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Pakistan is not a popular tourist destination. Some parts of this country are dangerous to visit because of military conflicts. But here, near Tibet, are the monuments of the many cultures and civilizations that have existed in this region for 5,000 years. There is tourism infrastructure in Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan as well as in the cities of Lahore and Karachi.
Ranking of the best sights in Pakistan
|Ranking of the best sights in Pakistan||1||Lahore Fortress||5.0|
|6||Wazir Khan Mosque||4.7|
|14||The ancient city of Taxila||4.1|
Rating of the sight: 5.0
The first thing to visit in Pakistan is the fortress located in the city of Lahore. This landmark has a rich history. It was first built in the 12th century – then the fortress was the residence of Muhammad Guri, a conqueror of the Gurid family. Since the routes connecting Persia, India and Tibet passed through Lahore, the fortress was conquered, destroyed and rebuilt many times.
The modern look of the landmark gained in the XVII century, during the reign of the Mughal emperor Akbar. The fortress, built on his initiative, surpassed all its previous versions. It is built of sandstone and baked brick, has a trapezoidal shape and covers about 20 hectares. First of all, it is interesting because of its unusual architecture. Apart from it, the fortress is famous for its garden with waterfalls and ornamental ponds.
In the western part of Lahore Fortress is the Pearl Mosque, a beautiful building of Aleppo glass and white marble. It is located near the Amalgiri Gate, the front entrance of the fortress. In Sikh times, the mosque was used as a building for the state treasury, but has now regained its religious significance.
Rating of the landmark: 4.9
This mosque is the largest in Pakistan. The landmark is located in the capital, Islamabad. Its area is 5000 square meters, and 300 thousand worshippers can be accommodated inside it simultaneously. The impetus for the creation of this giant mosque was a visit from the then king of Saudi Arabia, Faisal. He proposed to build this structure and financed its construction. The mosque, designed by Turkish architect Vedat Dalokaya, was completed in 1986.
The first feature of the mosque that immediately catches the eye is the unusual shape of the building. The unique look of the structure is a reference to the image of the Bedouin tent, a symbol of the hard but free life of nomads. The hipped-roof main building can hold 10,000 people. It has no domes or arches and is surrounded by four minarets, thin towers which rise to a height of 90 meters. The unusual construction attracts tourists, but they are not the only ones who come here – for daily prayers thousands of Muslims from Islamabad visit the mosque.
Rating of the attraction: 4.8
The second largest mosque in Pakistan is in Lahore. It was built in the 17th century, during the reign of the last of the Mughal dynasty, Aurangzeb. Thus the landmark is the last architectural achievement of the Mughal era and its most important monument. In the 19th century, when Lahore was conquered by the Sikhs, the mosque was used as a storehouse. After Pakistan gained independence, it was restored to its religious function.
The landmark is situated opposite the Lahore Fortress. The mosque is erected on a high platform rising above the city. In order to get to the main entrance, you need to walk up 22 steps. Three white domes tower above the prayer hall. They contrast with the red minarets, of which the mosque has eight. The minarets are also topped with white domes. There are two halls inside, one near and one far.
The mosque also houses a small museum that preserves relics associated with Islam. It is located in the upper tier of the main entrance. A total of 27 items are displayed behind the glass showcases, including the green turban of Prophet Muhammad.
The Fortress of Rohtas
Rating of the sight: 4.7
The fortress of Rohtas was built in the 16th century on the initiative of the Muslim warlord Sher Shah. The Great Ring Road passed near it. The main purpose of the building was to protect the area from Humayun, the second of the Mughals. The landmark is named after the battle of Rohtas, where Sher Shah defeated the Mughal army. Humayun was never able to take the fortress – it was a traitor who defeated him by opening the gates to the soldiers.
The fortress walls of Rohtas rise up to 18 meters high. Their total length reaches four kilometers. In order to defend against the enemy, 68 bastions in the shape of a semi-circle were erected along the perimeter of the walls. It is possible to enter through several sandstone gates located on different sides. At the time the fortress was a model of impregnability, and after the conquest the Mughals built many structures along its lines. The building now belongs to Pakistan and is open to tourists who want to admire its grandeur.
Rating of the sight: 4.7
Karachi, a port city in the south of Pakistan, has the tomb of its founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It was erected not long ago, in the 1960s, and had its present form in 1970. The material used to build the mausoleum is white marble. The four sides of the building are decorated with Moorish arches through which you can enter. The main feature of the structure is a giant dome, also made of marble.
