Rediscover Islamabad in 2023: A City That Has It All
Islamabad, which is located in the northern region of Pakistan, has been inhabited for thousands of years. It is situated on a plain that is bordered by hills. The “twin city” of Rawalpindi is located only 15 kilometers away from the nation’s capital and is noticeably busier than its larger counterpart. People that visit one of the two cities typically take advantage of the proximity between them to also visit the other city, where they will experience an atmosphere that is quite distinct from the first city they visited.
The city of Rawalpindi was established in the 19th century and grew rapidly as a result of its advantageous location on the Grand Trunk Road. It went from being a sleepy little hamlet to a bustling metropolis in a very short amount of time. The English, on the other hand, took control of the region in the middle of the nineteenth century and immediately began constructing buildings and neighborhoods, the legacy of which can be seen to this day in the architecture of the city.
Islamabad: A Modern Capital’s Genesis
However, the city of Islamabad didn’t come into existence until the 20th century, when the British made the decision to build a clean and well-organized capital city in a convenient position from the ground up. This is the reason why the city appears to be a flawless network of boulevards and parks, with residential areas and services dispersed throughout each neighborhood. As was mentioned, while the traffic and chaos that are typical of commercial cities rage in Rawalpindi, the atmosphere here is much too calm, and its main functions are administrative and political. Nevertheless, it is predictable that in the not too distant future, the two locations will end up merging into a single metropolis.
Unique Attractions in Islamabad
Despite the fact that it does not exhibit a large number of areas of interest, Islamabad does provide tourists with some fascinating peeks. It is recommended that you take a stroll around the Shakarapian, which is an urban park located to the south of the capital and provides visitors with a breathtaking panorama of the city. A magnificent structure known as the Pakistan National Monument can be seen atop these hills. It is dedicated to commemorating the history of the Pakistani country and has an adjacent museum of contemporary design.
The Cultural Heartbeat of Islamabad: Museums and Markets
The Lok Virsa Museum is another attraction that should not be missed. It began life as an anthropological museum and now includes a variety of collections. These collections include traditional artifacts, jewelry, wooden sculptures, and a library with a good supply of books. Those who are interested in experiencing Pakistani culture firsthand can do so by going to the Juma Bazaar on Sundays. This is a massive artisan market where it will be tough to resist the temptation to make purchases of traditional items such as carpets, jewelry, and other such items.
Islamabad’s Religious Landmarks: Mosques and Shrines
The Shah Faisal Mosque, which is located adjacent to the Margalla Hills, is considered to be among the largest mosques in all of Asia and is hence one of the most popular tourist destinations in Islamabad. It was finished in 1986 and has four minarets that are 88 meters high as well as a large hall that has the capacity to hold up to 10,000 people.
Nonbelievers are welcome to attend the mosque so long as they adhere to the mosque’s unique regulations and standards of behavior, such as taking their shoes off at the front desk before entering the building. However, prudence is strongly suggested.A shrine that is devoted to Shah Abdul Latif Kazmi, popularly known as Bari Imam, the patron saint of Islamabad can be found in the little town of Nurpur Shahan, which is located just a few kilometers outside of the city.
The festivities on Thursday evening, when a large number of pilgrims gather to celebrate and sing Islamic music, are particularly noteworthy. In the region of the Margalla Hills, Daman-e-Koh is a spot that is particularly well-suited for picnics, and from there, one can get a panoramic view of the city as well as the entire surrounding area; not too far away is Saidpur, a town that is highly well-known for the manufacturing of pottery; both of these locations are in the Margalla Hills.
Hiking Adventures in the Margalla Hills
The Margalla Hills are traversed by a number of trails, making it possible for people to go hiking there. Those who are interested in going on hikes on their own may do so by getting a paper guide that is sold in the city and selecting an outing to go on from the many different excursions that are proposed. When making this decision, hikers should bear in mind that the length of such walks can range anywhere from a few hours to three days.
