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Main Attractions in Pakistan

Here we take a journey through Pakistan starting from the bustling centre of commerce and industry, Karachi, through various cities, towns, parks, archaeological sites, lakes, valleys and ending in the picturesque mountains of Murree, Gilgit and Skardu.



Karachi is the capital of the Sindh province. It is a bustling centre of commerce and industry, a big port and the largest city of Pakistan with a population of over seven million. It has an International Airport which is a major link on all east and west air routes. Karachi has sunny beaches at Sandspit, Hawks Bay, Paradise Point and Clifton. It has a lot to offer, including the National Museum, the Hill Park, a golf course, a squash complex and modern medical facilities.

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27.35 kms (17 miles) out of Karachi on the National Highway on a high ground area a cluster of unusual graves built in the shape of slabs upon slabs of rectangles (hence the name four-sided). These date back to 16th-18th centuries. The distinguishing feature of these graves is the superb carving and engraving of the sandstone slabs with various floral motifs and designs of jewellery (on those of females) and of horses and swords (for the males).

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About 64 km (40 miles) east of Karachi is Banbhore, an archaeological site which some scholars identify with Daibul, the port city where the Arab general, Mohammad Bin Qasim, landed in 712 A.D. The Museum at site houses a rich collection of painted pottery, coins, beads etc.

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Asia's greatest water fowl reserve, Haleji lake is 70 km (about 52 miles) from Karachi. During winter, a hundred thousand birds fly down to Haleji from the cold of Siberia. It is a bird watchers' paradise.

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Thatta, about 98 km (61 miles) east of Karachi, remained the capital of Sindh for about four centuries. Today, it is notable for a vast necropolis of a million graves scattered over an area of 10 sq. km. (six sq. miles) on Makli Hills. Some of these tombs and graves are exquisite specimens of architecture, stone-carving and glazed tile decorations. Also in Thatta is the Shahjahan Mosque built on the orders of Emperor Shahjahan. Its blue tiles and mosaic work are alluring.

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24 km (15 miles) north of Thatta lies the vast Keenjhar Lake with facilities for angling and boating. PTDC Motel by the lakeside offers air-conditioned accommodation and neat clean food. Trip to the lake can be arranged by Tourist Information Centre, Club Road Karachi.

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Situated about 164 km (102 miles) north-east of Karachi, Hyderabad was the capital of Sindh during the reign of the Talpur Mirs in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, it is notable for the Kotri Barrage over the Indus and for its University. It Is also the home of many colorful handicraft industries such as glass bangles, glazed tiles, lacquered wood furniture, handloom cloth called "soussi", block-printed "ajrak'', shoes, stainless steel utensils and much else. It has a well maintained museum.

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This park may be visited for recreation education or research but shooting is forbidden. It is approachable through 81 kms. of Super Highway and further 72 kms. jeepable road. Overnight stay is possible. Best season to watch the animals in this Park is winter. Excursion tours can be arran ged by Pakistan Tours Ltd., Club Road, Karachi for the National Park and wild boar hunting in other areas of Sindh.

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About 563 km (350 miles) from Karachi on the Super Highway via Dadu, lies Moenjodaro, one of the sites of the world famous Indus Valley Civilization. The Archaeological Museum in Moenjodaro is definitely worth a visit. Another site of the Indus Valley Civilization is at Harappa near Sahiwal. For Moenjodaro, air and train services are available from Karachi.

Today, after many years of excavation, Moenjodaro has come to be known as one of the most spectacular ancient cities of the world. Whether it shared its leadership with Harappa or not, it was certainly a metropolis of the first order.

It had mud-brick and baked-brick buildings, an elaborate covered drainage system with soak-pits for disposal bins, a large state granary, a spacious pillared hall, a College of Priests, a large and imposing building (probably a palace), and a citadel mound which incorporates in its margin a system of solid burnt brick towers. Efforts are being made to save the ruins from crumbling due to rising water table.

