Islamabad lie against the back drop of Margallah
Hills on the Potohar plateau. On the basis of archaeological
discoveries, archaeologists believe that a distinct culture flourished
on this plateau as for as back as 300,000 years. Based upon the stone
implements found in Soan Valley, researchers have revealed various
aspects of activities of the primitive human being. The earliest tools
stuck from large pebbles have been named as "Early Soan" and
"Late Soan", when better and finer tools were made during
Paleolithic period. In the new stone age known as "Neolithic
Culture, i.e. 10, 000 to 5,000 BC, finer and polished stone and some
Neolithic burials of long Homo Sapiens near Rawat. These discoveries are
comparable to "Cromerien" tools of Paleolithic period
discovered in Europe.
Khola, located 03 kms south west of Bhir Mound,
is considered as the earliest settlement of Taxila. The
discovery of stone Celt’s, chert blades, cores, stone arrow heads,
scrappers, terracotta animals and female figurines, clay bangles , stone
and paste breads, copper pins, and wide range of poetry has pushed the
history of Taxila from 600 BC to 3000 BC. Three cultural sequences,
namely , historic at the top, Kota Dijian in the Middle and late
Neolithic at the bottom have been discovered at Seraj Khola near Taxila.
Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, is located against the backdrop of
Margalla Hills at the northern edge of Potohar Plateau.
The master plan of this most modern city was prepared
in 1960 by M/S Constantions doxiades, a Greek firm of Architects.
Construction was started in October 1961. The city came into life on 26
October 1966, when the first office building of Islamabad was occupied.
It is modern and carefully planned city.
There are ample opportunities for walking, jogging,
hiking and trekking around Islamabad in the Margalla Hills.
150 sq. km
510 meters above sea level
Islamabad International Airport is served by PIA,
British Airways, Saudia and Xinjiang China Airlines, linking
Rawalpindi-Islamabad with the rest of the world. Internally, PIA and
the Pakistan Railways link Rawalpindi-Islamabad with all the main
cities of Pakistan. Rawalpindi lies on the historic Grand Trunk Road,
which now is a section of the Asian Highway from Istanbul to Bangkok.
Four universities in Islamabad have taken onto
themselves, four different kinds of responsibilities. Allama Iqbal
Open University (AIOU) was established in 1973 in sector H-8.
Quaid-e-Azam University (QAU) was established in 1967 while
International Islamic University (IIU), located in the vicinity of
Shah Faisal Mosque, was created in November 1980. The National
University of Science and Technology (NUST) was founded in 1991
ARCHAEOLOGICAL & HISTORICAL SITES
This small pass is located 26 km west of Islamabad
on G.T. Road. Margallah is mentioned by historians and emperors like
Alberuni, Ferishta and Jehangir. Today, it is a pass between the
ancient capital of Gandhara, that is, Taxila, and the modern capital
of Pakistan, i.e., Islamabad. There is an obelisk right on the top of
the Pass, built in 1890 in memory of Brig. Gen. John Nicholson (died
on 23 Sept.1857) of the British army, by his colleagues. A small part
of the ancient Shahi (Royal) Road can be seen just across the pass,
left of G.T. Road. This road was first built by the Persians in c.516
BC and later developed by the Afghan King Sher Shah Suri in 1540s. An
inscription on the western side of this stone pavement shows that is
was again repaired in 1672 AD.
The modern town of Taxila is 35 km from Islamabad.
Most of the archaeological sites of Taxila (600 BC to 500 AD) are
located around Taxila Museum. For over one thousand years, Taxila
remained famous as a centre of learning Gandhara art of sculpture,
architecture, education and Buddhism in the days of Buddhist glory.
There are over 50 archaeological sites scattered in 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 Jaulian Monastery
(200 – 600 AD).
A museum comprising various sections with rich
archaeological finds of Taxila, arranged in chronological order and
properly labeled, has been established close to the site.
