t tasted real kebabs until you have savored the soft and flavorful mutton kebabs on the streets of Lahore. Freshly grilled over coals, these are clean, filling and quite a bargain. Chai, that milky and sweet hot tea drank all over Pakistan, is best savored off the street where it is boiled all day and night in huge caldrons into a creamy consistency that is nothing like the tea bag affair they serve in posh hotels.

Those wanting to retreat to the gracious accommodations of world-class luxury hotel will have plenty to choose from in Pakistan. The Marriott, Holiday Inn and many other hotels offer globe trotting travelers luxuries such as spas and even alcoholic beverages (only for non-Muslim guests). Besides biryani rice, masala and other local fare elevated to haute cuisine, these fine hotels also offer continental and oriental dishes.

Although Pakistan offers a great tourist experience, it is still not too touristy. No overly aggressive hawkers and hustlers yet. Pakistani merchants have their own selling strategy: hospitality. How can you refuse when they offer tea and biscuits? And if you think Pakistan offers the same wares as India, think again. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz recalls that during the friendship cricket matches between the two countries, Indian visitors “cleaned out Lahore’s shops.” Pakistan and all its marvels are unique and even their neighbors know it.

Pakistan has so far escaped the radar of most travelers. As Musaraff himself notes: “Pakistan is the ideal destination for tourism. Unfortunately, it is the best-kept secret of Pakistan.” But that is about to change as Federal Tourism Minister Nelofar Bakhtiar unveils Destination Pakistan 2009, a year-round calendar of events to promote the country in three niche markets: religious tourism, most especially for Sikh and Buddhist pilgrims as well as Muslim devotees; cultural tourism with the numerous archeological sites and well-maintained museums; and adventure tourism in the mountain ranges and deserts. Already, great strides have been made to improve the country’s tourism infrastructure with numerous additional roads and hotels under construction. Those traveling Pakistan will feel secure with the very visible and constant presence of military and police. The common folk in urban areas speak English and are quite helpful.

This year, see the unseen. Explore Pakistan and discover a totally different country from the one you thought you knew.

For more information, visit 


The Pakistan advisory

Traveling to Pakistan is a safe, affordable and unforgettable experience. Here are a few tips to maximize your trip based on actual experiences:

* Shawls for women and scarves for men are more than fashionable; they are essential gear. They warm you on chilly nights and allow ladies to enter mosques.

* Women travelers would do well to always wear long-sleeved shirts with pants or long skirts and avoid exposing skin with low-rise jeans, short skirts, sleeveless blouses, hanging shirts and other revealing clothing. Even Capri pants can incur too many stares. Even men should wear pants.

* The Pakistani Rupee has nearly the same value as a Filipino peso. Currently, one peso equals roughly 1.2 rupees.

* Always haggle for a lower price. Threaten to walk away and they will always concede. Tourist prices can nearly double at markets. Hotel shops can sell for prices several times over. If they are offering purchases using credit cards or dollars, they are most often overpriced. But even then, these items can be a great find.

* They do not sell alcoholic beverages in all of Pakistan, save in international hotels, and even then only to non-Muslims. Hotel managers will go as far to ask for the passports of guests with Arabic sounding names to comply with religious laws. Do not try their nonalcoholic beers. They are nothing like the real thing.

* Do not drink from the tap. Bottled water and beverages that have been boiled such as tea and coffee are quite safe. Cooked street food is delicious.

* Temperatures and humidity can vary greatly depending on the season. Always check the Internet for your seven-day forecast.

* Know the news. Just as one should check the six-day forecasts on weather websites to know what to wear, one should also follow world news and travel advisories from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

* Know your geography. Just as it is unjustifiable to label the whole of Mindanao as dangerous because of incidents in Basilan, one should not avoid the country because of problems in remote areas or border regions.

* Know your world culture. Avoid offending local sensibilities. Many historical sites are functioning religious centers and one should dress properly. Never be pushy or noisy. Do not discuss politics, religion or any potentially divisive issue.