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Situated about 544 km (338 miles) north-east of Karachi, Sukkur is an important road and rail junction while travelling between Karachi, Lahore and Quetta. Muslim shrines and a river island having a Hindu temple are of particular interest for locals and visitors alike. Shooting of game birds is possible in the nearby lakes, canals and green spots around Sukkur.

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Situated at an elevation of 1677 meters (5,500 ft), Quetta is one of the best known hill resorts and also the provincial capital of Baluchistan Winters are severe but summers are delightful. The Quetta valley abounds in fruit orchards. There are several comfortable hotels, a turf club and a fine golf course.

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122 km (76 miles) from Quetta is Ziarat, a pleasant hill resort, about 2440 meters (8W ft.) above sea level. Reasonably priced accommodation, including a PTDC Motel Complex, and rest houses are available. Ziarat valley has some very old juniper forests. Transport available with PTDC at Quetta.

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Bahawalpur is 899 km from Karachi The Cholistan desert zone and the cultural life of this area, forts, monuments, palaces, museum, zoo, stadium and a fine cricket ground in and around Bahawalpur are main attractions.

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The Lal Suhanra National Park is ideal for recreation, education or research but shooting is forbidden. This park, 36 kms to the east of Bahawalpur, is a combination of a natural lake and a beautiful forest on 77480 acres of land on both sides of the Bahawal canal having watchtowers, catching ground, tourist huts, rest-houses, camping grounds and treks for the visitors and lovers of adventure.

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About 966 km (600 miles) from Karachi and more or less right in the centre of the country lies the ancient city of Multan It offers a variety of attractions to the visitor, including historical sites and unique monuments, especially the tomb of Rukn-e-Alam, a monumental mausoleum.

The picture that you see when you click on "MULTAN" is the Jamia Mosque.

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275 km (171 miles) to the north-west of Lahore is Rawalpindi. It is fast developing into a large modern city. It has many play grounds, a pleasant club, an Army Museum, a number of good hotels and restaurants and a huge Ayub Park, Rawalpindi is the last halting post leading to the numerous holiday spots and hill resorts of the north, such as Murree, Nathiagali, Ayubia, Abbottabad, Swat, Kaghan, Gilgit, Hunza, Skardu and Chitral.

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Islamabad the new capital of Pakistan is a well planned modern city with large public buildings, attractive parks wide boulevards, newly built beautiful Shah Faisal Mosque and well laid out shopping centres. The Rawal Dam is a popular picnic spot. There are top and medium class hotels and motels as well as a camping site.

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1305 km (811 miles) to the north-east of Karachi, just about 1.5 hours flight by PIA, is Lahore, "the city of gardens" and the capital of the Punjab. It is an ancient town, rich in historical monuments, including some of the finest specimens of Muslim architecture -- the Badshahi Mosque of Emperor Aurangzeb, the Wazir Khan Mosque, the Shalimar Gardens of Emperor Shahjahan, Emperor Jehangir's Mausoleum and the Royal Fort of Akbar with its fabulous Hall of Mirrors. Lahore is considered to be the cultural capital of Pakistan because of its numerous colleges, places of learning, sports activities, frequent stage plays etc. The Museum in Lahore is considered to be the best in the sub continent. It houses the statue of fasting Buddha beside a host of priceless relics. The Horse and Cattle Show is an annual event held at the Fortress Stadium every spring. It is a pageant of equestrian sports, folk dances, music and tattoo parades. Lahore is at its best in spring and autumn.

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Some 35 km (22 miles) north-west of Rawalpindi, on the way to Peshawar, lies Texila, world famous for its archeaological sites, dating back to the 5th century B.C. The city flourished for a thousand years and was famous as a centre of Gandhara art of architecure and sculpture, education and religion in the days of Buddhist glory (click on "TAXILA" for the picture). Its museum is a must for visitors.

