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.
History and culture tours 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.
This day 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.
- 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
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[clarification needed] 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. Late 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.
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
Morning 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 Moenjodaro, then we will resume our journey to Khairpur.
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. 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.
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.
Deraware Fort & Mosque and 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.
after breakfast we will visit few land marks of Bahawalpur. 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 and market we will continue our journey to Multan.
in the morning we will visit mystic shrines of sufi saints of Multan. 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 destructions of invaders since Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C. 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.
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 Sind 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 Britian 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. Akber began building it the 1560s on the site of an older fort. 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. After we will go to Wagha Border flag lowering ceremony and evening back to Hotel
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. 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. Lahore is considered the cultural capital of Pakistan because of its numerous colleges, places of learning, sports activities frequent stage plays etc. Afternoon we 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.
Evening drive to Islamabad.
Today 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.
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.
Now, with over 10 years experience, I have the privilege of helping people all over Pakistan. Before working in the travel industry, I was able to visit from the ancient ruins, food, culture and festivals, to understanding where my personal history comes from.
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