The shrine stands on a 4-meter high platform that surrounds a park. The building is shaped like a square with sides of 75 meters. It is 43 meters high and the dome towers over the entire city and can be seen from anywhere in the city. Inside hangs a large crystal chandelier given to Pakistan by China, and there is a silver plaque of Muhammad Jinnah. To honor the founder of the nation, the shrine is visited by thousands of Pakistanis every day.
Wazir Khan Mosque
Rating of the attraction: 4.7
This mosque was built in Lahore during the reign of Shah Jahan, the Mughal emperor. Construction work began in 1634-1635, and in 7 years the structure was ready. The mosque was named after the governor of Lahore, who was called Wazir Khan – the first of the words means “minister”. The style of the building is typical Mughal; the facade is decorated with many frescoes by Lahorean craftsmen.
The tomb of the ruler Syed Muhammad Ishaq, who lived in Lahore, is situated in the courtyard. At the entrance of the mosque, there are towers with domes on either side. Inside the attraction retains the look that it had 400 years ago. Services are still held here and tourists can only go inside between services. The mosque is visited by Muslims from other countries as well as people who are interested in history or like unusual places.
Rating of the attraction: 4.6
This palace was built in 1927 as the residence of Mohatta, a businessman from Marwar. Located in Karachi. Measuring 1,720 square meters, it has arched stained glass windows, nine domes, banisters and floral balustrades. The stairs, fireplaces and furniture inside are made from teak wood.
In 1947, after Pakistan gained independence, the palace housed the country’s foreign ministry. In 1964 the building was taken over by Fatima Jinnah, the younger sister of the founder of the state, Muhammad Ali. After Fatima’s death, the palace belonged to her sister, Shirin Bai, who lived there until she died in 1980. Until 1995 the entrance here was closed and after that the place was purchased by the province of Sindh and within 4 years it was restored and turned into a tourist spot.
On the first floor of the building are spacious rooms where tourists can relax. They open up to a terrace from which you can admire the panorama of the city. You can also wander through the underground tunnels originally built for the safe arrival of Mohatta’s wife’s palace.
Rating of the attraction: 4.5
Shalimar Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Lahore. This corner of greenery was created in 1641-1642, under Emperor Shah Jahan, in order to demonstrate the power of the Mughal Empire. On the territory of the gardens are mosques and palaces, decorative ponds and waterfalls. They have geometrically perfect proportions and stand out sharply in the desert landscape.
Shalimar is formed by three terraces, each 4-5 meters higher than the other. A water channel from the Himalayan foothills was brought to the garden to nourish the plants in the dry climate. Thanks to this there is abundant water: fountains, pools, springs. Together with greenery the picture reminds us of an Islamic image of paradise – this is probably what the garden’s creators are referring to. Most of the plants are cypresses – they are a symbol of eternity – and citrus trees, their blossoms symbolizing youth. This complements the philosophical meaning behind the garden.
Rating of the attraction: 4.4
Mohenjo-Daro is an ancient ruined city that was built around 2600 B.C. Belonged to a civilization that inhabited the Indus valley, the Indus, or Harrapa. It is assumed that the city was an administrative center, where handicrafts and trade flourished. Half a millennium after Mohenjo-Daro was built, civilization fell into decline and the city was deserted. There are various theories about the reasons for its demise – flooding, an Aryan invasion, some suggest even a nuclear explosion.
The area of the surviving ruins is about 250 hectares. In this place there is a very thick cultural layer, the thickness of up to 20 meters. There are two parts of the settlement, the rectangular Citadel and the Lower Town, each surrounded by high walls which must have protected the inhabitants from the floods. Mohenjo-Daro is believed to have had a population of about 35,000. There are no habitable buildings here now, and the ruins exist only as a historical monument and a tourist attraction.
Rating of the attraction: 4.3
Fort Baltiit is a Tibetan hill fort located in the northern part of Pakistan. The structure has existed for 700 years, since the 14th century. The Tibetan architecture inherent in the building gives it an unusual and strange appearance. However, for its time it was very practical, combining functionality and protection. From its walls, you can clearly see the valley below, which makes the building strategically important.