It is one of the best and well-maintained site
museums of Pakistan. Summer timings of the museum are from 8:30 a.m.
to 5:30 p.m. with two hours break. Winter timings are from 9:00 a.m.
to 4:00 p.m., without break. The museum remains closed on the first
Monday of every month and on Muslim religious holidays. Entry ticket
costs Rs.4 per person for museum and Rs.4 per person for
PTDC has a Tourist Information Centre and a Motel
with 7 rooms and restaurant facility, just opposite the Museum. There
is a Youth Hostel nearby, offering accommodation for members of
International Youth Hostels Federation (IYHF).
Once a major campsite of Mughal rulers, Wah Gardens
is located 12 km west of Taxila on G.T. Road. The gardens were
developed with magnificent trees and water channels by successive
Mughal emperors. Tapering cypress trees, loved by the Mughals, line
the canals through which cool waters once flowed between elegant
Romanic pavilions and cascading into large reflecting basins. The
gardens are being restored to their original beauty, by the Department
of Archaeology, Govt. of Pakistan. Entry fee is Rs.4 per person.
HASAN ABDAL & GURUDWARA PANJA SAHIB
Hasan Abdal is 48 km from Rawalpindi. It is a
beautiful, quiet place and a convenient halting point on G.T. Road
enroute to Peshawar or Abbottabad.
This town has a particular association with Mughals
and Sikhs. It was mentioned by Emperor Jehangir in his memoirs and
frequently visited by successive Mughal Kings, on their way to
Kashmir. It remained a holy place for various religious groups through
the ages. It has a Sikh Gurdwara (temple) known as Panja Sahib having
a scared rock with the hand print of their religious leader, Guru
Nanak. Twice a year, Sikh pilgrims visit this Gurdwara from all over
On the nearby hill, at an altitude of 714 meters,
there is a meditation chamber related to a 15th century
Muslim Saint, Baba Wali Qandhari, popularly known as Baba Hasan Abdal.
The saint tayed in Hasan Abdal from c.1406 - 1416 AD but died and
buried in village Baba Wali near Qandhar (Afghanistan). The devotees
and visitors climb over the steps leading to the hill, for offerings
and to have a panoramic view of Hasan Abdal.
Just opposite the eastern gate of Gurudwara Panja
Sahib, there is a small mosque and ‘chilla gah’ (meditation cell)
of Baba Wali Qandhari. Behind the mosque is a fresh water pond with
big Mahasheer fish. Adjacent to the pond is a building called Maqbara
Hakeeman. Two Royal Hakeem (doctor) brothers namely, Abual Fateh
Gilani (died 1589 AD) and Hamam Gilani (died 1595 AD) are buried here
on the orders of the Mughal emperor Akbar. Both, the fish pond and the
tomb, were built by Khawaja Shamsuddin Khawafi, Akbar’s minister,
between 1581 - 1583 AD. A paved path leads from the fish pond to a
small, walled garden. The garden has two graves, one in the centre and
the other in a corner. The central grave is wrongly attributed to a
so-called Mughal Princess, Lala Rukh. However, it is not known that
who is buried here.
Saidpur, a little quaint village, famous for its
pottery, is part of Islamabad today. It is located off the Hill Road
to the east of Daman-e-Koh. Saidpur was founded by Sultan Said Khan
son of Sultan Sarang Khan. He gave his daughter in marriage to Mughal
Prince Saleem who later became Emperor Jehangir. Saidpur was
considered a garden resort and a perpetual spring provided water for
drinking and for watering gardens around during the Mughal period.
The remains of a Buddhist Stupa lie about 32 km
south east of Rawalpindi in Mankiala village, 2 km off the G.T. Road.