Rawalpindi’s Vibrant Raja Bazaar
Located in the neighboring city of Rawalpindi, the bustling Rajah Bazaar stretches all the way across the city beginning at Fowara Chowk and is home to a wide variety of wares. It is a lovely sensation to wander aimlessly within and allow oneself to be taken away by the flow of people and the brilliant colors.
Exploring the Ancient City of Taxila
Taxila was once a significant Buddhist metropolis and one of the primary capitals of the Gandhara area. It is located not too far from Islamabad and is home to one of the most fascinating archeological sites in the country (and maybe in all of Asia).
Journey Through Time: The Ruins and Museum of Taxila
In the sixth century B.C., it was established as the capital of this region, and two hundred years later, it served as a stopover for Alexander the Great on his way to India. Later on, it became the location of a significant Buddhist university, and then it went on to become the capital of an empire before it was eventually destroyed by the White Huns in the fifth century AD.
Exploring Beyond Islamabad: Nearby Wonders
Murree Hills: Your Alpine Oasis
Escape the metropolitan buzz of Islamabad and Rawalpindi and find yourself amidst the alpine serenity of Murree Hills. This isn’t just any hill station; it’s a retreat where the air is fresher, and the views are spectacular. An elevation of over 2,000 meters ensures a pleasant climate, a stark contrast to the plains below. The Mall Road here isn’t just a shopping street; it’s a cultural experience, brimming with local crafts and flavors. A ride on the Patriata Chairlift is a journey in itself, offering vistas that stretch into the horizon.
Harappa: Echoes from the Dawn of Civilization
For an immersive historical experience, Harappa is a time capsule. Situated a few hours from the city, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a testament to the advanced urban planning of the Indus Valley Civilization. The artifacts and ruins here aren’t mere relics; they are storytellers of an era that laid the foundations of modern urban life.
Culinary Journey through Islamabad and Rawalpindi
Dining with a Difference The twin cities offer a culinary landscape that’s as varied as it is flavorful. Chicken Karahi here is not just a dish; it’s a palette of spices and traditions in a bowl. And if you think you know kebabs, wait till you try Chapli Kebab, a local rendition that’s nothing short of a gastronomic revelation. For early risers, Nihari in these parts is not just breakfast; it’s a ritual.
Dining Out: Where to Eat
- Monal Islamabad: Picture dining with a view that stretches across the capital city. Monal isn’t just about great food; it’s about the ambiance, the vibe.
- Savour Foods: This place is legendary for its Pulao Kabab. It’s simple, it’s flavorful, and it’s something you’ll crave long after you’ve left.
- Des Pardes in Saidpur Village: Nestled in a historic village, this restaurant gives you a taste of traditional Mughlai cuisine amidst a setting that’s rich in culture.
- Chaaye Khana: For those who love their tea, Chaaye Khana is like a cozy haven. It’s not just about the tea; it’s about the whole relaxing experience.
- Ciro’s Pomodoro: And when you’re in the mood for Italian in Islamabad, Ciro’s Pomodoro is your spot. Authentic Italian flavors in the heart of Pakistan – it’s a culinary journey you won’t expect but will absolutely love.
Discovering Taxila: A Guide to Transport and Exploration
The public is welcome to see the ruins of the ancient city, in addition to the many additional ruins that are located nearby in an area that is more than twenty-five square kilometers in size. The Taxila Museum is home to a vast collection of antiquities, some of which include Buddhist sculptures, antiques, coins, and a variety of other things.
Transportation Options to and within Taxila
There are a several ways to go to Taxila from Rawalpindi. You may take a bus or minivan from Haider Road or Railway Road, which will take around 40 minutes, or you can take the train, which will take approximately 50 minutes and will be a more relaxing alternative. Alternately, you can travel between the two destinations by boarding a Tonga or Suzuki that is currently in operation.
Navigating Islamabad: From City Streets to the World
When you are already in Taxila, you have the option of taking taxis, tongas, buses, or Suzukis to get from one location to another. Keep in mind, however, that traveling between some locations may just need the use of your legs.
Connecting Islamabad with the World: International Travel Made Easy
Islamabad is linked to the rest of the globe by its access to the international airport. There are flights that leave for domestic as well as international destinations from