* Know your way. Always seek out and get free copies of tourist street maps at hotels airports and train stations in every destination. Identify your hotel, police stations, bus, tram, train and subway stations and other safe points to go to in case of emergency. Orient yourself to where you are before proceeding and always trace your route to each destination. When traveling with company always designate a safe point to rendezvous at a given time should you be separated. Bring your mobile phones and store the numbers of your local guides and contacts.

* Be a civilian. With outdoor tourism such as mountaineering or kayaking, avoid military clothing or gear, especially in regions with known insurgency problems. Always pay a courtesy call to local officials and inform them of your itinerary. Should you and your party fail to make it back in time, this information will allow them to mount a search and rescue mission at the soonest possible time.

* It is quite normal for security guards, policemen and military personnel to sport Kalashnikov assault rifles. Do not be alarmed and do not alarm them.

* Most Pakistanis in urban areas speak English and are quite helpful. 


External link:
 Pakistan resources - Pakistan related news, books and web resources.
 About Pakistan
The Islamic republic of Pakistan emerged on the map of the world as an independent sovereign state on 14th August 1947, as a result of the division of former British India. It lies between 23-35 to 37- 05 north latitude and 60-50 to 77- 50 east longitude touching the Hindukush Mountains in the north and extending from the Pamirs to the Arabian Sea. It is bounded by Iran in the west, Afghanistan in the north-west, India in the east and south east and Arabian Sea in the south. There is a common border with China alongside Gilgit and Baltistan in the north. 
Pakistan covers 796,095 with a population of 132.35 million according to population census 1998. It is divided into four provinces: Sindh, Punjab, North West Frontier Province and Balochistan. It consists of such physical regions as a) the western offshoots of Himalayas which cover its northern and north western parts of which the highest peak K-2 rises to 8611 meters above sea level; b) the Balochistan plateau c) The Potohar Plateau and salt range and d) The Indus plain, the most fertile and densely populated area of the country getting its sustenance from the Indus River and its tributaries. 
Religiously Pakistan is an Islamic country where 96.28 % of population prays towards Makkah. Christians are 1.95 % of the population whereas Hindus are 1.60 % and schedule Hindus represent 0.25 %. Qadiyanis have relatively small community with only 0.22 % representing the new religion. Others are 0.07 % which includes Sikhs and other religious communities.
Climatically, Pakistan enjoys a considerable measure of variety. North and north western high mountainous ranges are extremely cold in winter while the summer months of April to September are very pleasant. The plains of the Indus valley are extremely hot in summer with a cold and dry weather in winter. The coastal strip in the South has a moderate climate. There is a general deficiency of rainfall. In the plains annual average ranges from 16 centimeters in the northern parts of lower Indus plain to 120 centimeters in the Himalayan region. Rains are monsoonal in origin and fall late in summers. Due to the rainfall and high diurnal range of temperature, humidity is comparatively low. Only the coastal strip has high humidity. The country has an agricultural economy with a network of canals irrigating a major part of its cultivated land. Wheat, cotton, rice, millet and sugar cane are the major crops. Among fruits: mangos, oranges, bananas and apples are grown in abundance in different parts of the country. The main natural resources are natural gas, coal, salt and iron. The country has an expanding industry. Cotton, Textiles, sugar, cement, and chemicals play an important role in its economy. It is fed by vast hydroelectric power.
Urdu is the national language and is used as a medium of understanding throughout the country. Pakistan is culturally divided into four bilingual provinces. Punjabi is spoken in the Punjab, Sindhi in Sindh, Pashto in NWFP, and Balochi in Balochistan. The country comprises of a vast area that was the great center of ancient civilizations of the world. Its historical sites beginning with stone-age to Twentieth Century A.D are a mirror of the life of its people who are by nature simple, virile, hospitable and hard working. Ancient sites excavated in Taxila, Harappa, and Moenjodaro speak volumes for Pakistan rich cultural background dating back to 3,000 B.C
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