Apparently, this stupa was built in the reign of Kanishka (128-151
AD). According to a legend, Buddha had sacrificed parts of his body
here, to feed seven hungry tiger-cubs. In 1930, several gold, silver
and copper coins (660 - 730 AD) and a bronze casket having Khroshti
inscriptions, were discovered from this stupa
ROSE AND JASMINE GARDEN
This 20,360 sq. meters rose garden is famous for
its roses. It has 250 different varieties of roses as well as a dozen
types of Jasmines, Flower shows are occasionally held here,
particularly during spring. Nearby is the Tourist Camping Site.
Shakarparian hills are situated near Zero Point, at
a height of 609 meters. Its terraced garden offers pleasant and
sweeping vistas of Margalla and Murree hills, Rawal Lake, Rawalpindi
and Islamabad, Snack Bar facilities are available.
This low hill over looking Islamabad, known as
Daman-e-Koh, offers panoramic view of Islamabad. Snack bar facilities
are available at PTD’s Daman-e-Koh Restaurant. The place is ideal
for afternoon and evening outing with family and friends.
MURGHZAR MINI ZOO AND CHILDREN’S PARK
Murghzar Mini Zoo is located at the foot of
Daman-e-Koh viewpoint. A display corner of Pakistan Museum of Natural
History and a Japanese style children’s park have also been
established ear the Zoo. The Park is a gift to Pakistani children from
the children of Japan.
ISLAMABAD SPORTS COMPLEX
A Sports Complex comprising Liaquat Gymnasium for
indoor games and Jinnah Stadium for outdoor games has been built with
the Chinese assistance. It is located on Shahrah-e-Kashmir near
Aabpara. Regular national and international sports events are held in
the Complex. For details, please contact Pakistan Sports Board,
Islamabad Sports Complex, Shahrah-e-Kashmir, Islamabad
MURREE AND THE GALLIES
It is one & a half hours drive to Murree from
Islamabad via the 55 km well carpeted winding road. Murree, known as
the Queen of Hills is 2,413 meters high. Beyond Murree, the hill
resorts of Ayubia, Khairagali, Bhurban, Patriata, Dongagali and
Nathiagali also offer cool respite from the torrid heat of plains.
Perhaps, the most sought out is the beautiful Nathiagali, 32 km from
Murree and perched 2501 meters high. Ayubia, 29 km from Murree, is
famous for its chair lift. Bhurban, which is 9 km from Murree, is
known for its nine-hole golf course, panoramic view of the forested
hills around and a 5-star hotel. PTDC has accommodation facilities at
Murree (Cecil Hotel) and Ayubia (PTDC Motel).
The TDCP has developed a new resort at Patriata,
about 15 km south east of Murree. It can be approached from Islamabad
via the busier but better Murree Road through Lower Topa and Gulehra
Gali or via Bhara Kahu, Karor and Ban (for light vehicles only). The
resort has been developed on a virgin site at Patriata Ridge at 2,223
meters, the highest point in Punjab province. It offers a breathtaking
view of high forested ridges and deep intersecting valleys with
terraced slopes. The climate remains remarkably cool and pleasant in
summer and temperature rarely goes above average high of 26C. The
resort is equipped with the dual chair lift and cable car system from
Gulehra Gali to Patriata Ridge for a total distance of 3.1 km. The
Gondola cable cars, first of its kind in Pakistan, give an all round
panoramic view of the valley. There are hotel and restaurant
facilities available at the top.
Abbottabad, 116 kms from Rawalpindi at 1,222 m.
above sea level, is a neat and clean town in a spacious valley
surrounded by green hills. It is a popular summer resort. It serves as
a base for trips to Kaghan valley and the Gallies. PTDC maintains a
Tourist Information Centre here to facilitate the visitors. Places
worth visiting in and around Abbottabad are; Ilyasi Mosque with a
water spring, Shimla hill view point. Thandiani is another attractive
hill resort 30 km east of Abbottabad at an altitude of 8,800 feet. For
more information, please contact PTDC’s Tourist Information Centre
located at Club Annex, Jinnah Road, Abbottabad (Tel: 05921-34399).