The fort is a monument to the feudal state of Hunza, a small khanate located in Tibet in present-day Pakistan. The fortress is a symbol of the strength and prowess of the Huns. Over time, the structure of the building has only gotten more complicated, as each ruler added something different.
Then the Khanate fell into decline, and by the 20th century the fortress was abandoned and would soon be destroyed. However, the fort has been preserved and restored as a monument of ancient culture, and its preservation is monitored by the current members of the Hunz tribe. That’s why this attraction still attracts tourists to this day.
Rating of the attraction: 4.3
The Lahore Museum was founded in 1864 and is one of the oldest in southern Asia. It has been in the modern building since 1894 – before that, the exhibits were in the Punjab Exhibition Hall. One of the first curators of the museum was the father of writer Rudyard Kipling, John Kipling.
The Lahore Museum houses archeological exhibits from different eras, from the very beginning of civilization to the Middle Ages. It houses handicrafts, fine art, and historical artifacts. Also of interest is its collection of ancient Greek and Mughal coins. There are doors and other Sikh wooden works in the museum. One of the most famous exhibits is the Starving Buddha of Gandhara.
The Lahore Museum is reflected in world culture, not just Pakistani culture. For example, it is the setting for the novel “Kim,” which Rudyard Kipling wrote in 1901.
Rating of the attraction: 4.2
On the Pakistani border with India is the impregnable fortress of Derawar. Square in plan and made up of 40 round towers connected by city walls. The walls are 30 meters high and 1.5 kilometers long in total. There are also underground levels about which various stories are told.
The buildings in this area were built gradually, over many centuries. The first fort dates back to the time of the Moguls. The current construction in its place began in 1733, when the Abbasi dynasty ruled. As late as the twentieth century, the fortress was inhabited and continued to be completed. Only at the end of the last century did the military leave the fort. Tourists can now walk freely in the fortress.
The condition of the fortress is now deplorable. The underground labyrinths are ruined for the most part, the towers are also beginning to crumble. The locals aren’t coping with the restoration, and whether UNESCO is helping them is not known for sure. Because Derawar is a sight to visit before it disappears from the face of the earth.
Rating of the attraction: 4.2
There is also a place in Pakistan where you can relax after exhausting walks through the historical sites. Rawal is a reservoir that supplies water to the Pakistani cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The area around the reservoir is landscaped – there are gardens with trees and beautiful flowers, alleys and picnic places. Here you can fish while standing on the shore, or go boating on the reservoir. It is also home to private diving and sailing clubs.
The reservoir is also famous for its rich wildlife. Rawal is a great place for wild bird watching. Many mallard ducks winter here. Nearby is Margalla Hills National Park, home to pine trees and evergreen oaks, and home to leopards, wild boars, foxes, jackals, birds of prey, and snakes. Despite such a variety of animals, there are relatively safe hiking trails in the park.
Ancient city of Taxila
Rating of the attraction: 4.1
On the outskirts of Islamabad are the ruins of an ancient city that was the capital of the Gandhar people of India. When Alexander the Great conquered Islamabad in 327 BC, people still lived here. Numerous statues of the great conqueror made by the locals remind one of this. In the V century, the city was destroyed by the Ephtalite tribe, and it has not been rebuilt since.
Taksila is famous for unique Gandhara sculptures, unusual architecture and other examples of ancient people’s art. In the western part there is a statue of Buddha and his stone images. The Dharmarajika stupa in Taxila, where Shakyamuni Buddha was buried, is of interest. The structure consists of the main building, some small chapels, and a monastery. There are other buildings here that are worth seeing, such as the king’s palace and the temple Apsidal.
Rating of the attraction: 4.0
Daman-e Koh, a park on top of one of the hills of Margalla a few kilometers from Islamabad. The name translates from Urdu as “center of the hill. The park is 830 meters above sea level, 150 meters higher than the Pakistani capital, and is therefore used as a viewing platform from which all of Islamabad can be seen. It is a vacation destination for tourists and locals alike.
Panoramic views of Islamabad in the southern part of the park. From there you can see the Rawal Reservoir and the Mosque of Feisal, surrounded by green trees. There are often monkeys and the occasional cheetah in the park which usually doesn’t attack people, so you needn’t fear them. Nearby is the highest point of the hills of Margalla, Pir Sohawa, with an altitude of 1100 meters above sea level. It is possible that in the near future Daman-e Koh will be connected to Pir Sohawa by a cable car.