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About 64 km (40 miles) from Rawalpindi, situated at an altitude of 2286 meters (7,500 feet) above sea-level is Murree where lofty peaks tower above green pine covered slopes. It is one of the most popular summer resorts in Pakistan. The Gallies are quaint little hill resorts north-west of Murree and there is a motorable road running through them all. Murree and the Gallies offer horse riding, golf, chair lifts in Ayubia and pine shaded walks galore, alongside magnificent vistas of the plains.

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Abbottabad 116 km (72 miles) from Rawalpindi and 217 km (135 miles) from Peshawar, is a small town in a spacious valley surrounded by green hills. It is also a popular summer resort 1255 meters (4120 feet) above sea-level. It lies on the newly constructed Karakoram Highway.

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About 172 km (107 miles) west of Rawalpindi/lslamabad by road and about half on hour by air lies the last major town of Pakistan, the ancient and legendary Peshawar, city of the proud Pathans. Of interest in Peshawar are the Balahisar Fort, Qissa Khawani Bazaar, Chowk Yaadgar, Mahabat Khan Mosque and the Museum.

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The most famous pass of the world, the Khyber Pass, is 56 km (35 miles) from Peshawar. It has been, throughout history, the most important gateway to the plains of the South Asian sub-continent both for migration and invasion.

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Connected by air with Islamabad and Peshawar and by road with the whole country, Swat is a picturesque valley with a rich historical past. Swat museum has exquisite specimens of Gandhara sculptures, as Swat was a flourishing Centre of Buddhism and Gandhara school of sculpture. Swat valley is ideal for trout fishing, trekking and mountaineering. It remains open throughout the year but best time to visit is from May to end of October.

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This is a 154.5 km. (96 miles) long picturesque valley ending northwards in the 4148 meters (13.600 ft.) high Babusar Pass. Jeep service is available in the valley during summer, while motels and rest-houses offer comfortable accommodation . There is a PTDC stopover Motel in Balakot and a big tourist resort in Naran which provides excellent accommodation with meals at reasonable rates. It is an ideal area for trekking and trout fishing. Best time of the year in the Kaghan Valley is June 1 - Oct. 15. Worth visiting are Shogran, Lake Saiful Muluk and Lalazar.

Lake Saiful Muluk nestles at a height of more than 3200 meters (about 11000 feet) in the shadows of Malike Parbat, the "Queen of the mountains" which is about 5300 meters (about 17500 feet) high.

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A 50 minute flight from Peshawar takes you to the north western extremity of Pakistan where lies the exotic valley of Chitral. Towering the valley is the majestic 7705 meters (25,264 ft.) high Trichmir peak. In three narrow valleys about 40 km (25 odd miles) from the town of Chitral live the famous Kafir Kalash tribe. They are known the world over for their primitive pagan traditions and their love for dance and music. Chitral has many sulphur springs and is popular for trekking, mountaineering and trout fishing. There are a couple of hotels in Chitral. PTDC has a Motel and transport hiring facilities at Chitral.

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Among the hill resorts in the Northern Areas is the Gilgit Valley. It is accessible by air from Rawalpindi as well as by KKH (Karakoram Highway). There are regular bus, minibus and airconditioned Coach Services. Gilgit is famous for its fruit orchards. trout fishing and as a base for mountaineering. North of Gilgit and touching China is Hunza Valley, famous for longevity of its people, luscious fruits, and the magnificent peaks, including Rakaposhi (7788 meters). One may now travel on Karakoram Highway and cross over Khunjerab Pass for travel to China in conducted tours and transport run by Pakistan Tours Ltd., a subsidiary of PTDC, and NATCO.

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Skardu is 241 km east of Gilgit and accessible by air and road from Rawalpindi. Accommodation is available at PTDC's K-2 Motel at Skardu and the picturesque lakes of Satpara and Kachura. Skardu is a base camp for all mountaineering.

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Pakistan Tourist Information Centre (UK)
13 High Road; London NW10 2TE
Tel.: +44 845 226 1786   Fax: +44 845 280 0647