PARADISE ON EARTH
High Commissioner for Pakistan Mohammad Nafees Zakaria says that when it comes to tourist attractions in his country, there’s plenty to celebrate
Pakistan is a land blessed with an abundance of nature’s beauty. As a ‘Cradle of Ancient Civilisations’ and a ‘Melting Pot’ of multiple religions and cultures, the country is enriched with vast historical heritage, offering a treasure trove of knowledge for archaeologists, historians, teachers, culture lovers, religious pilgrims, sightseers, and those looking for adventure. Skiing, trekking, mountaineering, white-water rafting, mountain and desert jeep safaris, camel and yak safaris, trout fishing and bird watching are just a few of the many activities that attract tourists to Pakistan.
A land of splendour, the landscape remarkably stretches from high mountain ranges in the north to the plains and deserts of central Pakistan and the Arabian Sea in the south. In addition to the outstanding natural beauty in Pakistan’s four provinces, the country’s people are warm, hospitable and generous toward foreign tourists. Indeed, The British Backpacker Society describes Pakistan as ‘one of the friendliest countries on earth.’
NORTHERN AREAS (GILGIT HUNZA, SKARDU)
The northern areas of Pakistan, spread over 72,496 square kilometres, are breathtaking in their beauty. Amid towering snow-clad peaks (several over 8,000 metres), the serene valleys of Gilgit, Hunza and Skardu are magnificent. Cultural patterns in this region are as varied and interesting as its topography.
MOUNTAINEERS’ DREAM LOCATION
Pakistan’s mountain ranges include the famous Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindukush ranges. Five of the world’s highest mountain peaks are found in Pakistan. The world’s second tallest, the majestic K-2 peak (at 8,611. metres), is one of the most challenging peaks to climb and has been conquered by only a few. One such individual was British American woman, Vanessa O’Brien.
Skiers at the Malam Jabba International Alpine Ski Cup in 2017, declared Pakistan to be “their paradise” with “one of the most beautiful slopes in the world.”
HIGHEST TRADE ROUTE IN THE WORLD
At 6,000ft above sea level, the 806-kilometer-long Karakorum Highway – constructed along the ancient Silk Road linking Pakistan and China – is the highest trade route in the world.
JOURNEY FROM PALEOLITHIC AGE TO MODERN ERA
Pakistan traces its history back to the Paleolithic Age. Riwat, or Rawat, is a lower Paleolithic site (1.9 million years old) in the Punjab Province near the beautiful hill station of Murree. Soan Valley or Soanian Culture (500,000 years old) has its traces in the vicinity of twin cities Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Mehrgarh is a Neolithic site (7,000 – 3,200 BCE) near the Bolan Pass on the Kacchi Plain of Balochistan. Traces of the Indus Valley or Bronze Age civilisation that flourished between 2,600 to 1,900 BCE have been found in the ruins of Moenjodero and Harappa, stretching from Sindh to Punjab. Gandhara civilisation flourished in what is today’s Northwest Peshawar Basin (Buddhist Heritage 1,500BC – 535AD) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Furthermore, Taxila, the principal seat of Buddhist learning near Islamabad, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980.
Pakistan is also a land of spiritual endowment, a resting place of many spiritual saints from all religions, be it the Sufi mystics of Islam, Hindu Tiraths dating back to 3,000 BC, or the disciples of Buddha attaining ‘nirvana’ buried under the remains of Gandhara Civilisation, Baba Guru Nanak Ji, the founder of the Sikh religion, was born in 1,469AD at Nankana Sahib, about 72km north of Lahore. All Gurdwaras and Sikh shrines in Pakistan are declared sacred places and are meticulously maintained by Pakistan’s government.
MUGHAL DYNASTY MONUMENTS
The Punjab is a province rich with fertile agricultural lands and an extensive network of rivers and channels. One of the world’s oldest living cities, Multan is a city of saints, Sufis and shrines, and hosts fascinating architectural monuments, ancient forts and gardens from the Mughal era. Lahore, the largest city of Punjab province, was the historical capital of the Indian subcontinent during Mughal times. The significant heritage of Indus Valley civilisation, modern world infrastructures, high industries, IT hubs and an enormous talent pool of professionals are all hallmarks of Lahore.
RESERVOIR OF NATURAL RESOURCES, BEAUTY, AND CUSTODIAN OF ANCIENT HERITAGE
The Balochistan province is rich in mineral resources. It is the second major supplier of natural gas in Pakistan and has one of the world’s largest gold and copper mines. It is also blessed with immense natural beauty comprising mountain ranges and a long coastal belt, including the newly developed Gwadar Port. In Balochistan there are many caves to visit, especially the Juniper Shaft Cave, Shahre-e-Roghan, the Murghagull Gharra cave, Mughall saa cave, and the naturally decorated Mangocher Cave. The area’s extensive potential has meant it has attracted unprecedented interest from foreign countries looking to invest in the region.
HISTORY, NATURAL BEAUTY, PLUS REGIONAL STRATEGIC & ECONOMIC CONNECTIVITY
The province of Sindh hosts Pakistan’s largest metropolitan port city and the commercial and transport hub, Karachi. On the edge of the Arabian Sea, Karachi is home to a variety of attractions for tourists that include its world class shopping, sandy beaches spread over hundreds of miles of coastline, food streets, world class infrastructures, waterfalls and theme parks to entertain all ages, serene picnic spots and most importantly, historical civilisational heritage. It is also famous for being home to the ancient city of Moenjo-daro, part of the Indus Valley civilisation. Google ‘Attractions of Sindh’ to explore the possibilities!
GATEWAY, HISTORICAL CROSSROAD, FOLKLORE, BEAUTY AND NATURE’S TREASURES
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is well-known as a gateway connecting South and Central Asia, on the historical route of the famous Khyber Pass, which facilitated Eurasian trade as an integral part of the Silk Route. Today, it comprises beautiful mountains and landscapes, including the famous Kaghan and Swat Valleys.
VEGETATION AND FAUNA
With alpine meadows, a permanent snow line, coniferous forests, a vast Indus plain merging into the great desert, coastline and wetlands, the Himalayas, the Karakoram and the Hindukush mountain ranges offer a rich variety of vegetation and associated wildlife.