ISLAMABAD PROFILE

  

 

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.

Serai 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.

POPULATION

POPULATION

524,500 (1998)

AREA

150 sq. km

ELEVATION

510 meters above sea level

TEMPERATURE

Season Max. Avg. Min. Avg.
Winter (Oct-March): 16.7 C 3.4 C
Summer(Apr-Sept.): 34.2 C 24.4 C
Annual 28.9 C 14.4 C
AVERAGE RAINFALL

1143 millimeters

ACCESSIBILITY

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.

UNIVERSITIES

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

MARGALLAH PASS

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.

TAXILA

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).

TAXILA MUSEUM

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 archaeological sites.

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).

WAH GARDENS

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 the world.

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 VILLAGE

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.

MANKIALA STUPA

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

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.

DAMAN-E-KOH

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

AROUND 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).

PATRIATA

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

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).

 
 
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